Saturday, April 26, 2008

God's Glory through Heroes in the Hood.

City of Death. City of Rousing Apathy. City of Let's Get Together and Do Nothing.

That is how I almost titled this entry. We've had more than 40 shootings in the city during the past week. About half have been in our immediate area. I've also attended at least 3 community meetings in which nothing was done about it in any way. Lots of talk.

But does either the the violence or the lack of direct response define how we approach the day (or the blog entry)? If it does then I am lost.

So as I wrestle with what to do practically this summer in our neighborhood and struggle with too-much-talk-not-enough-action, let me highlight someone that hasn't given into the discouragement that Satan wants to shroud us with.

Mattie Butler. Mattie Butler is a small woman with a big voice and a massive weight. 28 years ago a building down the street from her burned down here in Woodlawn. Arsonists set fire to a building to get the insurance money and 13 children died. This horrific crime barely resonated in a city that responds very little to the deaths of African American youths. But for Mattie it started something that she felt God had for her -- a calling to be sure that decent affordable housing was present in the community.

Mattie long ago could have left and gone on to have a career in blues, singing with her brother Jerry "Ice Man" Butler. Instead she stayed, worked, sweated, stood up to the power brokers in the city and community and fought for the preservation and restoration of over 5000 units of affordable housing. I recently attended an award dinner for Mattie and after saying a few words of gratitude Mattie broke into a rendition of "My God is an Awesome God" that brought the house down! Mattie is a hero.

So on tough days and violent nights and through a thousand meetings that might go nowhere, I will remember Mattie and be encouraged.

Who do you know in your community that prevents the difficulty of the community from being all defining?

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