During my recent visit to L.A., I visited Macarthur Park with my classmates. It was originally built in 1880 as a vacation destination for the rich, but then it degraded into a gang banging, drug filled, crime scene from the 1960’s-1980’s. Now, it is a cleaned up multicultural neighborhood that is predominantly Mexican and Central American.
While I was there, I visited Innerchange, which is an incarnational Christian order among the poor with locations across the world. They are communities of missionaries who are intentionally choosing to live in marginalized neighborhoods in order to live out the Gospel there, in both word and deed. It’s because of their presence in that neighbourhood, along with Mama’s Hot Tamales, that MacArthur Park is now what it is.
What impacts me the most about this experience is how Innerchange is not just in the neighborhood to temporarily fix a problem, but that they are there living in the neighborhood with the people.
They are ministers amongst the poor who are critically thinking about how to transform problems into assets.
They do not minister out of power or dominance, but rather, out of weakness and learning. Although they could probably go in and tell people what to do, or how to live, they instead approach people with humility in a posture of learning and journeying together.
Furthermore, the fact that they are not just about themselves as an organization is impressive. They are intentionally interdenominational in order to illustrate the fact that the whole body needs the rest of the body; after all, different churches have different strengths, and Innerchange wants to benefit from them all.
What I love about Innerchange is that their method of ministry seems quite similar to Jesus’ method – it may not be a big show or produce quick fruit, but it is definitely a ministry filled with the love of Jesus Christ, and a desire to proclaim that
redemptive message in this city.
Thanks Innerchange for showing us what “missional” is all about, without needing to use the word to prove it. You’re the real deal.