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We are grateful and appreciative of all acts of love and provision from God’s people. As a result of your prayers, financial support, the many acts of kindness through John’s illness, and the ministries of CEF Durham, we continue to be strengthened and encouraged through this season. Medical bills have so far been paid, volunteers have stepped up for daily radiation runs for John, ministry activities are continuing through the diligence of our board members and volunteers, plus so many of God’s people have kept us in prayer – reaching out in such timely moments. Even with obstacles that we face, CEF continues to move forward in reaching God’s precious children. I’m thankful for this “2021 Thanksgiving Day Week” and from CEF Durham and see other updates from John Blake https://johneblake.blog I’m grateful for continued prayer and financial support to the ministries, board, and local churches for the communities, schools, and city kids in the local Durham Area Chapter of CEF.



CEF Durham Director and Board

I’m completing my 4th week of radiation and daily chemo. Though I’ve lost some hair, cannot speak clearly (surgery and radiation), and have low energy days, I’m doing well, PTL! Dec. 13th will be my last treatment at the Duke Cancer Center before the Christmas holidays. Then, I’ll have a dental and thumb procedure before a scheduled MRI diagnosis (re: tumor) in January 2022. We’re believing and trusting that the MRI will show all clear… SEE MORE

Community-based strategies for biblical transformation…

https://www.facebook.com/CEFDurhamArea

Considering the Cost of Biblical Leadership

The cost of Bibilical Leadership calls us, through God, to go deeper and wider with Him… are we willing to surrender our way to the Father? It means a willingness to have our Father intervene, even to the extent of having life plans messed up/crushed/remade with the Master’s Hand. This remolding process can make biblical leaders vulnerable, take what others would consider risks, and even face failure of being misunderstood, sometimes rejected. Understanding stewardship as a precept to biblical leadership includes practicing discipleship and trusting real ministry is lived on the Jericho Road.

I’ve presented various topics here under Ministry Development to CEF staff across the USA. Most of these topics and/or articles can also be found at the Stewardship series. Today, I’d like to present some principles and practices of biblical leadership.

Choosing to walk this road, although easy to change your mind before taking those first steps, the Jericho Road is a front-porch view into the life of the poor, brokenness, stagnation, and loneliness of others. It allows us to see and experience the Father’s Heart. Consider the following Bible passages in understanding the cost to biblical leadership:

  1. Commitment: Luke 9:23, 59, 62 Following Christ, not turning back, learn and discipling others
  2. Collaboration: Luke 10:1-23 Jesus taught/conveyed His plan for real ministry and indigenous leadership
  3. Compassion: Luke 10:30 Good Samaritan teaching on true sacrifice for the hurting and needy
  4. Crying out: Luke 18:35 Jesus healing the blind
  5. Transforming the marketplace: Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus had his heart saved and changed which transformed his city
  6. Faith: Hebrews 11:30 Trust is experienced by doing what God has said: bringing down walls of Jericho
  7. Prayer: Luke 10:5-6 Praying in the manifold presence of Christ with His blessing, peace, and the atmosphere of God’s Kingdom in cities, communities, and homes where you minister.

Practices of Biblical Leaders

  • Has a vision worth following

A leader needs a vision which lasts beyond today. There needs to be an element of faith and risk to motivate followers. The vision needs to take people somewhere they want to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. It needs to be a “bigger” reality than people are experiencing today. (Do I have to make that point for Jesus?)

  • Willing to lead the way

A leader who is easy to follow is willing to go first. They pave the way. (Jesus went first. He suffered first. He challenged the tired, worn out system first. Others could follow, because He led by example.)

  • Remains steadfast with integrity

A leader stays the course and keeps his or her character in tact. Followers know they can depend on the, resolve, strength and fortitude of the leader during the darkest hours. (Jesus remained sinless all the way to the Cross!)

