How do you decide where to live? Suburban? Inner city? Among the poor, the middle class, the wealthy? The answer is much simpler than we might expect.
As you hang out with people who are passionate about the poor, about impacting those who are stuck in undesirable neighborhoods, and who see relocation as a key component of their ministry, it's easy for some to take it wrong. Yes, these neighborhoods are in incredible need of people to plant themselves there in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus...but so are the suburbs. So are the hipster neighborhoods, the white collar communities, the rural towns.
We don't move to a spot simply because it's safe, close to Trader Joe's or has good schools. Neither do we move to be "saviors" or simply to eschew middle class values. Instead, our living is to be missional, focused on God and His will for us. Any other reason is a waste of time.
A friend of our work has moved into a neighborhood that contains many immigrants and refugees. Her life and heart are a challenge to us, especially as we've seen how living in communities of need opens doors of greater service. Yet, as she clearly communicates, where she lives is incidental to why she lives. Period. Below is an excerpt:
God called me to Charlotte to do exactly what I was created to do: To follow him. To seek his face. To give him glory. To depend on him. To love him with all my heart and soul and mind and strength.
God tells me that, loving him, I should love my neighbor. I followed him to a place where most of my neighbors—figuratively and literally—happen to be refugees. They're the people he's placed around me, for me to love, and that's what I'm trying to do.
My call is not to meet needs. My call is to follow Christ. So, for now, I just live here. I live here, seeking God's face and seeking God's will, knowing that—although I sometimes get confused and stumble off in the wrong direction—the God I seek is patient and slow to anger, and remembers that I am dust. I live here, working, and doing dishes, and paying bills, and making friends, and trying to love my neighbors, and sometimes failing, but always—amazingly—covered in and sustained by grace. I live here, hoping that my neighbors will see God's love through my life among them.
Photo Credits: John Ashley // used under a Creative Commons license.