I spent all day Thursday with a group of ministers from Columbia, SC, but touring the inner city of Atlanta with Send Atlanta coordinator Jim Haskell, of the North American Mission Board. Here is a quote from NAMB’s web page, “Though it sits in the biblically saturated South, the city itself is no longer considered to be the hub of the Bible Belt. Only a small percentage of the millions living inside the city’s perimeter have any inclination toward church. With a population of more than 5 million in the metro area, only 27 percent are considered evangelical believers, leaving millions that still need to know Christ.
“There’s an idea that because we’re sitting in the middle of the Bible Belt, we don’t need more churches or evangelism in a city like Atlanta,” explains Send North America: Atlanta City Coordinator Jim Haskell. “But the truth is, the majority of our city is uninterested in church. We have 62 planters on the ground in the metro Atlanta area but we need hundreds more to reach our city.”
We made one stop in a neighborhood notorious for drugs, prostitution, and human trafficking. It is like an area of the city designed to “contain” the problems in one spot. We met a man committed to plant a church in that community by loving people who much of the world has overlooked. It was an amazing ministry. But then all of the church planters we met were impressive.
As I wake up this morning and face a new day, I cannot help but wonder, “Where would we find Jesus today?” I believe we would find Him in places like we visited yesterday. We saw wealthy communities where there are hundreds of thousands of people with no inclination toward church or faith. We saw a city that once would have boasted churches ministering to people needing to know God, but where most churches had either closed their doors and moved on (some were rock concert venues), or churches that had been walls around them to insulate them from the people in the communities. I never would have thought of Atlanta, Georgia as a mission field.
You can make a difference. Contact the North American Mission Board and ask for Jim Haskell.