He and his wife have two small children and live in a very bad neighborhood for their ministry. They have welcomed homeless friends, local crack addicts, and women from the street corner over for dinner.
He says this-
"As His followers, we are called to reflect His priorities and to respond as if one of our own sons or daughters were in pain."
And we are called to teach those priorities to our children.
"When holding the poor and marginalized at arm’s length no longer feels right, sometimes that means moving closer. Maybe right into the neighborhood."
He goes on to say this one thing that we were often asked.
“Is it a good idea to bring up your kids in some of the world’s worst neighborhoods?” Our question was a little different but basically the same.
The way things are in Venezuela now, the answer to that would be "no!" But things were different then than they are now and God called us there and that was where we wanted to be, where God wanted us. And when the time was right God called us away from there.
Craig and his wife's answer was, "But we want them to grow up in a family where Jesus and his subversive kingdom come first—before comfort, before affluence, and even, if necessary, before safety."
He compares this to when the Israelites faced the same question. Numbers 14:3
"God called them out on their wrong priorities, and because of their disobedience they had to spend forty years in the wrong place. The desert may have been safer, and maybe it had better schools, but it was clearly not where God had called them to go.
The children of the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land, but without their parents.
In making our children into idols, we lose sight of the central place God has for our kids in His upside-down Kingdom purposes."
I am pretty sure if you were to ask our daughters, Michelle and Krista about their childhood in Venezuela they would share with you that at times they were afraid but I am pretty sure they would share stories and experiences that would make those times fade into the background and they would tell you it was worth it all.
As most of you know our little country of Ecuador was shaken into devastation by the 7.8 quake that struck our coastlines and was felt for 40 sec, which seemed like minutes, in Quito which is over 200 miles away. As it approaches a meal time I open up my computer and see more people affected and then the appetite goes away because I know there are people so close to me that don't have, and haven't had food and water for days. We have done ministry in some of these places and I started looking through some of our ministry pictures and my heart was broken as I looked into the faces of the children in the pictures, wondering first of all if they were alive, then if they were hungry, if they had a dry place to sleep in their little makeshift tents of homes, if there parents were still alive, and my mind just kept racing with the questions. There are so many people hurting and traumatized by what is around them and also by the aftershocks that are still happening.
As I am surrounded by the pictures and the news of all the hurting because of the quake I am pulled back in my thoughts to this article that talks about all the pain in the world and how people are choosing to forget their pain. There are always hurting people some are able to cover it up pretty well and others not so much.
So I had to look up the word that is mentioned in the article and also the name of the book Craig wrote, Subversive Jesus, which is #1 best seller in Christian Social Issues.
adjective- tending or intending to subvert or overthrow, destroy, or undermine an established or existing system...
-For Jesus subverts the status quo. He turns things and people upside-down.
I was challenged by this authors words to look around me, I don't have to go to the coast to help people I just need to find the lost and hurt around me. We are coming up to a summer with 8 work teams and it will be a busy time but I hope we will be more challenged in our ministry to be more intent and not just put band-aides on the pain people are feeling but look them in the eyes and tell them they are loved by God and find out how we can fill that whole in their heart as well as fill their spiritual hole with the One that has all the answers.
Please read the rest of the article and find out how his children changed and impacted their neighborhood. The children did more than any armed police could do.
--I challenge you to find these people and "trust the comforter that pushes you out the comfort zone."
credit goes to Craig Greenfield for the quotes and the video