Home > Gospel > spotlight: ‘my child is an inner-city missionary’

spotlight: ‘my child is an inner-city missionary’

In my job I have the opportunity to have a lot of conversations with a ton of college students – actually, my job is to have conversations with college students.

One of the themes that runs through many of these conversations is taking big risks and doing crazy things for the sake of the gospel:

“Go become a Journeyman, live in a African jungle or sleep in a hammock beside the Amazon River for a couple years”

“Move up to Montana for the summer, share the gospel with the environmentalists who moved away from civilization to live off the land and grow marijuana”

“Graduate, get a job in the inner-city, take the gospel to the people who were abandoned when churches exchanged inner-city people for suburban parking space”

“Do it. Go. Be crazy. Take risks. The gospel is worth it.”

Laying everything down for the gospel is a beautiful thing – an unbelievably challenging thing.  It is a thing that brings about many “unintended consequences.”

As a parent of a little girl, I get this.

When Abbey was born I held her in my arms and said, “God, do anything you want with this little girl.  Take her to the other end of the world to tell people about Jesus if you want – just help us to prepare her to make Jesus known wherever she goes.”

Today I came across the story of a mom struggling with her daughter’s decision to move into inner-city Louisville and raise her family there.

Children, parents, take note:


When Lindsay and Jay first began to talk about their desire to move into the inner-city, I was pretty certain it was a phase and would most likely not happen. They were newlyweds, strong believers and I felt they were just caught up in the “latest mission” of their church, Sojourn. I thought it would pass.

My daughter called her dad and I over one Sunday morning to look at the house they were interested in buying. I had seen a few of the houses they had previously considered buying, but much to my relief none of them worked out. This new house was nice and large, but the neighborhood was spotted with vacant and boarded-up homes.

This is where my journey of fear began. I rode down the street in despair thinking how depressing and scary it looked. My daughter was going to be living here on a daily basis. My dreams were for her to have a nice/modest/safe home in a “decent” neighborhood.

They bought their home and over the next year one thing after another went wrong. Now, not only was safety a factor, but it seemed EVERYTHING was wrong with the house – the plumbing was bad, the roof was bad, major appliances died. They did all the right things, but the house was simply the product of a “quick flip” – good enough to pass home inspection but bad enough to be a major problem. (Many of her neighbors seemed to be victims of the same situation with their homes.) I know they constantly endured comments from all sets of parents, stating they would NEVER get their money out of the house. We wondered if they shouldn’t just sell it and move. We didn’t understand the mission: God’s mission.

I began to settle down a bit until I found out that registered sex offenders were housed only a few blocks away. Again, I found myself riding down the street glaring at everyone I would see, thinking “Surely, this cannot be God’s will for my daughter.”  People were trying to move out of neighborhoods like these. I could not imagine bringing up young children here. How could they be protected? I found myself saying, “God, is it over for them? Is this season finished for them yet?” I acted like there was some magical safe place in the world where they should live and things would be just fine. I knew better. And I knew that God knew better. He knows the plan He has for them and their neighbors.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21

When things get tough (and they do), I want to plead with Jay and Lindsay to just give it up. I want to tell them, “People will never change!” Then I realize I am the one who needs to change. So I pray for God to change me and my selfish untrusting, sinful heart. Just last week a murder took place one block away in the alley behind my daughter’s house and some fellow Sojourners were robbed at gunpoint as they were just hanging out in their yard. Only a few blocks away. Again, I default to crying to God in fear. “Are you sure God? Are you sure this is where you want them? Why? What was the reason again?” Sinful doubt in my heart. Relationships in the neighborhood are becoming real and messy, but not without hope.

I could go on about my fear, doubts, but I would like to fast forward to what God is accomplishing. . .

[To read the rest, check out the Sojourn Community Church ‘Seed Blog‘]

College student take big risks, do crazy things, think ‘radical obedience’, and, yes, submit and honor your parents through obedience to them as your God-given authority.

Parents realize that following Jesus demands absolutely everything of us.  If you belong to Jesus, if you are his disciple, then your life is his and your child’s life is his as well.

God has given you a stewardship of your children, a responsibility to love them and lead them in a life that honors Him – don’t “protect” them from obeying him and taking glorious risks, for Christ’s sake.

Sometimes . . . many times . . . every time . . . the most radical obedience leads to the most incredible things happening in the lives of the obedient.

Isn’t the gospel worth our everything?

. . . . . . .

Praise God for women such as Carol Wood (the mom) and for her daughter and son-in-law, Lindsay and Jay (the ‘children’).

I pray that God would grant me the faith to keep my promise to trust him with Abbey, whatsoever he might decide to do with her.

  1. thepruetts
    April 13, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    thanks for that story Lee, well written

  2. April 14, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Very encouraging…especially to soon-to-be parents.

  3. Tyler G.
    April 14, 2009 at 9:56 am

    thanks for the encouragement lee. i pray that God makes my faith one that will be radically obedient. but it doesn’t come easy. i’ve come accustomed to death threats. danielle’s become accustomed to “releasing” me to God in her prayers. and i know it’s all just preparation for whatever God may have for us in the future. your exhortation is good, and i’m jealous of your job.

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