Hope in the darkness
As we might say in my Texas hometown, “It ain’t your grandpa’s America anymore.”
Shocking changes have occurred in our culture in the past generation or two. Today America is a land of lost people. American Christians think the “unreached people groups” are in Asia, Latin America and Africa. But our nation is a land of largely unreached people groups: disillusioned teens, prison inmates, Muslims, addicts, the homeless, disaster victims, senior citizens and cynical college students. The list goes on. These are mission fields defined not by geography, but by demographics and circumstances. Consider:
• U.S. News and World Report estimated more than 3 million crimes per year are committed in or near the nation’s 85,000 public schools.
• A University of Michigan study reports 9 percent of America’s eighth-graders carry a gun, knife or club to school at least once a month. In all, an estimated 275,000 guns go to school every day.
• In a single year in America, the average 16-year-old will witness 15,000 sex acts and references on TV.
• By the time an American child reaches high school, he has witnessed 33,000 TV murders and 200,000 acts of violence.
• Since 1960, the rate of illegitimate births in America has climbed by 419 percent.
And don’t look now, but America’s tendency to promiscuous sexuality has entered the church — a study conducted by Josh McDowell reveals 43 percent of teenagers attending evangelical or fundamental churches have sexual intercourse by age 19.
These radical changes in our society have made the work of the church more crucial than ever in the United States. However, as dark as statistics like this may seem, they only heighten the brilliance of hope that exists today wherever the church is reaching outside her walls, providing spiritual salt and light.
In the following pages you will see hope comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. It can be as formal as an urban Bible school graduation or as casual as a food delivery to an intercity brothel. As American believers we can overcome our society’s darkness through the power of the Holy Spirit as we work and pray to Reach America.
Executive Director, U.S. Missions
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