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The latest news and perspective from the Director of Urban Homeworks
It’s all upside down… The first shall be last, the last first. The greatest the least, the least the greatest. The mighty brought low, the lowly raised up. In solidarity with pain, salvation is palpable. Proximity paints the promise. These are the seeds of a “theology of hope” germinating and emerging out of the soils and souls of the streets that both points toward the promise while reaching to appease our pain.
There’s despair in every disparity. Disparity is the fruit of distance. Distance smudges sight, allows for otherness. Here is a perspective on a disparity from proximity: 294 families are on our waiting list, 9,193 on Section 8’s. Distance allows these to be dismissible digits. Proximity potently personalizes every face of every friend on those lists.
In the face of a disparate demand is an insidious supply. Herein lies hope. At least 1,348 reasons for hope…the number of MORE vacant homes in our neighborhoods than in the rest of our two cities. That’s 1,348 MORE chances for us to bridge the disparity, benefit our businesses, bring our children home, and be turned upside down.
This is the evidence of the hope of Jesus that we are perpetrators of. Thank you for being co-conspirators of this potent, penetrating, and compelling hope.
On Thursday morning we lost five of our children. Five beautiful, energetic, magnetic, brilliant young pieces of us perished. Please pray… and pray by clicking here and engaging yourself and your resources in solidarity with our neighbor and yours. May God console and comfort the Lewis family and may the hands and feet of every reader be the tools in God’s hands to do it.
Cold. Bitter cold. The little thermometer on my phone says it's -14. Not good weather to be driving a diesel... but I digress.
As the temperature drops, there is a compounding, spiritually chilling dimension to the cold for me. I can't shake how desperate and hopeless and confused I'd be sleeping outside or ill-housed while warm cars are zooming by and the glow of warmth radiates from the windows of people's homes... yet the chill of death is shivering my bones.
- As Pope Francis passed a woman and her screaming infant, he pleaded, “’Please give it something to eat!’ She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, so he validated her tension and declared the new public priority. I wish to echo him by saying the same to humanity: give people something to eat!”
- John the Baptist “If you have two coats, give one to him/her who has none.
- Isaiah “What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.”
- State of Utah Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker.
From the roots of our faith to the best practices around us… we know what to do to warm the chill. WE need you to walk shoulder to shoulder with us as we get it done. Till the last child is fed and every soul sheltered.
Learn more about what you can do (link to donate page).
I put Sam on the bus for his first day of school;
I peeked in the door and felt like a fool;
As I entrusted the driver whom I never knew;
And realized deeply… Mr. Driver, I need you…
Sam arrived at school that day ready to go;
The teacher at the door was managing the flow;
Each one welcomed, and then right through;
I realized deeply, Ms. Door Person, I need you…
He strutted to his locker at the 1st grade;
A new friend in the hall before class he made;
Where did this kid come from… his parents are who?
And I realized deeply, Kid’s parents… I need you…
With a book from a shelf near the window ledge,
Sammy sat at his desk and his attention did pledge;
All day long, with a man I barely even knew;
And I became keenly aware… Mr. F… I need you…
When the parents gathered later at the school;
As adults to connect and our knowledge to pool;
The school understood the need to teach and encourage parents too;
Together I realized, fellow parents, I need you…
All our kids ready for college is the Promise we make;
No child will we allow those damn prisons to take;
Whatever it Takes, is what we must do;
And then it dawned on me, which may stink for you… but, you need me too.
We need each other. Thank you for walking alongside UHW.
Want to hear more? Follow this link to watch Chad speak more about using the power of relationships to create opportunities for our kids to thrive (Perpetuate the Hope Luncheon, 2013).
This morning I asked our corner coffee shop owner, “What’s the word, Sammy?” He paused, then responded, “I don’t think I have one…do you?”
Having just come from a meeting where I’d had the opportunity to share how our mission strives to perpetuate the hope of Jesus Christ, the idea that this “hope of Jesus” we aspire to “perpetuate” is measured by how it disproportionately benefits the children around us had just been reinforced in my mind.
“What’s good for our kids is good for everyone”, summarizes my favorite community development and mission theories. Jesus agrees; his mission was fundamentally grounded in our ability to ‘hear’ the quiet voices, ‘see’ our own blind spots, and to begin the all-encompassing, self-redefining work to bridge gulfs and tear down the walls.
Research shows that 24.6% of my north Minneapolis neighbors (584 households) have been in the neighborhood for less than 1 year, 5% higher than our neighbors in Northeast Minneapolis (for example). 14.1% of our housing is vacant (compared to 8.3% citywide, 676 homes) in the face of a growing, insidious waiting list for attainable homes to rent or buy. Disparities existing in household income, employment, academic attainment, and more, are disproportionally impacting those among us who have the quietest voice: children and the elderly.
2012 was a year of forging nimble solutions on behalf of our children to reweave our relationships by using the redemption of the real estate in our community as platforms to enhance social and economic capital thereby increasing longevity and livability.
I think the “word” is volume. We need your help to adjust attention, listen more acutely, manage the deafening noise, coalesce the messages, create powerful solutions, and courageously turn up the “volume” of the whispers in our ear.
Thank you. Thank you for responding in 2012 and for what might emerge on the horizon in 2013 and beyond!
Jesus heals both the woman bent over and a man with dropsy (Luke 14 - a growing, miserly desire to hoard wealth) from physical and societal oppression, on a Sabbath, around Pharisees. Though they converge, it’s easier to see the woman bent over and pity her, than to also see the same forces oppressing me, causing dropsy in me.
Theocracy inhibited the restoration of both individuals, so Jesus clarified that the Sabbath is not for managing and maintaining the masses, but for the transformation of both the oppressed minority and the wealthy hoarder. We cannot let theocratic forces keep anyone bent over or bloated – we must embrace the Sabbath.
I want to enlist you in the internal and external struggle to taste liberation, one so intoxicating you can never go back. Use these stories for internal examination, and retell them as a critique of our society. It takes courage to fill the hungry with good things, and for the rich to come away empty. We must see the oppressive economics at work on all of us, and the healing we all need connects us – that we may all taste more fully the kingdom and heaven and this beloved community, here and now.