As believers in Christ, it is so important for us to remember that we are built different. We are a new creation – the old is gone and the new has come. Being built different means we live different, love different and serve different. In short, we are to be salt and light to the world. Why? Because we are to be transformed into Christ-like living and attitudes and not be conformed to this world. Despite all the rhetoric and division, at no time in recent history has our ability to be light been more needed than it is today. It’s a great time to be the church that is built different in Christ!
And our community desperately needs the church. A recent article in the New Orleans Times Picayune shared some startling statistics of life in New Orleans. One in 14 young black men will be murdered before they reach.
One in eight 15- to 24-year-olds will end up in the emergency room with a gun shot. For many, this is just a number. But think about this, one in 14 and one in 8 as being someone you know, someone you love. That’s what we face at UIM. We hear statistics like this, and the faces of our young black youth race through our minds.
We think of Santana, a recent graduate of Booker T. Washington High School who works for us part time. We think of Tyrone, who we are mentoring to be a youth pastor. We think of Xavier, who has overcome so much to graduate this year and of Dashae, who is dreaming of being a chef and will play a vital role in our day camp this year. We think of Kamyria, who continues to serve part time and goes above and beyond by volunteering. We think of Hassan, who has had to deal with tragedy that no 8-year-old should but is learning there is joy, love, and peace for him. And we think of Christopher, who has raised his grades through his hard work and coming to our Afterschool Academic Program (A.S.A.P.). This list goes on and on.