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Dr. Ed Young - Giving Hope to the Hopeless

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    Dr. Ed Young - Giving Hope to the Hopeless

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness. It was the season of light; it was the season of darkness. It was the spring of hope; it was the winter of despair. We had everything before us; we have nothing before us. We were all going to Heaven-no; we were all going the other way, to Hell". Heh, heh.. Opening words of Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities... One city was Paris. They had a revolution. Heads were cut off. There was division. There was war. There was violence. There was all kinds of corruption exploding in Paris that spilled off into France. It was the darkest of hours. The other city in the second part of the tale was London. Not perfect, but they had a spirit of Christ, and God, and redemption, and hope in the lives of the people.

So there's two different cities, and there's a tale of two different cities... We live in a city-Metropolitan Houston, Texas. My, what a city, what a moment in which for you and I to be alive! Various cities in the history of mankind-perhaps no city before has been so privileged and blessed as we are now in Houston. Look at where we are in Houston: Houston has the number one wealthiest zip code in Texas, with a medium income, average income $240,151.00 per person. Houston area housing, start rates climb to $28,990 this year, showing growth for the last eight quarters. Forbes Magazine says Houston is the top big city where self-employment opportunity is growing the fastest. This fall, Forbes Magazine declared Houston the best city for jobs. Houston has the most college graduates over age 25 per capita. This is the best, best one: U-Haul declares Houston as the number one destination for relocation moves! And last but not least, Forbes declared Houston among the top "coolest" cities to thrive in America!

We've got the "cool" factor, ladies and gentlemen! A Tale of Two Cities. That's one city. Urban Houston, Metropolitan Houston, downtown, midtown, suburban areas of Houston. That's one city. But we've got another city. We've got the inner city... Oh yeah. The inner city. Well, we know about, we heard about it. Used to been there, and we had a flight from the inner city. We call it "white flight", oh no. It's white flight; it's black flight; it's brown flight. Anybody who's in the inner city, they fly out as soon as they can get out. It's flight by all. Flight, leaving behind blight.

Let's look right here-let's look in Harris County. That's the best way to look at it. Fatherless cast a shadow of fear-343,647 out of 1,184,988 children in Harris County live with single mothers. Did you get that? Single mothers. Poverty casts a shadow of fear; 802,318 out of 4,336,853, that's the population of Harris County-people in Harris County live below the poverty line, one out of four. Broken educational system; lack of knowledge casts a shadow of fear. Almost 1,910,739 adults, residents can't read! One out of every four adults in our area cannot read! Did you get that? Abuse and neglect cast a shadow of fear; 25,438 child abuse and neglect reports filed in Harris County. 19,834 are, listen to this, 78% of the perpetrators are parents. 18,053 or 71% of these parents were unmarried; 52% of victims were female, ages 1 to 3.

Gang rule cast a shadow of fear; 41,000 registered gang members we know about-there are others we know about in Houston. Gangs are connected, of course, to the drug trade. We could go on and on, because there's a tale of two cities! In every city in America, there's a tale of two cities. And therefore, here is illiteracy, illegitimacy, immorality, depression, despondency, fear, and finally, there's hopelessness. Hopelessness in the inner city, and a helplessness in the inner city, and it's stacked up generation, after generation, after generation. And you got two extremes. You got one extreme that says, "Let's throw more money at those people, and let's just throw more money"! The other extreme says, "Let's take all the money away! Let 'em go to work"! You got a problem... Most of them have a felon among the males there, and they can't get a job because they have a record. Two extremes: Take away all the money. Throw 'em more money! Both are radically wrong.

Now, what are we to do? Two cities-a tale of two cities right here-right here where we live, right here in the cities around the world. A tale of two cities. Some people just say, "Ohhh, just give up! You know, you're... it's not a hope..." Let me tell you something, what we've got a Christian people, folks. First of all, we have the commands of God, and we have the promises of God, and in light of that, without the communication of God, let me tell you-there are some redemptive answers. Now, let's start right here! Good place to start with the Book, is it not? The Book always gets us in tr-gets me in trouble. If it doesn't get you in trouble, you're not reading it properly. Chapter 15. The Bible says, "Now we who are strong..." that's all of us here. We're in urban America. We're the top side. We're the strong. Oh yeah! Every one of us, we're the strong. "...ought to bear the weakness of those without strength, and not just please ourselves..."

The strong are to bear the weakness of the weak. That's a good place to start. What else would...? "Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good to his edification". We're not to please ourself. We are to please the weak to his edification. Edification means that they are to be edified and they're edified when you and I are educated. We begin to understand; then we can build up. "Well, I understand it..." Just hold on! I thought I did too, but I can tell you, I understand it better. Edification. We're not just to please ourselves. Uh, you're not gonna find your life by just serving your life. Edification. We're to be a part of the edification process of the weak-of the weak. Verse 3: "For even Christ did not please Himself, for as it is written, the approaches of those who reproached you fell on me". We are to identify with this. "Boy, if I were in the inner city..."

