By Jason Cook
November 28, 2016
Editors’ note: Watch this brief video to see how God is restoring hope through the church and non-profit partnership in a forgotten Southern city.
What do you do in a city where hope has gone to die? Where is hope to be found once it’s moved out of your neighborhood and despair has taken residence? Ministry to the poor and marginalized is often accompanied by the visceral reality of hopelessness. Not only is there a need for the gospel of Jesus Christ to penetrate hearts, but there’s also the urgent need for economic growth. Where unemployment and crime rates far exceed the national average, and schools fall well below state and national standards, the church must rise to action. On occasion, the church has to meet basic human necessities before a spiritual remedy can be received. The church must bring a plan to care for the poor that includes both gospel witness in word through preaching and gospel fruit in deed through financial investment.
Fairfield, Alabama, was once a predominately white city many of Birmingham’s steel workers called home. After racial integration in the 1960s and 1970s, Fairfield became home to more ethnic minorities. White flight soon followed. Not only did white citizens leave for other parts of the city, but so did businesses, jobs, and opportunity. Most alarming were the churches who closed their doors and left for different parts of the city.
In the wake of this turmoil, a city lies forgotten on the west side of Birmingham. Given high rates of crime and poverty, hopelessness renders Fairfield—for many political, business, and even religious leaders—untenable and unworthy of long-term investment. Read the rest at The Gospel Coalition.
Jason Cook is a graduate of Beeson Divinity School.