Be the Church

If we built a church in the slums, would it improve the community?  As a product of Suburbia, USA, I was always taught that life in the inner city was terrible.  It was full of drugs, violence, gangs, and democrats.  In essence, it was our mission field that was too dangerous for us to visit.  Then I realized that there were entire countries in this world that were saturated with poverty, malnutrition, and violence.  In turn, I was taught that if we simply donate to charities supporting these countries, then everything will get better in due time.  Let my money work for me.

My junior year of  high school, I went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, with my church’s youth group.  We built houses, visited an orphanage, and prayed with families in the hospitals.  It was amazing to see the impact that we had on some of those families in the short time we were there.  It makes me wonder, how have these people been forgotten?  Who should be helping them?

In the movie Sister Act, Whoopi Goldberg plays a lounge singer who is placed in witness protection after seeing a murder.  She gets placed in a convent and must adopt a lifestyle of chastity as a nun.  The sad part is that this church is falling apart.  Attendance is low.  The choir stinks.  The roof leaks.  The church sits in the middle of a rough neighborhood, but the nuns admit that they have never been out to talk to the people.

As a recent convert, Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi), decides to lead an initiative to help clean up the community.  The transformation is poetic.  They clean the graffiti from the church walls, build a playground for the neighborhood children, and have a dance-off in the street while C & C Music Factory’s song “Just a Touch of Love” plays.  Until the nuns actually go out into the neighborhood, the Church has no significance in the community.  It simply takes up space and rings a bell every hour.

In the Jamaica Observer today, Mervin Stoddard wrote an article entitled “Let the Church Be the Church.”  He says, “The church must take a stand. Morality, standards, decency and lawfulness lie dead in Jamaica’s streets and the church alone can affect their resurrection through God’s power.”  If you read the rest of the article, you see the great need that this country has.  Donations alone will not fix the problems of the world.  What the world needs is an active Church with an attitude of service.

Is the Church doing anything or simply taking up valuable real estate?


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