As I interact with friends and colleagues who have heard about my move to Trinity Gardens, I often get a question. It goes something like, “How’s your mission work going?” I smile and tell them how wonderful life is in our new neighborhood, but I cringe when I hear that word “mission.” My own father has questioned my decision (and probably my sanity) to build a home in this neighborhood. He’s worried that I won’t ever get my money back. My sister had to use the word “mission” to explain it to him. She compared me to a missionary in a foreign country.
This is not a mission work. This is real gospel life. We have chosen to live in a neighborhood that is materially poor, under-resourced, and deprived of almost all of the opportunities that middle class America takes for granted. We have made a significant financial investment to be there and don’t plan to ever leave. Thinking of it as a mission work keeps you from becoming an equal with those around you. You see yourself as somewhat superior, coming in with answers. I cannot think of it as a mission. It is my life. I want to meet my neighbors, expressing full acceptance of them in the place that they are now. I don’t come with a 3 step plan to make them different or to move them to another place.
By the way, my father is right. I won’t ever get my money back. I could never sell my new house so I’ll be there until the Lord calls me to Glory. And one other correction: I do come with one answer to share; and that’s the real, true, living Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that makes me smile more than the word “mission.” 🙂