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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sharing our Stories: Living on the Southside

The following is adapted from a BTSF article that originally appeared on the blog of IVCF's The Well.

Many of our colleagues and mentors wince when they learn where my husband and I live. They assume it was our only choice on grad students’ stipends.

We came to Columbus to pursue doctoral degrees, but moved into one of the city’s blighted neighborhoods to build relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ. We believe that to draw nearer to God’s grace requires falling in love with His children. And it’s hard to fall in love from arm’s length. In the process, we’ve learned just how abundant this life can really be.

We joined a neighborhood church that ministers to underprivileged folks in our area, building a community that desires radical fellowship across established lines of division. Together, we share meals, birthdays, burdens, and joys. The richness of the Kingdom is lived out in the beautiful mix of people learning to embrace one another.

My Sunday mornings are shared with many races, languages, and cultures; the very wealthy and the destitute, high school dropouts and tenured professors, mental illness and academic genius. We have found that as we draw near in friendship to those we might otherwise ignore, we enter into a more intimate relationship with the Body of Christ. We begin to understand His Kingdom more clearly, both as it is, and how it could be.

And yet such diversity is often hard to come by in the very institution that professes holy community and unity. The Church struggles to reflect the fully diverse image of Christ. In particular, racial and socioeconomic diversity is disproportionately low in our churches. We sometimes feel helpless to combat it, or are too unfamiliar with the injustices that contribute to it. Too often, outreach to marginalized populations becomes tokenized, treated as the “pet projects” of a few invested leaders.

If we become too entrenched in our own work and fail to pay forward our blessings, we all miss out on the opportunities God has for us. What insights into God’s creation are we missing because the best-suited person isn’t in the sanctuary to share it with us? We need engaged minds tackling humanity’s questions from a wide range of perspectives. When we are surrounded by homogeneity we stifle ourselves, both in our witness and our personal spiritual growth.

At the moment, my husband and I find ourselves in a very fortunate position. We have few responsibilities, no dependents, and the freedom to live where we choose. We are in a unique time of our lives: we enjoy many privileges, but also are not yet so financially advantaged as to become isolated from the rest of the world.

Ministry 'with', not just 'for' or 'to'
As we grow in our careers, hopefully one day gaining professional positions, children, and other responsibilities, we may not be so willing to live as we do now. The temptation to sequester ourselves will become stronger. We will be more inclined to engage in charity rather than to invest in relationships and mutual edification. My prayer is that we will remain intentional and intimately engaged with the pursuit of God’s Kingdom both within and apart from the university.

If you have a personal story or testimony about your journey with racial justice and reconciliation, share with us below, or as a BTSF submission!


  1. You're church sounds beautiful. I'm jealous.

  2. There may be such communities near you as well to join or at least visit. Check out the groups listed with Mosaix ( and CCDA ( or if you let me know where you are, I might be able to make some suggestions.


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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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