The Mission District: Map View
By John Ashmen
Start by opening this map in a new window.
If you zoom way in on a Google map of a typical city, you’ll see not only interstates, streets, and parks, but also silhouettes of offices, businesses, schools, and houses. Important places and landmarks will be labeled.
With such a Google map in mind, I recently sketched out a conjectural map. (Open it in a new window so you can view it and still be able to read my commentary.) It’s how I envision every city’s Mission District. By Mission District, I mean that conceptual community throughout the city—in reality, it doesn’t have to be contiguous—where intensive programs and services outlined in Matthew 25:34–36 are offered, or from where they emanate.
In my last Executive Session, I stated, “Every rescue mission, regardless of size, needs to have a housing component—its own or one that is the result of a strong partnership with another organization.” Study my suppositional plot. Follow the street and consider the four neighborhoods. It’s obvious to me that the housing component is well within the border of the Mission District.
Up to this point, most rescue missions have constructed their buildings, figuratively speaking, in the Neighborhoods of Intensive Care and Skillful Repair. It’s the part of the Mission District where we are most comfortable. The streets are familiar and everybody knows our name. Even so, some missions have not completely occupied all of the buildings that have been made available in these neighborhoods.
Study the map left to right. The Soup Kitchen and Day Center are often first points of contact with people living in the Neighborhood of Ongoing Despair. Or maybe it's the Detox Center, or perhaps they cross the street to the Medical/Dental Center. Some missions take vehicles and drive into the Neighborhood of Ongoing Despair and seek out people in need. This is where the seeds of “rescue” are planted.
The interstate exit sign in this neighborhood reads, “Barely Living.” The residents on these streets and alleys, for the most part, merely exist.
If radical hospitality is done right, the roots of redemption often begin to take hold in the Neighborhood of Intensive Care. This is where people are invited into safe havens and learn that there is such a thing as hope—even for people in their condition. I see the City Gate (see the August 2013 Executive Session, “The Next Big Thing (Part 2)") being a landmark on the boundary between the Neighborhood of Intensive Care and the Neighborhood of Skillful Repair. The sign above the interstate at this junction, for obvious reasons, reads Subjected Living.
Rehabilitation happens in the Neighborhood of Skillful Repair. People go deeper in their discovery of self-worth. Their dreams develop goals. Still, their success is dependent on counseling, coaching, and faithful follow-up.
Typically, rescue mission leaders haven’t spent a lot of time in the Neighborhood of Connective Prayer. It’s within the Mission District, but the street patterns over there are confusing and all of the buildings look different. We haven’t claimed any favorite hangouts in this part of the grid. But this neighborhood is where life becomes deeply fulfilling for the residents—where everything that they worked for in the Neighborhoods of Intensive Care and Skillful Repair are fully realized. This is where Acts chapter 2 relationships develop and where people once needing to be rescued are comfortably re-assimilated into a caring community, now helping to rescue others. This neighborhood needs to become familiar stomping grounds.
The sign above the interstate exit on the east side? Missional Living. By definition, it is the adoption of the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of someone who now understands who he or she is in Christ, and is engaging others with the gospel message. I’m not saying that rescue missions need to take on the role of the church; I am saying that rescue missions need to make sure that the living conditions that allow missional living to flourish are the logical completion of the concept of rescue.
Before folding up the map, look at the layout below the interstate. This is where many new rescue missions are spending more and more of their time. They are taking their services out into the high-population communities, helping them cope with tough times, and shining the light of the gospel into dark areas. They are preventing the people there from moving to the west, into the Neighborhood of Constant Despair. The AGRM board just expanded its membership models to include organizations that do this kind of work as their primary ministry. More and more established rescue missions are seeing this type of outreach as an important component of life in the Mission District, and adding appropriate services based on local needs.
To be clear, not every rescue mission has to handle all these programs and services. Many do well specializing on one or two aspects of the process of moving homeless to homes and the lost into caring, Christ-centered communities. But all rescue missions need to see the big picture and be able to connect and collaborate with others sharing the heavy burden in the Mission District.
Some people hate maps. They just stop and ask for directions. But every once in a while, it’s good to open up the fold, study the larger layout, and see where you are.
So where are you?
The Worldwide Forum Is a New Undertaking
Please be in prayer for Global City Mission Network’s upcoming first-ever Worldwide Forum. These are the international cities that we expect to be represented:
|| Rio De Janeiro/BRA
|| Mexico City/MEX
|| São Paulo/BRA
| Cape Town/ZAF
| Ceský Tešín /CZE
Additionally, a limited number of U.S. cities (highest population centers) will be at the table. The event will be in Philadelphia on the campus of Cairn University, June 22–24. AGRM is organizing and facilitating the event.
Thomas Friedman’s international best-selling book The World Is Flat confirms that we live in a global community. Our cultures and customs may differ, but we are all dealing with many of the same social issues. We all have varying degrees of success when it comes to engaging hunger, homelessness, abuse, addiction, pandemics, human trafficking, population displacements, and the like. We want to be able to share what we know, call attention to opportunities and threats, and create a network for continued communication.
Don’t Miss the Annual Convention
Check out everything that will be happening at this year’s AGRM Annual Convention, June 2–5 in St. Louis, Missouri. A 16-page brochure is in the center of your March/April issue of Rescue magazine. Another one will be coming to you early in April. If you want a copy in front of you right now, you can find one online.
This year’s event will emphasize prayer. We’ll have prayer intercessors on site through the convention, and our Sunday night service speaker (for those who get in early) will be Phil Miglioratti, the National Coordinator of Loving Our Communities to Christ and COO of Mission America Coalition. We’ve also added other platform guests, including Bob Loggins, Sr., president of In The WORD Ministries.
Other presenters are Lee Strobel, best-selling Christian author, speaker, and apologist; Jimmy Dodd, founder and preside of PastorServe; Matt Heard, pastor, speaker, and author; Nan Roman, president/CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness; Mark Horvath, homeless advocate and founder of Invisible People; and Terry Robinson, city director of the Detroit inner city ministry of Cru. We’ve also added Randy Shaw, member of Southern Sound, to our lineup of worship leaders; he joins Lynda Randle, Dan and Sandy Adler, and the Heart of the City Worship Band.
The brochure offers a detailed listing of more than 60 informative and inspirational seminars that will be held at this year’s convention.
If you haven’t registered yet, it’s fast and simple to use our online registration form.