Archives for posts with tag: calling to urban work

“I will send you far away”, Acts 22:21.

I am now reading Acts and was struck by this phrase in Apostle Paul’s speech before a very ugly crowd in Jerusalem.  When he adds another word “Gentiles”, the crowd roars.  Angry.  It becomes an uncontrollable situation.  The authorities step in.

Mission work sends us away some distance.  It may be miles.  It may be religious, cultural, social.

This six word phrase from Acts (NRSV translation) causes my soul to look back and “wonder how I got over” to serving as an urban missionary.  As someone born in Tokyo, raised in the woods of northern Minnesota, living my entire adult life in major American cities, adding gospel music to my formal training in classical music.  How did I get over?

I face no roaring crowd.  Instead, I am rather unnoticed.  I can’t say I prefer it another way.

But mission has sent me away.  Different places, people, ways of experiencing life.  I trust that for some of you, too.


Looking for an opportunity to serve in the name of Jesus in an under-resourced urban neighborhood?

Major David Harvey of the Chicago Kroc Center shares –

If you have a passion for sports or the arts and want to change the world by bringing

 Jesus to Kids trapped in a community of violence and few opportunities,

Keep reading…

 Job Postings

For Immediate Hire

 The Salvation Army

Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center

P.O. Box43095

Chicago,Illinois  60643



Positions Available

 Director Of Operations

 Sports and Fitness Director

 Facility Director

 Resource and Development Director

 Business Director

 Aquatics Director

 Education and Arts Director


To learn more or to apply, please visit our web site at:

Go to the CAREER page and read the descriptions and submit your resume.

We are now on ‘furlough’, what Salvation Army officers call vacation.  I am catching up on reading email.  Most of it:  delete.

I do check NY Times for Verlyn Klinkenborg columns, notes from friends (Dean Kellenburger’s Wisconsin outdoors news), and FCS Urban Perspectives from Bob Lupton in Atlanta.

Bob writes from an experience typical among those who work in urban settings, in hard places where great needs are met by too few resources, too few friends.   In these conditions the survival of urban missioners requires transformation.

In a recent blog Bob expresses his contentment in “a simple belief” that has developed over several decades serving in urban communities.  What he suggests may have implications for your personal faith.  It may make you feel uncomfortable, even alarm you.  I recommend it.

We generally avoid going places where our faith is rigorously challenged.  We tend to feel uncomfortable when we are not surrounded by fellow believers who look, sound and act like us.  We prefer to be safe, to be comfortable where our views are bought and sold.  Like a Christian bookstore.

Mission means going to unlikely places.  Not politic places (John 1:10-11).  We need times and places for rest and comfort, our ‘furlough’.  But design a Christian lifestyle, our life of service, around permanent ‘furlough’?  How about a nice temperate place, neither hot nor cold?

In mission, as we go and give in this world that God so loved, we are challenged and changed.

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  (Matthew 25:32)

This ePistle article from Evangelicals for Social Action was in my email this morning:

Reverend David Wilkerson, 1931-2011 
by Al Tizon

The Reverend David Wilkerson—founder of the Times Square Church in New York City and a highly successful drug rehabilitation program called Teen Challenge—died in a car accident in Texas on April 27, 2011. He was 79. Wilkerson was also the author of the classic The Cross and the Switchblade, arguably the seed of what we call urban ministry in America today. It chronicled his ministry among youth gangs in Brooklyn. One gang member in the book, Nicky Cruz, came to faith under Wilkerson’s ministry and followed in his mentor’s footsteps, forging an evangelistic ministry of his own among the “down and out”. A public memorial service at Times Square Church will be held on Saturday, May 14.

I returned last night from Arsenal Street in St Louis.

On the south side of Arsenal just west of Jefferson is the Salvation Army’s Temple Corps. Envoys Steve and Ketsia Diaz are the corps officers. A few weeks ago they moved there from what had been the corps officers’ quarters in the suburbs. Steve and Ketsia now live across the street from their corps building. Two doors down lives my son, John. And a few doors further east are Gavin and Marianje. John, Gavin and Marianje moved to St Louis from Portland OR and Chicago because they were called to come join the Diaz’ in serving in the Benton Park neighborhood.

We met for dinner Thursday evening at what now is established as a weekly gathering hosted at Steve and Ketsia’s. We talked about the opportunities to become involved in working with others in Benton Park for substantial changes that would make life better for its families and young people. This area of St Louis has deeply entrenched poverty accompanied by hopelessness.

After dinner Envoy Steve has been leading a discussion based on readings from Robert Lupton’s Theirs Is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America. On some days, Steve, Gavin and John play one-on-one in the corps gym early in the morning. John, Gavin and Marianje are committed to helping at the Temple Corps in a wide range of ministry, doing about anything needed. During a recent snowstorm they served two days as part of a ‘rapid response’ team that prepared 400 meals for St Louis policemen. Afterschool program. Developing contacts and support in the neighborhood for the Army’s work. Meeting neighbors. John’s Alaskan husky, Boone, is great for starting street conversations. Getting a new playground started.

These three households of Salvation Army people are creating a shared life focused on mission in the neighborhood. They are looking for others who might join them in St Louis. I can help you get in touch with Envoys Diaz.

A few last observations from the 2011 Urban Forum.

The opening night in the Toronto Harbour Light, Howard Olver shared words of Bill Iverson, a longtime urban minister in Newark NJ: You need a strong sovereign God to work in the city. Your average suburban God isn’t going to cut it. Yes, and no. Yes, because the sheer volume and complexity of cities brings us to our knees. No, because the challenges of America’s big cities are now becoming the challenges of the suburbs. See Linking Arms, Linking Lives by Castellanos, Perkins, Gordon, and Tizon. Later in the week Howard answered a question: is ministry in the city like other places? Ain’t so. There’s no comparison with the city’s intensity and urgency. I find that answer to be so true.

Bob Lupton said we need to shift our focus from betterment to development. By betterment he means service, development means to strengthen capacity. To put it simply it is a matter of teaching a person to fish rather than … I think we all know the rest of the analogy. Bob also contrasted these two poles of ministry as mercy and justice. It’s something to think about.

Howard Olver talked about “a compelling sense of divine appointment” as the basis of a calling to urban ministry. It caused me to think, is it more important to serve incarnationally or to be anointed and sent? Are the two exclusive?

Finally, “why does God always seem to begin with preaching and ministering to people on the margins of society? … transformation begins from the bottom up”, like the permeating work of yeast, unnoticed, so little, subversive. Which is what the kingdom is like, isn’t it?

Flee the city?  Perfect it?  Coexist with it?  or transform?

This helpful article by Dr. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan might take 5-10 minutes to read.  But it is a handy way to examine four models Harvie Conn has reworked from R. Richard Niebuhr’s material.

Urban missioners in the Salvation Army are busy people who seem to always be doing the most.  But take some time to find out if what you are doing is consistent with what you deep down inside believe about the city and Christ.

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