WACO - The resurrection of Christ continues to reverberate throughout inner city communities across the nation, according to presenters at the No Need Among You Conference.
"We are part of a beautiful movement committed to making God's love manifest," said Shane Claiborne, who ministers in Philadelphia. "Resurrection wasn't just an event that happened 2,000 years ago; it is something we participate in every day. Now we can live in the confidence that life is more powerful than death."
The author and founding member of The Simple Way said God has revitalized the area in which he lives as believers have reached out to their neighbors and developed a love for those around them.
"Jesus did not flaunt that He was the Son of God," Claiborne said. "Rather, He invited people to follow Him as they discovered who He was."
As Jesus preached good news to the poor, He let His life speak for itself. In the same way, Claiborne encouraged attendees at opening session of the No Need Among You Conference on Oct. 10 to let their lives speak for Jesus and draw men to Christ through their loving actions.
Texas Baptists partner with the Texas Christian Community Development Network for No Need Among You each year, providing networking opportunities for Christians who are seeking to find ways to embrace the poor and hurting in their communities. Ferrell Foster, acting director of the Christian Life Commission, said participants came from across the state, representing congregations, non-profits and parachurch organizations. They were seeking ways to revitalize communities and to help the 4 million Texans currently living in poverty.
"The word of God moves us beyond worship to a place of service," shared Gerald Britt, vice president of public policy and community program development at CitySquare in Dallas. "Times are way too critical for us to just worship God. Our worship has to compel us to serve."
Through that service, Britt encouraged each person to find ways to reach out to the poor in their communities - not just to help meet their needs for a day, but to find ways to pull them out of poverty.
Rather than simply providing for needs through community services, Britt challenged participants to seek ways to level the economic playing field. By providing opportunities and access for everyone, the dignity and worth of all would be significantly raised.
Drawing from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, Britt commented that in the end both men died. This is also the truth for every person today. Regardless of the wealth that is accumulated on earth, ultimately our worth will be measured by God.
Claiborne shared about the revitalization and transformation that occurred in inner-city Philadelphia when Christians reached out and began loving their neighbors. A factory fire seven years ago burned 100 homes in his neighborhood and there was little help provided from the city to rebuild.
Painting murals on walls, using old tires as pots for plants, and growing a garden through the use of aquaponics, Claiborne saw his neighbors gained a sense of renewed hope and joy as their community came back to life. Through the process, they also saw people come to Jesus.
"God doesn't want to change the world without us," Claiborne said. "We offer our broken pieces. How wonderful it is that we get to participate in this brilliant process of bringing God's kingdom to earth."