Last night, I had a prophetic dream. I do not have many of them. I would say 2-3 a year that I believe are really prophetic. (With that said, I did go through a season that I had the same dream 16 times in a month) I believe this is a dream that is critical for us in the season we are in.
In the dream, I saw young black men that have been shot was clearly dead walking towards me on a street. I did not become fearful of them but was hopeful for some reason. That’s all I remember. Nothing more.
As I prayed into the dream, I felt led to the story of Lazarus. I do not know how but I believe God is about to call the church to change its tone about street violence and get directly involved in the Lazarus of our generation: the black on black crime.
I find calling our streets war zone as disrespectful towards people who have seen real combat. However, I believe to the some of the people affected by gang violence and drug addictions; in their mind, it is a domestic war zone.
It is in this context that the next great revival will break out and the Church is push away from the urban core in many cities.
Urban Map vision
In 2005, I saw a vision of a map of a city. At the time, I thought it was Kansas City but I am not sure it was at this point. It was a map of a major city area and in the suburban, it looked normal but was blurry. The urban core of the city was on fire and and was blackened. It was a chilling experience I had and one that still lives me alarmed.
It was around this time that many inner city churches were starting to leave their location for “greener pastures” in the suburbans. This was a trend nationwide. The urban core was abandoned for the most part.
As a prophetic act, I moved from Grandview to the inner city to try and understand what was going on. What I found was the people are broken but hungry for change. They have been traumatized by the crime, drugs and sinful behavior more than anyone actually realizes.
This vision of the map still is as fresh in my mind as it was that morning in prayer. It is not something that goes away. America’s has left its’ mission field for those greener pastures and larger offerings. However, the Holy Spirit is grieves because we have left the core of our population to go to hell on a bobsled. This should not be.
Over the years, I have spoken with church planting leaders about this. They have confirmed that less than 5% of the people they talk about church planting consider starting a church in the inner city. That is 1 in 20. This is a trend that must be changed but I do not see it happening anytime in the future without revival.
Back to the Dead Men Walking
As alarming as the dream was, I was filled with hope. I saw a future for them even though they were dead. It was as if the deaths causes by the shot was not final. I did not see them raised from the dead in the dream but I was filled with hope nevertheless. It made me wondering if there is hope to raise the church from the dead in the urban areas of our cities?
For far too many, urban missions is a fear; not a dream. We must change. We must repent of our judgement of inner city ministries. Those dead black men are crying out for hope and we can’t deny them that. As Reinhard Bonnke puts it, “the gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.”
I also feel it is important to warn the church that looks for the greener pasture that if you neglect the inner city, your own vision will become blurred (like it was in the vision from 2005). I feel that any church that does not have a direct mission to the inner city has lost its right to exist before the Lord.
The question becomes: are we hopeful for the broken, the addicted, the downcast and the faithless? If we are not, we lack spiritual authority to cast the demon out of the people who are bound by these things. We are no better than they are. Our religious skins just look more pretty than their addiction skins is.
How now do we live?
The first thing I believe that the Lord is speaking to the faithful is it is time to repent. We have stand in judgement over these people who are just different that we are. They have addictions just like we do. With that as a foundation, I offer the following:
- Pray for urban ministries in your city. Find what ministries are doing things for the people trapped in the cycles of poverty, drug addiction and violence. Make them a point of prayer on a daily basis. Follow them on Facebook and learn about what their needs are so you can for them faithfully and full of faith.
- Volunteer at a urban ministry in your city. Find one that supports your conviction and be part of the solution. Make it a point to give of your time to the people, get to know them and minister to them. This is putting legs to your prayers.
- Give to the mission. Financially support inner city missions. Most of them, if not all, are struggling between what they can pay for and the needs of the people. Help bridge that gap. Consider becoming a monthly sponsor to the work they do among the broken and the downcast.
Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned up, there is no shortage of things to do. (Bill Gates)