Why I Live in a “Bad” Neighborhood

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 *Melissa, wife of John Geiger (CLDI’s Youth Works Director), recently purchased and renovated a row house, making this their new ‘home’ as they seek to love God and love neighbor as they follow the example of Jesus, ministering in the flesh.  This blog was written a few months prior to their move to the row houses.

Moving to a new place means meeting new people, meeting new people means lots of questions about, where we are from, why we came here, what are we doing now? 
As a result of this people have felt the need to present John and me with the fact that we live in a “bad” neighborhood, and worse yet, that we are planning to move into the “bad” part of the “bad” neighborhood. When John and I lived in the inner city of Memphis, TN we were told this and now that we have moved to the Southside of Billings we are being told this, but no one ever asks why we have decided to move into the “bad” neighborhood, and I just felt like I wanted to share why I live in a bad neighborhood.
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil because you are with me.
Psalm 27:1The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?
I do not fear a bad neighborhood because I know that God is with me. I know that God loves my son and husband more than I do. I know that He loves me more than my husband does. I know He has our best interest in mind when calling us to a new home. But I am not sure God calls us to be “safe.” Safe is a very nice word that is used by people with great intentions saying things that really get into the heart of mothers. Don’t you want your family to be safe? Yes I do. But I know that God tells me to be bold, not safe, God tells me to not fear, not be safe, God tells me to love, and love is not safe. But even though He doesn’t tell me we will be safe He tells me He will be with me.
God has commanded me to love and care for the poor. He has commanded everyone to love and care for the poor. I find it really hard to love and care for the poor if I am not around the poor, if I am not poor. 
I think God wants us to be intentional about where we choose to live. If I do not live or work or send my son to school with people who need Christ then how will I meet people who need Christ. If God has commanded me love and serve the poor how can I say “I will help you but I am too good to live life with you. I won’t send my son to your failing school. I won’t put my family on your decaying block. I won’t make my home on your dangerous street.”? How will I understand the plight of the poor if I do not live among them? God came and lived among us. He gave us that example. I just find that if I am not in the midst of where I want things to change then I will not really be invested in the change. It means so much more to try and stop crime on my street then it does to stop crime across town. 
I guess I live in a “bad” neighborhood because I want to be part of the change in the Southside that I pray will happen there. If good people live in bad neighborhoods they will start to change.

Melissa, October 2013

 

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