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Country Boy to City Living to City Loving

In my heart of hearts, I’m a country boy. I drive a truck, I listen to country music (and not that bro-country nonsense; I’m talking Johnny Cash and George Strait), and think the best Sunday afternoons are spent outside sipping sweet tea in the shade. I grew up on a farm and still sing John Denver’s Thank God I’m a Country Boy and Take me Home Country Road when I visit and see the barn appear on the horizon (makes a little tear come to my eye).

Deep down I still believe I bleed country. But I live in the city, I work in the city, and I’m currently writing this blog in a Starbucks on a Mac (I can already hear my brother chiding me, “Hey preppy boy.”).

I’ve grown to love cities. I’ve written before on how important it is for believers to be positive toward our cities. Much of this is because cities are only getting larger. Globally speaking, people are moving to cities in droves! Recently, more than half of the global population lived in cities and this number will only increase.

What does this mean for Christians? Simply put, if people are moving to cities, then we need to be where people are. Therefore, we must move, live, and work in cities.

 

Not only must we live in cities, but we must also learn how to minister to the diverse people groups that live in our cities. Cities are where refugees go for safety, cities are where poor people look for work, cities are which rich people work to get richer, cities are where students go to be educated, and cities are where politicians go to change society. As these people arrive they bring their religion, culture, and worldview with them which makes for amazing diversity and providential opportunity.

With this kind of diversity, we need to learn how to effectively reach different people with the Gospel. This summer I’m leading a team to the Urban Hope Training Center in the inner city of Philadelphia to go through training that will make us more effective to reach the different people of our city. It’s called Streetwise, and our experience will be blended with training and practical experience in building relationships and sharing the Gospel with those around us. The dates of the trip are July 5–9. If you might be interested in joining us, please contact me so I can send you more details.

Would you pray about this opportunity? I love the city because God is bringing all kinds of people to cities so they might hear and respond to the Gospel. Will we be ready and equipped with the tools to reach them? Maybe this training through Streetwise will be just what you need!

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Zac Hess joined the pastoral staff in 2013 after serving as an intern during his seminary studies. He grew up on a farm in Ashland, OH and later met his wife, Sarah, who grew up as part of Grace Polaris Church. Zac pursued biblical studies at both Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. He loves sports, the outdoors, reading, and a good cup of coffee. Zac and Sarah are the proud parents of Jacob and Caroline.


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2 Responses

  1. Liz Bookheimer says:

    Zac, we must be kindred spirits. I love the music of John Denver, Johnny Cash and George Strait and have seen them each in concert multiple times. I love sweet tea after finding the best in the world at Chick-fil-A. I’ve spent a week ministering on the streets of Philly while residing at Urban Hope. My first prayer walk contact was a woman who had just returned from the funeral of her niece who was killed in a drive-by shooting. We prayed together for three consecutive days. As for cities………I was raised in a small, two stoplight town in Pennsylvania. My dear mother began taking my sister and I to New York City while we were still in elementary school in the fifties. It took about two trips to realize I wanted to be a city girl. NYC is great to visit but Columbus has been a perfect place to raise a family. What would we have ever done without Grace Brethren Church and Worthington Christian Schools? And later in life, our top notch medical facilities have literally saved our lives. And Zac, Ron and I both enjoy and admire the way God has gifted you as a pastor. And He has certainly blessed you with a most precious family!

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