  • Displays grace and patience

A leader extends grace and forgiveness when mistakes are made. They pace the team until the team is ready for greater challenges. They equip the team with the proper training and resources to complete assignments. (Jesus gave His disciples, and everyone He met, much grace.)

  • Challenges followers with high expectations

People want to follow someone who sets the bar for achievement high. There’s no intrinsic value in following easy-to-attain goals. (Jesus pushed the disciples beyond what they thought they could do. Recall Peter walking on water?)

  • Practices consistent humility as a servant

A leader should display humility and be a servant of others, especially those he or she is supposed to be leading. (Jesus washed the disciples feet.)

  • Places energy into others

A leader consistently invest in other people. They give real authority and responsibility as they encourage and develop other leaders. They even replace themselves in key positions. (Jesus sent the disciples out and He’s left His church in our hands.)

Principles of Servant Leadership

If you value people in the city, then you will make intentional decisions to build long-term empowering relationships.  Intentionally doing so will allow you to cross cultural barriers and build community by listening to others, investing stewardship of resources, while also enriching the life/testimony of the surrendered servant.  Knowing (awareness) of people within the city helps cultivate an appreciation of their diversity, which enriches and broadens their own visions, ideas, and ministries.  A servant leader will make deliberate decisions to ensure commitment to growth of indigenous resources as well as the foresight, through prayer, in the utilization of those resources.

Invest in people. Pour yourself into those that God sends your way by taking what He poured into you and reinvest it into others.  It may take fifteen years to develop indigenous urban leadership.  Empathy is absolutely necessary in healing and implementation of effective and sustainable ministry within a community. Trust built through this healing process can provide opportunity for mentoring/discipleship of city kids towards becoming world changers in their community and beyond.

Leaders who pray with their city: A Closing Prayer

Gracious Lord, the Lord that invites us to be honored enough to work alongside others through the help of Jesus Christ, the creative God who created all creatures on earth including the tall pine trees in our state. The creative God who created diversity among humankind on earth, where there are all kinds of shapes, sizes, ages, skin colors, and languages.

You sent Your Son to earth, to Galilee, a small marginalized town on the outskirts of a major city, this earth, where He saved us from our sins. Jesus, you were born into a human body among a marginalized and oppressed nation, and from there you started your ministry to those that were on the outskirts – the women, the nonreligious, the people that nobody considered to be important. There are so many which we reach and love called “city kids”, those we are allowed to minister through Child Evangelism Fellowship.

We call and depend on the power of Your resurrection, the entire world and mankind of the changed/unchanged. Thank God you have blessed us to live and be stewards to your creation, allowing us to realize Your Kingdom on earth. Fully realizing, we will be judged not by the amount of power, prestige, and bank accounts, but where we will be judged rightly on how we treat mankind (as children and poor) on this earth by our love.

Footnote Disclaimer: As a result of my brain surgery (Sep.17, 2021) my speech and writing have been affected. During future blogs, I’ll try for others to edit my drafts to provide clarity and understanding for my message. Thank you for your patience. Subscribe: johneblake.blog (button)

Edited in Prisma: Ocean Isle Beach 2021 johneblake

As when I pray, meditate, and journal, these attributes I remember about God:



“Watch and see what I can do…” Carolyn Blake’s “Word from the Lord for us during this season of life”


When I pray for you, as I also pray for others, I pray these specific promises from the Lord for me and you when I’ve entered in the manifold presence of Christ:

  • GOD cares about you and me
  • GOD does the “redo” in our lives
  • God helps me to remember
  • God guides me in what I should pray
  • God loves me so I can love, affirms, and value others
  • God provides total access into His Kingdom
  • God shows me how I’m becoming and His destiny
  • God will not remember my sin, loves and forgives me
  • God brings light into my dark places, secrets, brokenness
  • God covers me with His right hand with His righteousness
  • God lifts me up with His everlasting arms
  • God, there is no darkness in the presence of your Light

