September 2017

I’ve been reflecting on how God has been gracious this summer… We’ve been blessed to do many things and spend a lot of quality time with over sixty kids this summer. We’ve had two camps, many activities and strengthened many relationships. We’ve seen our boys triumph over circumstances and we’ve seen them fall as well. We’ve helped young men in crisis and seen many overcome obstacles to continue on the path to manhood. We have seen many come to Christ this summer. God is good!

When I think about how the summer has gone, I think about a comment one of our high school boys made: “I can’t believe we’re seniors already. It seems like just yesterday that I met you guys and met Chris. We’ve been through a lot together… you guys are like family.” And another one: “Man, my life is so different since I met God! Before I met Chris I didn’t care about God but now I’m cool with Jesus.” And yet another: “I remember when I met Chris back in the fourth grade… I’ve never known an adult outside of my family who I trust like I do Chris.”

Longevity and permanence….relationship. These are the things that come back to me when I reflect on this summer of ministry and our work in Christ.   I’ve begun pulling together a new group of nine and ten year olds to bring up. I have known one boy’s mother since she was in elementary school herself. As I was explaining the activities I wanted to involve her child in this summer she cut me off… “Oh I told him all about you, Pastor Chris. How you do basketball and mentoring, and how you will be his friend for his whole life.” We are blessed to interact with many different kids here in our inner city community, through sports, mentoring, camps, school. We offer a lot of kids a lot of different opportunities for positive pursuits. Some respond and some don’t, but every young person who comes into our purview by God’s grace gets introduced to Christ.

I listened to one young urban youth worker this summer share about kids in his program who didn’t have enough to eat at home and could not read. His concern was the kids would come to the Bible study program and be cussing up a storm. A young man who grew up in our program and recently graduated college spoke up and said, “They don’t have enough to eat at home and can’t read and you’re worried about his language?” He went on to share about his experiences in our ministry… The gist of it was that since he had met me and Lisa at a young age we had always been there for him, through good times and bad, and that is what made a difference in his life.   What we’ve learned in our ministry is that what kids remember most as they grow older is the time spent with them and the example you set over a long period of time. Relationship matters, permanence counts… especially when sharing the gospel.

Our lifestyle of ministry is certainly not a bed of roses, and sometimes we see more despair than victory. For the second time this summer a young man with whom our kids were aquainted was killed through gun violence. I checked in with our boys, telling them, “Y’all be careful out there.” One of them responded, “We know how to stay away from trouble, Chris.” I guess they do, or they would not be here now. We teach them to stay busy with positive activities, to hang out with each other, and to hang out with me (or someone like me). So they grow older, into manhood and they remember. Even when they get into trouble they remember. They remember us. They remember Christ.

July 2017

Over the many years as we prepare for a camp, we pray for the kids who will attend and as the days before camp roll around, Chris inevitably fields the calls from kids who are changing plans for one reason or another. But this year, only hours before departure for camp, Chris received one of those calls we never want to get—one of the guys calling to say he couldn’t leave for camp because his older brother had just been shot and killed.

We sat and prayed for his family–that God would comfort them and guide their plans and decisions. Hours later, as Chris drove around the city collecting kids for departure, he stopped to pay a visit to this grieving family—whose shock and pain were palpable. The grieving dad and stepmom decided to send their boy on to camp for the week, trusting that Chris would look out for him, hoping that the week away would be a good thing for their son.

So, that night J___ and a van full of other middle and high school guys hit the road for camp with Chris and Tyler, our once camper—now grown-up college-graduated volunteer—for Kids Across America sports camp where they are completely immersed in an environment of Christian teaching, love and fun with an urban cultural emphasis. All the boys had a really good week and every day, when I would ask Chris how J___ was doing, Chris would say, “It is so good to get to see him here, just getting to be a kid.”

