While in college, every couple of months or so in our weekend ministry we would have "Project Day." We would go the absolute worst areas of Chicago and invite kids to special church services we would put on. Some of the areas are pretty notorious... Cabrini Greens and Robert Taylor homes were the most popular ones.
The first time I went, I was a brand new freshman and was scared out of my mind!! We were told to smile as big as you can, always make sure they can see you are wearing a tie, never keep your hands in your pockets, let them know immediately you are from "the Indiana church," and always carry the biggest Bible you can find. Most of the older students would carry big family Bibles.
I've seen some crazy stuff while there. I've stood in a pool of blood, not knowing until it was too late. I cut my hand on a piece of glass while playing on the basketball court, needed eight stitches. Walked through several drug deals in progress. Crack-heads all over the place. Had a gun pulled on me twice.
After being there a few times, my friends and I knew what to expect. We got comfortable, too comfortable. We started pushing the envelope... probably a little too far. I don't know how we walked out alive!
One time my friend Matt was knocking on a door when a voice mumbled, "Who is it?"
"ITS MATT!" he said with a childlike exited voice.
"ITS MATT!" he said again even more exited.
Finally a woman opened the door. She was obviously hopped up on some sort of goof-balls. Her afro was sticking out all over the place and her eyes were bloodshot.
"Who are you?" she asked face to face.
"ITS MATT!" he said with the same stupid voice.
"I don't know you." She said.
"You don't know me like that. Woo! Woo!" he replied, rapping the popular Ludacris song.
"You don't know me like that. Woo! Woo!" he said again, "why you all in my ear, talkin' a whole bunch of..." he rapped even more of the song. I was down the hall doubled over laughing which just fueled ever more. He proceeded to tell her that Bill Clinton was down stairs and need her to sign a petition and she need to be there in ten minutes. She never showed up.
I have several other stories about losing kids, and playing pranks on the crack-heads. But I am too ashamed to talk about that....