*The following blog is written by a dear friend, sister in Christ, and former CLDI intern/staff as she and her husband prepare to take the Gospel to Central Asia. The following were her reflections on a recent visit to Billings. What she has so beautifully communicated is as relevant to the South Side as it is to Central Asia. The “risk” of proclaiming the gospel to teach and disciple people in the ways of Christ is always worth the perceived cost. I trust you will be as blessed by these reflections and motivated in your pursuit of Jesus as I have been. – Eric Basye
“Did you hear that explosion last night?” Explosion? I thought. We’re in Billings, Montana. We don’t have explosions. My wrinkled forehead and furrowed brow must have been enough of an indicator that I hadn’t heard a thing. “It happened over at your old house. Someone threw a homemade bomb on the porch last night and it blew a hole in the sub-floor and shattered the windows.” Things like that don’t happen in Billings, I thought again, and they certainly wouldn’t happen on my old front porch.
In 2010, I packed up my green, Pontiac Grand Am and moved to Billings, MT to intern with CLDI to do Christian community development in an at-risk part of the city. I planned to be there nine months, but somewhere along the way it turned into four years of life and ministry in a neighborhood we fondly refer to as, the South Side.
A big part of my story takes place here. It’s where my husband and I got married, and where we started our adventure in this whole thing called marriage. Our first home was a tiny, 700 square foot house on S. 30thStreet, with a big yard, colorful hollyhocks, and a bedroom just wide enough to fit our queen sized bed and not much else. To an outsider, the South Side is often seen as the place you want to avoid going to, it’s on the “wrong side of the tracks.” But to us it was home, a place of rich community, and one of the most honest places I’ve ever lived.
While visiting Billings last month, two explosions happened in the neighborhood. One occurred on the porch of our old house on S. 30th, and another just down the street. It certainly wasn’t the first crazy thing to happen on the block, and like times before, it made me wonder, “Why do we do it?” Why live in rough neighborhoods, or go to difficult and sometimes dangerous places? Is it for the adventure, the thrill, or a good story to write home about? All those things seem so fleeting.
As I’ve been thinking through that question, God has been reminding me to consider the power of the Gospel. Because regardless of where I’m living, whether that’s the South Side or a war-torn country in Central Asia, the same question is to be considered. Do I believe that the Gospel has power, and do I believe sharing it is worth the risk?
As I look at the Gospel in relation to my own life, I’m reminded of my own great need for Jesus. Having experienced the grace and forgiveness found at the cross, and having been made new by the blood of Jesus, I’m certain that the Gospel undoubtedly has the power to transform lives, reconcile marriages, unite families, change neighborhoods, and heal war-torn nations and far off lands. As followers of Jesus we are called to share this Good News, but to also ask ourselves, “Is it worth the risk?”
There are days I’m anxious about going. I’m not extraordinarily brave, and there certainly isn’t anything especially unique about me that Central Asia so desperately needs. God is capable of making a great name for Himself on His own, but the beautiful thing is, He has invited His Church to be a part of His work. The Gospel at work within us, because of the completed work of Christ, brings great glory to God, as we boldly proclaim our need for Jesus to a world so desperate for His grace. That is worth the risk.