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Community Amidst Division by Rev. Jason Waeber (July 2020 Banner, Online edition)

We live in tumultuous times.  While it’s fair to say that America has always been divided into various political/religious/ethnic/etc. groups, it feels, in our particular moment in history, that the divisions between groups are becoming more stark and increasingly hostile.  The growing assumption is not that we may disagree with others yet continue to peaceably live alongside them, but rather that any disagreement is an existential threat.  This change brings particular challenges for ministry.  Trust is given slowly when you don’t really know on what “side” the person speaking to you belongs.  People feel you out very carefully, especially if you’re perceived as being an outsider, before they will engage with you in any way that exposes their vulnerabilities.

Since many of us are still outsiders in Lockland, we’ve had to work very hard to start to build relationships with those in the community.  To this end, we’ve started opening our space on Fridays and Saturdays to the community as a type of community center or public space.  It’s taken some time to really get established, but we’re starting to see folks dropping by to grab a bite to eat or just sit and talk.  Especially in the post-Covid world, we’re seeing a lot of folks who seem really hungry for some simple human interaction.

We still have a lot of work cut out for us here in Lockland, but this has felt like the beginning of something essential.  We may have all the good intentions in the world, but without a platform upon which to present the gospel, we are not likely to have much success.  In an age when trust is rare and hard won, we have to be willing to pay our dues to build trust with the communities in which we minister.  We’re starting to see that trust built here, but the bare beginnings we’ve seen also make it clear how much more work there is to do. God is good, and brings fruit when he intends it. We must be willing to wait and work.

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