[Today I’m honored to write about what I’m currently DOing.  It’s part of my friend Mandy’s month-long series, “Don’t just live there – DO something”.  To learn all about it, click here.] 

 

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.  Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.  (Jeremiah 29:7)

Over the past six years, God has called this suburban girl to different cities (Camden, Durham, Atlanta, and now Boston) and placed me in very different nonprofit roles in each of them.  Whether working with urban youth, domestic violence victims, homeless individuals, or working poor families, the common thread has been working on behalf of and with those living in urban poverty.  I’m not a social worker.  I’m just trying to follow Jesus by using my skills to benefit the communities where He’s placed me.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve got a lot of preconceived notions about those around us in need.  And it’s only when we are willing to look them straight in the eyes that we will begin to understand their humanity.  Please do not be deceived.  It’s dignity they seek.  Not a handout at arm’s length. 

I remember very clearly the moment when I understood God was calling me to spend a summer in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities.  It wasn’t because I felt comfortable or equipped to do so.  It was because He reminded me that He dwells even in the most undesirable places. 

Jesus walked to places where no one else would go.  He touched people whom no one else would touch.  The God who saved me loves someone living in poverty (whether by their own choices or not) just as much as He loves me.  So I will love them too.  I don’t know what that means for each season of my life.  But I know that I want more than anything to be where my Savior is. 

That may mean getting in where it’s dirty and going where most think it’s not a good idea.  It may mean some challenging long-term investments that require more than just my money.  And it will definitely mean understanding the poverty of my own soul, so that I approach others in humility. 

People who have it all together have no need for a doctor.  Jesus came for the sick (Luke 5:30-32).  And that’s who He spent His time with.  I find it interesting how He prioritized His time on this earth, knowing it would be far shorter than most lives.  And He spent it with the marginalized, the sinful, the weak, the ones who had nothing to offer Him. 

And those who pretended that they did watched Him from a distance.

May we be among those who follow Him to lifeless places in our own communities that we might there witness the Resurrection and the Life.

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