Boston is often called the Athens of America. With some 60 colleges and universities, including Harvard and MIT, the area has the highest student concentration of any metropolitan region in the country. Why are such educated people jumping out of buildings? It turns out, the eight feet of snow that has pummeled the city this winter is too much for some to resist. So they're making social media videos of themselves jumping into massive snowdrifts. Last week, Mayor Marty Walsh called on citizens to cease and desist. But there's no law against smart people doing dumb things.
Snowdrifts aren't all that's happening in the city these days. I just learned that the number of churches in Boston has doubled since 1965. In a time when the church is thought to be dying in the Northeast and especially in academia, God is doing a great work in Boston.
Nick Pitts on our ministry team spoke recently with Jeff Bass, a former hazardous waste consultant with a Princeton degree and a heart for Boston. A civil engineer by training, Jeff leads Emmanuel Gospel Center, a unique ministry in the heart of one of America's most significant cities. Emmanuel was founded in 1938 as an outreach to its neighborhood. It then became a traditional rescue mission with ministry to hungry children and the elderly.
In the 1960s, God changed Emmanuel from a rescue mission to a supportive mission for churches. It operates a legal clinic, bookstore, and hub for church planting. Jeff and his colleagues offer applied research to help pastors understand their city and the people they are called to serve. They teach living systems intended to help people work together in healthy relationships.
To what end? While they have witnessed the decline of flagship mainline churches, they have witnessed exciting growth among ethnic congregations. For instance, there are now more than 60 Haitian churches in Boston, and Spanish-speaking churches are proliferating. Churches are becoming more engaged in their community—for example, there are now 40 church-public school partnerships. And a dynamic prayer movement is helping fuel a quiet revival that is growing in the city.
Boston stood at the center of the First Great Awakening, a spiritual movement that transformed colonial America and helped forge our nation. What if another spiritual awakening came to this region? The city has a population of 600,000, a million daily commuters and 250,000 college students. Imagine what would happen if some of the world's greatest intellectuals, business entrepreneurs and cultural leaders made Jesus their Lord and King. Would Boston become a catalyst for awakening in our nation?
Please join me in praying for Jeff Bass, Emmanuel Gospel Center, and spiritual awakening in Boston. And for a great movement of the Spirit in your community as well. Our Lord calls us to "pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:38). And then to say with Isaiah, "Here I am! Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8).
Can he send you?
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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