I’m thinking this morning of Van Thompson. There he is down in Memphis, newly married. To the surprise of some, Van and Kristin have chosen to live in the Binghamton neighborhood, a community riddled with urban poverty and crime. They are two of many Christians moving into the community in recent years in order to bear witness and to offer their bodily presence.
For these Christians, mission and evangelism are not separate from daily living, but are rather a way of life. Mission and evangelism have to do with daily habits and practices that place them beside persons whose walk in life is different from theirs. By placing themselves in such a community, they are availing themselves of God’s Holy Spirit to love the neighbors given to them by God. Only God knows what may happen with “crazy” Christians like Van and Kristin.
And I’m thinking this morning about Duke University. The largest number of Duke graduates in 2007 did not move on to some graduate school in Law, Medicine, or Business, as we might expect.
Instead, the largest single group has been accepted into the Teach For America program. I take this simple fact as another sign of the times. Young adults are becoming passionate about social ills and problems. They know that “things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be.” And many of them are giving themselves to trying to make the world a bit better. I can only guess that some of the Duke parents are saying, “We didn’t pay Duke $120,000 in order for you to be working with children in some poor rural community! Have you gone crazy?”
Who knows? Maybe more of our congregation’s own will consider such life and witness “in the days of their youth.” We should encourage them. They know that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. They can join with Paul in being “fools for Christ” (1 Cor. 4:10). And older codgers like most of us might be challenged to recover a bit of our passion for a more just world.
(Originally published Thursday, January 24, 2008)