I wish the world wasn’t filled with evil, brokenness and destruction. Sometimes it is hard to see just how cruel and harsh the world can be. This family who lost their son to a violent death already had to bury their wife and mother five years ago after a short and unexpected strike from pneumonia. How much loss and suffering should one family have to bear? How do these horrible losses affect the growth and development of children? These are questions I have been holding in my heart for weeks and I don’t really have any answers. But God drew me to keep meditating on Luke chapter 7 and the two stories it tells—of the healing of the Centurion’s servant and the raising of the son of the widow from Nain. As I remember and hold in my heart this family that has had to grapple with so much pain and loss and the unfairness of life, as I feel sometimes so despairing of how many slings and arrows fall upon the hearts and spirits of so many young black men in our community, these are the things the Holy Spirit brought from Luke 7:

  • The Centurion surprised Jesus because of his faith—although he was an outsider, he understood, better than the Jewish insiders, that Jesus had authority in the world and could choose to use it. In the same way, I need to keep trusting that Jesus can heal and help and will use his power and authority, still, even now, in our broken and hurting world, to help and to heal in these broken and hurting people and situations.
  • When Jesus saw the widow and her only son being carried out for burial, his heart broke. Jesus knew, felt and understood the immensity of her loss—a loss that was not just about emotional loss, but all the practical loss in what it meant to be a woman with neither husband nor son in that culture. Jesus had compassion for both the individual heartbreak and the societal, cultural brokenness for this woman and her situation. So, in spite of all the brokenness of our world and the horrors of its evils for our children, I can see and trust that there is a God, who came to us in Jesus, whose heart breaks for our pain, who sees the sickness of our society and who has the power to bring healing and new life right in the middle of all this desolation.

And so, in my own imperfect way, I try to hold to trust and lean into the God that I see revealed through Jesus Christ. I ask for your prayers for J___, for his brothers and father and stepmom. I ask for your prayers for all our young men, who have so many obstacles tossed into the paths of their growth and development from such an early age. I ask for prayers for Chris and me, that God would keep us faithful and grounded and discerning all the time to keep lifting up the One whose heart breaks for us—and to keep trusting that he sees, knows, cares and will use his power and authority here on earth to help his little ones who are ground under the heel of the oppression of our broken world.

 

June 2017

Ah, summertime… when young boys’ hearts turn to days of freedom with no school. Swimming, hanging out with friends, vacation trips, etc., all rites of summer passage. But not all little boys… not the fifth graders I talk to in my mentoring groups at Hall elementary school .

“What are your plans for the summer?” I ask my group of boys. Some say playing video games, some say hanging out with friends or going to the park… the lucky ones mention signing up at a local youth institution for a rec program. “What are you gonna do?” I ask one boy who remained silent “Well…”, he says, “we’ll probably play in the basement and not go outside much. They be shooting over by my house. I’m scared to go outside.” All the rest of the boys nod their heads solemnly in agreement and understanding.

This is the reality of summer for children in the neighborhoods we work in. A few weeks ago a young woman was shot just two blocks from school grounds. You never know when violence will erupt and where. Gangbangers, violence, drug dealing… these are everyday hazards for the children we work with. Keeping your kids in the house is the only viable way for many parents to ensure their kids’ safety… but many times random bullets penetrate house walls. For single parents who work it is hardest. The fortunate child gets enrolled in day long summer rec programs, but these programs fill up quickly and unless you have a parent who has the time, resources or inclination to plan ahead these are not an option. So many young children are left with too much time on their hands; to wallow in boredom and fear, and to get in trouble. We attempt to fill the gap for many of these boys, with weekly summer activities such as swimming, basketball and various field trips; but the highlight of the summer for our kids is camp.

Camp… where you get away from the fear and boredom of your neighborhood and can be carefree and have fun: go swimming, play sports, hike in the woods, etc. Camp… where you can challenge yourself by engaging in activities you never imagined like horseback riding or sailing, waterskiing or rock climbing. Camp… where you can hang out with your friends or meet new people and not have every engagement be fraught with the tension of who’s toughest, who can fight, or negative peer pressure. Camp… where you know you will eat three times a day, where you know adults are around watching out for you, where you know you will be cared for, you are not on your own.

We are hoping to take 50 kids on various camping experiences this summer, as well as offering regular enriching activities. We do not charge for kids to be involved in our programs… instead we ask them to work and do chores around the neighborhood (which in itself is a great enriching activity). It costs $300 for one kid to go to camp. We ask for your financial support to help us offer these kids some relief from the stressful and tense time of summer in our inner city neighborhoods. We are asking people to sponsor a child for camp, or make any amount of contribution, but to go beyond their regular giving to give our kids a great summer experience. Thank you. We covet your prayers for a powerful summer of ministry for Christ’s Children, in Christ’s name.