Let me tell you something: A few escape, but a precious, precious few escape. If you're in that inner city and I were in the inner city, let me tell you, there's oppression; there's generation, after generation, after generation. There is no easy way out of the trap; no easy way out of the trap. Let me tell you that. We've got to identify. Put on those shoes for a while. Go down and look Walk around. Different universe... Verse 4: "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction so that perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope, that may the God Who gives you and me perseverance and encouragement grant to you of the same mind of Christ, that according to Jesus Christ". We've been given perseverance and encouragement. We're to go and give perseverance and encouragement to the weak!

Tale of two cities. One city, "Oh, ho! Man, eh, eh, eh"! There is that other city... "Oh, housing, you can't property, it's so expensive around here. Let me take you some places in that second city. You can buy all the property you want, and houses you want for miles, and miles, and miles, and apartments you want for miles, and miles, and miles". A tale of two cities... Then what else? Verse 7: "Therefore, accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God". We were accepted; we are accepted Him. And he goes on to say, "Jesus was a servant of the Jews and a servant of the Gentiles". That's Verse 8 all the way through Verse 12. Now Verse 13 says that, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, believing so that (we read it) you will abound in the hope by the power of the Holy Spirit".

So you say, "How in the world can I accept this? How in the world can I bear the burden of the weak"? We can do it on the basis of love. About 30 years ago now, three or four of the guys in the church took me down to the then the Toyota Center to see a closed-circuit prize fight. I don't remember who was fighting. I don't know whether it was Foreman, or Frazier, or Ali, or Sugar Ray-I don't know who was there, but boy, we were fired up! We went to this fight, big ole screen. I'd never seen anything-man, it was packed! Man, there was FRRRRRR! Man, it-I liked it! Oh, ho! Goodness! It was so good! So when the fight was over, I was walking down some steps, and I was showing them with my great knowledge of boxing. You know-ehhhhhhhh-I had my hands up. We were talking, walking in the crowd, and I was showing ehhhhhhhh, and, and so, coming up the steps was another man. He was a 18 year old kid then. I didn't know him-African American, and, and I looked over there, and he was showing his friends the same thing... ehhhhh...

So we got down to the bottom. We just never met each other-we just got down and we laughed, and I was doing like this... He started laughing. He says, "Who are you"? I said, "I'm Ed Young. Who are you"? "I'm James Dixon". And, it, he, he's an 18 year old kid who happened to be a pastor. His dad was a pastor. His grandfather was a pastor, and his father was a pastor. He was beginning a little church there... And so we laughed and talked. I got to know him, and uh, time went by, and he started, he came up to our church at Woodway, and I showed him around, and he, "Oh..." And he started to come up there and park his car at night and just pray in our parking lot. Praying the Lord would give him a vision to build a church there in the inner city. I've kept up with James casually through the years.

Now he has the title of Bishop. He's got a big church down there in the inner city. I called him and talked awhile, and I told him my burden. I said, "We live in two cities". I said, "I need to know more about, not like I hadn't been there. I didn't go when we'd things, etc.. but you know..." I said, "I really want to know, are there any answers here"? And he's told me this story. He said, "Last Saturday, we had some ministry going on down there in one of the toughest areas in anywhere around here," and I'll not identify it, purposely so. "And they're just miles and miles of, of slum rooms, apartments-couple of stories high". He said "We go down there as a church and do ministry and try to help these. Most of these are single mothers, birth mothers with multiple kids. Many times, don't even know who the fathers were..."

And he said, "We were doing ministry there with them". He said, "I was sitting outside, kind of steering all our teams as he went into all these areas..." And he said, "Then here comes the ice cream truck, Saturday. And it comes down the street, and there's that music, do, do, tootle toot! Do, do, tootle toot! Do, do, tootle toot tooo! Do, do, too..." He said, "Not a kid came out". He said, "I knew there were hundreds and hundreds of kids. It's miles of these slums..." Do, do, tootle, toot! And the ice cream truck comes by, "Do, do, too..." good weather "Do, do, tootle toot. Do, do, tootle toot, do, kid came out". He said, "I sat there wondering what in the world"? Do, do, tootle toot, do, do tootle toot. He said, "The ice cream truck went on through. Not a kid came out". He said, "I wondered why"?

Then he said, "I realized they didn't have enough money to buy a popsicle, not a one of them. Not this area". And he said, "I went and ran down that ice cream truck. I said, 'Come on back...'" Do, do, tootle toot! Do, do, tootle toot! Do, do, tootle toot do! Said the truck came back. Said an Hispanic man and his son were in truck. He said, "Park right here. I'm gonna buy ice cream for any kid that wants any". He said, "I sent my guys up there and said first two or three kids came-four or five kids came-seven, eight kids". He said, "There's a long line of kids there". He said, "But they came out from anywhere from 4 to 5, even up to 16 or 17". He said, "They all had their heads down". He said, "They came up there to the little gate, the truck and they'd say, 'What do you want'? And they would point to one of the ice creams-tootie fruity, whatever..." and he said, "Then they would look out and say, 'Oh yeah...' and they would order it".

