Rodolpho Carrasco spends much of his life building bridges. The son of Mexican immigrants, he is married to an African American. He began his college education at Biola University and completed it at Stanford. He is as likely to be invited to the White House as to a Sojourners planning meeting, to an emerging church consultation as to a conference at the free-market-oriented Acton Institute. He is a disciple of John Perkins, who called a generation of evangelicals to "relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution" in America's cities. Like his mentor, he has a restless mind and a passionate heart, both of which he has put at the service of some of America's poorest citizens as executive director of Harambee Christian Family Center in Pasadena, California. His answer to our questionHow can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good?probes the challenges faced by his generation of advocates for justice as they, and those they serve, come of age.
Sixteen years ago, I took my undergraduate degree and headed straight to the 'hood. Since then, I've lived one block from the corner of Howard and Navarro, an area that once had the highest daytime crime rate in Southern California. I've lived through the 1992 Rodney King riots, the 1996 welfare-reform bill, and the rise of compassionate conservatism. And I've lived through a small revolution in how Christians think about justice.
Not so long ago, evangelical Christians who served the poor often found themselves on the defensive among fellow believers. Now it's the rare church that doesn't engage in works of mercy and justice. Watching this evangelical wave of concern and action, I've been greatly encouraged. Yet as I listen to my fellow justice-impassioned ...1