In May of this year, my husband, Mark and I felt a pull to invest more of our time into Sun Ministries’ newest location in Barnsdall, Oklahoma. It came as a surprise to us— a small family of city-dwellers who have spent the last 9 years in the Hyde Park neighborhood of inner-city St. Louis. Barnsdall is a little bit different, to say the least.
For all of their differences, though, rural America and urban America definitely have some parallels. A quick drive through the streets of both places will show you the obvious— vacancy, poverty, isolation. If I put my feet on the ground and look a little closer, there are even more similarities. Homelessness, addiction, division. An even closer heart-look reveals the things that sit closest to my spirit. Hopelessness, despair, indignity, distrust.
Even with bleak similarities, there are beautiful parallels, too. Warm, hardworking people. Gorgeous sunny days. Tall old trees sheltering homes and lives. And the most beautiful, dawning thing. It’s the thing that pulled us here. It’s the mission of Jesus.
When Jesus began His ministry, he stood in the temple and read His mission statement from the prophetic scripture of Isaiah. He made a public statement that this is what He came to do. This is how He was going to change the world. This was how He was going to extend radical, life-giving transformation to anyone and everyone who would take it.
“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”” (Luke 4:17-21)
This was the way that Jesus chose to step into His ministry. It is the mission that He declared for Himself, and in turn declares for all who choose to follow Him.
His disciples are His plan for carrying out His mission. They are His plan for binding up broken hearts, proclaiming liberty to captives, bringing good news to the poor...
Christians: He doesn’t have a back up plan— not for St. Louis, or Barnsdall, or the world.