The Backside of the Desert

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Globe, Arizona is a community of contrasts located in a region of stark beauty. A drive in different directions reveals a mixture of varying climate zones with breathtakingly vistas to substandard housing on the nearby San Carlos Apache Reservation that feels more like the informal human settlements in developing countries. Economically Globe sits in a region with a history that revolves around copper mining.

But it's no man's land. A true hinterland.

Sitting roughly an hour and a half from both Phoenix and Tucson it is located on the backside of the desert with little to no fanfare. People don't move there like the do to Portland or Phoenix. I met up with a church planter who was almost reprimanded by his organization for even considering moving to Globe to plant. It's not safe, the schools are lousy, and it's not a good place to raise a family. Instead, they moved anyways.

When we met up over the weekend we walked around downtown taking in the sights, sounds, and food of Globe. While many would see the numerous shuttered businesses and empty buildings as an ominous sign, instead all we could see and talk about was potential. Architecturally the city center has great "bones" and is aesthetically appealing and intriguing. Coming from a place like Portland I could only imagine how fun, satisfying, life-giving, and hard work it'd take to launch a new business, church, or non-profit there. But the potential far outweighs the obstacles.

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A place is a place. However, it's our interpretation of that place that makes all of the difference in the world. Sure, it's easy to write off and be dismissive of places like Globe. However, once the narrative is flipped and we see potential then everything changes. Not potential in the sense of trying to make it cool and appealing like a Portland or Nashville or Asheville. Instead, potential to fully become a what it could or should be. And that is a blue collar city that is tri-cultural ... Hispanic, Apache, and white. A true lunch pail kind of a community that knows the value of hard working and grinding.

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The hinterlands truly take an intrepid church planter. Someone who rolls up their sleeves, is not about hype, and is willing to work hard along side people to demonstrate the gospel as well as share it. The church planting potential in places like Globe is earth-shaking. Besides, the early church was founded on the backside of the desert in an outpost of the Roman Empire. Maybe we need to get back to our roots.