Many Stories Make A Person

Genesis 1:27, "So God made man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

         Although what I have to say could really apply to any community, I believe it is of utmost importance for those who are called to serve in under-resourced urban neighborhoods. You might say,"people are people regardless of where they live," to that I would agree, but I believe the wider diversity, ethnically and culturally found in urban settings, coupled with such factors as generational poverty, poorly functioning schools, lack of employment opportunities, and sub-standard housing can create many layers impacting someone's life.

          The potential of so many factors should really cause us to be very deliberate in how we develop relationships. We must allow the wisdom in James 1:19, "Know this, my beloved brothers:let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger," to guide our interactions. We cannot allow our "supposed" understanding of someone's situation to influence our interactions with them. Dr. John Perkins developed his 3R's of Christian Community Development starting with, "relocation", he knew it was necessary to live among the people he hoped to minister with. The development of these kind of relationships can be a very slow process. We must walk alongside others with transparent vulnerability in order to nurture trusting, healthy, and meaningful relationships. We can not allow ourselves to be influenced by one story or factor.

            Regardless of someone's situation and how marred God's image in them is, we must always be mindful of the truth in Genesis 1:27. We also have to constantly remind ourselves of Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." In this age of microwaves, drive throughs, and instant news on the screen we stare at, we need to follow Micah's wisdom in chapter 6 verse 8, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."

Compassionate Gentrification

For many the idea of gentrification in urban neighborhoods is the equivalent of forced relocation for many of the residents who have been there for years. The folks who have struggled as the larger community refocused priorities away from the inner city, the people who really kept things together as best they could as resources were moved to other areas, can find themselves unable to afford the increasing rents or even not being able to recognize what was once home due to the influx younger, more affluent people taking advantage of the lower property values, as they "take back the city".

Truly if we are being about our Father's business as we seek to lift up Beechwood, then we must be intentional about protecting our neighbors from the aforementioned threats. Yes we desire to see our neighborhood flourish and the lives of all the residents improve, but not at the expense of anyone's sense of belonging. As we read in Jeremiah 29:7 "But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."