I've been thinking about the importance of urban ministry in a violent society for the last few days.
At the end of last week, a 16-year old boy was walking home from his bus stop when a car pulled up alongside him. After an exchange of a few words, someone in the car opened fire and murdered the kid.
According to news accounts of the incident, the murdered young man was a good student with a pleasant personality and respectful attitude. Unfortunately, he lived in a "bad part of town"--a euphemism for the poor, black, and violent section of the city.
On Sunday morning, a few of the teenagers in the Contact Church requested prayers for the murdered boy's family as they mourned his death. According to the prayer requests, the criminals who murdered the boy did so after he could not (or would not) tell them the location of someone else for whom they were looking.
As I have thought about the situation this week, I have come to have a deeper appreciation for the Contact Church. The urban poor need such churches. Like everyone else, they need safe people with whom they can share their struggles. They need to be able to get together in safe places and pray for the people they deeply love. They need the encouragement of gathering with and working alongside people who share their faith in Jesus Christ. They need people who will share the gospel of God's love with them so that, if they meet a violent end to their lives this week, they will be prepared for heaven.
During times like these, I feel honored to be a part of such a church.