|A photo taken in the Bywater area while leading missions teams|
in New Orleans with Kaleo Missions in 2016
These questions generally aren't asked out of basic curiosity or interest. They are generally asked in confusion because doing ministry in those kinds of places does not line up with the American dream. This is because doing ministry like that is not always the safest and you are not in complete control when you're there and you are not separated from those society often deems as less. So doing ministry in the Philips neighborhood, the Powderhorn neighborhood, college towns, or the French Quarter is not what most would call the American dream but who really cares about that? When it comes down to it, I care much more about following Jesus than I do about following the American dream and I really think you should too.
I think we have watered down Christianity to the point where we think of Jesus as this "safe", quiet man who sat with "good" Godly folks and we try to imitate that Jesus. However, when I read the New Testament I encounter a Jesus who sat with tax collectors and prostitutes and everyone else that society set aside. (If you want some examples, just google it. You will find there are plenty to go around.) But we don't encourage folks to imitate that kind of Jesus much these days. We call them foolish and reckless instead. But isn't sitting with the modern day tax collectors and prostitutes and everyone else exactly what we are also called to do? Before departing the world Jesus said "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV). Jesus calls us to do exactly as He did. While Jesus did ministry in many expected places, He didn't stop there. He ministered to people everywhere and so should we. We are called to speak the Gospel to our co-workers and in our neighborhoods and in our schools and also in the slums and the streets downtown.
|A photo taken of Puerto Maldonado, Peru while on a mission trip|
here in 2016
And yes, doing ministry in the Philips neighborhood, in Dinkytown, and in the French Quarter is not the easiest. And yes, sometimes it can feel very dark in those places. But those places are where Christ's light can shine even brighter and even when the darkness seems to overcome us we can know that Christ goes before us and that He is with us always until the end of the age. As I sit in the French Quarter, I look around every Saturday night and I see brokenness. I see broken people trying to fill the cracks in their lives with drugs and alcohol. The problem is this: that stuff never fills you up. Not even close. Brokenness and darkness seems to flood these streets just like the hurricane once did, but that doesn't mean there is no light. In fact, the light of Christ seems to shine even brighter here. This place, Vieux Carre Baptist Church, is one of those bright beacons of hope. It is because of people like the ones here that I still have hope. People come here when they are in the middle of their deepest despair and they see hope. They see how Christ can completely change their lives. And it is in this darkness they can clearly see the light.
Now, don't get me wrong. When you start trying to mess with the enemy's plans, he will try to stop you and discourage you. But never forget who you are in Christ. You are a soldier commissioned to fight a battle truly worth fighting in. You have been commissioned by the King to go out and save souls. How could you possibly reject that calling?
|A phoro of the Dallas skyline taken on a mission trip here in 2014|
So we must declare the Deliverer in the darkness, bring the Bread of Life bravely down Bourbon Street, and continue carrying the cross of Christ into the chaos because when we do that we do as Jesus did and share hope with people different yet so similar to us. And when we do this, we can know that Jesus goes before us. And as always, we are to go as a family because we are stronger when we are united.