Home has been any place where my bags were kept for more than a day and I had a place to lie my head. As of present, my residence is physically located off a quaint and quiet street in a suburb of Lenexa, Kansas. I, however, would not describe this location as my home. There's that old clique saying, "Home is where the heart is;" I might have to agree with such a statement.
My heart dwells off of Prospect Avenue and 39th Street in the heart of Kansas City's inner-city. It rides along the metro one mile west to Troost Avenue, or at times seven miles north up to Independence Avenue. Littered sidewalks strewn with broken glass, cigarettes, and food wrappers are my home's decorative highway; boarded up and run down buildings are its eloquent castles. My neighbors range from all skin types and colors, but it's obvious that my pigment is more of an anomaly amongst the majority African-American population. Nothing of its landscape is picturesque to an outsider; more so it's an area that few "visitors" from Johnson County desire to pass through. Corner liquor stores are its notoriety and frequent murders and violence grant it newsworthy fame. I live in an area of desolation, where political officials turn a blind eye to its physical, emotional, and spiritual condition, and where weary parents are struggling to encourage their children to go to school. Baby mama's are seen touting their infants around and nameless crowds wait in the heat, cold, or rain for their next bus to arrive. This is where I live; this is where my heart is.
When dusk arrives I’m forced to depart from my city. I load my daughter in my ancient and small green stick-shift and with sorrow set out on the journey to return to a “better” side of town. We spent the afternoon praying for our city and people off of 27th and Forest, before heading to Brighton and Independence where we shared fellowship with our friends at a ministry named Bessie’s House. Cigarette smoke was the perfume like a thick cloud permeating the air and loud arguments and playful conversations hummed like an uninterrupted symphony around us. Friends with missing teeth and sunken eyes excitedly reached out to hold my daughter; minds lacking their full capacity and hearts broken and abused were tenderly touched by her innocent and impartial love towards them. Both overweight and starving women bustled around us as though we were in the midst of an eccentric ballet; clothes were scattered throughout our surroundings as each modeled outfits for one another given as charity by strangers. Glimpses of peace and joy flitted around the room like a sparrow rising and resting as a tide on various weary spirits. Moments of life and love were experienced and shared that would prayerfully grant the women the grace to endure another night of suffering. I pray Jesus by His Spirit ministers to them.
These women are the face of Kansas City, the face that few see and that many turn downcast eyes from when confronted by their presence. This is where I live; this is where my heart is. I live amongst these women; this is where my heart remains when I depart for the day.