After growing up in the suburbs, Jen and I moved into North Minneapolis almost a year ago. It’s amazing how fast your perspective can change. I grew up only being afraid of the city. Most of what I knew of it were from quick trips to a Twins game or seeing the nightly murder report on the evening news. It’s alarming to think of how detatched I was from this part of our community. There could have been a wall between us.
Part of me hesitates to write the following since I hate to reinforce people’s misconceptions, generalizations, and fear of Minneapolis. But nevertheless, the honest truth is that we have a horrific problem and we need everyone’s help.
Last night Jen and I attended a Peace Rally organized by the Peace Foundation (a North Minneapolis group working to end domestic violence in this part of the city). The event was sponsored by Sanctuary Covenant Church, Church of the Open Door, St. Phillip’s and various others.
We began the evening by stretching out our group of 1500 people along 26th Avenue all the way from Lyndale to Penn (26th Ave has a history of terrible violence). It was a great time to meet others in the community, enjoy the weather, and dream of peace on the North side. Next we rallied together under a makeshift bandshell and listen to various speakers, spoken word poetry, and watched a couple of dance groups perform.
The event began to die down and most people (adults especially) had already left, some kids started throwing water bottles into the air above the crowd. From what I saw and heard, one of the volunteer security gaurds tried to stop them and that started a fight that moved like a mob down the block.
As we rallied for peace last night, someone pulled out a gun and shot a teenager in the back (the teen is at North Memorial and is expected to survive). No suspects are in custody, no weapon has been recovered. (Read story)
It was a long walk back to our car last night. Reality set in a bit. That was the closest I have ever been to a violent crime. A teenager (13? 14? 17?) was almost killed. You could feel evil in the air. We have a big problem and a long road ahead. So brace yourself, I’m going to go on a rant…..
I feel like most people play the blame game when we talk about crime in the city. “It’s the church’s problem,” or “the governments problem” or “the police’s problem”. And many people who make these comments are so detached from the problem that they don’t even know what they’re talking about.
I think we need ownership. All of us need to own the problem.
And we need the Kingdom of God. Sometimes this can be a cop out. We say that only God can change things and then we sit and watch for it to happen. I think that adding more cops will push the crime to the suburbs (or overload the overloaded jails). I think that throwing government money at the city will make things look nice but won’t really change anything.
We need the Kingdom. If our faith doesn’t call us to action, then it’s not faith at all. Even in living on the north side, I can let myself become detached and I am as guilty as anyone else (so moving here isn’t necessarily the answer). But if you watch the news or read this story, and don’t feel the pain of the violence or get angry for justice, then I wonder if you have a pulse. So when I say that we need the Kingdom of God, I’m saying that we need a miracle. And it would be a miracle to me if we all accepted the blame for this problem and then actually did something about it. That’s when God’s Kingdom will come to North Minneapolis; it will be through you and I.
I think there are probably a lot of different and affective ways to bring the Kingdom of God to the city. So how can we own this problem together?