I live 45 miles outside of the urban core of Minneapolis. When people come to our house they usually comment on the long drive. People are not coming to the area where I live unless it is to camp at a nearby state park or are passing through on the way to northern Minnesota. The closest Wal-Mart is 12 miles away. Target is 16 miles away. The Mall of America isn’t closest and the restaurant selection in our town could use some help. The jobs aren’t as lucrative here and many people commute 45 minutes because the better jobs are all south of us.
Why do I live here? This area is a mix of suburban, ex-urban and rural all mixed together. Some neighborhoods are chocked full of $500,000 houses and other neighborhoods are in disrepair. There are some partially developed neighborhoods that came to a screeching halt when the recession hit. Many homes are in foreclosure. Five houses on my block have either sold or gone into foreclosure in the last three years.
So, again, why live here? It doesn’t seem to make sense when all the action is going on to the south. I moved to this area when I got a job with the sheriff’s office six years ago. I knew nothing about it nor was I particularly excited to move 72 miles away from my current location. Over the course of these last six years though my heart has grown with a desire for my family to be a spotlight here for Jesus Christ. Many are either over-churched or under-reached.
For some, Christianity is a door to be passed through on Sunday morning. There are others who have never been to a church in their life and do not know what the word “sin” means. A cursory pass through would lead one to think that these are charming small towns. A six year look though has revealed to me that there is spiritual poverty, physical poverty, broken families, lonely people and starved souls that need the heart-infiltraging work of Jesus Christ. Some don’t know who Jesus is and others think he is just something nice to be believed in.
My family lives here because there is a need. That should be the test of our lives as Christians, for we are not called to move towards comfort but to move towards needs.
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7