Here is a story of a child’s life that withered before it could even blossom.

The other day, a young man told me a disheartening story. His best friend, only 14 years old at the time, suffered a gunshot wound as a result of his father’s gang and drug activity. Previously, this friend had aspirations of playing professional football, but now only seeks revenge on the persons responsible for his plight.

His story reflects a theme that I, and perhaps many of you, have heard countless of times. Ever present between each syllable of such stories are the tell-tale signs of hopelessness. These youth, many born into despair and devastation, defer their hope from that which we have in Christ Jesus. Our challenge is to minister to them effectively, despite their struggle to embrace the hope in which we rejoice.

One way we can approach outreach of this sort is through the lens of biblical story. In defining how our personal narrative fits into the larger biblical story, we can then reveal hope to those that have had no hope.

The biblical story begins with the story of creation and God’s declaration of its goodness. He created man distinct within all of creation—in His own image. But the Fall of Man perverted God’s original intention for creation. Sin left a blemish on God’s creation. Yet, even in a crisis like this, God offers hope. He reveals a redemptive plan in which His own Son, Jesus, would redeem the corrupted relationship in creation. Through his death, burial and resurrection we would have a new hope, the blessed hope, the hope of salvation.

Sure, the road to get to this result was not pretty. Like the story mentioned earlier, life can be harsh, painful and traumatic. But in the depth of the gospel we find hope and peace.

Some may say this hope is deferred because our youth are inundated with hopelessness. Consider the artist Lupe, who penned the lyric, “[The] Place that I was born into systematic brokeness took that downpression and developed it to dopeness.”

Can you imagine a system of hopelessness that, instead of being hurt by the pain it causes, it is embraced to the point of being “dope?” That’s the personal narrative of many youth. It’s a cycle that displaces their hope from the eternal hope of glory to their own circumstances. And because we fail to preach fundamental truths of the gospel, youth do not understand how their personal testimony can relate to the biblical story.

The despondency these kids experience is not foreign to the biblical story, instead it reveals a resemblance. We ought to preach the entire story of the Bible and help those who don’t have hope, find the hope within it. The flaws of God’s people actually reveals God’s unfailing love and abounding grace. To find our personal narrative in the grand narrative of the bible gives us hope, a hope of redemption and restoration by our Savior.

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The Front Porch

Conversations about biblical
faithfulness in African-American
churches and beyond