 

May 2017

I was cleaning out my office recently and came across a file of our old newsletters. To read letters stretching across the past twenty-three years…to remember all the people and events that have filled our lives…I was amazed to wonder at God’s grace. It was also fun to notice how so many of the people mentioned in our letters are still part of our hearts and lives. Those letters contain stories of tragedy and loss, suffering and trial. They also contain stories of grace and perseverance. But the threads that run through everything are the hope and love of God that has had and continues to have the power to redeem all things. We press on as we live and work and move in that amazing love which keeps us building the kingdom here in Minneapolis.

For us, this is a great season of rejoicing. In the past couple of weeks, we attended the graduations of Tyler Moore (University of Wisconsin-River Falls) and Thomas Ford (Minneapolis Community and Technical College). Both of these guys have had to overcome obstacles and persevere through trials to reach that graduation and we could not be prouder of them for their achievement. The college years of challenge and struggle have been used in their lives by God and they have grown and are continuing to grow as men of God. We love them so dearly and are so happy to have shared this milestone with them.

In the next weeks, we will be celebrating the graduations of our seniors. One of those young men is Pierre,  the son of Julia and Darcy. Chris first met young Julia and her brother when they tried to roll down the hill and bump him off the sidewalk in front of Park Avenue Church about twenty-eight years ago. Across all these years and many ups and downs, we have had the privilege of loving Julia and her family and watching God bless her to offer her own children a stability and foundation that she herself never experienced as a child. Pierre is graduating from Brooklyn Center High School and will be going to Augsburg College in the fall. He is an extremely motivated and conscientious young man whose drive was recognized by receiving an ACT6 scholarship that will pay for all four years of his private school education, room and board. We are excited to watch Pierre tackle these new challenges and adventures that college will bring.

Among this year’s graduates is also our youngest son, Ezra.  My heart is bursting with joy and gratitude as we prepare to watch him graduate (and give his school’s graduation speech). Ezra’s life is such a marvelous testimony to the power of God to redeem all things. When Ezra was in first and second grade, we began to learn that he had quite significant learning disabilities-many nights I laid awake worrying about how we would find our way through . God used all of that to teach me many things about myself and life that I needed to learn. And along the way, I have had this marvelous, first hand seat to observe how God works in a way so different from the world—in a way where weaknesses create strength, where something that is broken makes room for the growth of other beautiful things, where seeming failures produce things of great value, where God makes ways all the time, when it would seem there is no way. The intelligent, kind, persevering and helpful young man who is heading off to Augsburg College in the fall is a testimony to God’s grace and a reminder that nothing can stand in the way of the plans God has for each of his children.

We will be celebrating with an open house for our high school graduates in June and hope that all of you who have supported and prayed for our ministry over the years will come and rejoice and celebrate with us God’s great faithfulness. If you are in the metro area, we hope you might be able to come.

March 2017

I witnessed a struggle today that involved a ten-year-old black boy. It was harrowing to watch. I was riveted… waiting to see how it would turn out. It wasn’t a fist fight at the elementary school… it wasn’t a drug deal gone bad on the street corner… it wasn’t gang- related or involving gun violence… it was a struggle to choose between right and wrong.

It was time for our weekly Simba group. For some of the kids it is a struggle every week… a choice between going with Mr. Chris to learn what it means to be a strong black man, or to go to elective class or recess… invariably a time of little supervision and uncontrolled behavior. Each week they face the same struggle. I rejoice in those who choose to engage in positive growth, but I grieve for those who squander the opportunity, whose lives are filled with negativity, little hope and unrestrained behavior, at home and at school. I don’t know if I can help you understand. In too many public school settings the black boy is endangered… from issues stemming from low expectations of academics and behavior, to unhealthy permissiveness out of fear, ignorance or indifference. Black boys are falling through the cracks everyday in our school system and institutional efforts to plug the leak have been ineffective.

This boy knew the implications of the choice he was making, to stay or to go. He and I had discussed in great detail the investment to be made in himself by coming with me, learning to be the Black man he could be. But his friend was calling… literally pulling him to go with him. His friend had passed on the opportunity to be in our group (the only boy in his class to do so), yet every week he looks at us with yearning eyes when we assemble. He refuses to submit to the criteria for group participation: consistent attendance and good classroom behavior. As one teacher told me, “He won’t go with you because he knows you won’t let him get away with anything.”

