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Project: Redemption
By Dr. Scott Lively

Many of us can still remember the days when you could send your kids out to play in the neighborhood without worry, and nobody even locked their doors at night. Business could often be done with a handshake, and if you lost your wallet there was a good chance it would be returned to you, with the money still in it. To children growing up today, these stories may seem like myths, but those times were real.
So why are things so bad now? What is it that we had in those past generations that we don't have today? Simple: Christian values.
Most of our great-grandparents and their parents before them believed in the Bible, and they did their best to live according to its wisdom. They knew that "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" and He did bless them with prosperity and security. A family could live on one income then, and Moms got to stay home with their children and raise them to be good citizens and good future husbands and wives. There was money enough for the important things, and usually enough to help a neighbor in need as well. Hardly anyone needed hand-outs from the government to survive.
Sure, there were social problems in those days, just like there are in every generation since the beginning of time. But many people were working to improve those things because they believed in a God that makes things better when you pray to Him and obey His teachings. Racism, for example, was still a terrible sin of the people, but some Christian voices were constantly reminding society that God made us all equal. They followed the only religion in the world that preaches "There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, for we are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
The past wasn't perfect, but a great many of the most important aspects of daily life were better then, because the people prayed to Jesus and tried to follow His commandments.
The good news is that Jesus is still there. He never left, even when we stopped honoring Him. And His promise to bless the nation (or city) that worships Him is still true.
The Redemption Project The mission of Jesus when He came to earth more than 2,000 years ago was to redeem mankind. To redeem means to "buy back" or to "pay the ransom." Jesus spent the most valuable substance in the universe, His own blood, to redeem us by giving up His life on the cross to pay for our sins. All those who accept His sacrifice as payment for their sins become His "heirs" with the right to receive His blessings during their life on earth and to go to heaven when they die. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ: "that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
To follow Jesus means to live "redemptively." It means to use the resources that we have to make things better in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. The Redemption Project is simply a program for helping Christians to organize themselves to use their resources more efficiently.
We are Christians from many denominations and every race and color who want to bring back God's blessing by making Jesus the Lord of Springfield again. We have chosen a portion of inner-city Springfield that we have called the Redemption Zone. It is about 10 square miles of territory where we are now concentrating our energy and efforts to show that true Bible-based Christian values can solve the problems that are now killing our childrens' future.

Our focus is on four areas:

1) Evangelism. We are teaching about Jesus and the Bible by going out into the streets to pass out tracts, and talking and praying with the people we meet. Some people go door-to-door. Others go to public meeting places. Others just walk along the streets. Our goal is to promote a genuine Christian lifestyle in the people who live in the Zone by addressing the practical issues that they are dealing with every day: personal behavior and character, relationships, health, career and so on. We are leading people to the knowledge of the Savior and steering them into Bible-believing churches in their neighborhoods.
2) Family life. We are encouraging people to follow the Bible about sex, marriage and family. To save sex for marriage, to stay faithful in marriage, and to always work to be a better husband or wife and Dad and Mom. We will actively promote Biblical marriage and family through every available means, and work to prevent divorce, reconcile marriages and promote healthy parent/child relationships.

3) Commerce. We are talking and planning about starting Christian-owned and operated businesses in the RZ to raise the standard of living of the local people and to generate income for further ministry and community development. The goal is to help people become stake-holders in their own neighborhoods and to break free from dependency.

4) Government. We will partner with government and local non-profit organizations in every possible way to achieve greater social justice and efficient utilization of public resources in the RZ, consistent with Christian values.

This article is an invitation to all Bible-believing Christians to join the Redemption Project. There are no dues or formal membership. We are simply calling on all churches and believers in the region around Springfield to adopt the Redemption Zone as their own local mission field. If you would like to participate in this project please contact me by e-mail at [email protected]. Our regular activities at this time include a Christian activist discussion group that meets every Sunday afternoon from 3-5PM at New Generation Church (605 Liberty St., behind the Save-a-Lot supermarket) and a Tuesday evening outreach from 6:30-8:00PM. We have frequent special activities as well. Our first community event is Family Day at Blunt Park (see flyer in this publication). Meanwhile, please continue with us in prayer for the transformation of the Redemption Zone.

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Project: Redemption