Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A depressing evening

I spent this evening in Flint, Michigan. If Detroit is the epicenter of the economic implosion, Flint is the heart of it. Flint has rates of unemployment that put most areas of the country to shame and unlike other places waiting for a comeback, for Flint there is not a "comeback" coming. The industry is gone and nothing has replaced it and as near as anyone can tell, nothing is ever going to replace it. It is too far off the beaten track in a hostile business climate.

I find it ironic that "champion of the working man" Michael Moore has moved his offices from Manhattan to Michigan, but not to his depressed hometown Flint which would love to have his offices and his film festival. Oh no, he moved to the tony resort town of Traverse City. Wouldn't want his left coast pseudo-populist celebrity friends to have to actually see poor people, hopeless people. Far easier and cleaner to cry about the poor from the safety and comfort of ritzy resorts and Hollywood mansions.

If there is a place crying out for Christ, it is Flint. I would love to see some missionaries who want to go overseas go to Flint instead and preach Christ as the only source of true hope in an otherwise seemingly hopeless situation.

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Debbie said...

It was depressing enough when we moved out of downtown Flint 15 years ago. I can only imagine what it's like now.

Steve Martin said...

I'd bet that is easier to preach Christ in Flint, MI than where my church is, Corona del Mar, CA.

Flint has the down and outers.

Corona del Mar has the up and outers...who have everything and need nothing...especially God.

Faithful Servant said...

Send me, I'll go...

Arthur Sido said...

Steve, I think you are right. It is probably far more fruitful to preach Christ amidst despair and poverty. The wealthy often don't think they need God because they have everything they think they need already.

Debbie said...

In my experience, there were two main areas of struggle in ministering in Flint:

1) Perceived relevance - When you have a bunch of nicely dressed Christians with "churchy" language come talk to drug addicts, prostitutes, homeless, or down in the dumps people, they often don't see what it has to do with them. I think this frequently has a lot more to do with the ministers, rather than those being ministered to. Nevertheless, when you tell people who have no food, place to live, or way to care for their children that what they really need is Jesus, they have a tendency to ignore you and go in search of more practical answers - or ways to postpone confronting the issues.

2) Environment - When people do become part of God's family and try to change their ways of thinking and living, they are still surrounded by all the original issues and negative influences. And usually they don't have a clue about any different way of living. It takes a lot of time and effort to change one's way of thinking to conform to Christ's, and if you're struggling to meet physical needs, well, you just don't have the time and energy to spare.

People are people, and there are different challenges in preaching Christ with any group. I suspect that in Corona del Mar you are at least likely to not be robbed, be threatened with physical violence, or have parts of your car disappear! In any case, the bottom line is that it's our job to proclaim the gospel and God's job to claim His own.


Debbie said...

By the way, wanna know one of the effects Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" had on Flint? More people went hungry. He showed people who were raising rabbits for meat in their backyard. After the movie came out, the authorities cracked down on them and they lost that source of meat.