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Touching those who have no hope

We’ve done a lot of interactive training at camp. The refugee camp showed participants what it feels like to lose all your rights, your home, and your source of income. To experience the desperation that the homeless, addicts, and prostitutes feel, we created the “No Hope …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

We’ve done a lot of interactive training at camp. The refugee camp showed participants what it feels like to lose all your rights, your home, and your source of income.

To experience the desperation that the homeless, addicts, and prostitutes feel, we created the “No Hope Room.” Heather Mason played the part of a homeless woman. She wrote this about her experience:

“Desperate, alone, embarrassed and afraid. I was in
a forgotten world, where no one cared. Where people would walk passed me and
shudder at the sight or the smell. I would cry out to them, but they couldn’t
even make eye contact with me. I didn’t even exist! I was hopeless and no one
was there…

I was covered in the smell of fish, vinegar, urine, trash and beer.

We (the leadership team) all had different roles. People getting stoned, a
young teenager “cutting”, a man abusing his wife, a mother crying because her
baby was dying, homeless, suicide, someone just desperately screaming. The tent
was dark but we had strobe lights going and loud music. The participants were
pushed into the tent and told to make it to the other end. They were not aloud
to touch us or talk to us. As I would cry out sometimes even using their names
they didn’t know what to do. Some just started crying. Others laughed


a little bit of money, that is all I need. Just one more fix, and then I’ll
stop, I promise this is the last time”

Most of them hated being in there and went out quickly, others had to be
forced to leave. They all came through a second time after debriefing and were
then able to come and talk, pray or just be there. The music was still going;
we were still screaming… everything was the same the second time they came
through, but this time they knew they wanted to help. Some people collapsed
watching the abuse scene; others rushed over to the suicide scene and embraced
the young girl wanting to kill herself.

Saying “I have been where you are,
you don’t have to do this, there is hope, and His name is Jesus.”
came and just sat with me, held me hand and listened to me.

This is stuff that goes on every day;
We have turned our hearts and our heads too long. We need to start being Jesus
to these hopeless people who are crying out, screaming for answers. We don’t
hear their screams because we don’t listen with our hearts.”

Comments (6)

  • Amen! It was one of the best parts of the training to me. I am sooo grateful to be where I am today! It is because people, like you, cared enough to pour into my life.

    God bless the saints!

  • I need those times. I’m not sure why? Maybe because I live such a sheltered life in general that I need to be reminded of the reality of so many of my neighbors. The reality, often in our sheltered communities, is that we don’t really see or hear those hurting people. We’re too busy in our church ghetto, or too busy with our outreach activities to truly see and hear the hurting and broken, even as they come to said activities. Thank you for reminding me to watch for those who feel like a “used pair of shoes.” Even if I couldn’t be there, it was an excellent reminder. Now, any suggestions on how we could run a tent like that for a community youth staff training? Can you imagine a bunch of paid and volunteer youth workers (or even pastors) going through one of those?

  • It was just as powerful for me, playing the drug adict who was “cooking” crack in the No Hope room. People stopped and just wanted to hold me, and for me to look up into their face. The tears they saw running down my face were real. I began to know a little of what it must feel like to be in this situation. God used it to teach me as well.

  • Paul,
    We pass on all ideas and borrow ideas all the time. Our basic outline is to evaluate where our audience is at in spiritual and life maturity and then gage the level of hopelessness around that. We set up a dark area and blast nasty metal music. We make the place stink (sardines; urine; garbage all work). We get people to role play certain things: homeless person; druggie; cutter; suicide; domestic abuse; prostitution (male or female); screaming lady with a baby; a crowd of people saying negative things and dividing the teams who come in; ect.

    The team goes through it for about 30-60 seconds.

    Important things you must do to keep this from being a disaster:
    1. Pray constantly through the deal
    2. Have mature spirit filled people doing the role plays and debrief them afterwards 3. debrief the teams going through the exercise immediately and then send them through again 4. know your goals and stay focused or else it just becomes a haunted house

    I am willing to talk some time about it. This can easily be a disaster but so far we are 3 for 3 on it being a success.

  • Desperate, alone, embarrassed and afraid. I also feel that I live in a forgotten world, where no one cares. I have never been happy in my life ever since I lost everything I had including my car which I loved most. I even lost friends who ran away from me when they discovered that I was broke. I have reached a point where I can’t pay my debts. To make matters even more worse, I was scheduled for promotion last month but when the list of those promoted came out, my name was nowhere.No body bothered to tell me why I was not promoted, this situation has happened to me twice.How can I describe what’s happening to me…. I used to have a very successful life but things are not going well for me…..

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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