“Where there are no oxen the stable is neat, orderly and safe; but without oxen, there is no real chance for breakthrough.” (Proverbs 14:4 paraphrase)
Often times we look at the misfortune in our inner cities and conclude that the dysfunction we see is representative of the whole community. But that is far from the truth; as a matter of fact, the majority of citizens in our inner cities are hardworking, law abiding, neighborly citizens. Many know God and honor Him with lives of faith and virtue.
However the percentage of our communities that reflect poorly educated, marginally parented and negatively peer-influenced residents is unacceptable; though it only accounts for the minority of the total. A neighborhood cannot thrive if 25 to 40 percent of its children are not literate at age 18, or if that same range of potential is unemployed and incarcerated. These faces at the bottom of the well in society may be silent, may be invisible, but they have a devastating effect on the destiny of a neighborhood.
The Partners of Desire Street have responded to God’s call to re-occupy the stables with godly care, nurture, leadership and relationship in the midst of significant disappointment, frustration and bewilderment. These heroes of the faith will invest hundreds of hours to lead a man out of the clutches of drug addiction. They will finally convince this young man to check into a faith-based rehab center; they will engage a group of Christians who will pledge to walk alongside him and secure the income to pay for his treatment and help care for his family while he is away. And then in great disarray and discouragement, that man will check himself out of rehab after only 2 days, forfeiting his real chance for deliverance and healing. The stable looks and feels full of emotional debris and just plain messed up at that point.
Our partners experience this acute contextual anguish on a regular basis. But praise be to God; many of the families who our partners serve—people who are on the fringes of comprehensive survival—choose to capitalize on this extraordinary opportunity for transformation and they accept the invitation to become new creatures in Christ! They then join the club that we all belong to; as followers of Christ, the old things are passing away and behold all things are becoming new…. The stables are restored, hearts are transformed, neighborhoods are revived!!!
Ministry is gritty; but the victory is well worth the engagement of our whole hearts to love our neighbors as ourselves.