Loving Nineveh

Finding a heart for ministry in a place (or situation) you don't like.

"You really do love this town, don't you," I said while visiting with a pastor-friend in a city where I once lived.

"I don't love its debauchery, I don't condone its sin; I love it enough to confront its sin. I love it enough to stay here," he said as we drank cups of the strong coffee the region is known for.

We talked about the new mayor and the new police chief and the old problems with corruption and crime. We talked about the laissez faire attitude toward morality and inherent in that the difficulty of ministering the gospel of Christ. I wondered how he had stayed so long—almost 15 years—when so many pastors had come and gone in that time.

My friend said, "When I talk with students who move here to attend seminary, guys will often say, 'My wife hates it here. It's just not home.'"

"What do you tell them?" I asked.

"Give it a year."

It took longer than that for me, I thought. I lived in this town ten years as a seminarian and pastor, and only in the last three or four years ...

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