One of the questions I often hear, “Is Maryvale safe?”
Hudson Taylor is one of my heroes of the faith. Raised in countryside England, as a teen he dedicated his life to God and prepared for difficult service among the crowded masses of China. He chose to:
- sleep on the floor to prepare for hardships,
- limit his budget to allow for 2 small meals a day,
- never ask for finances but to trust God to supply,
- study medicine and theology – to serve both physical and spiritual needs,
- change from western clothing and dress as a Chinese teacher (one of the first Europeans to do so)
- leave the safety of the port cities governed by British and care for those in the interior.
Among his experiences in China: rejection and isolation from British colleagues for his differences, death of spouse and child, theft, vandalism, physical attacks, caught in middle of civil war, bombings, threats, shootings, AND the presence of God enabling him to serve and see the transformation of lives.
He persevered to launch the China Inland Missions organization. When all foreigners were expelled, he felt compelled to call for 100 volunteers to be ready to re-enter China when it opened. And indeed, the Chinese government implored missionaries to return to give medical care and education.
Not only has Taylor been inspirational to me but so has:
Amy Carmichael, a young lady from Scotland, spent her life serving in India, saving young girls from temple prostitution or infanticide. Unwanted girl infants were donated to the temple or abandoned to die of exposure. Working to counter the accepted cultural norms of the class system and female servitude, Amy said service is a “chance to die” (dying to self and comforts). She stopped writing letters of “success” and invited people to be willing to face hardships – she did not want any new people coming to join her with expectations of comfort.
Detrick Bonhoeffer, as a German pastor-theologian preceding WWII, chose to return to Germany rather than wait in safety in America. His great challenge and call to stand opposed to all forms of Satan’s tyranny is, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer stood opposed to easy faith and was executed for choosing to not conform for safety’s sake to the evil of his day.
Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” did not included a tag line of, “go only where it is safe”. The heroes mentioned above did not seek safety comfort first but were compelled by lost people and areas of great need. Phineas Bresee, early pioneer in the holiness revival movement is attributed to say, “Look for the worst place in town, the area of greatest human need, and there start your ministry”. Those revivalists paved the trail of service in American cities that were over-run with prostitution, gangs, murder, alcoholism, poverty, pollution, and homelessness.
What American urban centers are facing today, Christian ministries have faced before. And scores of lives were impacted, and cities were transformed. And yes, some suffered ill treatment, persecution, mocking and some beaten. But the good news was lived out and lives were saved.
This is the vision that compels us forward today. We pray for others to hear the heart of God and to look at the “fields white unto harvest”. Those who join a team giving care to the community are attracted by God’s call. No “danger, peril or sword” will cause them to separate themselves from giving God’s love to people. Lost and hurting people matter to God.
And these are some of our people who matter (full names not given):
After not hearing from T for 2 months …. she called from the psych ward and wanted us to pray for her and to be assured that we still want her in our church family.
L who was sleeping on the church door step this morning came to the Bible study today. She too matters to God. And because of your prayer support, we were able to share God’s love.
When Jesus looked at the fields white for harvest, he chose disciples who people dismissed as uneducated and unsuited for ministry. As God calls care givers to Maryvale – they include:
- J recently released from prison and is proclaiming Christ in the neighborhood and to family members where he used to live in drugged stupor.
- L rescued from a life of gang violence is a living witness to God’s promise to prosper those who walk in truth.
- D who opened her home to hurting and homeless women. Her home is a place of refuge to drug and abuse ravaged lives. She speaks tough words of truth to lives wrecked by lies.
- M delivered from heroin addiction, testifies to customers in his store of God’s saving and transforming power to those who call upon God.
- A is finding her calling to serve people with whom she had no natural affinity or understanding.
Each of these have chosen to live in the community giving care and hope to many who live in despair and hurting isolation.
But is it safe? Yes, if God leads!
“Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go, Anywhere he leads me in this world below,
Anywhere without Him dearest joys would fade, Anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid.” *
We are praying for a revival and transformation of this community. Thank you for praying with us and for these people to whom we consider family. Continue also to pray for housing and for urban missionaries (CARE Teams) to live, work, and worship in Maryvale.
Director, Caleb Center
*Song: Anywhere with Jesus (Author: Jessie Brown Pounds, 1887)