I recently had the honor of attending the Brevard Neighborhood Development Coalition's Anchor Breakfast. The BNDC is a faith-based organization whose mission is to plan, facilitate, and implement solutions for the revitalization of impoverished communities. To achieve this mission, BNDC functions as a catalyst, partnering with resident leaders, businesses, churches (like Trinity!), and government. BNDC's three major programs --- the Dorcas Outreach Center for Kids (The DOCK), Greater Heights Apartments, and the Evans Center --- are tangible symbols of neighborhood revitalization in two separate low-moderate income communities in Brevard.
He challenged the entire gathering first of all from scripture by reminding us that Jesus said "'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Dr. Johnson was referring to the passage in Matthew chapter 25 where Jesus teaches us that if we are to encounter Jesus we do so when we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, give community to the stranger, provide clothes for those without, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. When we care for the "least of these" we are interacting with Jesus Himself. Dr. Johnson also pointed out that Jesus taught that those who are given a lot, are expected to do a lot (Luke 12). Clearly we have been given so much and while we give thanks, we are also called to make good use of our talents for His kingdom. Finally Dr. Johnson referred to Luke 6:44 and how the fruit we produce is a sign of who we are and whose we are. A few verses away, Luke 6:49 says "But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." What an amazing reminder from Scripture as to the call for us to invest in the lives of others through organizations like BNDC.
Dr. Johnson, drawing on experience and his own humanity, also said that "As our neighborhoods die, we die" pointing out that the key fundamental unit to society is the family and from the family then neighborhoods. Thus, if we allow our neighborhoods to collapse, we can watch our community at large soon follow. Another salient point was that "dropping resources into the middle of poverty will not change anything." Rather than handing out our "treasure" we must invest it in helping families and neighborhoods become self sufficient - exactly the kind of work that BNDC is engaged in.
I can't wait to attend BNDC's Anchor Breakfast again next year! In the meantime, I challenge you to think about how you can be an build community in your own neighborhood, how can you be missional there, and how can you support BNDC as one of our mission partners? If you want more information about how to give or volunteer at BNDC please email our Mission's Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are continually involved with this mission partner. I also encourage you to talk to some of Trinity's covenant partners who also have embraced the vision of BNDC like the Kirks, Williams, Registers, Cavallucis, Smiths, Clarks, Sue Birchfield, Jordans, Tomaccios, Wooleys, and many others!