This story is from the fourth quarter 2011 Adventist Mission DVD. You can watch the Adventist Mission DVD in your local church or online at www.AdventistMission.org.
When Atlanta, Georgia, was preparing for the 1996 Olympic games, they looked at the unsightly tenement buildings around Centennial Park and decided to knock them down. They then built condominium developments where land was cheap and dislocated the urban poor away from their homes and heritage.
Several years ago Rustin and Stacy Sweeney felt God calling them to move into one of those economically-deprived housing communities to start an inner-city ministry.
“Our neighborhood has a very high rate of child abuse and crime,” Rustin says. “We partially picked this area because of a conversation we had with a policeman. We asked him what the area was like and he said, ‘We’re the only area in Atlanta that has a continuous police presence.’ We said ‘This is where we need to be.’”
This young Seventh-day Adventist family is following the example of Jesus. They’re following His incarnational ministry, living among the people and ministering to them by showing Jesus’ love. They are “hanging out” with the people. They’re becoming part of the community, building friendships, and making an impact.
“If I went as a missionary overseas, people would think that was great,” says Rustin. “You can put your life in danger all you want over there. But when you start to cross the lines of race and economics just 15 miles from where you used to live, people think you’re crazy.
“But if God has told me to go there, then I’m safer doing this than if I’d stayed on my couch in my old neighborhood. The myths and the fears that we had of people who looked different than us are just that--myths. We were all taught to be afraid of each other. Maybe one percent of the people who are in areas like this are out for bad. The rest are just like us, just trying to figure it out.”
As an act of faith Rustin and Stacy along with their three children left their comfortable home in a fashionable Atlanta neighborhood and moved into this community to put Christ’s method of outreach into practice. Recently, thanks to your support, they received a small appropriation from Global Mission to help them expand their ministry.
To connect with people in Manhattan, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has established a center of influence called Life Hope Center Bryant Park.
Mission 360° features inspiring stories about mission work.
One day while Rajah was holding a Bible study, a mob approached his house, brandishing sticks and swords.