By David Beidel
Last Thursday, we were rehearsing with the children of the Stapleton Houses Community Center in Staten Island. Our little children’s choir is getting ready to perform for the entire neighborhood at the big Winter Wonderland Party next week. If you saw the joy on their faces, their eyes closed in worship, their feet that couldn’t help but dance, their hearts filled with wonder at the sweet story of Jesus come down with perfect love…you would understand our excitement and great hope for the struggling cities of our nation.
A week earlier these same children were hurriedly corralled under tables in the cafeteria as a gunfight took place immediately outside their center. A 56-year-old man was gunned down right at the time they were about to be released. Children were picked up hours later by terrified parents after the police had secured the area and created a safe passage.
Yet, a week later, these children sang their hearts out with hope, love, and joy. Only a few of us were privileged to see that sight. The only thing that NYC heard about was another tragic story of murder and mayhem in the “projects.” The media streams didn’t see the faces of these children singing the songs of heaven. They didn’t catch the beautiful Thanksgiving Celebration in the same community center a few weeks earlier. They haven’t been at the epic Christmas parties across Staten Island’s North Shore where hundreds of residents and volunteers bring extravagant blessings and joy to nearly ten-thousand children every year. They don’t know about the Easter Egg hunts that bless over 2000 children, or the literacy initiatives that are giving our most traumatized little ones a future and a hope. Sadly – very few know about any of this and the thousands of extraordinary acts of love and kindness that characterize the neighborhoods we joyfully minister in.
After serving in vulnerable and devastated communities for several decades, we have more hope for the healing of cities that have been written off as wastelands than ever. This Christmas season, we welcome you to rejoice in the power of Jesus to bring beauty from ashes. We welcome you to rejoice in a hope that springs eternal for the struggling cities of our nation. Whenever we consider a situation hopeless, we close the door, wash our hands, and walk away. This has done more damage to cities in America than can be calculated. We must not walk away, we must enter in, like Jesus did.
It’s fascinating that “hope” is a key determinant for success and flourishing. Marriages, businesses, and ministries are all most likely to succeed when optimism is strong. Even our national economy rises and falls in synch with the waves of the consumer confidence index. Imagine if we all increased our Church Hope Index this year and invested in the lives of the most vulnerable around us.
We see a clear path for healing in the most challenging cities in our nation. We cherish your partnership through prayer, volunteerism, social media sharing and support.
David Beidel is the president of Urban Hope and the Jesus Week Movement. Video and website, social media contacts below:
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