Peace & Light
I’m starting to think that the everyday “normal” folk may begin believing that we at Ace Hoops are completely out of our minds! (Please tell me otherwise….)
We began the Ace Hoops journey two years back with a basic premise: to invest Christ’s love in today’s youth, using basketball as a “lure”. Along these lines, from an organizational standpoint, we wanted to press on towards this while maintaining both a local and abroad component. And so the work began, laying foundational bricks for Ace Hoops to reach kids both from the Twin Cities and around the world.
And here we stand today: anxiously anticipating trips and programming in 2011 within three main areas: Cape Town, South Africa, Juarez, Mexico and the Powderhorn neighborhood of South Minneapolis.
I’m not a “news guy”. In fact, I hate the news to be honest. But being in the position I am in now helping to lead this ministry, I am forced (wisely) to become more aware of what’s going on around me, and especially what’s going on in the areas that Ace Hoops calls home.
Today’s Headlining News in Juarez: “Juarez deserves title of most dangerous city in the world not only for its homicide rate but also suffering very high numbers of other violent crimes”, “Four workers slain on bus in Juarez Valley”, “Two students slain in Juarez were US citizens”. The list goes on, but I’ll stop there…..
If you’ve been tuning in with what’s going on locally (Twin Cities), you’ve also probably heard about the violence disrupting the Powderhorn neighborhood recently. (For those new to the Ace Hoops scene, the Powderhorn Recreation Center located in South Minneapolis is where Ace Hoops holds its programming on Saturdays.) Quoting from WCCO, the most recent headline unfolds like this:
Minneapolis police say a 45-year-old mother was sexually assaulted in front of her two children Wednesday night, and then her attackers sexually assaulted two more people at another location.
The suspects are a group of teenage boys.
On Wednesday night, the mother, along with her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, decided to go cross country skiing at Powderhorn Park.
While there, they were approached by five teenage boys, one of them had a gun. They ordered the family to get down in the snow so they could rob them, but the robbery took a disturbing turn. Two of the teenagers sexually assaulted the mother and threatened to assault her daughter, before she intervened and the boys ran off into a nearby neighborhood….
Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. The mother is recovering well and the neighborhood is holding a peace vigil tonight in the park to “reclaim the park and celebrate the strengths of the artful, diverse, and loving community.”
In the next few weeks, Ace Hoops is going back to Juarez and continuing our programming in the Powderhorn community and it’s got me to thinking: some people have to think we’re crazy.
But then it has me thinking even more. We are in the season of Advent, the season where Christians are eagerly awaiting the Prince of Peace and the Light of the World.
Christ calls us to be His ambassadors and He doesn’t specify where to go or NOT TO GO (which is what maybe some of us were hoping for). He just says to “go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS” and that indeed also means going and making Christ-followers in places outside the comfort and safety of our own homes and neighborhoods.
The question that keeps coming back to me is simple: If we don’t go, who will?
And this is not to say that there are not already solid, Christian people and churches and organizations working in these areas (because there are!), but it is a challenge to rethink our own personal commitments to Jesus Christ. Maybe He has called you to serve within the personal confines of your comfort bubble, but if He called you outside of it, would you go?
Through wise counsel, open hearts and faithful prayer from many people (maybe you!!), we have been called to these places. We have been called to Cape Town, Juarez, and Powderhorn. These are our homes. Some might think we’re crazy; we think it’s crazy to not go where we’ve been led.
Continue to pray for the Powderhorn neighborhood, for the city of Juarez, and all the people affected by its violence. Pray for peace! Continue to pray for Ace Hoops and for those individuals working in Powderhorn and planning return trips to Juarez (we leave in two weeks!). As hundreds of people gather tonight in Powderhorn Park to reclaim the neighborhood, Ace Hoops seeks to join in on the reclaiming process: we seek to reclaim these places for Christ and to be collaborative, Kingdom-restoring agents of change.
The work is ahead of us. But as we celebrate the coming of our King, we dive in knowing that victory is on our side!
Happy December & Happier Advent!
Reclaim the park and celebrate the strengths of the artful, diverse, and loving community are encouraged to reclaim the park and celebrate the strengths of the artful, diverse, and loving community. are encouraged to reclaim the park and celebrate the strengths of the artful, diverse, and loving community.