I want to share with you the story of (and request your prayers for) a people group that has been on my mind for some time, and that is desperately in need of the good news of Jesus. Actually, they would not technically qualify as an official people group according to the definitions of missiologists. But they are a specific community of folks who are urgently in need of the gospel. Read their story, and pray. And who knows? Perhaps God might call some who read this to go and minister among them!
According to one Christian man, who has spent over twelve years of his life among them, there are over 9,000 people living in this gospel-needy community. And, while there are some poor and downtrodden among them, many of the people are quite well educated and financially stable – so much so that perhaps their basic ease of life makes it that much more difficult for them to see their need of the gospel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is only one small gospel church within the community’s geographic bounds. And, while there are certainly true believers in the community who travel to other places to attend church, the aforementioned observer has only ever met a very small handful of them in his decade-plus living among them. Most of the people, according to his anecdotal observations, seem to have very little interest in eternal things. Door-to-door evangelism and occasional community events at that one little church have yielded very little apparent fruit. And so the community remains needy, and its inhabitants largely “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2.12).
And so might I ask you to pray regularly for this community, and for the little church that needs to be a city on a hill in the midst of it? And maybe some of you would actually considering going to live among them – not as official missionaries, but just as Christians. For it does seem that relationships among neighbors might be the way communities like this one will best be reached. So would you pray? And would some of you considering moving … for the sake of the gospel?
And I guess if I am going to ask you to move to this community, I’d better tell you where it is! Is it some neighborhood in Paris? Perhaps some suburb of Seattle, or some gospel-starved village in New England? It could be. But the community I’m talking about is called Pleasant Ridge. And the little church is our own. And the 12 year observer and resident is, of course, me!
And, O, brothers and sisters … I want you to realize that our church meets every Sunday in what seems to me one of the most lost communities in America! It’s not a bad community to live in, by any stretch. But it is largely a Christ-less one! For I scarcely ever meet another Christian in Pleasant Ridge, save for the handful of our own congregation who live inside it! And so I want to plead with you to pray earnestly for this 2-aquare miles of the city of Cincinnati in which our little church meets – that people from our very own neighborhood would begin to come to Christ and to fill these pews!
And (without at all laying a guilt trip on anyone) I want to ask some of you if you would consider, for the gospel’s sake, moving to this gospel-needy community.* How might we be better able to reach this neighborhood if the majority of us lived within its bounds? How much easier might it be to invite your neighbors to church if they (and you!) lived only a few blocks away? How much more impact might our outreach efforts have if the folks who are on the receiving end actually recognize one or two of the faces among those who have come to sing Christmas carols, or to give out hot chocolate on St. Patrick’s day? And how much more likely might we be to pray for this neighborhood if it were our own?
So please, every one of you, pray for this ‘people group’ that is the neighborhood of Pleasant Ridge. Pray that our church will be a city on a hill to it! And ask the Lord if He might have you sink even deeper into the gospel needs of this community by coming to live among us!
*As the sentences after the asterisk probably make plain, this plea to move to our community is primarily addressed to members of my own congregation who, at present, travel into this neighborhood to attend church. However, if there is anyone out there who might want to move from much further afield, be in touch! And of course ... if that is not how God is leading you (to move to Cincinnati to work with us), would you consider moving a little closer to the meeting place of your own church, so as to be a more accessible witness in all the ways described above?