Thursday, November 21, 2013

God is in the slums

A couple days ago, I spent half a day with a friend of mine, Dr. Nzash Lumeya, who is a missionary to Fresno. Originally from The Congo, Nzash studied in France, got a doctorate from Fuller Seminary and somehow found himself ministering among the poorest people in our city. As he spent half a day taking us around the neighborhoods he serves, I was struck by the longevity of this humble man and his impact on families. For over 7 years, he has been selflessly reaching out to those for whom he might be the closest thing to "church" they will ever see, touch, or hear.

One thing he said to me I have not been able to shake.

"When we help people directly, through meeting the needs of the poor, then God's love for them goes from speculation to reality."

Most people have an idea of what they think church is about, who they think Jesus is. Many times this impression is overwhelmingly negative. What I heard from Nzash is this: when we put tangible action ahead of rhetoric then people get to see who God's followers are and hopefully, what He is really like.

This whole business of trying to be faithful to the character of God within the confines of organized religion can sometimes be incredibly discouraging. And yet, where challenges persist, innovations are always possible. Recently, I was at a District Advisory Committee meeting for Clovis Unified School District and we were shown this inspiring story.

And so we press on to find ways to bring the solution into contact with the people who need it. Since we need the solution (Jesus) ourselves, it shouldn't be hard to share with others. As long as we are looking in the right places.


“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”― Bono