Wednesday, October 17, 2007

vision of community

My deepest and truest experience of community in my nearly 30 years of life is still the 6 months following my senior year of college when I shared a house with 4 other amazing young women on E. Ridgewood. Cooking meals together, throwing parties together, pooling our resources to share the costs of life based on means...I think it was during that time that the dream of incarnational neighborhood ministry was first planted in my mind--and this perhaps idealist notion of moving into a poorer neighborhood with a group of friends just to be a living witness to the love and truth of the gospel, in community, though shelved for a time in the recesses of my mind, has never really disappeared.

In fact, lately this vision has only grown stronger as I get glimpses of this very same model lived out my Nica brothers and sisters. Take Daniel and Darling, for example. Both successful educators by profession, they decided to move into a poor rural neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Managua, where they began a church as well as a school for the community. The primary school classrooms are literally 5 steps from the very house where this couple lives. There is no dividing 'life' and 'ministry' for them; they are one and the same. Their commitment is to the development of this entire community, and they have made it clear with their money, their time, where they chose to raise their children, and how they embrace the teachers and staff of their school as their own family.

There is messiness and beauty in this arrangement, as there is in any authentic expression of community.

But sometimes I think Christians in my culture look only for the beauty while trying to avoid the mess. And so when money and circumstances permit, many move to better, nicer communities--frequently under the auspices of perfectly understandable motives--safety, security and quality education for their children, higher property values, etc.
But here is the question that haunts me: if we truly believe that all of us are God's children and equally valuable and loved in His eyes, why would we ever leave some of God's creation to suffer or just 'make due', while we pursue our version of the abundant life? How have some of us arrived at this place where writing a check is all that is required of us to be faithful to the example of Jesus--who gave without ceasing, but didn't even have a bank account? Isn't the real giving found in relationships--where the natural exchange of resources, ideas, encouragement, and hope--takes place in all of its fullness?

And so as I ponder this vision of community, I am watching, waiting, hoping, praying that God will allow me to live out this messy calling (either with friends or my own family) one day soon.


Nic said...

Every time I read a post of yours like this I want to give you some well thought out profoundly true answer. But all I really have is - I wonder that too.

Dawn said...

Pammie, beautiful post, challenging. And convicting.
Loved those 6 mos w/ you!