Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
This coming January 3, Bethlehem Urban Initiatives (BUI) will launch Jericho Road Ministries, an urban outreach inspired by the parable of The Good Samaritan—a place where mercy meets crisis.
But the lawyer wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by to the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him…”
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert of the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Jericho Road is an actual road that leads 17 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho. It descends rapidly from Jerusalem (3,000 feet above sea level) to Jericho (1,000 feet below sea level). Rugged hills and windy bends make the road ideal for bandits and dangerous for pedestrians—and when the two collide, for mercy ministry.
Our desire is to be in tough places (Jericho Road) to deal with tough circumstances (people in crisis) and to restore them to wholeness both physically and spiritually.
Our goal is to meet basic needs as a crisis arrives, but not to enable a lifestyle of dependency. As a result, we hope to set up development programs such as a food cooperative, job coaching, budget counseling, and a relationship-building city softball league to help people transition from dependence to independence. (We may, however, minister to some people like the “widows in affliction” of James 1:27 in prolonged ways.)
Sin and unrepentant sin is a problem for all humans. Receiving the forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross is the beginning and foundation to wholeness. Our aim will not be to manipulate people with goods, but to cheerfully tell them the truth in love. Ultimately, our hope is to see each person plugged into a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, Bible-submitting church.
Further, it is our desire as staff to identify with the people we are serving by intentionally living and ministering in the inner city community we are located in, with the hope that JRM will also have a suburban/urban partnership.
Connection With the Helping Hand Committee
Bethlehem has had a relationship with an urban mercy ministry that began over 25 years ago with Pastor David Michael—the ministry’s first assistant director. That position was transferred to me, and I have had the opportunity to develop it over the last 21 years, in conjunction with being a member of Bethlehem’s Helping Hand Committee.
Helping Hand’s ministry is to help members and regular attenders with financial needs—a ministry also extended to Bethlehem’s “neighbors.” When neighbors contact the Downtown Campus looking for financial help, they are referred to me. I then, wearing both my Helping Hand hat and my Jericho Road Ministries hat, will seek the Lord’s guidance, considering any recommendations brought by the church staff or membership, on how to meet the need.
Our primary location will be at the 16/33 Center in South Minneapolis. This building is owned by BUI and is where Jubilee Community Church, the Hispanic Fellowship, and Say YES meet.
On-site programming also has been in place at the North Campus to help community members in Mounds View with emergency car repair expenses. We have plans for other on-site outreach as well.
The Need for a New Gospel-Focused Urban Ministry
The gospel and the need for the gospel do not change. As culture changes and some churches/denominations/urban ministries change with it, the integrity of the gospel is compromised. Such has happened with our former urban ministry partner. Jericho Road Ministries, under the BUI board of directors, will not let the gospel be compromised.
Be a Part of Our New Ministry
The Helping Hand Committee is allowing its December offering to go to Jericho Road. As the Lord puts it on your heart, please partner with us. Pray. Pray. Pray. Please pray for . . .
- Humility, leadership, wisdom, vision, resources, cheerfulness, and seed-planting/soul-winning effectiveness. We have had two prayer gatherings; another one is planned for Sunday, January 2, from 3:30 to 5:30pm at 3849 Portland Ave S. (RSVP to Mat Nix.) We will be praying not only for Jericho Road, but for revival in our cities.
- Connections. Especially valuable will be partnerships with businesses.
- Talents. Carpenters and painters (and other volunteers) will be helpful in January.
- Vehicle. A cargo or passenger van, new or used.
For more information about Jericho Road Ministries, please visit bethlehemurban.org.
For God’s glory in the City,
Jeffrey D. Noyed
Director, Jericho Road Ministries