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lessons from the city

Thursday, February 20, 2014

After having lived in the inner city for six months, I can say without a doubt that I am no expert on poverty. Rather, I have barely begun to scratch the surface. But, despite my true ignorance, I want to share some things that I am learning on this journey...this journey which is leading me deeper into the heart of God.
 
Lesson #1 I am convinced, more than ever before, that the Church is the only hope for this hurting world. Individual Christians cannot change their homes, their neighborhoods and certainly not their world alone. We need one another! The church is built only through a body of believers, given over in love to one another and to the Lord, who are also willing to give themselves to the world.

In Matthew 5:14, Jesus calls us to be a "city on a hill." A city has homes, families, businesses, safety, friendliness, gardens, life and love. We cannot be a city on a hill by just going to church on Sunday. Jesus has asked for our lives; for every part of us. In return, He gives us His most Holy Spirit. It is that Spirit, living in us, who will transform our neighborhoods. He will build that city on a hill, as we give ourselves to Him and to one another.

 
Lesson #2 There are struggles in the inner city that I knew not of; things that I truly never considered. Of course, I expected to encounter abandoned houses, drugs, violence and prostitution. But, what I didn't expect? Sewage pipe leakage.

When we moved into our (beautiful) home, one of our children experienced a great deal of anxiety. About a month after our move-in, David discovered not one, not two, but thirteen sewer pipe leaks. Thirteen. After he fixed them, our precious child's anxiety disappeared. How many people in the inner city live like this? How many people have sewage pipe leakage and don't even know it?
 
So far, every single house that David has worked on in our neighborhood has had problems with sewage pipe leakage. There has not been one exception. How many children are suffering with the effects of this? How many people are struggling with their health, but have no idea why, and if they did know why, would have the means to fix the problem? Poverty brings about issues that, in my middle class life, I never considered before.
 
Lesson #3 The reality is that, if we had to, my family could leave the inner city. If our lives, health, etc. were in serious danger, we would not have to stay. Most people who live here, however, do not have that option. Where would they go? How can you move from a house that cost $20,000 (which is not uncommon in our neighborhood) to a house that cost $200,000 (or more) in a middle class neighborhood? And how would you find a job, or transportation in that neighborhood? For most people who live here, this is their home and it will always be their home. Oh friends, do you see the need for that city on the hill??? Please pray for our little body of believers to trust and love Jesus so much that He can use us to build His most precious church.
 
Lesson #4 Gratefulness abounds here. People have come to our door for the use of a phone, medical supplies and chocolate (okay, I just gave him the chocolate, he didn't ask for it!). They were all grateful.  Many in this neighborhood are so used to getting the leftovers--poor quality food, poor workmanship on their homes, and poor service--that when they get something better, they express such gratitude. David has had rave reviews for the work that he has done on people's houses in this neighborhood. They are just so glad to have the work done quickly, efficiently and correctly. They are grateful.

 
Lesson #5 Jesus loves the people in this neighborhood. He loves the scrappers, who walk down the street with their shopping carts, collecting metal cans to take to the recycling which is around the corner. He loves the single mom who cannot find a job to take care of her family. He loves the prostitute who lives a few doors away from us. He loves the recently immigrated Vietnamese family who does not speak any English. And He loves all of the wonderfully ordinary people, who simply happen to live in this precious little neighborhood in Kansas City.
 
He loves them all.
Passionately.
 
I am learning some things in the inner city. May the most important of these be to love them all, each and every one, with the love of my most beautiful Jesus.
 

6 comments:

Rebecca said...

This is great stuff! Thank you for sharing!

Waitingfaithfully said...

Sarah,

As always sweet friend, your words bless my heart and give me much to ponder-- beyond that, your life and the example you set, encourages me to do more-- and to shine brighter for Him.

Thank you Bandimere Family for all you are doing to show His perfect love to Kansas City!

Love you,

Tina

No Greater Love said...

Beautiful

Kathleen T. Jaeger said...

I love these thoughts, thanks for sharing your reflections.

Gwen said...

This is very interesting. I am fascinated by your whole inner city experience, since I have never lived in a big city, let alone an inner city. Thanks for sharing.

CanadaGin said...

Lovely. I am trying to find such a church. In the meantime I am trying one situation at a time to help those less fortunate than I because I know they have gifts that can help me too

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