“It can be done and it must be done.” Sometimes words are tossed out like salad, but other times they seem to land like a prophetic “patriot missile” in a way that, even the speaker becomes aware they have just said something straight from the heart of God. Following a series of hints and whispers somehow Ben Nockels and I found ourselves in Fayetteville, North Carolina at the dining room table of Joe Dudley, arguably the most successful black entrepreneur of modern American history. Ben and I were reminded of how God places his hand on the ordinary and gives the Kingdom-come extraordinary. And as the three of us sat and pondered the question, “would God transform cities in our generation through empowered entrepreneurs, raised up from among the most vulnerable?” Mr. Dudley uttered those powerful words “It can be done and it must be done.”
The story began in a garden but it ends in a city. Isaiah chapter 60 reveals a dimension of that city yet to come – a picture of the peoples of the world carrying their redeemed commerce and culture into the Holy City. The prophet Jeremiah invests in real estate in his city as a prophetic picture of God’s heart to bring transformation and redemption. God sends Jonah to tell the New York-esque Nineveh that he “has compassion for such a great city.” And in the gospels we see Jesus weeping over a city that he longs to “gather beneath his wings…” as he is “filled with compassion because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus loves Oklahoma City and Tulsa and New York and Salt Lake City. And He has scattered his Family, his Temple, his Army throughout those cities through a people called Church, Bride, My Beloved. And those people can be found every day in the factories and warehouses and restaurants. The harassed and helpless spend most of their time at the place they call “work.” And for most their boss is the most impacting person in their life. The history of transformed cities is not the history of great preachers in great cathedrals. It is the story of people who are convinced they don’t have what it takes but have just enough faith to trust the One who does. John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed” and he couldn’t help but proclaim the name of Jesus to the workers and coal miners. In the 1850s, Jeremiah Lamphier asked a few Wall Street guys to join him in prayer and soon the financial capital of the world was in the throes of revival.
The move of God, the one that only He will get credit for, the one that changes everything in our city will not begin in a church service, it will begin in an office building where one humble financial assistant shows up fifteen minutes early to pray for co-workers. It will begin in the warehouse. It will begin in the apartment complex. It will begin in the beauty salon. The words won’t be eloquent or lengthy. “I need everyone here to know that I love Jesus Christ with all my heart.” “It’s not about being right, it’s about being alive.” “When I heard you lost your husband I felt the compassion of Jesus for you and I wept and I want to pray for you and serve you right now.”
City transformation isn’t about the big idea, the super-spiritual, or the pep rally. It’s about the heart of a King for the people of his kingdom and the army of ordinary people that he has sent into the nooks and crannies of a city to simply say “his name is Jesus.” The marketplace is the pioneering edge of the coming move of God. Everyone gets to play. Everyone has to play. It can be done. And it must be done.
New Heavens, New Earth
(written as a gift to SALLT)
Music and Lyrics by:
©2015 Kyle Dillingham, LLC