I’ve been serving in an inner city ministry for more than a quarter of a century. For the first years that I was there, several people said they wondered, because my background was so middle class, how could I be comfortable there. People would ask, “Is this hard for you? Aren’t you afraid? Are you just putting in your time to be a good sport, and then you’ll move on to a comfy place when you can?”
I’ve had 14 calls to go serve other ministries in a lot of other places, and I’ve turned them all down.
One of the things that God did to prep me for enjoying urban life and ministry is to send me to the city of Medellin. My internship was spent there, in a very poor neighborhood called Versalles – high in the Andes Mountains in Columbia. It’s in places like this that you learn what ministry is all about—it’s about people, and outward surroundings don’t matter as much when you’re just serving people. And even when I was working in that very poor neighborhood, I always ate enough to keep me alive every day. I had a place to sleep where the rain couldn’t get me, and I had warm covers. That’s really enough.
Probably all Christians on earth could stand to take Jesus’ words more seriously. “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” And when you make serving people the most important thing, the outward stuff is not so important. That can help to armor you from bitterness when you struggle, and it can armor you from getting addicted to material possessions if God is going to test you with plenty.