So this boy was tugging on my guy’s arm, saying “come with me”, “let’s go have some fun…” But he was really saying: “let’s go where we can do what we want, and no one can/will control us”. Sounds a lot like Adam and Eve’s choice in the garden doesn’t it? The choice between chaotic lives grounded in disobedience, or the freedom that only comes through obedience. I don’t make the boys come to group; it is their choice. We play games, have snacks and have fun, but we do work. The boy struggled with his decision… tears came to his eyes. I implored and pleaded with him… he’s a bright kid with lots of potential, but sometimes the pull to be “bad” is just so strong! Finally I said, “Just come with me for five minutes and if you don’t want to stay you can leave.” He relented and came. He ended up staying for the whole session. A battle fought and won in a military campaign could not have been more visceral than this one. “For you struggle not against flesh and blood… but against the spiritual rulers of darkness.” (Ephesians 6:12 ).

There is a war going on for the minds and souls of our black children. The best and brightest are often drawn to the allure of unrestrained behavior, choosing environments where there is low expectation and no accountability so that they can do what they want, when they want, defying authority and laughing at consequences. How can they resist who are marginalized through poverty and despair? But the Lord loves them all, and He has a plan for each and every one. In our ministry we fight the good fight for the minds and souls of our black children.   The prospect often looks bleak and hopeless, but we know the victory is ours in Christ. Given a choice, given the opportunity, black boys will choose the good. If Christ is in the mix… if He is lifted up, He will draw them all to Himself (John 12.32).

February 2017

And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”  Luke 8:20-21

In my first readings of the Bible, I remember wondering if Mary felt hurt by Jesus’ words. Why would Jesus be so cold? How many of us would feel injured if spoken to in this way?

In my earlier years, I understood this passage to be a lesson about obedience and allegiances, about putting God and God’s way before all others. The Bible has so much to teach us about life and living and over the years as I have meditated on this passage, I have come to see additional layers of meaning and learning Jesus has for me.

Jesus was also teaching us much about what family means in the kingdom of God. Most of us care deeply about our families. In fact, most of us would put the welfare and interests of our children above most any other worldly interest. It is quite easy for our love and concern for our family to become an idol. Our rationale for choices and decisions can become guided by a very narrow self-interest if all we think about is the narrow group of our own kin.

Many of us were born into families with lots of love and nurture and where most of our physical and emotional needs were met. But what about all the world’s children who are born into families where their needs for love and nurture have not been met. Were those children less beloved by their Heavenly Father, that they should suffer lack? What kind of meaning can we make for all of those who were born into families with hardship or want, pain or abuse?

I think Jesus spoke and taught this lesson to help us understand that in God’s kingdom we really do need a different concept of family. This new definition of family becomes critical. The church, the body of Christ becomes the new definition of family so that it is clear that we are not just to love and nurture our own nuclear families, but to recognize our relation and responsibility to a family that is much larger. In this way, all families, all children, all people have the opportunity to find a place of belonging and support. In this cradle and model of nurture called the Church, each person, no matter what the circumstances and state of their birthfamily, will have the support needed to grow into the fullness of life that God intends.

When Chris and I began Christ’s Children all those years ago, we were the parents of a brand new baby and we thought a lot about what it meant to open the circle of our family to include others. Opening our homes and hearts does come with a cost. And try as we will, we never know for sure if our choices were always best. But, it has been a great gift to experience that wider view of family that Jesus taught us. We have been grateful to become God’s family to others and to belong to them just as they belong to us.

It is my prayer that God would continue to bring this teaching alive in the hearts of God’s people so that the church would rise up to love and parent and nurture-to truly be the family of the Kingdom of God—so that all people would have love and support and a safety net that comes not from having a birth family who can provide, but from God’s family who provides for all of its children. We are most grateful for those of you who help us with your gifts and prayers as we are the family of God here in Minneapolis.

