Inner City Shadows

City lights and skyscrapers are two of my favorite things about New York City. In fact, I am drawn to any place that has these things, especially if the city is near water. New York City takes the cake on those things as far as US cities are concerned. I love it here. I love flying into La Guardia Airport at night when the flight route takes you right over Manhattan. Some people see beauty in nature…I see it in city lights.

Where there is light, there is a shadow. I’m not a scientist, so maybe there is some exception to that rule, but as far as I know, you can’t have one without the other. New York City is a city full of light. It is also a city of dark shadows.

Mott Haven is considered by many to be a place of darkness. Honestly, there are many days where I buy into that idea myself. It is a neighborhood full of very difficult circumstances. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear someone, if not more than one, cursing as they walk down the street, or while talking to their children. I cringe when I see parents treat their children like they do not matter. It is a place with many negative cycles. Cycles of poverty. Cycles of oppression. Cycles of abuse.  Cycles of neglect. Cycles of laziness. It is a neighborhood where children and teens grow up without much hope for a better future.

 Graffiti 2 is a light in the darkness that seems to consume Mott Haven. The thing about light in darkness is that the smallest light can pierce through the darkest of dark. We have many small lights at Graffiti 2. Children learning scripture through Bible Drill and positive virtues to live by. Teenagers, stepping up as the spiritual leaders in their family and sharing their faith with those at home. Parents investing in the lives of their children. A body of believers that meets on Sunday mornings.

I am blessed to be a part of this light. I pray for myself that I do not let darkness cover my light. When I am tired, worn out, frustrated with circumstances, facing a “problem”, and out of any ounce of patience, I pray there is still light shining from me. As long as there is a light, no matter how big or small, it is still a light in the midst of darkness.

~Ashley Emmert
Director of Children’s Ministries