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As I thought about one aspect of our theme for the year—”compassionately transforming communities”—my thoughts immediately drifted to Tina, a homeless woman who lives on and around our church property.

My relationship with Tina has had its ups and downs, like any human interaction. Being Christlike can be difficult when I have a “human” response to her stewardship of our church property.

Presently, my community of faith is actively involved in community transformation at the “macro level.” We are engaged in formulating large-scale strategies with the police department, local schools and community centers. We are actively seeking out collaborative opportunities with nonprofit organizations serving our community.

However, my relationship with Tina forces me to see her on a “micro level.” Homelessness is a macro-level problem that plagues our community. But Tina is like a family member—and, in all honesty, she is one from whom I want to distance myself too often. In this micro-level relationship where God has placed me, I am forced to draw out compassion from deep within my soul. I am compelled by the love of God to embrace her as a sister.

If I continue to view Tina on the macro level—simply as one of my community’s homeless population—the compassion that is so vitally necessary in the transformational process will not be present to usher in the kingdom of God in our community. By compassionately bringing the reality of the kingdom of God near, one relationship at a time, we can transform our community.

Jesus masterfully moved from the larger objectives of His mission to allow individuals to intimately experience the power of His touch. Whether it was a desperate woman with a long-standing issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34) or His willingness to allow a few small children to climb on His lap to receive a blessing (Matt. 19:13-14), He met those individuals at their own level. We need the power of God in the small moments of human interaction, as well as in our larger endeavors, to see our communities transformed.

I cannot love Tina as God commands me to by my own strength. I need the empowerment of the Spirit of God to enable me to do so. My community is Tina, and Tina is my community.

Prayer Points

  • Lord, renew my willingness to show compassion to others.
  • Lord, renew emphasis on building meaningful relationships with community members.
  • Lord, open doors for our leaders to engage in the broader strategies being formulated to impact their communities.

Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.

Keith Jenkins is the senior pastor of New Life LA (West Adams Foursquare Church) in Los Angeles.