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Would You Move After a Shooting On Your Front Lawn?
Image: Courtesy of ginnerobot / flickr.com

Would You Move After a Shooting On Your Front Lawn?

How we came to answer the question in Memphis.

While the first responders, television camera crews, and our entire neighborhood began to spill out onto the street, my wife and I prayed inside. We were confessing our anxiety, pleading to our Heavenly Father for guidance, and acknowledging that we wanted to trust God and not make any decisions out of fear. We knew we were led to Memphis for a reason, and we would stick it out.

Besides, as we began to tell our story to lifelong Memphians, we were met with wide eyes and gaping mouths. We didn't talk to anyone who had experienced something similar (and still haven't, three years later). This is an important point, since Memphis gets a bad rap. The truth is that upwards of 90 percent of violent crime happens between people that know each other. So, violence happens, yes; but it rarely takes the form of some innocent passerby being targeted while minding his or her own business.

This was true in our incident. We were oddly comforted to find out that our entire neighborhood was exceptionally pleasant except for two houses that had a longstanding gang/drug feud; we just happened to move in right between them. We had to be on the lookout for stray bullets, but didn't have to be so worried about bullets aimed at us. Again, oddly comforting.

Choosing 901

So we stayed in Memphis out of obedience, discipline, and commitment. These aren't altogether bad motivations, but white-knuckling it probably wouldn't have kept us here for more than a year.

But when we least expected it, Memphis surprised us. We started to love the city, and it was as if the more we fell in love with the city, the more the city fell in love with us. Our motives blossomed from duty to delight; our experience morphed from merely surviving to intentionally thriving. Memphis is like my college strength coach: a harsh intimidator at first to weed out the uncommitted, but also a loving father to build up those who are truly invested.


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Displaying 2–5 of 5 comments

Pop Seal

October 25, 2013  8:31am

Bullet hole in roof, shell casings in the street, man hunts around houses at night, and more caused me to LEAVE NEW ORLEANS (1995) and I've never regretted it. I'd do missionary work there, but I'd not move my family back for anything.

Bobby Harrison

October 24, 2013  9:53am

If not the Seville's of the world, then who? Who will answer the call? My hurt hearts with fear for that family. But you know what, it should hurt even more for any neighbors God has put around them that don't know Christ. That is True Love. I'm chewing on John 10:11, 15:13, Romans 5:7, 1 John 3:16. And even if my heart was so hard that I couldn't allow myself to consider my neighbors there my brothers and sisters...even if, because of the bullets flying around my home, I considered them my enemies...well then we know what Jesus has to say about that: Matthew 5:43-48. Praying for you and your family, Jason. Thank you for rugged, real faith.

Teresa Ulrich

October 23, 2013  9:01pm

I moved here to Memphis three years ago, and have fallen in love with this city. This city can be so rough, but it's got so much grit and heart, and I see the Kingdom blossoming here. It is reminiscent of Jesus' words in Isaiah 61:1-3: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."

Charles Cosimano

October 23, 2013  12:09pm

In other words you are willing the risk the life of your family for this committment. Perhaps you should consider a committment of a different kind.


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