God’s Heart for Justice

We were right in the thick of it. Our new duplex was just off Broadway on Emerson Avenue North. The picture that had been painted for me by friends and acquaintances were colored by words like “war zone”, “crime”, and “unsafe”.

Whether it was hope and faith… or just plain naivete, I wasn’t afraid as I moved my stuff into the house. What we would find out later is that 99% of the people in North Minneapolis are just trying to live their lives. North residents lived lives centered around family, work, church, recreation, and all the same things that, well, everyone else does. Through our year with Urban Homeworks, we found that many of our ideas would change- and that we would change too.

While I grew up around diversity, I had little exposure to the real issues that exist for different ethnic and socioeconomic groups in Minnesota. Slowly, through the stories of neighbors, studying the past, and looking at the Bible with fresh eyes, we were challenged. Through the year, I realized how my oversimplified views of race and poverty were simply ignorant. Until Urban Homeworks, I had little understanding of the poverty cycle, of institutional and systemic racism, or the history that has had such a hugely significant impact on where we are today.

Through my year with Urban Homeworks, I started to see God’s own passion and desire for the marginalized and the oppressed.

What’s more, I started to understand the few small, practical ways that I could be a part of what God is doing here in the Twin Cities to bring justice and reconciliation and to break the cycles of poverty that exist for so many.

The reality is that the Bible is teeming with God’s compassion for those on the outside, his deep desire for justice for those who are oppressed, and even more, for the cross of Jesus Christ to be the catalyst to break down the barriers that previously deeply divided people groups.

Another reality is that unless we make deliberate choices, we can go our whole lives without ever having to confront the very real issues of race and poverty that are so real for the people who live, oftentimes, right next to us.

Urban Homeworks helped me to walk a few miles in some shoes I never thought I’d walk in. It was the Lord who made sure that I wasn’t the same after I took them off.

 Brett Ripley

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