I’ve been caught in the crossfire between two contrasting views of Lewiston-Auburn. As I reflect on the two pictures of our community, both show God’s hand at work.
On the one hand, there are the great struggles and needs of the community and of the church, It can be easy to see the dirt, the darkness, the problems of the community. After all, people don’t normally drop in to talk with the pastor because things are going well. And, if we’re honest, this is really what most people in Maine think of when Lewiston gets mentioned — the problems. The problems are great and deep-rooted, with some running back decades or longer.
But then a forum I attended painted a picture that focused on the positive aspects of the area. Instead of talking about the businesses that left, they talked about the businesses that were still here (and even some new ones that have moved in). Instead of talking about the great educational poverty in the community, they spoke about the 6,300 college students that are here — and the list goes on. Oh, they acknowledged the presence of the problems, but their focus that day was to highlight the positives, to see the beginnings of the building blocks forward.
This contrast is the reality of our home. It is a place of great, deep-seated problems. It is also a place of beauty and desirability. What does all this mean for the church? I have to admit, I don’t know. I know both pictures show God’s grace. I know both views need God’s grace. I know Free Grace needs to be active in bringing God’s grace into both views — and we need to do so boldly, consistently, and graciously.