Pat Upchurch is President of H.E.L.P. (Helping, Educating/Exhorting & Loving People), based in St. Louis, Missouri.
by Pat Upchurch, H.E.L.P. (Helping, Educating/Exhorting & Loving People)
Do you feel called to serve urban communities? To urban minority people groups? Are you planting a pregnancy center in an urban area? Already serving there? I exhort you with this, from Isaiah 58:12 – “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”
The need for an inner-city witness
Statistically, African American and Hispanic females have 59 percent of all abortions (while making up only 25 percent of the population). In addition, over 60 percent of Planned Parenthood facilities are in cities with a higher black population than the rest of the state. Planned Parenthood also targets low-income and women of color.
With these facts, it is without a doubt we need to be in these regions, to reach and help those who are targeted. Many are abortion vulnerable/minded, lack sufficient resources, have unhealthy relational structures, and need a relationship with Christ. Jesus himself left a pattern for us in ministry. He could have done anything and every thing to get the “Word” (Himself) to us, but instead He chose to come where we were….”And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14).
Who are the urbanites?
It is imperative that we are equipped to serve and minister to people in these urban areas. We must start by understanding the environment and culture of these communities. Stress, for example, while not unique to urban life, is certainly magnified by it. Urban city-dwellers must wrestle with special stressors of stimulus overload, constant change, crowding, noise, pollution, unpredictable transportation, cultural differences, homelessness, drug infestation, crime, gangs, etc. Every day requires constant processing and adjustment.
Equally crucial is understanding urbanites’ mindset and view on relationships, authority, possessions, God, etc. For example, those in poverty see the present as most important. They make decisions in light of the moment, often based on their feelings or need for survival. Their worldview is often limited by their immediate neighborhood. It has been said people living in heavily urban areas fundamentally live their everyday lives within a six square-block radius.
As Christians who desire to bring about positive change in urban areas, our approach must reflect not only our client and cultural training, but our overarching awareness of the unconditional love of God for people created in His image. This sensitivity focuses on strengths, those of both the community and its residents.
We have the wonderful privilege to serve, help, and win so many to Christ! Urban communities are ripe mission fields, and opportunities for us to grow in our faith and discipleship.
The better we understand, the better we serve.
H.E.L.P. (Helping, Educating/Exhorting & Loving People) serves pregnancy centers, organizations and churches involved in urban ministry.