I’ve been asked quite a lot lately why I care so much about Merced and Tuolumne Counties. When I first opened my business in the city of Merced, CA in January 2012, I went around the town from home to home until I had about 1,000 open doors, where I would ask what was written on my T-Shirt:
“What is your opinion on Merced?”
The answer to this question in both counties is often not a positive answer by any stretch. In Merced, it is predominately negative. In Tuolumne it is still pretty bad, especially regarding the city of Tuolumne, the name-sake of the county.
So why care about these communities? Now you’ve got me onto something. Want to know what my soap box is? It’s seeing the Gospel exploding in the hearts of believers and non-believers alike down on the ground in these two counties. There is so much hope for these communities. I could blog a thousand posts about the families and individuals I grew up with up here in Tuolumne County or the families and individuals I meet down in Merced County. Amazing people!
I want to focus in on something specifically however that really comes to mind when it comes to these two counties. It’s the reality that folks in these counties are scrappy! I know that sounds funny and may be a little cheap as a description of people in general terms, but it’s true in my mind and in my experience. These two communities have some of the most negative stats blasted out in the news about them. We get a bad rap! Let’s admit it.
When it comes to the Gospel, however, this is good news! Christ loves using scrappy people, people able to endure all the criticism and come out on the other end stronger and more courageous to press on all the more firmly. I believe, not because of me and my family but because of the predominate evidence I’m observing of God’s grace at work, that churches will be working together better and better in the next decade to see the great commission fulfilled and the great commandments obeyed full-heartedly.
I also believe that these two communities have the raw potential as God raises up indigenous missionaries from our midst to be sending communities for church planting and powerful missionary work here in the US and beyond. Already both communities have many stories of this being true. I intend to share these as I hear about them. We aren’t so much strong communities for sending missions workers out because we are wealthy or overflowing with intellectual prowess or because we know so much about technique. I believe one of the biggest reasons we are effective and getting more effective all the time as communities is because of this aspect of being SCRAPPY CHRISTIANS! I think I might brand this term for us, right? I like it. It fits.
Do me a favor, if you could. Please read Job 7, especially verses 17-18 in context. Then, read 1 Peter 4 a few times. Finally, post a comment on this blog with your thoughts as to how you would agree that scrappy is actually more satisfying than plumpness and being spoiled as Christians. God is glorified through all kinds of lifestyles, but in God’s Word New Testament Christians aren’t called to ease and comfort so much as abandon and JOYFUL GIVING. There is deep joy found in a lifestyle of giving instead of getting. May the American Dream be GIVE instead of GET and SERVE instead of TAKE.
Let’s celebrate our scrappy lives as domestic missionaries, friends!