Footnote Disclaimer: As a result of my brain surgery (Sep.17, 2021) my speech and writing have been affected. During future blogs, I’ll try for others to edit my drafts to provide clarity and understand for my message. Thank you for your patience. Subscribe: johneblake.blog (button)

Updates: Nov. 20th per Treatments and Recovery Status

I’m completing my 4th week of radiation and daily chemo. Though I’ve lost some hair, cannot speak clearly (surgery and radiation), and have low energy days, I’m doing well, PTL! Dec. 13th will be my last treatment at the Duke Cancer Center before the Christmas holidays. Then, I’ll have a dental and thumb procedure before a scheduled MRI diagnosis (re: tumor) in January 2022. We’re believing and trusting that the MRI will show all clear. Once the MRI has been evaluated, my Oncology team will plan for our next steps.

We are grateful and appreciative of all acts of love and provision from God’s people. As a result of your prayers, financial support, and many acts of kindness through John’s illness, we continue to be strengthened and encouraged through this season in our lives. Medical bills have so far been paid, volunteers have stepped up for daily radiation runs for John, ministry activities are continuing through the diligence of our board members and volunteers, plus so many of God’s people have kept us in prayer – reaching out in such timely moments. Your prayers have sustained us, giving us a peace and calm throughout this journey, allowing us new insights into others that walk this path, as well as bringing joy to our daily lives. In the midst, we have welcomed a new baby granddaughter, “Birdie”, and again praise God for His undeniable gifts and blessings in our lives. A big thanks from both of us and God’s blessings to you all.

Since my past blog, Carolyn and I spent a week at Ocean Isle Beach. We had a wonderful time with our 3 grown children, spouses, 3 grand kids, and our fourth grandchild was born November 19th. It was a restful time of recovery after brain surgery, allowing us fun, ocean, surf, conversations, and many great meals around the pool.

Lots of Prayer and Support

Support from hundreds of friends, ministry partners, and Christians we didn’t even know, have strengthened, encouraged, and walked with us in the Peace and Light that only the Lord provides during such challenges. We feel your prayers and lift you, our partners, as well, many times at 3:00 AM as God wakes me. We continue to practice Prayer Evangelism for family, city, ministries, and our street/neighbors.

Medical Update

While we were away at the coast we spoke with Dr. Cook, my surgeon, where he reported that pathology revealed a gliomablastoma tumor, a nasty/fast-growing type, and will be treated aggressively with radiation and chemotherapy. While at the coast, I had some issues with edema in lower legs/ankles, which was evaluated at a local medical center in Shallotte. The ultrasound exam all came back negative for any blood clots. Though we lost one day at the beach, the remainder of week was spent resting and enjoying family, waves, walking, and keep my feet in the sands everyday.

Dates:

1.   Oct. 4th—Sutures were removed from my scalp with good results/healing.

2.   Oct. 6th—For 4-5 hours we met the Oncology team of doctors, nurses, care providers, that briefed us on the treatment plan as well as offered a couple of clinical trials at the Duke Cancer Center. 

3.   Oct. 8th—Our Radiation Team met with us and set my next scheduled visit for a “mask”-fitting, with a similar to an hockey guard, on Oct. 14th, to use during the strategic radiation sessions beginning the week of Oct. 18th.

Treatments:

The big challenge for my journey is that the gliomablastoma grade 4 tumor is a fast growing type, thus treatment must be aggressive. My initial phase of the treatment plan will last for each day, M-F for 6 weeks until December, which includes radiation, chemotherapy, labs, MRIs, and exams to determine its Game Plan is success.

