Monday, May 14, 2007

Where Are They?

Jesus tells the disciples in John 12:8 ... "You will always have the poor with you." The practical tension I'm feeling now, even before Aleta and I move to our next ministry context in Phoenix, is, Where are they? Phoenix doesn't have much of a centralized downtown and is a mobile culture with lightning fast changes ongoing in demographics and geography. How will we find the needy to live among?

I've begun doing research on homeless shelters, poverty ministries, and section 8 housing; and I'm realizing the task of discerning a context of proximity among the needy. It takes work. Cultures of need, like all cultures, can be foggy and complex and require insider observations to be adequately understood and responded to. We're not insiders, so we're looking for some.

I think there's something ironic in all of this. In most of the world, physical need is everywhere you look. In most of our country, however, need is hidden behind landscaped streets and Blockbuster Video stores. After moving into this ministry of local need, I'm eager for the time when we are led and empowered to fully engage a ministry of need for those living farther away. Maybe the commonality of great need is what attracts me so much to people and ministries like our friend Sarah's work in Calcutta (site unfinished) and the ministries of pioneers like her. (See Sarah's photos and find out how you can invest into these Calcutta women by purchasing a blanket HERE.)


John Lynch said...

So far, I've found two locations I like.

1) The University & Price area of Tempe (especially the broken areas East & South of there).
2) The N-S corrider between Central Ave. & 7th Ave, just north of I-17.

Google maps shows lots of places in those areas with no grass (a frequent symbol of wealth in residential areas). More trash & randomly parked cars in yards in the Phx location. More apartment and residential / industrial property mixes in Tempe. Both close to urban cultural centers of downtown Tempe & Phoenix. Both are close to highways, making the rest of the Valley accessible (except during rush hour).

Tempe has the added advantage of the ASU culture & it's closer to the reservation.

Anonymous said...


Tempe is attractive to me because of the art culture and because of all the students from asu. I think their undergrad program was 50,000 students last time I heard a number on it. So I think there's a lot of potential with those two things (art and youth)colliding.

Also, I think it's going to be important for us to find border areas... so areas where there's
poverty, but it's bordered by a nicer area. It seems to me that this is important for property value and stuff like that. If we go into an area that is too impoverished, it could take years before we could see any turn around.

Love ya! - Aleta

Al said...

After reading this post I'm struck with this idea - and maybe it's obvious already - but you are really going against the flow of most of America here! Most Americans try to get away from just the thing you're seeking out - the impoverished and the messy. I guess this is what it was like in Jesus' day too. The disciples must have been pretty shocked to see him hanging out with people like the woman at the well...

Anonymous said...

Those would seem like some good areas to me. I have not driven through the central area in a while. I think it will be something you would have to walk through and fall in love with. There is need in lots of places, but finding where you have natural “ins” with people is good too. I would be looking for a neighborhood or area that seems to be more open and neighbor friendly. Some places are even laid out in ways that make it hard to get to know people. I am excited for what you are doing man, I am praying for God to lead you to the right place.

- Ben

John Lynch said...

Another find... From the 101 to central, University has Section 8 housing all along there west & east of ASU within a block or two of the road.

BAB said...

Honestly, it's not too hard to find. There are different kinds. We tend to think urban black, but there is a suburban white poverty. Check out Glendale and Peoria. And then there are the immigrants. Do you speak Spanish? You should check the westside a lot of poverty and yet there are a lot of very wealthy spots as well.

John Lynch said...

Awesome. Thanks Brett! We'll definitely check those areas out in August / September. Life and peace.

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

Those pictures made me kind of nostalgic. I come from India and living in U.S currently. What a beautiful thing it is to help those are in the Calcutta red light streets.I always have this desire in my heart to help the poor and oppressed but honestly I am compromising it for the luxury of this country.
Sarah and her Jesus are awesome!

John Lynch said...

It strikes me how uniquetly gifted you are to be a bridge, Bino! With experience and relationships in both countries and cultures, you have the ability to connect people, resources, and more between groups. American-born citizens are in desperate need for someone to help them break out of their narcissistic naievete and discover the world God made and Jesus died for.

That might be something to be praying on my friend!

Life and peace in Christ our freedom... in whom there is NO condemnation!