Few organizations have so many years of experience among the urban poor in this a region. There is a palpable sense that we are on the verge of major change. The region has been economically stagnant for 50 years, suffering deep racial, economic and environmental calamities. Not to mention deep longstanding political and religious repression of freedom of thought and confession. Yet there is a new openness cracking through. It’s driven both by technology, globalization and frustration with the local alternatives, especially among the youth. Yet even with these outside forces, long term change can not be expected unless outsiders move in and live among these neighborhoods.
There are over 60 million unreached Muslim neighbors in these large cities surrounding the Sahara desert – a true final frontier with at most 25 to 30 foreigners from the west living and working among them. Most “foreign efforts” are focused on the middle and upper classes and are mostly seeking mere spiritual change. Servant Partners has over two decades of experience, strategies, and spirituality for not only surviving, but thriving long term in these neighborhoods.
Our multi-ethnic and multi-national team continues to pioneer work in an ethnically mixed community of economic refugees from the countryside on the edge of the city. The team is developing a community business and education center, providing training in several areas including urban agriculture, youth life-skill training and entrepreneurship, vocational skills, sports coaching, public health, as well as after-school programs. We expect this to provide ongoing opportunities to share the Gospel while identifying community leaders with the potential to catalyze broader neighborhood transformation.
This is an ideal season to enter and build upon the experience, strategies and even mistakes of previous generations. We no longer loose people due to brun-out, as we have learned deep hard lessons in resiliency. It is also a time of continued re-thinking and learning, as we seek new ways, both spiritually and strategically, to identify and boost what Jesus is already doing in these forgotten neighborhoods.