In response to the events in the city there has been an overwhelming effort toward the physical needs and an underwhelming effort toward the issues of justice and righteousness.Justice and righteousness are the more challenging and long-term work. But they are also a part of God’s heart. What would change if we were committed to see justice and righteousness flow through our streets?
The Church needs to commit to the long term work of equipping disciples who make disciples. In my work with juveniles charged as adults I’ve observed that many youth are with adults when committing serious crimes. Many people have criticized the youth of our city but I wonder how many of us are involved in one youth’s life? What if we had adults showing them a different way?
There have been many people positioning themselves for power, platforms, or profit. It was painful to watch people vie for the spotlight and the microphone to capitalize from the attention of a city’s pain. What would we learn if we listened to those who are doing the most and speaking the least?
My Top 3 Recommendations
Potential is rarely fulfilled or realized without opportunity.This is true for many youth in the city but it is also true for many servant-leaders in the city. There are many leaders with great potential to impact the city but their opportunities are limited. So here are my 3 top recommendations of how people can get involved.
Financially invest in a person. There are leaders who possess great passion, skill, and relationships but have little resources. Find someone who is positioned to make an impact and gather others to financially support their efforts. What would happen if the dream of leaders became realities in our city? Here is someone you can support today:
Jeff Thompson–I will place my reputation on this sentence: Jeff Thompson is a hidden jewel that can have great impact in the city of Baltimore. For the purpose of this blog I will refrain from writing all I would like about this brother in Christ. Jeff is a former football player at Univ. of Delaware (He played with Flacco but don’t tell him I mentioned it.), young (30), African-American, godly man, husband, and father. He has all the skill, ability, and potential to have an impact on the youth and young men in this city. He has a vision start a football league in Baltimore that is similar to a ministry called Timoteo in Philadelphia. Visit Timoteo’s Facebook page to get a glimpse of what could be in Baltimore. I would love to introduce you to Jeff. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Personally invest your skill. Many great leaders need help with administration, organization, budgeting, marketing, IT, and volunteers to do the work. What would the city look like if ministries and non-profits had no lack of people to do the work?
Join with others and serve. Link arms, sweat, and serve with people who are laboring in the city. This is a great opportunity to build relationships, gain on the ground perspective, and benefit from what the city has to offer you.
Every summer we serve the people in our city for a weekend. Groups from other churches also participate in this event as a summer mission trip. Join us! Get more information on this serving opportunity called City Uprising.
I’ve found that the most difficult biographies to enjoy are those that are blatantly biased. The authors’ bias blinds them from the flaws that actually add complexity and depth to the character. The truth is, “There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us” (MLK). The divisive arguments of our time remind me of a biased biography; they blind us from the ‘some evil’ in us and the ‘some good’ in others.
As strong as we may feel about what has happened in Baltimore, none of us have the full picture. We actually need each other to fully understand the complexity and depth of the task before us. I’ve learned that pain and brokenness show no favoritism to opinions, class, race, or position. And neither does healing. We all need healing. The truth is:
We all have something to contribute.
We all have something to lose.
We all have something to gain.
As Jesus taught us to love our enemies he reminded us that rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). In the quote mentioned above, Martin Luther King ended his thought with this sentence: “When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
In all of this we are reminded that there is power in loving our enemy. But our biases can blind us from even loving our friends. You may disagree with someone else’s thoughts but it doesn’t mean they have nothing valuable to say.
In my previous blog I wrote about help that leads to healing. Below is more detail of my thoughts. This isn’t exhaustive. There are many issues to address. The big point in this blog is that we will not resolve the moral wounds of our city by only providing physical relief. Here are three ways that individuals or groups can get involved with the healing in Baltimore.
1. Time addresses the wound of indignity. You’ve heard it before, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Giving is easier and expeditious. Teaching requires time and patience. The act of teaching someone enables them to see their ability to not only receive but to also provide. This understanding benefits their family, their community, and their future. So I recommend investing time in mentoring people or invest money in those who do.
2. Bridges address the wound of ignorance. We need people to be bridges of understanding that close the gap of ignorance. Ignorance isn’t stupidity, it’s just a lack of information. We live in a city where the strength of our diversity has been weakened by the opposition of our differences. People who are bridges don’t stand on either side of opposing views. Instead, they have a footing on both sides, the flexibility to span the differences, and the resolve to bind in agreement. We need to be bridges for the gaps of understanding between economic classes, races, generations, and cultures.
3. Consistency addresses the wound of abandonment. Addiction, imprisonment, and irresponsibility have heightened the levels of instability in our families. Too many people have been hurt by abandonment. It’s happened in my life and I hear about it in the lives of so many others. I’ve learned that the act of showing up has more impact than the abundance of my words. Consistency dispels the lie that people are not worth the commitment. Many people have showed up in the city this week–and it’s beautiful! I am grateful for the help. If you want to be a part of the healing, then keep showing up. Whatever support you’ve offered this week–offer it for the rest of the year. Assure the community that you aren’t supporting them out of pity for their pain. But you support them out of purpose for their potential to be fulfilled.
I should admit that these are not just ideas. These are principles that I’ve learned and practiced as I serve in Baltimore. People are the invaluable resource in the success of these three principles. So even if your only resource to offer is money, then invest it in people who are taking time to teach, building bridges, and continue to show up.