God’s Game Plan:

1. Meetings, consultations, and enrollment in 3 clinical trials were held with the team

2. MRI to strategically pinpoint radiation locations

3. Radiation sessions M-F for 6 weeks

4. Chemo with an oral pill for 42 days along with/before  each radiation session

5. Weekly exams/consults with the team at Duke Cancer Center

6. MRI results of the treatment plan during the initial phase of the Game Plan

CEF Durham currently reported its Sep.-Oct. 2021 ministry update

1. All school-based Good News Clubs and Power & Light programs are hold temporarily due to COVID restrictions from area school systems

2. Select weekly adjusted clubs in neighbors and community events are driving our outreach ministries, including distribution of food and supplies to city kids and families

3. CEF has engaged in prayer initiatives locally and beyond: Pastors w/ministers, Judges/Courthouse, RDU Prays, Transformation NC, Ekklesia Excelerator #2 (international course unrolled until 2022, and 1000s others praying for John Blake/CEF

4. Prison ministry and discipleship has been restricted in the jail due to COVID

We have access to The Quiet Space at the Duke Cancer Center for prayer, meditation, and peace.

Faith Perspective and Medical Prognosis

Many times my faith and my medical prognosis are beautifully functioning together, sometimes when a path surprises or doubted, yet any path uses it brings be back to the place I needed: FAITH. One another way to say it, following a plain glass vs stain glass perspective of a lifestyle and for making decisions can become a stronghold within a one’s life or living the victorious life through God’s wisdom and freedom. I’ve found breakthrough with contemplation, medication, praying, and walking a labyrinth, using steps of faith at each day while treatments at my appoints at Duke.

I walk this type of a Labyrinth, while at Duke Cancer Center, often as I walk, pray, and contemplation my treatments that day.

A labyrinth is a path, which leads a circuitous route, to the center of an intricate design and back out again. Words of biblical hope, faith, and healing are circled within the labyrinth which focuses as you pray as you walk. A prayer labyrinth is used to facilitate prayer, meditation on words found, and is to seek spiritual transformation. This helps develop my own daily rhythm of experiencing the Manifold Presence of Christ. I incorporate both prayer, listening, keep believing realistic expectations from the Holy Spirit, as which also allows me to walk the labyrinth when I’m visited at the Duke Cancer Center (accessed on the ground floor). I listen to our doctors and the cancer tumor team and the Holy Spirit. I’m using everything that I’m learning from the plain glass and stain glass perspectives, ask for wisdom from above, know that my challenge before me, I’m on a journey, but I have the right treatments or game plan: God’s Game Plan.


Footnote Disclaimer: As a result of my brain surgery (Sep.17, 2021) my speech and writing have been affected. During future blogs, I’ll try for others to edit my drafts to provide clarity and understand for my message. Thank you for your patience. Subscribe: johneblake.blog (button)

“God’s Game Plan”

Back quickly in July 2021, during CEF summer ministries and our Camps for City Kids, I suffered multiple seizures during two individual weeks and separated two visits to a hospital. But in September 17th, a team of Duke Neurologists, removed a brain tumor, now recovering, and will be followup treatment at the Duke Cancer Center in October 2021.

The surgery was success to incisive an “inch-size” tumor, yet some of the tumor cells in blood vessels, which Dr. Cook could not remove all. The pathology confirm a 4 grade glioma tumor. Follow up with chemo and radiation will before during the months. In the meantime, I’m in eating nutritionally (more calories than I’m use), take lots of meds, walking Scout, my wife (Carolyn: CHAMPION) caring me daily, getting much rest (naps: never my not then) and get my strength for the “God’s Game Plan”.

Recovery is day by day, progressively, slowly, and some days really strong, however still I’m missing my workouts and the fitness program I developed 4-months ago. Yet, the “Journey” is the same and I have the best “God’s Game Plan” to manage me. See below. Doctors, as mentioned, will have the ready to have the sutures removed in 2 weeks and treatments begins. I’m so happy I’ll to be allowed to travel to a needed family beach trip this coming week at OIB Kahuna, which we love so much!!!

Well… now there will a “new challenge” for me, for our various ministries, but the mission will be fulfilled. Our CEF Board and Advisory, which have taking up to lead and sustain ministry will the Durham area for city kids. Thankful that God gave me a huge special opportunity in CEF for 30 years to serve the Lord! We together see it’s a “Journey” beginning, new challenges on the way, an exciting experience, and walking continue into each day, each year.

