New Eyes for the City
Sunday through Tuesday of this week I was in Wichita for the EFCA Midwest District annual conference. I've driven through Wichita on my way to and from Oklahoma and Texas a number of times, but I had never spent any time in the city.
My friend Abdel, who spoke at our church in September and who pastors a church in Wichita, gave another pastor and me the personal tour of the city on Sunday night through many parts of the city. I was fascinated to see the landscape change from residential to city to low-income to university to nightlife. Since I didn't know the city, I didn't know what would be next, what kind of community we would enter. So, the scenery changed unexpectedly.
As a result, I noticed all kinds of things trying to learn something about the part of town we were in - I looked at architecture, lighting, storefronts, activity or lack thereof, signage, and so on. All kinds of clues to tell me what kind of block we were on.
I realized, then, that I rarely look for those signs around KC. I'm familiar enough with where I am that I don't have the same inquisitiveness.
But what would I learn about my own community and neighboring communities if I was as tuned into the clues as I would be in an unfamiliar town? What would I notice about my neighbors and their lives? What areas of need would I pick up on? Where do I see limited access? Where do I find where life happens, people gather, and commerce is transacted in ways I just never noticed?
I'm challenged to better observe my surroundings and be more mindful that people just blocks or miles away are people who most of all need Jesus, and that we can communicate Him better to others if we are alert to their neighborhoods, their areas of business, their places to hang out.
I'm task-oriented, so I drive in order to get to my destination. If I were more people-oriented, I would take more notice of the clues of my journey.
(image: By Harald Hoyer from Schwerin, Germany - Eyes of the City, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24323978 )