What difference does it make?
I hear this asked a lot. It’s a good question. What difference does The Dale make?
Most times this question is followed by: Are people getting off the street? Are people finding sobriety? Are people moving from substandard housing into something better? Are people no longer “poor”?
The answer is yes, no and sometimes. Nothing like a straight-forward answer!
The reality is that the people of The Dale are all on a journey, me included. Some of the changes that we experience in one another can be almost imperceptible: one less drink in a day, choosing to remain calm when slighted by another, paying a person back the money that was borrowed instead of running. Some of the changes are more obvious: coming to church regularly, finding the resources to make a crappy apartment feel more like a home, going to detox, mending an estranged relationship.
I know people who have gotten off the street, who are now sober, who have decent housing and who are leaving poverty behind. I celebrate them and the healing they have received. I also celebrate the things described above: the arguably less dramatic changes, though no less real. Notice too that all of the changes listed are ones that are not simply for those who fall under the poverty line. We all need to manage addictions, pay back debt, create home and mend broken relationships.
The Dale is a little, wandering space where people can discover what it means to co-journey toward a deeper wholeness in Christ. Jesus does not promise an easy road, nor one that ends with middle/upper class life. The journey is not a straight-line: it is marked with fumbles and missteps and requires patience and grace. Sometimes we need to call each other on bad choices while offering accountability and creating healthy boundaries.
Some of my friends have acknowledged that prior to being a part of The Dale they had NO one to talk to, that prayer was not an option and that life felt incredibly dark.
To me, this sounds like a difference is being made.