Features | Autumn 2011


A Poem: Sit, Pray, Listen

Sit, Pray, Listen

By Glenn McCray and Nikkita Oliver


The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. Ask the LORD of the harvest to send workers into the fields.


They say I’m angry, full of hostility and rage, but they never take the time to check the source of my pain.


They say I couldn’t read by the end of third grade, and that’s a justification for the development of new chains.


But they never ask questions about my school and family frame;
They just assume we’re all alike; must be one in the same.


They say I’ll never change and I’m doomed to play the game,
But if they could hear the dreams I speak when I lay in bed and pray.


They say my life’ll end up one of two ways;
It’s gotta be jail or the grave.


But what do you a say?


Is there another way,
        Instead of starin’ at sterile wall,


Watin’ on Mama’s calls,
        Lawyers like fallin’ stones?


It ain’t easy livin’ life confined by jargon covered anticks,
Fightin’ the constant panic and ever changin’ tactics.


So, I’m wondering …


When will someone see that life can change for me and I can live how God created me to be?


I’m trying, but it seems like no one’s listenin’.


I hear there’s supposed to be fishers of men,
But ain’t nobody fishin’.


Contemplatin’ what it means to be a real Christian,
Cause I’m searchin’ till I find it cause it seems like somethin’s missin’.


Trying to focus

It’s hard to focus on my future when I get judged by my past.
         I’m tired of life like this.


Can’t keep watching’ my mom shed tears, fears compiled over the years, worrying that I won’t come home.
         I’m tryna’ to change.


But it’s hard when expectations limit me and these young cats mimic me.
        Yeah, I pray, but I question if God’s hearin’ me.
Joshua, age 16


Pushing hopes

Locked up for loitering, wondering where I’m supposed to be, group homes are unsatisfactory.
        I’m left pushin’.


Pushin’ hopes over the edge of my patience, cause I’m fed up with waiting for court dates and sentences.

        I’m searchin’ for a savior who doesn’t calculate my offenses.
Reality is, I’m standin’ defenseless,

         Leaning on prayer and a handful of verses.
Just wishin’ someone would sit and listen.
Tonya, age 17


What's my plan?

Glenn, I want to leave, but I can’t leave my homies to clean-up my mess.
         Plus, the streets be callin’, “Hey, Ricky.”


And it’s hard to leave a place when you feel you’ve been accepted.
         And the Church and the School leave me to feel rejected.


I look in the face of my son ad see my face reflected.
        And I can’t leave him as I am,
                  To be another fatherless child.


So what’s my plan?
        Good question,
                  Ima have to get back to you.
Ricky, age 17


Treadin' the sea

Had a baby at the age of 12,
        It wasn’t my choice, but circumstances forced me to delve into the streets.

        I’m feelin’ beat.


My parents moved from the islands,
         Hopin’ for a better life in a new land, but the U.S. has different demands.


I treadin’ the sea, clutchin’ on to anything.


One day this lady slipped a Bible in my hand,
        Somethin’ got ‘em readin’ about this God man.


And suddenly,
         I saw new footprints in the sand.


I’ve been to the mountain tops,
         And grace flows from above,
                  And abounds in the valleys below.


41 steps below the ground, exactly 41 steps.

And for some,
This is the only place they’ll hear about Jesus.
        So, we sit, we pray, we listen.


It’s a humbling experience when talking with a youth and in the midst of them responding to how they’re doing, they ask,
“How are you?”
– Jenae, age 16


So, we sit, we pray, we listen.


For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you cared for me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
Naked and clothe you, thirsty and give you something to drink,
A stranger and invite you in, sick and care for you, in prison and visit you.
I tell you the truth, whatever you do for the least of these you do for me.


Glenn McCray is a life-long resident of the Rainier Valley and a graduate of Rainier Beach High School. He has been a youth worker with Urban Impact since 2002 and a chaplain for two years.


Nikkita Oliver was born and raised in Indianapolis and graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 2008. After leaving her post-graduation position in the John Perkins Center, she served with Urban Impact as a dedicated youth worker for six years and continues to be ingrained in the lives of urban youth. Nikkita has been a chaplain for two years.

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