I was so excited. I had been able to visit Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, MS for the first time. Everything was located at the original campus. My visit was too brief. Later, I ran across a former missionary who was familiar with the seminary. As I expressed delight in what I had seen, he had a quick and dour comeback: “Yeah, but they are in the wrong end of town.” My thought was that he must have been thinking that the traffic flow or campus accessibility was not good. A year or so later, I was back on campus at the seminary to teach in their “J” term. It was good to be able to get out and walk a bit each day. It didn’t take long to realize that the neighborhood was mostly African-American. It hit me hard, “wrong end of town!”
Later I was riding with a layman from one of our churches. We went through a new neighborhood, in proximity to his local Evangelical Church. I quipped, “Wow! A great area for evangelism!” His response, “Well, they are not our kind of people”. Later, on my own, I drove through the area slowly. I saw that it was a mostly an African-American area.
As I later pondered these two quite isolated yet related events. I thought of Jesus who one day “needed to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). Later his disciples expressed their frustration with what was going on (v.27f). The lady He met was not
their kind of person to evangelize. She was a woman and worse yet, a Samaritan! But, Jesus took the time to relate to her the Good News, the Gospel message of salvation.
The DNA of the Evangelical Church from its inception has been a fellowship bringing the whole gospel to the whole person across whole communities. Early on, still mostly German Evangelicals, in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area deliberately established a successful mission to neighborhoods that were of mostly Italian heritage. In what is now the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, our forbearers in and around Vancouver, B.C., set out to reach the Chinese immigrants. The famous Red Bird Mission in Southeastern Kentucky was a thoughtful effort to reach the unique folk of the isolated Appalachian region.
Currently in Salem, OR a wonderful couple that I married some twenty-five years ago, Mark and LeAnn Morrow, labor in the heart of our downtown area through the ministry of SonRise Church. The main thing you see as you walk through the door is the professional boxing ring. That is their touch point with the folk they are wanting to reach. It would be too easy to say, “Oh, wow! They are surely not our kind of people!!”
Well, like we all should be, Mark and LeAnn are Good News People. More than anytime in our nearly fifty year history, we must major on majors, not minors. We must seek every way possible to be Good News People for all.