Borderlands and Business as Mission
This past week was a time of exploration, adventure, prayer, conversations, and discernment. Hopping on a plane from Portland, Oregon bound for Tucson, Arizona there were many reasons for this trip: (1) To finalize and firm up details about a soon-to-be-launching "common good" business start-up incubator in Tucson as well as (2) meeting pastors and leaders on the ground in areas around our Strategic Communities list.
This article is not only an update, but to serve as a sounding board to "kick the tires" of what we're dreaming, thinking, planning, and pursuing. In the course of a day last week we visited and walked around Bisbee as well as two border towns ... Douglas and Naco (even though Bisbee is only 12 miles from the border). In the latter two we met up with pastors, listened to stories, learned more about these communities, and spent time walking and exploring (on both sides of the border). All of these communities (Bisbee included) are part of this "borderlands" region. Life and people flow back and forth across daily. Sons and daughters on the Arizona side visit parents on the Sonora, Mexico side for the day. People on the Sonora side come across for a day of shopping. Children come across the border daily for school. One of the pastors we spent time with leads a multi-site church ... a congregation on the Arizona side and then later that day he walks across to Sonora to lead another worship gathering.
Life here is one of contrasts. Life is also much different than how it is played out in the media, but at the same time there is frustration and tension on both sides of the border. Policies and politics aside, specifically related to the mission of Intrepid, what does it mean to minister and serve in this context? What does it look like to plant churches and catalyze new businesses? One of the common themes and observations was the vivid reality of an economically depressed area. That does not mean there is not industry nor jobs, but it is a far cry from a thriving economy. As the region once was dependent upon copper mining it continues to try to find ways to bolster and reinvent their local economies. A quick around downtown Douglas revealed that nearly half of the storefronts were vacant despite there being a treasure trove of architectural gems which sat empty.
The question we continued to talk about and explore as we strolled along the streets of Douglas and both sides of the border in Naco ... what does it look like for Intrepid to play a role here? Not in a "swoop in and rescue" kind of way, but instead to come alongside, empower, and discern what the community truly needs. We tentatively move forward in hopes of truly playing a role, regardless of how big or small, of church planting, community and economic development, and seeing the gospel proclaimed and lived out.
Would you continue to pray for us? Also, pray for these communities. Pray that we'd have the discernment and wisdom needed.