 

January 2017

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1Timothy 6:18

I have been praying and meditating in this new year about transformation and what it means to be a person who is being transformed by the Holy Spirit as a follower of Christ Jesus. Sometimes our lives become focused on duties and activities or rules or adherence to doctrines and we can lose sight of that daily submission to God’s work as it comes to us through every aspect of our daily lives, drawing us to open each and every secret recess and attitude of our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit.

I know that sometimes fear has kept me from living freely and generously. The Holy Spirit has taught me through my friends who have experienced hunger or other real distress because of lack of money. Some of the most genuinely generous people I know have very little in worldly goods—often just getting by. But they are like the widow giving her mite and I know that God is so pleased with the way they freely share what they have with others. I have seen how they release the plotting and planning and controlling that come so naturally to me in order to share with someone in need. Because they have known real need, they give out of their scarcity and so give so much more than those whose giving costs them nothing.

I am praying that God will be at work in me in this new year, helping me to live more generously, more freely and more abundantly. I AM PRAYING that the work of the Holy Spirit would keep helping me to let go of fear and smallness of heart so that I would be transformed into a person who lives and gives fully, trusting God to be my source in all circumstances.

We are grateful for your gifts to support our work here in Minneapolis over this past year. We live by faith, trusting God to provide for us and our family and the persons he has given us to love, serve and shepherd. God is using your gifts to keep bringing blessing and the love of Jesus to this precious place and the people to whom we are called to serve to God’s glory.

Christmas 2016

…and they shall call him Emmanuel which means “God is with us.”

Not merry, not festive, not fun or happy. I wonder where we got the idea that Christmas is supposed to be so full of good times and picturesque moments. Unplanned pregnancy. Relationship struggles. Giving birth on the ground in a dirty and inhospitable environment. Unexpected visitors at every turn. Nothing going the way a person might plan or hope.

We have romanticized and commercialized the details until we really have perhaps forgotten the real grit of the Christmas story. As a mom who went through pregnancies with complications, I found out, just like Mary did, that we don’t get to control the script of our lives, our family life. Instead of picture perfect moments the truth that the Christmas story reveals is that real life is filled with unexpected and unwished for difficulties and hardships. Certainly if Mary had been able to choose, she wouldn’t have chosen that birth on the hard floor of a barn far from home and family.

In this Christmas season, real life and real struggles abound: uncertainty and fear, job worries and financial struggles, relationship discord and broken hearts, wandering children and fractured hopes, wounded spirits and the stab of injustice, illness, disease and the pain of loss. Many among us struggle to feel joyful as the hardships of real life press in upon the Christmas of tinsel and cookies and shopping and parties.

But that is not the real Christmas. The pumped up Christmas letter and picture perfect photos are not the real Christmas. The real Christmas is an upset applecart of unexpected, unplanned, unchosen situations for its human participants. In all that was not wished for or chosen, we find the real Christmas. A crying infant who needed to be fed and diapered and held.

God with us.

That is the Christmas that matters, the Christmas that changes everything. Unfortunately, Christians often end up believing that Jesus meant an end to the mess and the chaos and great disappointments that real life throws at us. Instead, what the Christmas story so vividly illustrates is that we don’t get to choose our way out of the pains and the hardships of the birth story. But no matter where we find ourselves, no matter the hurt or the disappointment, the hardship or struggle, that baby was born so we could be sure that “God is with us.” We are NEVER alone.

And that is our own birth story into new life. God is with us and with the presence of Perfect Love, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will have the grace and the courage to keep living our real and messy and un-festive lives with love and grace and kindness honoring that baby who came to show us what real life, real love and real Christmas is all about.

Almost November 2016

I spent most of this warmer weather day working outside, clearing out all my flowerpots and putting my garden to bed for the winter. This activity always leaves me feeling a bit melancholy, as does the season, as the hours of daylight diminish towards the solstice. I have found over the years that this is always a good time for me to practice the daily habit of reflection on beauty. As the trees here are dropping their last leaves, I sometimes have to look harder to see the beautiful in the sweep of the branches or the outline of a stand of trees against the dusky sky. Ezra and I expressed our appreciation yesterday for the way the Lake Street businesses install twinkle lights along the street so our darker drives have a bit of sparkle. I love to hear the crunch of all the fallen leaves under my shoes when I walk through the park. There is beauty to enjoy if I look for it.

