Friday, May 30, 2008

when it's time to change you've got to rearrange!

Hello dear friends,

It’s been a while. Since my last post, another friend died of alcohol poisoning (he was one day older than me) and my grandmother died of cancer. I’m actually in the States this week attending her funeral and visiting with family. It’s been a tough month.

It’s always strange to come back to the place where I was born. I moved to Oklahoma when I was ten years old, but until that time I lived in the Northern panhandle of West Virginia, about 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh. To come back here is to visit a place that America’s government forgot. About thirty years ago America’s government began selling these people out to China. Their steel mills began shutting down and, after building their entire economies around the steel industry, they were left with little to fall back on. Many of them fell back on alcohol. Today they seem to be falling back on what they call “café’s” which are nothing more than a poor man’s casino. It’s heartbreaking to see.

I went to visit the local Salvation Army church in this town but it has been recently closed. I pose the question again: how does the Salvation Army become irrelevant in a poor community? How long will we maintain our motto of “full steam ahead” while pieces of our ship lay broken off and floating behind us? If serious changes aren’t needed in our church, then what is? Are we waiting for the world to change? That’s a terrible strategy. Heaven forbid we maintain the same goals but change the methods we use in which to reach those goals.

I maintain my belief that reaching a lost community isn’t hard. The hard part is talking Christians into doing it.

On a brighter note, Jamie and I have just received word that the Salvation Army intends to continue funding our ministry in North London. We’ve not received the details yet, but we’ve been greatly encouraged by the correspondence and meetings we’ve had lately. It seems that God is doing a work among the immigrant population (in particular) of our neighbourhood, and the Army is keen to continue being a part of that. Your prayers continue to be appreciated though as church planting is expensive and can be extremely lonely at times.

God bless