Last Monday, as I drove Shane Claiborne into Anchorage for a meeting with some fellow clergy, he told how hard it is to keep families in his community in Philadelphia. It’s a rough place. There’s gunfire most nights. There’s a constant battle with heroin in the neighborhood. He recounted how a young man had died of gunshot wounds on his front steps earlier this year. Oftentimes families come to his community and stick it out for a while…and then they decide to move…maybe a mile away…maybe two…maybe more. But they move someplace a little safer, not quite so challenging.
But it’s a place that healthy, wholesome families are needed.
I told Shane that our family has struggled with living in the privileged areas we’ve been able to live and that there’s a part of myself that would find that wonderfully freeing…recognizing that it would be a challenge for myself and would involve sacrifice. But, more difficult, it would be “forcing” a sacrifice on the part of my kids — their scholastic education, their friendships, and perhaps their safety. It would be asking a lot. And while it may require faithfulness to make sacrifices in your own life, I think it requires a different level of faithfulness to require sacrifices by your children or your spouse.
Shane said, “Jim, if you and your family would like to come to Philadelphia to be part of what we have going on there, we’d love to have you. We could always use some families who are willing to stay.”
My answer was: “That’s an interesting offer, but I’m not that faithful yet.”