It is also easy to feel melancholy when I read the news or listen to the radio as there is always one more negative political ad or one more report of boorish behavior, another sexual assault or report of war or famine. There is so much suffering in the world and often it seems that few care about the world beyond their own household. I have found that this season is also a really good time to practice gratitude by taking care to notice that which is good, pleasing, commendable and praiseworthy as Philippians teaches us. So, today as I was working outside here are a few of the things I reflected on:

A few months ago we received a notice that we would begin receiving a small monthly donation from a donor. We are always grateful for all our supporters, but this seemed noteworthy to me. The donor is a young woman in her 20’s who, when I sent her a note to say thanks, told me that she had received a small raise at her  first post-college graduation job working for a non-profit across the country and had decided to share her bounty. This young woman used to send us a donation sometimes even when she was a high school student working a part-time job. A parent’s greatest hope is that one’s children grow up to follow the Lord and live lives of good character. May the hearts of her parents rejoice that the life of giving and the values they have modeled are being carried into the world in the life of their daughter. Let us all reflect and rejoice that such young people are taking their place in leadership in our country.

Last week, I discovered that another young man, dear to my heart, was volunteering four hours a week in an afterschool program at a school serving needy kids. This, in addition to a full academic course load and ten hours a week of student work in another charter school serving the most at-risk students. Another young man recently had to face injustice at his college and stand up for himself when falsely accused of disruptive behavior. How much courage it takes to confront injustice rather than just go along with what might seem easier. Both of these young men are making a point of sharing their gifts with young people who don’t have the advantages of others and are doing what they can, to do something for others. We rejoice in God’s work in and through them.

I am so grateful for these young people and the gift they are in the world. While the news might be full of things that are bad, I can look around and know that God is at work in the world through young people like these. I hope that all of you, in this season when the light diminishes, will remember along with me that God’s light and love are still at work in this world of ours. As we give thanks for beauty and express gratitude for those who live lives of caring and character, we rejoice most of all that the light of God’s love does not diminish with the seasons but remains alive in our hearts so that we can all keep shining through God’s grace.

October 2016

“I lift up my eyes to the hills… from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”     Psalm 121.1,2

Lisa shared this scripture at church and it started me thinking… We are caught in a cycle of violence in our society; where will it all end? Random shootings, violence and terrorist attacks prey on the minds of everyone these days. Another occurred a few weeks ago in Houston. They’ve become commonplace. As a Black man who lives and works in the inner city, my discomfort is not abstract, but immediate and personal. Just recently there were two more incidences of Black men shot down in the street by the police under questionable circumstances. I look up to God and cry, “when will it end?”

In the most dramatic movies and stories the protagonist struggles against his or her enemy and in the final scene where it seems all hope is lost they look up… and deliverance comes in the nick of time from the cavalry, or the police, super-powered beings or some other benefactor… but not in real life. In real life, stuff happens. In real life, children die, decent people are killed, and hope is lost.

I’ve been reading about the murder rate this year in the urban neighborhoods of Chicago, the worst it’s been in many years, particularly the west side which has the worst murder rate in the nation. On impulse, I looked at the number of shooting deaths this year in the north side communities of Minneapolis compared to its total population. These are the neighborhoods where I go daily to visit and pick up kids and volunteer and lead mentor groups with boys at school and I was not surprised to see that the murder rate was almost exactly the same.

I heard a teacher admonishing her students this week for their uncontrolled behavior at school. She said to me later, “They don’t know how hard we fight for them.” I agreed.But we do fight. Teachers, parents, families, neighbors… we all fight. In small, yet significantly important ways, we fight for our youth, our families, our communities, our nation. Don’t disparage someone who fights in a way that is dissimilar from yours… the important thing is that we are all on the same side. I have to say, I was amazed when I heard a white news person say on his program regarding recent deaths of young black men by police, “we have to figure out a way to stop this.” ­We… Believe it or not, this was a first for me, to hear a public personality who was white say this in a way that was not scripted, rehearsed or induced.

For the Christian who is surrounded by overwhelming evil the imperative is clear. The Bible says do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good (Romans 12. 9-21). We are not to return evil for evil, hate for hate, injury for injury… we are called instead to love one another, encourage and be kind to each other.Yes, we are surrounded by evil. But we do not lose hope. We lift up our eyes to the hills, where is our help coming from? Our Help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!