Highlight of various ministries in the Durham area

Updates and information from the sites. Leadership board and advisory members listed:

Jan Perry – Dr. Bill Allard – Paula Droege – Michael Harley – Lou Brogden – Jamison Berthold – Ruth Shepard Poole – Dr. David Johnson – Charryse Fredrick-Omari – Gloria Rentrope

“Let the Lord have His way in your life every day. There’s no rest, there’s no peace, until the Lord has His way. Place your life in His hands. Rest secure in His plan. Let the Lord, let the Lord have His way.” CEF Song Lydrics

Additional things I’m passionate and engage

That the two past months, I’m almost night 3:00-4:00 am praying for a specific people and reasons… I been praying from the Luke 10 passage, which the patterned Jesus’ instructions to disciples, when He told to go into a marketplace and/or community: Bless, Peace, being with the Manifold Fellowship with in Christ’s Presence, and lifting the needs of people, and proclaiming the Kingdom in variety ways. I’m remember past and current relationships and the sectors of our city. So much to say more on this, must here…

I’ve involved a the Ekklesia Excelerator 1 level course, now level 2, since 2020, now 2021-2022. I’m about affinity around education, we’ve meeting every 2 weeks/monthly worldwide. This has been transformation in my life and thrust can continue and grow spiritually and that my brain heals as well to fully engage.

Ekklesia: When we think of the word church, we think of it as a specific building, as a group of people, even as a long service to sit through. We hardly ever think of it as world-changing–and neither does society.

During this Excelerator courses, I’ve developed and nurtured Transformation Life Plans for my self, family, ministry, city, etc. which experiencing the God of Kingdom in the ministries, home, and neighbors.

Fitness

I’m Always Here to Help! These are more than words. This is a promise. Always here, means by whatever means available. To Help, means to leverage any resource of scientific knowledge, coaching experience, and tools appropriate for everyone of my fitness clients to get into the best shape of their lives. Well… fitness clients will have to give hold for a while and my ballistic workouts will be weak, but… docjohnblake

To Be Rather Than to Seem

As I prepare to teach, train, and speak to students this weekend, desiring to be missionary interns this summer across North Carolina, I’m reminded of a growing revelation in my own spiritual development. Such deep insights from God become acutely visible when on the coast or in the mountains of our state. As creator of all things, God’s creation from the atom to the entire universe displays His creativity and ultimately demonstrates that He is the creator of creativity! He also created me and you. What He creates has purpose, perfection, and destiny to bring change to our world. He created us to Become. Walk in becoming your destiny. Worshiping our Creator: It’s about expressing what His Kingdom looks like on earth and making our world a better place with the gifts He has given. – Matthew 16:19

I’ve also learned that the Devil can only copy, mimic, and counterfeit the real or authentic which God has created. There is also nothing original that the Devil might place in your path of life used to distract you or cause you to stumble. So, though we know these things and are followers of Jesus Christ, here is the tension. We are easily distracted and many times see things in the past: successes, failures, and sin in our lives. God is about creating the new in our lives — our destiny.

The Bible teaches us in Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

And in – Philippians 1:6, 3:14 …But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

God’s Love and Faithfulness for You is True: I can tell you with 100% authority that this true, no matter what you remember or feel crippled by your past based on Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

God has a Plan for You: I can tell you with 100% authority that you have a destiny for greatness as a world changer based on Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare (peace & Prosperity) and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Developing Your Faith

Here are effective strategies for developing your faith to believe and live as a world changer:

Prayer, Envisioning, and Journaling

Pray seeking to be in the manifold presence of Christ, enjoying, listening, and receiving His downloads. Envisioning or imagining what could be, needs to be, and God wants you to do. Then use a devise you’re most likely to use to Journal everything you receive each day. Look for these experiences to manifest as you daily follow these three disciplines:

  • Daily fine-tuning to receive
  • Recognize Father’s Voice
  • Finding Peace in Transformation
  • Cultivate Visions, Rhythms, Patterns
  • Gain confidence in things received by Faith

Creative God has the designs, we are the receptacles for them… Becoming God’s destiny for you is the Creation!

