Cities are enormous matrixes of communities, systems, organizations, and lives. The complexities of all of these things are mind-blowing if you stop to think about it. There are cars, trains, buses, emergency response vehicles, trucks pulling freight, pedestrians, and cyclists. In addition, cities are full of buildings with individuals and organizations that immerse themselves in commerce, politics, education, medicine, food, recreation, and spirituality. Almost all of these different components and people intersect with one another on a daily basis. There are exchanges of money, ideas, pleasantries, goods, and services. These are just some of the things that make cities work and ultimately flourish.
Let’s take a closer look…
When we consider under-resourced communities within our cities there are myriad of forces and complexities at work. Harvard professor, Dr. Robert Sampson, articulates how poverty is essentially a magnet for additional adversaries in our under-resourced neighborhoods. He calls this phenomenon “compounded deprivation.” Neighborhoods that are under-resourced financially tend to have an increase in violent crime, shoddy education, drugs, broken homes, addiction, and hopelessness. These things oppose and strangle the businesses, health, aesthetics and the overall flourishing of the neighborhood. The widows, the orphans, the youth, and the most vulnerable ones in the community tend to struggle the most.
Let’s take an even closer look…
Thankfully the Lord has frontline soldiers laboring to address these issues. Many of these leaders and their ministries are representatives of the Body of Christ. They feel called of God to move into under-resourced communities and reach these neighborhoods with a gospel that is both seen and heard. This is done through education, health care, spiritual training, evangelism, healthy food program, mentoring, tutoring, and quality housing initiatives just to name a few.
Addressing these issues is arduous and daunting. Many times local ministries seem like mustard seeds pitted against concrete. Our urban ministry leaders often feel isolated and overwhelmed. The needs in their communities are myriad and never-ending. Often times they feel like they only have a few “fishes and loaves” to try and feed a multitude (Luke 9:10-17). The real threats of burnout, discouragement, and even depression are ever present.
Thankfully God has raised up Desire Street Ministries to rally around our urban ministry leaders so that they have a better chance of staying the course. Through coaching and training from seasoned urban ministry leaders, encouragement, prayer, and support Desire Street seeks to partner with leaders in a way that helps them flourish so that they can continue to see their ministries and communities flourish. In addition to meeting them in their foxhole and helping them where they are, Desire Street also provides retreats for our partners so that they can be renewed and refreshed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. These times of furlough are incredibly life-giving for them. The battles that our urban ministry leaders face are gigantic and they desperately need advocates and allies. Desire Street is grateful to intersect leaders, coaches, prayer warriors, financial supporters, and advocates, in a way that glorifies God and brings shalom to our cities.
Director of Leadership Development