Street Saints by Barbara J. Elliott.
Daniel Coats, U.S. ambassador to Germany, wrote the Forward to this book and says the following after describing his experience of the government bulldozing existing houses in an inner city of Chicago. He says that the residents wept; they didn't want government housing, which later became blighted, because this was still their neighborhood. And then Coats writes,
Whatever antibodies that community had to combat its social maladies were crushed - not only by the bulldozer, but by the hubris that claims that the government can remake human beings. We replaced a whole generation of fathers with welfare checks, which has left whole pockets of our cities fatherless. When government took over the care of the poor, private charities were often crowded out. And as we centralized our social services in the government, the private voluntary sector shrank. We are still trying to undo the damage done, which now stretches into the third generation of our cities.
The above passages pretty well set the theme for the book. Government has failed in the past 44 years to really help the poor. So, now we need another approach and it's time the church get back to the social gospel WITHOUT losing the gospel of the cross as it did in liberal Protestant movements during the 20th century. By the way, the liberal Protestants were some of the major voices encouraging government to handle the problem. And now we have the New Christian Left. Will they also devastate the poor by encouraging non-faith-based government programs?
The following exerpt from the book is what it's about - those churches and individual Christians that are really making a difference with the poor through an empowerment of help, education and a voice in the community and political process coupled with a spiritual healing and transformation.
"The Reverend asked the drug dealer why he (the Reverend) was losing the battle for the kids on the street in his inner city neighborhood. The drug dealer replied, "It's simple. When Johnny goes to school in the morning I'm there and you're not. When he comes home from the school in the afternoon, I'm there and you're not. When his grandmother sends him for a loaf of bread at the corner store, I'm there and you're not. I win, you lose."
It was then that the Reverend realized he had to take it to the streets....the gospel that is, as well as other help for these kids."
Wimps & Whackos
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