I was born and raised in Colorado Springs. When I’m flying somewhere and the person in the seat next to me asks where I’m from, I can usually anticipate the kind of response I’ll get. I’ve lived here for most of my life and I know what kind of reputation this city has. There are over 90 Christian non-profits located here. Some of the biggest names in the religious right live in the area. This city has long been known for being a morally conservative, Republican city full of Christians.
There was a shocking story in our local newspaper recently. According to a 2007 report by the National Association of County & City Health Officials, Colorado Springs has the 2nd highest suicide rate in the country. We’re second only after Las Vegas.
Does this bother anyone else like it does me?
We who claim to love Jesus Christ have obviously missed something. Something big. If we Christians are living the way Jesus intended for us to live, we are supposed to be known by our love. So somebody please expain to me why, in a city that is supposedly filled with people recognized by our “love,” so many of us are struggling with such pain, despair, hopelessness, and loneliness that the only way to end it is death?
We’ve gotten it wrong … this thing called life.
What if Colorado Springs was known for being a city where we love every person, regardless of their political affiliation, choice of occupation, race or sexual orientation? What if instead of making the news for our sickeningly high suicide rate, we made the news for our exceptional hospitality and warmth, environmental stewardship and charitable giving? Why can’t this city become a place I can proudly claim as my hometown instead of feeling like I have to apologize for it?
I think you know there’s no good answer to your questions, Becky, but they are good ones. Sobering ones.I remember hearing, long ago, a story from my first college–a church college…conservative. In the early ’70’s, the “Jesus movement” spawned a lot of interest in and talk about “koinonia fellowship,” which was supposed to draw people really close together. Sometimes it worked. But at a time when the college community was talking about it and some were experiencing it, a girl who lived in the dorm tried to kill herself. That rocked the school.I wish I could think of something really profound to say to you, but all I can offer is that I understand the questions. Maybe we, or you with people close to you, can come up with some ideas for ways to start sharing the love of Jesus with your community.Several years ago, my church started, and has been joined by other churches, in doing Serve Tucson once or twice a year. Several weeks of preparation go into it, with members contributing cases of bottled water, Hershey’s Kisses, and signing up for various activities: handing out bottled water on major street corners (“Just one way to tell you Jesus is head over heels in love with you”), helping to wash cars (no charge, no money accepted), visiting businesses with candy or donuts or visiting nursing homes to love on the residents. The sole purpose is to love people with nothing expected in return.I got my car washed at one of our locations, several years ago. I watched the young people react, whenever another car came in to be washed: Shouts and high fives as if their star quarterback had just driven a ball into the end zone to win the game. One man, standing near me, tried every way he could think of to pay the kids, or find out how he could give some money to our church. “Nope, this is absolutely free.” He couldn’t stand it!Nearly every year, we hear how some part of this–maybe just a bottle of water–touched someone’s life and prompted him or her to move closer to God. And Serve Tucson branched out in men’s groups, women’s groups, in a variety of ways to serve people in the community throughout the year to improve their lives and introduce them to Jesus, with no pressure.I don’t know how this strikes you. If it doesn’t, forget it. But if this doesn’t seem feasible to you, I’ll bet God can give you some ideas for Colorado Springs.You have a good heart. God bless you.