When Jesus sent out the disciples in Luke 9, he commanded them not to take basic necessities like extra clothes and money. Apparently, he wanted them to be desperately dependent upon God and the kindness of the people whom they were called to serve; he wanted them to witness the resources of the communities to which he sent them. Jesus also said not to move around from house to house but to stay in one home and eat whatever was set before them. He wanted them to connect as deeply as possible to one household. Finally, Jesus said to cure the sick people and tell them that the Kingdom of God had come near to them - the Kingdom had come near to them - what an interesting phrase.
It is our conviction that the Kingdom of God came near to these dwellings because the disciples had come near. The Kingdom resides in her citizens. The Global Urban Trek was borne out of one overriding conviction - that the followers of Jesus need to be called and equipped to live the gospel alongside marginalized communities.
The problems of poverty are not essentially economic ones, though wealth, business, and banking are aspects that need careful attention. The problems of poverty are not essentially educational, although creating learning opportunities may be vitally important. The central problem isn't even the government or multi-national corporations, although the misuse of power is something the Church ought to be addressing vigorously. The primary issue is one of hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to mistrust: mistrusting God, God's people, our neighbors, even ourselves.
We are convinced that Jesus Christ is the only satisfying answer to the question of hopelessness and the mistrust it breeds.The arrival of God's Kingdom is good news. It is full of hope, and that kind of hope is not conveyed very well through a program. It is conveyed through living creatures, people who take up residence alongside the despairing. Whether you grew up in a poor community or an affluent one, the Trek is about opening up the possibility for God to call some of us to spend the next portion of our lives among our marginalized neighbors as partners in hope.
This summer we may simply walk alongside a few new friends on the global margins, hearing their stories and entering into their lives. But more importantly, we seek to listen to Christ as he speaks to us about how to spend the next season of our lives. Each summer about 30 - 40% of the participants respond by pledging to live and serve at least two years alongside our neighbors on the margins.
The arrival of God's Kingdom is good news. Let us join Jesus as he brings his Kingdom to our global friends.