On Thursday, September 12, 2013 I saw a man forcibly grab a woman by her arm and pull her into a building in the Tenderloin. A check in my gut prompted me to do something yet I ignored it. Fear gripped me and I couldn’t sleep all night. The next morning I woke up to catch up on emails and read an email from a volunteer named Lani. Lani came to the City Impact Conference and met a man that said a woman was being held against her will. In the email, Lani gave me the woman’s name, building address and room number. Guess which building it was? It was the exact same building where the man forcibly took the woman the day prior.
On Friday, September 13, 2013 we took four staff and two volunteers into the building to intervene. We have gone everyday since and the amount of injustice we’ve uncovered is too much to write in this article.
Someone asked me recently what verse comes to mind when I think of the Tenderloin. My reply was immediate because I often see the same thing Jesus saw when he looked at the crowds in Matthew 9:36, “Jesus had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” That is the Tenderloin.
Swinging the pendulum to the other side, I see hope!
Hubert Pun, one of City Impact’s greatest supporters and advocates, spends multiple days and nights each week leveraging his life to protect and provide for people in the buildings he has adopted. Yesterday when I saw him, I discovered that he was at court all day, advocating for a resident that he loves and cares for.
A new student in our City Academy is in first grade and has been kicked out of three schools already. He came to us this year, broken, disturbed, and troubled. He couldn’t last one day without us having to have his parent’s remove him because of the disruptions he would cause in class. His cry one day revealed a lot to us, “HELP MOM! Don’t let them do to me what the other people did to me!” Upon hearing this, our school staff went above and beyond to teach him after hours as to not disturb the class. They could have easily kicked him out of the school but decided to love him to health. Last week, this young boy celebrated the very first day in our school without having one outburst! He is on the path to health and restoration.
At the end of the day, we exist to intervene on behalf of the people in the Tenderloin. We will do whatever it takes to help provide for and protect the ones who cannot provide or protect themselves. If we exist to intervene, that begs the question, “If we don’t go, who will?”
It is a scary thought to think that no one would show up in the building where injustice is taking place everyday! As tourists walk by this building to go shopping at Nordstrom, they’ve walked past women being held against their will. As residents walk by these streets, complaining at the filth on the sidewalk, they’ve walked past a young boy who has been tormented.
I thank God everyday for City Impact! I love the work we do and the team that I get to work with. We truly are living the dream by being able to serve everyday in such a beautiful community! I often remind our team that we must continue to intervene and we must do it with urgency.
Yes, City Impact is growing. Yes, more people are hearing about the organization. But that must translate into reaching more people. After all, we are on a time-sensitive mission to see this community restored. It can happen; the question is “Will you intervene?”
- Christian Huang