I'm sitting down to write for my 30 minutes and an article comes across my feed from the Baltimore Sun. It's written by a Baltimore City high school teacher and it's a cry for help. (You can read it HERE.)
I know I'm on part 3 of "Faith for Baltimore" and to be honest, I feel like this will be an ongoing theme in my writing. It's bad here, ya'll. The state of our schools, the safety of our kids, the death rates, the overdose epidemic...all of it is the makings of a stew of hopelessness.
I have a cousin who is a Baltimore City police detective and I asked him one time, "Do you have hope for Baltimore?"
He looked at me and said, "Well, the government is corrupt, the police department is corrupt, the schools are corrupt...no, no I don't."
I said, "Then why do you do what you do?"
He responded, "I really don't know." Then he went on to ask why we chose to live in the city of all places.
"Because we feel called here."
When God "called" us to the mission field, (I put "called" in parentheses because I now believe that every follower of Jesus is called to this lifestyle) I thought for sure He would send us to a developing nation. Devon and I wondered, "Will He send us to India, or Africa, China or Haiti?" We had sold everything, our house, our cars, most of our "stuff" and had a couple of suitcases full of clothes to call our own. Our hearts were open and ready for wherever His direction lead us. But, every single time, someone came to teach us during our training, who spoke about the United States, Devon and I would find ourselves weeping on the floor for our nation and the Church in America. We were invited to move to China and to join the staff in the Philippines, but God's finger pointed back to Baltimore.
"Really God? Anywhere but there," we'd counter.
"I want you to go home," He'd clearly direct.
I'm not gonna lie, I came back reluctantly with my fingers in my ears trying to drown out His voice, but plugging your ears cannot silence the tug on your heart. We both knew what God wanted from us, so we came home.
I remember being in the LAX airport on our return flight and feeling immediately the state of our nation. The Spirit whispered to me, "Here in America you have everything you need, you no longer know your desperate need for Me."
We have drowned out our own starvation with all that money can buy we can't even recognize how emaciated we've become.
We obediently bought a home in Baltimore City. We were so antsy though, to "Go into all the world" that we had a hard time settling down. We prayed and sought Him and looked for an escape, all while putting our hand to the plow here in our own neighborhood. I remember when our oldest was looking into high schools, a few years after we had settled in the city. He wanted to audition for Baltimore School for the Arts. It's a very competitive school and the year he auditioned, there were five hundred applications for eighteen spaces. Acceptance is based on talent alone. He had been acting since he was four, but we were not fooling ourselves into thinking he had an easy "in" to the school. The probability of him not making it in was likely. We pulled a Gideon on God and said, "If he makes it in, I guess You do want us here, in Baltimore, committed to this city."
He auditioned. He got in. Three years later, our second son did as well.
We began to dig into the soil around us and plant seeds we knew could take years to sprout. But, we were committed, even if there were tough years ahead of us.