Your values, heart, and vision matter to city kids and youth

Having Godly Values

Why are core values important?

  1. Values provide the foundation for formulating goals and giving direction for ministry.
  2. Most strategic plans fail because values are not articulated when starting the process.
  3. Conflict arises often due to differing values.

What are ‘Key Questions’ in determining your core values?

  1. What is your ministry and/or organization supposed to be doing?
  2. What do you get passionate about?
  3. How do you invest your time and money?
  4. For what do you (your ministry) want to be remembered?
  5. Are these values action oriented?
  6. Does your (ministry’s) action or behavior demonstrate or address these core values?

Having a Godly Vision

What is Vision?

  1. Desires fruitful outcomes in ministry initiatives
  2. Describes what the ministry will look like in five years
  3. Develops a mental image that motivates people

Where do you connect with a Godly Vision?

  1. Catch God’s perspective on reality
  2. Recognize God’s desire for all people
  3. The flow of God’s redemptive purposes
  4. Seek God’s specific assignments
  5. By empowering God’s indigenous people

How can you know the vision comes from God?

  1. Listen during prayer
  2. Seek/Ask for God’s wisdom and counsel
  3. Minister with others who share the same vision
  4. Promotes faith rather than fear
  5. Motivates people to action which multiplies
  6. Requires risk-taking
  7. Glorifies God, not people

Having Godly Resources

Time: It may take fifteen years to develop indigenous urban leadership.  What are the implications when this decision is made? Are you willing to make such a commitment to the Lord for city kids?  Staying and Serving  This type of commitment is rare and not for the weak.  Will your vision be focused on making a long-term commitment?

Networking: It’s a must, biblically and practically, if you are going to survive and thrive in the city. A God-given vision will be inclusive of His Kingdom at-large.  Indigenous partners and leadership with the same vision will empower people and sustain the mission if done long-term.

Favor: As you labor faithfully and consistently, look for people, programs, and pulpits within the community that will supply the needs and gain ownership of the vision. Look in the city.  There is a vault of resources that cannot be found anywhere else.

God is saying “Go” to the people… yet in the omni-matrix of God, He is saying “Come” join me in the city where I AM at work. I AM here. It is good. Also… if people are empowered and equipped, they already have all the resources needed to solve their own problems. We need to stop trying solve people’s problems and issues,

John E. Blake & Dr. John Perkins

Look for Part 7 soon How To Implement a City Kids Strategy, which will wrap up this series of articles on Developing a Heart for the City and City Kids

How would you define success in ministry to city kids… actually, any children and youth? Does your adopted measurement impact your strategic plan? Does it help sustain and scale your organization beyond the current ministry year? Actively matching your organization’s purpose with how you show up and what you do on a weekly and annual basis is critical for success and defining success.

Forgiveness, redemption, and resolution are key components towards success which provides real hope and power while ministering in the city. John E, Blake

I’ve learned that real success begins within your own heart, acknowledging its brokenness and dependence on the Lord for Godly forgiveness, redemption, and resolutions in our own lives. Only then can we proclaim and live these truths, putting them into action, among the people we minister to. Stay with me, I want to share how I’ve learned to define success in ministry and specifically with city kids and their communities. I believe there are at least 3 Godly aspects when bringing resolutions to the complexities of ministry to the poor, marginalized, and distance from God.

Forgiveness and redemption

First, let me provide a list of personal and direct ministry benefits from forgiveness and redemption. At the end, wait for it, I’ll provide my list of what success looks like, in the natural, when ministering in the city and with city kids. Please offer your comments after reading as well, thanks!

