When Alex and I first moved to Dallas 7 years ago, we had a hard time getting plugged in to a church. We looked at all sorts of churches- mega, house churches, traditional, contemporary. It was quite overwhelming because Dallas just has so many churches.
One of the churches that we visited during this time was called Dallas International Street Church (DISC). It’s housed in a fairly small building just south of Fair Park. When we visited, we were slightly intimidated by the big mix of people and the raucous worship (we both grew up Methodist, and the most raucous part of their services are the bar songs that were turned into hymns). The church really sought to serve the “least of these”- the addicts and the homeless. Our favorite part of the service, though, was when a man got up to give his testimony. He nervously approached the microphone and said, “My name is Bill and I’ve been sober for 24 hours.” Everyone in the church exploded with applause and praise. After him, we heard story after story of God saving people from their darkest hour. This church, nestled in a very poor, kind of forgotten neighborhood, was seeing God move mightily.
Oh, it touched us.
We ended up not going there because it was so far away but I carried the memory of that Sunday with me.
Cut to about two years ago when we started looking for a service thing we could do once a month. I immediately thought of DISC and so we got in touch with them and we’ve been serving dinner after their Tuesday night worship services for almost two years. We love it. The staff work so hard to serve the people at DISC.
A big piece of DISC’s ministry is what they call the Discipleship Program. Essentially, they provide free room and board for anyone trying to get off the streets. They do Bible studies and life skills classes. The program is a year long, but people can stay as long as they need. If they are able, DISC asks that they pay $50/month. People can relapse and come back to the house as many times as they need. It’s a community that knows what mercy really means. It’s an incredible picture of grace.
This past February, a group of friends went to the ladies’ discipleship house and did a crafty Valentine’s lunch. We made key chains and bath salts and ate finger foods. It was really lots of fun to sit and visit with these valorous women. They have incredible stories.
Before the end of lunch, I stood up and gave a little speech about why we were there. I spoke about how Paul always wrote in his letters that he thought of the recipients often and missed them. He felt a real connection with them. I never really understood how he could feel so deeply connected to people he had interacted with for such a short time. I shared how God had been showing me, via DISC, how it was possible to have your heart connected to a group of people. I don’t know them that well, but God has given me an incredible love for them. I told them that there were people who cared about them. I told them that they were not forgotten.
As soon as I stood up to speak, I began to cry (duh) so we were all kind of teary eyed. Then, Sharon**, a woman who had not really seemed too keen on us being there, stood up. She said that life experience has taught her that she can’t trust people. Everyone is out to get something out of you. The streets had made her hard. She admitted that she was not into the crafts, and, quite frankly, was resentful that she had been lovingly forced to be a part of the event on her only day of rest.
Then she said that she had not met very many people like us, who would give up a Saturday afternoon to spend time with women we didn’t know and not ask for anything in return. She started to cry and said God was using people like us to teach her how to trust again, even if just a little.
Oh, it was beautiful.
Another woman stood up and sang for us and the other ladies joined in and the God’s presence in the room was palpable. Two groups of women who were so vastly different from each other were brought together because God loves us and we love each other. Truly, in the midst of brokenness, we experienced a bit of heaven that day.
We’re going back to do another outing at the end of July. Per their request, we will spend some time together painting our nails, doing make-up and hair, and then we’re going out to Golden Corral for dinner. I’m praying that God will show up again (He will). I’m praying that we can be an encouragement and the physical arms and feet of Jesus to these women.
Do you want to participate? I mean, you can actually come with us and get all dolled up or you could sponsor a woman’s dinner and be a part of an evening that makes her feel special. There are 12 women in the house right now, but there have been up to 17 at one time. If you’d like to sponsor a dinner, it would be about $15. Any money that is given that we end up not needing will be donated to DISC as they continue to faithfully serve South Dallas and these beautiful women.
If you’re interested, contact me (whatever means you have, except smoke signals, okay?)
If you just want to donate directly to DISC, we’d love that too. I can tell you that they use every penny they can for ministry and they serve faithfully. You can check out their website or their facebook for more information.