Posts Tagged ‘urban’

“The contrast between the world of wealth the stadium represents and the deplorable conditions in which its neighbors live is barely one of the social sequels of the partnership between the county and the Marlins.  That partnership is among the worse deals for the public that has ever been struck in an American city, sealed without government officials even examining the Marlins’ allegations of poverty.”

Read More: Two Miamis clash on one street – Daniel Shoer Roth – MiamiHerald.com.

Because a Large Population of People Live There

Our inner-cities are a diverse, active and exciting part of modern society.  Some things about the city are easy to celebrate and enjoy – the cultural, educational and social opportunities.  But at the same time, our cities are also permeated with their share of difficulties such as poverty, hopelessness, crime, drug abuse, illiteracy and other tragedies.  Those that inhabit our inner-cities have in many cases fallen victim to years of urban decay, neglect, oppression and limited opportunities.

In most of the large cities in the United States approximately one half of the geographic area in those cities is now considered urban. This is typical in most of our larger cities; New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and even in many medium size cities.

Note: the word “urban” can carry with it a great deal of baggage.  The reference here is not intended to identify various groups of people, whether by income level or by racial or ethnic background, but to only identify the neglected and oppressed areas of our cities that are often diverse and multicultural.

A disproportionate percentage of our country’s ethnic minorities live in urban areas.  Overall, 29 percent of U.S. families live in the city.  Yet, 58 percent of African-American families and 54 percent of Hispanic families live in the inner-city.  As you can see, ethnic minorities are really ethnic majorities in many of our cities.

We are talking about a large percentage of the population in the United States.  On an international scale we are talking about a large percentage of the world’s population.  It was Jesus who said to “go into all the world” with the Gospel.  Since our inner-cities are a large part of that world, Christians should be deeply concerned for reaching the inner-city as well as other parts of the world.

Because the People There are Poor

Most U.S. ministry resources target our middle to upper middle class population.  In contrast, the resources of Jesus (His time and energy) prioritized going to the poor.  Jesus preached to the poor, (Luke 4:18).  The scriptures prove this over and over.  Just look in a concordance for all the references to the poor.

You will see that God truly emphasizes going to the poor and ministering to the oppressed.  Obviously, a majority of poor people today are found in our inner-cities.  Therefore, from what we see in the scriptures, these areas are very precious to the heart of God and a top priority in His view of things.  And they should also be a priority in the view of Godly Christians who are following His Word.

Because There’s an Open Door.

In I Corinthians 16:9, the Bible talks about an open door.  This indicates that we should look around to observe where God is already at work and has already opened doors for our ministries to serve Him.  There is no place where the doors are more open than in the inner-city.  People are looking for help; they will accept help from spiritual sources.  There are no problems getting building permits or occupancy permits for ministries or churches.  The government, businesses, neighbors; everyone is happy for you to do anything that will help people in need.  There are very few restrictions.  We should not take this for granted.  For now the door is open, let us walk through it while we can.

God emphasizes by means of His instruction and example – that ministry to the poor and oppressed are high on His priority list.  A majority of poor people today are found in the urban areas of our cities.  Ray Bakke has said, “We must keep the urban poor high in our priorities.  The poor are no less sinners than the rich are, but they have also been sinned against.  They are the victims of other people’s sins and injustices.  Our ministries must be accompanied by a struggle for justice and righteousness.  Many Christians are missing the point that social action is not done in order to communicate the gospel, but as a sign or evidence that the gospel has already been received and acted upon.”

In looking at these three simple answers to the question, “Why Go to the City,” it is easy for some of us to feel some emotions of conviction and guilt.  That is not the intention here at all, however do not ignore those feelings either.  Ask God to help you see where they come from and what it is He would like to teach you, or have you do about those feelings.

Renewing the City with Hope, Compassion and Justice

Do you feel compassion for those who are less fortunate?  Do you want to really make a difference in the lives of others?  Do you feel called to serve the poor or teach in an urban school?  Are you sensing a prodding to invest yourself in an under-served community?  Do you have a driving compulsion to reach at-risk youth and/or young adults in need?  If you feel the tug of these questions, you may be hearing your calling to serve.

Recently I was digging through some old files I used previously for training in youth outreach and educational settings.  I found an old document, titled “What Being a Youth Worker Ought to Do for You.” This one page of ought to statements have been passed around youth ministry circles for years.  When I worked for Young Life these words repeatedly helped challenge and encourage myself and others to serve.

These ought to statements are such a realistic, powerful and challenging set of truths.  I have used this piece and adapted it to fit many different scenarios; whether it has been working with privileged youth, under-served youth, schools, or whole communities.

Instructions: Read, allow time to marinate, and digest slowly.

WHAT SERVING THE POOR OUGHT TO DO FOR YOU

  • Ought to seem so unreachable and big that you can only see it through the eyes of Christ by faith.
  • Ought to be harder than you can handle on your own, to make you more dependent on God.
  • Ought to give you enough disappointments to make you humble and break your spiritual pride.
  • Ought to be difficult enough to make you weep for others, that you might become more compassionate.
  • Ought to have enough demanding, insensitive, ungrateful people in it to make you love like Jesus loves.
  • Ought to have enough impossible, insurmountable obstacles in it to teach you the goodness and power of God.
  • Ought to teach you how to love when you are tired, give when you are spent, and pray when you are weary.
  • Ought to teach you the power and truth of His word, the strength of His voice and the might of His commands.
  • Ought to teach you how to turn your mourning into dancing, your sadness into joy and your sorrow into laughter.
  • Ought to teach you to love the only One worthy of all our love – the One who became poor that you might become rich and unjust so that you might become just.

I offer these challenging reflections to any who feel called to be in service to the poor.  I offer them as a way to know the power of God, and hoping that this knowledge will lead us to move forward in renewing the city with compassion, hope, and justice.

Proverbs 29:7 NIV – The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.