Redemption from sin gives hope, salvation, and empowers us:

  1. For the hopeless conditions of children we see and teach
  2. For our negative attitudes towards the difficulty of city ministry
  3. As workers, we need to be reminded of the Lord’s work in our lives
  4. To confess our negative attitudes and repent
  5. To ask the Lord to do whatever He chooses to develop a heart within us for the city and city kids
  6. To carry the same message of redemption to city kids and allow God to affect the change that no person, program, or government plan can do

Resolution brings the game plan for solution with mutuality and respect:

In developing a heart for the city you and your ministry organization must have a firm resolve.  This is a passionate resolve, which prays and labors until a biblical and systemic plan is birthed and confirmed. It’s a mutual plan to accurately address and solve spiritual and social issues impacting the culture and lives of the people whom you minister alongside. This strategic plan is framed around three words:

Values – describes who we are and what we really believe. Core values are consistent, passionate, biblical, and distinctive convictions that determine our priorities, influence our decisions, drive our ministry and are demonstrated by our behavior.  Our real core values are exposed in the way we minister, to whom we minister, and also where we minister.  James 1:26-2:1

Vision – describes where we are going. It’s like shooting arrows beyond yourself – Psalm 127 “having a higher expectation than where you are… It’s projecting a vision for success and a heart for God… if you can dunk the ball at 9 foot, then raise the rim.” There are many applications in life, but the idea is to clarify and cast vision of where your organization is going.

Resources – describes what we will use and how we will use it to reach, achieve, and/or resolve the task of fulfilling the vision, which has been cast.

In part 3 the verse Psalm 11:3 was mentioned regarding …when the foundations are being destroyed… there is a biblical answer to repair and resolution to this social darkness.

  • Speak Truth with real applications for living
  • Pray (de-hijack prayer) for transformation not problems
  • Activate the Gospel (de-colonize and clarify)
  • Church active and community-centered
  • Communities and schools pastored:
    • Nurture, love, reconcile for them to flourish
    • Biblical principles are active and evident
    • Spiritual and natural atmospheres change
    • Systemic poverty and issues eliminated
    • Keys of the Kingdom are leveraged for change

Next Part 6 will articulate deeper and offer examples of Godly values, vision, and resources like: Networking, Staying and Serving, Risk-taking and others.

Rejection and Realization

From a systemic and spiritual perspective, I will attempt to reveal the roots of despair and decline in marginalized, resourced-challenged, or poor communities (whichever categorical term works for you). Due to attitudes of condemnation, misplaced compassion, and frankly, ignorance, a sick, broken, generational system of living in hopelessness has taken root.

What’s the Problem: God – Not God Himself, but a rejection of God by indigenous people of these communities and those in power who control and manage these communities. As a result, deteriorating social and economic conditions prevail. Systemic poverty, in every area of life, becomes the norm. Thus, their struggle, our struggle, even collectively our struggle is not only in the natural, but a spiritual battle, which needs a supernatural solution. (Ephesians 6:12)The struggle should not be with our fellow man.

Poverty in every area of life is the result when God is rejected (examples: Nigeria, Europe, US inner cities, etc.). Where do you see this in our own city? What’s wrong with the pictures portrayed by city, neighborhood, or school officials in your city? (example: movie – “A Christmas Carol” and other media depicting poverty). Poverty is often a source of alienation; inequity breeds anger; destructive survival and negative behavior pull families down.  Satan’s plan is very effective!  Christians must view this condition with the mind of Christ.

Spiritual poverty produces hardship in every area of life.  Especially for children and the poor.  Are they not the most vulnerable?  There must be a realization that unless city kids are affected by the Gospel and change begins early in life, the probability is that they will be pulled into the same generational cycle of crime, poverty, and ungodliness.

