Brad and I got to eat dinner with several young adults who are interning in the most dangerous neighborhood of our city. They are working for a ministry that is hoping to turn the neighborhood around “in a distinctively Christian way.”
The ministry has had remarkable success, and has received much applaud and funding from our “safe” side of town.
But I found myself confessing a dirty secret to these interns who are giving their whole efforts to physically be near those who are in need: We Christians on the “safe” side of town prefer to stay where we are. We’re happy sending our prayers and money. But we have been taught to stay out of rough neighborhoods. And we continue to teach our children the same lesson.
Forget the gospel. Forget loving those in need. Forget the verse that says that God “gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love.”
We will focus on the shootings, and the prostitution, and the violence; we will choose not to focus on the opportunity to meet needs in the name of Jesus. We are scared to step foot into the darkest places. I told the interns, “I am scared.”
One of them, who has always lived within blocks of the area, looked confused. “Why? What are you scared of?” she asked.
I blubbered a lame answer about the danger of the area, admitting that it was faithless and not Christ-like.
Another girl spoke up. “What some Christians don’t understand is that God will keep you safe if He wants you safe, no matter where you are. If He thinks you can learn something from getting robbed, then you may get robbed anywhere. Even on the safe side of town. He is the one who keeps us safe.”
I knew she was right.
That question still rings in my head.
What are we scared of?