So many times people ask us, "what do you do in Binghampton?" To which we respond, we don't "do" anything. We just live our lives according to the gospel, love our neighbor as ourself, love each other, love Jesus, etc...It is what we should all be doing. No matter what your zip code.
But over the past two months it has hit me several times why we live here, not what we do but why we do it. The bottom line and easy answer would be to tell you that we do it because it is what God has called our family to. But here is the hard answer and much longer one. So for those of you that like easy you can stop now.
A couple of weeks ago I spent 20 minutes having a conversation with Precious ( a girl in our neighborhood) about how we don't hit to get our point across. I then spent another 20 telling her cousin that you don't ask people what they bought you when they get back from the store.
The next day I spent a good chunk of time explaining to one of the boys that you don't cheat in a game just to win. That you should play by the rules. A couple of nights later Erin and I fed 3 kids on our street pizza, carrots and fruit. Kids that otherwise might not have eaten supper. We talked to them about being gracious and kind. Last week I called code enforcement on an empty lot that people had started using as their own personal trash dump, it was cleaned up a few days later.
Every night we pray with our kids and ask for God to bless our neighborhood, to help us share Jesus with our neighbors and for the poor. We talk to our kids about injustice and what the Bible teaches on how to take care of the orphan and the widow.
Tonight my 11 year old shared about Jesus with his two year old sister. He told her how much Jesus loved her and asked her if she loved Jesus. She said No, but that is beside the point. She says no to just about everything these days.
Here is what I am really trying to say. Why do we do it? We do it because someone has to. If Precious, Marquavius, Keisha, etc... are not taught about grace and love, if they are not taught how not to cheat, steal and use their words instead of their fist then they will not know to be or do any different. They will turn into teenagers, young adults, men and women who steal, lie, cheat and maybe worse because no one will have ever shown or told them any different. If someone does not watch out for the elderly like Ms. Farris, she will be taken advantage of. If someone doesn't call code enforcement and get streets, lots and houses cleaned up then this neighborhood will continue to decline.
We do it because we believe that Jesus is bigger than any problem the hood has ever seen. We believe that by our kids watching, learning and growing up here they will learn how to take initiative for the benefit of others, how to share Jesus ( it is already happening with Preston,) and they will know they are not better than others because they are white, live in a "good" neighborhood or get a good education.
I don't know that we will ever see any fruit from the relationships that we build here. And honestly sometimes it feels futile. But I am told to put my trust in eternal things to put my hope in the unseen. So are we making a difference? I don't know, I would like to think so, but if nothing else it is impacting my family to count the cost and realize that this life is not about us. And I could not be more grateful for the call to be here.
That is why we live here. That is why we do what we do. It is why we are who we are.