Monday, August 5, 2013
i want to own my city
I live in this place called Las Vegas. Maybe you've heard of it? I guess some people call it "sin city." I just know it as home. I moved here in the 2nd grade. I attended elementary, middle and high school here. I met my husband here, we got married here in 2004 and I graduated from UNLV in 2008. As much as I hate to admit it, this is my city. I know it better than I know any other city, and although I'm not technically a "native" I have spent the majority of my life here.
But I'm not the norm in this town. Las Vegas is known for being a transient city. People come and go frequently. (I seriously, to this day, cannot understand why anyone would move here in the first place. The only reason we came back is because this is where our roots are.) And because of its transient nature, there seems to be an unwillingness to commit to this town. Most Of Las Vegas' residents were not born here and didn't grow up here, and because of that, most people don't take a serious interest in the well-being of this city and the people who live here. Yes, thankfully some do, but many just don't care.
When ranked among other large cities across America, Las Vegas is 41st (out of 51) for volunteerism and civic engagement. Nevada as a whole is 48th out of 50 states. You can see where your city and state rank here. Those numbers are sad to me. We are at the bottom. Those numbers tell me that people, in general, don't care about the city and state in which they live.
But I can't be surprised. In "sin city" it's all about "me, me, me." And, "why would I waste my time caring about someone else when it's #1 who matters most?" People around here have an image to maintain. And if their roots aren't here, if they didn't grow up here, if this city hasn't invested anything into them, why would they take the time to invest anything into it?
But I don't want to be one of those people. I want to care about this town and the people in it.
I want to own my city.
"you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8 (Jesus speaking)
Las Vegas is my Jerusalem, in the sense that it's the city in which I live and work and raise my children. Christ has called me to be His witness here, in the town that I call home.
For me, owning my city means promoting and establishing a culture of life. When I was in college, I began counseling at a local crisis pregnancy center. I desired then, and still do, to see pregnant women, in crisis situations, choose life for their unborn children. And I wanted to help them as much as possible. That is still the case.
I desire not only to help those women, their children and their children's fathers, but to change the culture surrounding the idea of abortion and life in the womb and our view of children. I believe that God loves and cherishes every single life, from conception on, and I want everyone to know that.
How? We share the gospel. We show them Jesus. We pray that He takes up residence in their heart and changes their view of life. That happens one person at a time. One relationship at a time.
We work to change the laws and we talk to our neighbors about the reality of abortion and the truth of life in the womb. We support politicians who believe precisely that and will work tirelessly to protect it.
We feed those in need and put a roof over those who have no home. Especially women who are pregnant and have no where to go. We teach soon-to-be parents how to parent well, how to love and cherish their children and we encourage fellowship with other believers through attendance and membership at church.
Owning my city means going out and living life with the people who reside in it. Finding the people who are vulnerable and need help. Loving those people through prayer and ministry and fellowship. Giving material goods to those who need cribs and diapers and strollers and clothes. Providing prenatal care for women who can't afford the care of a physician or a midwife.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:34-40 (Jesus speaking)
For me, this is simple. Jesus called me to love those around me, those in my city, those who I see in need. And that means serving them. The question is, who around you is in need? Well, in a city like "sin city" the answer is almost everybody. Do they all need food and water and clothing? No, most have at least those basics. Do they all need Jesus? Do they need Him to change their heart? Yes, absolutely, yes.
And so, for as long as I am called to call this city my home, I am called to own it. I am called to love others, to serve others and to share Jesus.