The very first outreach event we did at Impact! Church after moving to the hood was a Superbowl Party, When we walked the Parker Street neighborhood asking folks how we could help them, their #1 answer was that they never get to see the Superbowl. People living on the streets around here have places to eat, get a shower and sleep during inclimate weather. They do not have a place to watch television – and the Superbowl is quite a big deal in the hood. 🙂
We got permission from the NFL to project the Superbowl on a large screen, made the preparations for the party and handed out invitations to folks on the street. We packed the Impact! Church sanctuary for our very first event – we hadn’t even had a worship service in the building yet.
We noticed a guy in a long, black trench coat come in. It wasn’t really cold outside so it kind of gave a warning signal to the Impact! leadership. He seemed friendly enough and everyone from the neighborhood knew him. He was one of the few Seattle fans in the audience so he and I bonded over a soft drink and a bag of popcorn. The game started, the projection screen came to life and the house lights went down. After a few quarters Denver was experiencing an upset – and so was the audience. There was intense booing from almost the entire audience every time Seattle scored. That’s when we started noticing that different people would go sit by the trench-coat dude, talk for a minute, hug him and then go into our bathroom. They seemed happy when they came out of the restroom. After about 30 minutes one of our leaders realized that the guy was selling drugs and people were getting high in the bathroom.
I walked over and asked “trench-coat dude” to step out of the building for a minute. He followed me out without incident. I asked him if he was selling drugs in our building. He said he was selling crack and asked if it was okay? I told him rather loudly, “No you can’t sell crack at this church event!” That’s when he asked, “Well, can I at least sell crack in your parking lot? Most of these people are Denver fans. They are going to need all of the chemicals they can get if you are going to have a successful party!”
To help Impact! Church conduct more “drug-free” events for marginalized people, please click here.