No Longer Familiar



Key Bible Verse: For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)

Dig Deeper: Ephesians 2:11–22

In 1988, when I became the pastor of LifeChange, I knew our community like the back of my hand. Although the mission of our church has always been to be racially diverse, the demographic of our neighborhood has been primarily African American.

Fast-forward to 2014 and, oh man, things have changed! North and northeast Portland has become a white community that is very expensive to live in. Our whole community as we knew it is gone, vanished, no more. Such was my dilemma: Our church was still in this community. I knew without a doubt God loves every white person and every hipster on the block. I knew his desire was for each one of them to know Jesus and become a part of his family. But at the time I wasn’t much good, because I was grieving the loss of our community.

[One day], I was in my office, talking to God about the changes that were happening. While I was praying, I got a picture in my mind of a chessboard with a game still in progress, [and] heard the Lord [say]: “I am sovereign.” In an instant, chains broke from around my heart and soul. I was freed to begin navigating my new community and working with God to see some incredible [things] take place.

– Mark E. Strong in Divine Merger

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