Just move here, live here, be married here, be present and your impact will be beyond measure. In more or less words this was the greatest impact left upon my heart from my time living among one of the men and women in St. Louis three years ago. Like most things in life, when your heart and head align in a moment of clarity, it is extremely freeing and yet pressures you the most. Pressuring because I know we can’t do it. Our lives, our marriage has never been and never will be the epitome of success. The lack of being able to do it frees us up because in the midst of our struggles and failures we can point to Jesus. Generations have come before us and leave a legacy of dedicated, outward focused lives.
Life in the hood is going to be different and hard. Yet, moving into a neighbourhood is exactly what Christ did. To know and experience the pains and problems of our neighbours will speak volumes. Their problems aren’t just theirs any more they will be ours. We trust that God has placed us (or will when we move) in the city to be salt and light. Dr. Keith Philips, president of World Impact, tells the story of a missionary couple and their four kids they raised in the city. The wife, Dennete was at home washing the dishes looking out the window directly above the sink. She watches as two men come in view and one of them just decks the other guy. The dishes can wait, she goes to the front door and opens as she does she hears another man say I am going to get you. They all dispersed, but not for long. This time instead of just two men there are two groups with weapons of all sorts. Dennete then moved off the porch and stepped in between the two groups. She said “in the name of Jesus I command you to stand down.” The two groups backed away and that day no fathers were taken to jail, no families were broken up. Without the presence of this missionary and the power of the Spirit to love and serve and be a blessing to this community the results would have been disastrous.
It may not seem like much but the life of a dedicated disciple of Christ living in a place where so few know who He is, can make a big impact. That is why we raise support, that we are freed up financially so our lives in the everyday can rub off on people, our yard work, our grocery shopping, our praying, and our words will impact our neighbours.
Three years ago when I lived in St. Louis another missionary and I were walking down the street. It was just a normal day of being out and meeting folks. As we were walking a car slowed down just a bit and with a head stuck out the window a guy yelled “YOU LIVE HERE?”, we both responded with a head shake and answered in the affirmative. As they sped away he yelled back “F%*# YEAH”. I don’t know if it was excitement or bewilderment but either way our presence in the city on a normal day resonated with that guy in some way.
Does God work here? That’s the question people in the hood ask. Sure we will follow Him when we can move out and get a house but here in this neighbourhood and these pains, naw. We live where we serve so that people asking that question can see God does indeed work right where you are.