Regarding your ministry with children, respond to the following: State your purpose in ministry? For what purpose do you live/exist?  Luke 10:27-28 State your most important cause – Something that’s worth dying for… (your values and passions)  Do you have a cause?  State the ways you connect with kids – Nurture and care for the children you teach; equip them for living; hug them; build them up on the inside; most of their outsides are spoiled.  How do city kids respond to you?

Next Part 5: Forgiveness, Redemption, and Resolution with Godly Values, Vision, and Resources

This is the 3rd part of a series on Developing a Heart for the City and City Kids. Part 1 (below) began on April 16, 2019. There will be a total of seven parts to complete this presentation and discussion. Additional topics and resources related to teaching city kids can be found at CEF Durham and The Center of Light as well as this blog.

As I asked in part 2, How would you or will you respond? Perhaps a better question for a better discussion would be, How do you respond when confronted about social, systemic, and spiritual issues in the city? How have your responded in the past. Civic and Christian leaders have grappled with these questions and issues for many years. We, in CEF, have talked and strategized over these things for the past 20-30 years. Some progress was made towards being more reflective, in our literature, of the multi-ethnic children we teach. A few changes were also made in our teaching methods, which made an impact on our teaching curriculum and teacher training of the main CEF ministry programs — Good News Clubs and 5-Day Clubs.

Typical responses

How have your responded in the past? Here are a few general, but typical responses to the needs within the city.

Condemnation: Having attitudes, which say, ‘They deserve what they get.  Why don’t they get a job?  Well, Jesus even said that the poor will always be with us.  How can they live like that?  Don’t they care?  Look how dirty those kids are?

Cultural Chasm: Feelings of alienation pulling you back from the city. This is a humanly cultivated apprehension because of being culturally distant and different from those in the inner city. Cultural competencies are weak.

Curiosity: Attracted to a fabricated danger, risk-taking adventure, it’s cool, or a self-centered glorification by going into the ‘hood’ and doing good deeds. Picture-taking for personal benefit and conversations.

Compassion: God-centered and inspired attitude, which causes your heart to love, care, reach out, hang out, and be enriched by those in the city.

Heart reflections

Your responses are a starting point, now reflect on what your heart allows you to see. To develop a heart for the city and city kids, you must look at…

Broken Lives: Have you seen any difficulty loving the people of the city?  Increasingly, the poor have become nameless, faceless statistics.  The poor are no longer our next-door neighbors, nor do they sit in the pew beside us. They may be seen as the object of our outreach, but not as valuable, powerful, world-changers within their community… or our friends.

Neglected Families: Have you seen pain in the eyes of children? Have you seen children of the inner-city being neglected?  Do you appreciate the reason why? Many youth must care and defend themselves and their siblings, provide safety for their families, experience the lack of adequate life skills, yet have lots of street smarts, and are victims of few on-going programs to nurture and equip them for healthy living and decision making.

Negligent City Sectors: Have you seen the results of negligent parents, schools, churches, communities, ministries, and government agencies? When these city sectors are also broken, inadequate, and unsure of how to take action, you have a recipe for disaster and devastation. When evangelicals left the city both physically and spiritually, the turf was conceded to government agencies, liberal agendas, ignorant and irrelevant churches, broken families, etc. The salt and light, Jesus talked about, was mostly removed from the city… and the enemy devoured it.

…if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?… Psalm 11:3-7

What are the foundations broken and why?

  • Family broken — Too much selfishness and arrogance
  • Religion broken — Too little passion to help the community
  • Schools broken — Lack of wisdom
  • Communities broken — Fear
  • Society broken — Darkness

In this day and age, given the context of need in our cities, given the separation by race, culture, politics, and social issues that exists… given our history in this country — what would Jesus have us do?

Coming in part 4: Rejection and Realization a Reality Check

Go deeper with a few suggested books:
1. In His Steps by Charles Sheldon
2. Let Justice Roll Down by John M. Perkins
3. Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton
4. One Blood by John M. Perkins
5. Reconstructing the Gospel by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

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John E. Blake tweets