This subject hits home for me, because I want to minister in a dangerous area. No doubt, it helps to have some street smarts when ministering in the inner city, but not every danger can be avoided. What about stray bullets? What about when you take your eyes away for a moment while your kids are playing outside? What about when kids are in school without their parents’ protection? What about when you go out in public and don’t know who you’re going to encounter or what their intentions are?
When I first started to entertain the idea of inner city ministry, my children’s safety was the one thing that made me hesitate. It’s hard enough keeping your kids safe in regular circumstances–why would you take them to a place where danger is multiplied? Would my children end up dead, hurt, traumatized? How could I live with myself if they were hurt? What would other people think of me taking my children into that kind of environment?
After fretting about it for quite some time, talking to my husband, and asking others who have already made that decision, I finally came to a few conclusions.
- The safest place to be is in the middle of God’s will. I know it sounds trite, but think about how true it is. When I’m operating outside of God’s will, Satan has full access to me. However, if I’m doing what God wants me to do (even potentially dangerous work), I can depend on Him for protection. As long as God has work for me to do, He will keep me alive. When my time comes to die, then I can rejoice that I’ll get to be with my Savior! Strangely, I’m not afraid of dying. I’m not sure how this feeling developed or how long it took. It probably started with my sister’s death and the realization that my time would come, too. Then I gradually realized that my death could only be gain, as I would be going to the Person I want to meet most. I just hope that I will have plenty of time to make a difference in working for God, and that my children will be older. Even in the event that one of us is hurt while ministering, God is still watching over us. I’ve discovered that hurt can be used for God’s glory.
- Becoming a Follower of God does not mean you get a free pass in life or that you are guaranteed safety. This is a difficult concept to digest. Yes, I’m really saying that God calls some Christians to put themselves in danger to spread His message. Just look at Paul’s life and you’ll see the truth in this statement.
- Being in a dangerous area makes you realize how much you really do need God. It’s so easy to relax and end up in coasting-mode in my Christian faith, because right now I don’t sense any danger around me. However, If I am daily reminded of the terrible sin and hurt that is present in this world, I will cling to Him more tightly. It seems odd, but in a way that’s a blessing. Maybe God wants to place us in positions where we cannot help but acknowledge our need for Him.
- There are many souls in the inner city who need to hear the Good News of Christ. Why does it sound so unbelievable that God would want Christians to minister in the inner city? Doesn’t it seem logical that God would send soul-winners into a place that is rife with sin and hurt? Doesn’t God want to rescue people who are at the very gates of hell? And if it is true that God wants to reach people who are living in scary places, who does He want to share His message there? His followers–duh! Not some other Christian who is really brave and strong–a real hero type–but you and me!
- There are Christians in the inner city who need your support. We have fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are living in a very difficult place to minister. If we have the means to offer them some support (through encouragement, money, time, talents, etc.), then why are we holding back? Remember when the Gentile churches sent money to help the church in Jerusalem, even though there was such a big cultural divide between them? Don’t tell me that differences can’t be overcome and bridges can’t be built in the Body of Christ!
- God is alive and well in the inner city. I saved this one for last, because I wanted to end on a positive note. Sometimes when we see evil, we think that good cannot be present. However, that is not the case. Nowhere will you get a better picture of the great battle that is being fought for humanity’s souls, than in the inner city. On one street corner you will see a drug dealer peddling his wares, while just down the street you’ll encounter a church. There is a continual contrast of both the good and evil present in our world, that is visible and tangible. Where Satan is waging war, God is right there battling for souls, as well. God is doing some amazing, amazing work in the inner cities. There are great disappointments, but great victories as well. How exciting to be on the front lines with God!
To sum up, I am aware of the potential dangers that await, but I believe that it is better to obey God than my own fears. My Father has always watched over me and my family, and I trust that He always will. No matter what happens, my soul will return to Him, and there’s no better place to be than in the arms of One who loves you. 🙂