We have been at CityTeam Oakland for two weeks now. Just a recap—while we all live at CityTeam Oakland, Rob, Chris, Adrian and Mike work there. CityTeam is a multi-purpose facility. It primarily runs an all-male program helping drug and alcohol abusers to recover from their addictions. CityTeam also has a shelter for the homeless, a food distribution program, and a medical clinic that runs each Thursday serving anyone in need.
The day begins for the men at 5:45 in the morning, when they are required to have breakfast (if you think that’s early, the person that cooks breakfast has to be there at around 3:30am..). They then have a series of programming throughout the day, such as Bible study, work with the twelve-step program of addiction recovery, tutoring. On top of that, they need to complete their own chores around the house, whether it be cooking, helping at the shelter, or cleaning the house.
We have spent most of our time getting to know the guys—through meals, programming that we attend, and games that we challenge them to (monopoly, chess, spades…and yes, one day we will share the joys of Settlers of Catan). Making friends with these men has been a huge blessing. Most of them have experienced a lot of difficult times. I’ll tell the story of one of our good friends, Louis (not his real name). Louis is one of the friendliest guys that we’ve met at the program. He has been an amazing cooking teacher for us, giving us tasks that were appropriate for our different levels of ability and that he thought we would find to be enjoyable. Louis became involved in the cooking industry when he began cooking at restaurants when he was younger. The restaurants he served at had a culture of drinking and drug use, and he fell into a cycle of making money followed by binge abuse for weeks at a time. He enrolled in several recovery programs but had relapses each time. Several months ago, he became a member of the CityTeam family. A couple weeks later, he had a relapse—he left CityTeam. In the rain. Six hours later in the rain, he began questioning what he was doing, turned back, and returned to CityTeam. Since then, he has been clean. God plays a huge role in his life. Throughout his difficult life, Louis has sought after the Lord. Louis shares his amazing talent in cooking at CityTeam out of his love for the Lord. Furthermore, the Lord has called him to serve beyond CityTeam. He plans to cook at a site similar to CityTeam after graduating from CityTeam’s 18-month program to serve the homeless and to share God’s love for the underserved.
We have been grateful for the time we have spent with the men in the program. They have been great brothers to us and have helped us to grow and connect with others different from ourselves. A lot of us have not experienced the pains that they have—we’re highly educated, we have not been battling vicious cycles of drug and alcohol addiction, we come from families that accept us—yet at the root, we are all filled with brokenness. The mere difference that we have had the better luck of the draw and started off in a better position in life (being born in a wealthier family or in a safer environment) has affected downstream many of our later actions, but it does not escape the fact that we are no less broken than anyone else in the program. We are just as in need of the Lord.