And he said, "I would pay for it". He said, "Then I realized every one came with their head down and," he said, "I went over there and said, 'Hold your head up. Hold your head up! Look up there and read what you want and tell the man, and..." he said a lot of them couldn't read... 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12... couldn't read. He said those that could read, they were hard to hold their head up. And he said, "I bought ice cream, and I bought ice cream..." and I told him, I said, "James, heh-I'm jealous! I wanted to be there! I'd wish I could have been there to buy some ice cream myself-I'm jealous of you"! And I said, "I want to go there right now..."

So we left his church, went together. Went to the spot. We got there Friday afternoon at time the buses were arriving. Here buses coming, I mean, kids coming out of there, all young kids, this stream of buses. I mean dozens, hundreds-hundreds, just everywhere, all the way through this slum area. All of 'em came out there, and they started to scatter and go up, and I noticed there wasn't a single adult there to meet a single one of 'em! Not an adult, not an adult! And they'd run up in those little places. I looked over there, and there's some guys on a rail here, hanging over the rail the second story, and a guy hanging over a rail, and I said, "Who are those guys"? They said, "They're Bloods". Said, "How do you know"? Said, "They got on red and black. Bloods, gang. And they're sort of supervising, running everything here, charge of everything here..." I'm beginning to get it. Don't have to be very smart to figure that out, do you? Anybody need any explanations? You listening? Whoooo! What's happening in the inner city?

Let me tell you: Number one, hope is crushed. When hope is crushed, you got different world. You say, "Well, I don't know what we can do about that"! Oh yes! Let me ask you a personal question. Just think for a minute-you have to think hard: If you had all the power and all the resources-now stay with me! I've had longer to think about this, and pray about this, and cry about his than you have; but if you had all the power and all the resources, could you mark off a square of the inner city-how many blocks, how much, I don't know, and if you had power and resour-all the power, all the resources, could you make a difference in the lives of those families and primarily single mothers? Could you make a difference there? Could you clean that place up for God and for Christ and for humanity? Could salvation come there in lives and hope? Could you do that with all power and all resources? The answer, by the way, is yes! The answer is yes! Where do you start? You start first of all of getting the bad guys out, no questions asked! Now that's not an easy thing. You say, "Oh, you can't do that"! Just sit back! Get the bad guys out. "Well, I have my rights..." No you don't. Everybody there knows who they are. No! Get 'em out-get 'em out!

Number two, find the champions that are in that area. There's a few champions down there that are frightened and beat up. Find those champions and tell them, this is now a safe place! Okay? Then you bring all the king's horses and all the king's men and see who really cares, who really loves, and who really wants to be a part of the healing. I'm talking about the lions of corporations and businesses; I'm talking about all the politicians who talk the game and play the game and exploit people. I'm talking about the non-profits. I'm talking about the churches. I'm talking about the hospitals. I'm talking about every entity, the educational system and go in and rehab, and train, and build, and see those who can be getting off drugs. Those who can't, we send them to some of these military bases that are basically empty, and we provide to them and give them another chance. Otherwise, we get 'em off drugs. We love 'em. We train 'em.

When I was in high school, we had vocational training. We had shop. You learn how to be a carpenter; you learn how to pour asphalt; you learn how to build something, to make something, and to weld. That's gone today! Go in there! Train these who are salvageable. Love those who are loveable. Provide protection for those kids! The kids don't go out and play around there because they're in danger. Did you read the statistics that are there on the wall? Those aren't just numbers! They're human beings, God's human beings, God's precious gift to us! Say, "Well, you didn't mention..." Oh, I don't have all the answers. I see the problem. I see some beginning ways to move, and I see with a cooperative effort, to get the bad guys out, to find the heroes and champions that are there within, and to turn loose God's people! By God's grace, this family, be patient, be prayerful, we're gonna throw everything we got to make a difference for Jesus Christ in the inner city of this part of the world! You say, "Well, I don't know if I want to..."

Let me tell you something: Your ice cream's melting! We can go through there and, "Do, do, tootle, toot! Do, do, tootle, toot"! "Oh, here's some clothes, here's some food, here's some help". "Do, do, tootle, toot"! "Bye"! "Do, do, tootle, toot! Do, do tootle, toot"! "Oh, I feel so good! Let me tell you what I did! I really gave! I helped, I..." That's all good and fine. That's a Band-Aid, folks. "We gotta go in there and deal with the cancer and cut it out so there can be health"! I don't know how to do it.

Don't, don't think there's any prideful thing here. There's only brokenness here; but I can tell you, I believe with the power, gonna be tough to get it. Governors, presidents, lieutenant governors, elected people, lines of industry, all big corporations, everybody will give you lip service. Let's see if they'll get down in the trenches and we can cut out a space and see a safe place of redemption, and we look, we cut out another space. See a same place redeem... and we cut out another space. No telling what God can do when His people begin to be obedient to His Book and realize that our ice cream is melting, and we want our ice cream to be served as long as there's breath in your body and mine!
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