Howdy, friends. I’ve settled in a little bit and got a much-needed “day off” yesterday. Now I’m “back on the clock.” (Maybe it makes me feel better to use phrases that make this year seem anything close to “normal life” or “not crazy.”)
In any case, I wanted to offer some first thoughts on Boston – just what I’ve seen so far, as you join me in this amazing Road Trip. At the bottom are some ways you can pray for me, too.
Again, these are first thoughts. I recognize they’re fairly uninformed and not too nuanced – but you’ve gotta start somewhere.
- It’s a walking town. If you’re at all familiar with Boston, you already know this. But for those who aren’t, Boston is one of those fabled places where “not having a car” is not only normal, it’s pretty smart. Instead, sidewalks and subways win the day. So I will use the Pathfinder only minimally here. I still have to park it, which is a pain sometimes, but it will also help on the occasional trip-across-town or -upstate or whatever. Otherwise, it’s pretty nice being able to stay on foot after spending 6 weeks in a city where traffic could be pretty miserable.
- They love it here. As I noted in the review of the Passion Regional, Bostonians are excited about their city. As you might hear occasionally when guys like Jay Leno speak fondly of Boston or Red Sox fans display a sort of rabidness, there’s something here that elicits love. It’s not just “natives,” either – plenty of residents have come from elsewhere (for college, work, ministry, etc.), including many from the South. Yet it’s clear Boston is now “home” for many of them. So, for those Boston-philes who love Jesus, too, there is that deep sort of passion to introduce Him to her and vice versa. Wicked cool.
- Community abounds. While Christians at times may seem “few and far between” up here, God works special things in “sink-or-swim” environments. For one thing, cooperation seems to need little prodding here; I’d been hearing about that since a good friend first explored the Christian community here as a student at BU. Second, when Christians do find each other, there seems to be a quicker tilt toward true community together – sharing life in such a way that an organism, bound by love, is built. Commitment, too, seems far better practiced that we often find in the South. It may be plenty tough for Christians in a secular environment like Boston, but those who come, come to play.
- False community might abound, too. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to write more about this later, but I’ve already run into multiple instances of either cult activity or very questionable Christian activity. Indeed, one sect – a Twelve Tribes group – was witnessing to us outside of the Passion Regional event this weekend. And dancing. Boston has a history of difficulties here, which has not only drawn individuals into untruth, but hampered the work of Evangelicals.
- Try Chicago first… if you want to lessen the culture shock. For varied reasons, it seems like God really did use my time in Chicago as a “culture-bridge” in eventually coming to the “True North” of New England. In many areas of my present existence – from the difficulty of driving, to unique church environments, to even my daily life, Chicago started me on a trajectory (away from my norm of Dallas life) that continues even more “stretchingly” here. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but I can see God using this “bridge” to heighten my awareness, keep me a little more sane on this trip, and better my attempts at strategy and organization. That’s good news.
And so, if you wanna pray for me:
- Please pray that I would successfully strategize and organize in Boston. I don’t want to miss anything God’s got for me here. But time to get things done – as well as to relax, “debrief,” and enjoy – always seems to be lacking.
- Pray that I would discover each of the things God wants me to do and investigate here in New England.
- Pray for openness and availability of those people I need to chat with about ministry here.
- Pray for wisdom about “the big picture” – what the trip beyond Boston should look like, as I begin to think through the options.