I’ve been a city-center minister for going on eleven years now. I’ve said many times this was not something I ever imagined. I had lots of assignments in my life, and I approached each one as a personal mission. Get things done, meet the challenge.
Fix it, move on.
But city-center ministry doesn’t lend itself to that, and it took years to appreciate it. Sometimes, the mission is to walk with hurting people over time.
For about eight years I’ve served on the Clean and Safe Committee, a function of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP). The Clean and Safe Committee brings together business owners, city agencies, police, non-profits, churches, and residents. In the last year, Pittsburgh, like nearly every other city, has experienced an increase in homelessness, drug use, aggressive behavior, and more. As the PDP, residents, and the media focused on the problems, the city responded with more police and stepped up enforcement of laws against drug dealing and aggressive behavior.
Things have gotten better lately.
But even more encouraging is that the church’s message of walking with hurting people across time has been getting through. More people seem willing to volunteer and serve. More people seem to understand that those suffering from addiction or mental illness are human beings who are precious to God. More understand the need to walk with hurting people over time.
When writing to a hurting church in Corinth, whose members were tempted to give in to the pressures of the world, the Apostle Paul encouraged them by saying, “God is faithful.”
Because Christ was faithful to walk with us, we can be faithful to walk with others.