Fayetteville is consistently ranked as one of the best places in America to live.
We’ve got it all – beautiful parks and trails, incredible arts and night life, a major university, and a diverse cultural/religious/ethnic mix of residents.
“Keep Fayetteville Funky” is our motto.
I’ve been blessed to experience all that Fayetteville has to offer.
Perfect days at Paradise Valley Golf course, shopping the Farmer’s market, dancing to live music at George’s, calling the Hogs on game days – life is sweet, with endless entertainment and fun.
In the shadow of Old Main and the ongoing $160 million Razorback football stadium renovation is another side of Fayetteville.
Driving into south Fayetteville you are faced with the other tale of our city. A tale of homelessness, poverty, and despair.
A massive jail and rows of bail bondsman line Hwy. 71. The 7 Hills Homeless Center sits off to the side, an invaluable resource which serves the growing population of homeless in our area (around 2,400 in Washington/Benton counties).
The Salvation Army shelter is always full – as are every women’s shelter, psychiatric hospital, addiction treatment facility, and government housing unit.
The schools have social workers on staff and funding to provide meals, financial assistance, and support to a growing number of students from low income families.
For many residents, each day is about survival – wondering why their lives have turned out this way, and hoping to get a decent meal and safe night’s sleep.
There’s also the large number of single moms trying to make ends meet, the working poor who live paycheck to paycheck, and the many veterans and disabled who live below the poverty level.
That’s the good news / bad news of the two sides of Fayetteville, but there’s hope and change happening.
With the disparity between people and so many struggling around us – it’s increasingly being recognized as a social justice issue that needs to be addressed.
A large group of concerned citizens are meeting to do just that – asking what can we do? And, they are taking actions to help. (see: Northwest Arkansas Community Conversation about Homelessness, on Facebook)
The City municipal government itself does a lot to help the poor and homeless. Earlier this year they saw the critical need for the homeless center, and gave 7 Hills $250,000 in funding. They also administer a federal grant of nearly $500,000 to assist people with housing.
A group called the NW Arkansas Continuum of Care is bringing all those involved in serving our neighbors in need together, with the goal of eradicating homelessness.
Their mission (from www.nwacoc.com), is “coordinating community resources to build a collaborative system that addresses core issues of homelessness and poverty.”
A non-profit, The Center for Collaborative Care, is bringing together resources, help agencies, and other providers to serve the needy. Their mission (from www.collaboratenwa.com), is “to give everyone the opportunity to thrive.”
These groups and actions are literally an answer to our prayers. Never has there been such strong cooperation and efforts in our area to help people live better.
Yes, it’s a social justice and equality issue when people are struggling to survive and dealing with obstacles to a healthy and good life – but on a deeper level it is a spiritual and religious issue as well.
At Central’s main campus and at Genesis Church we are daily seeking to serve both physical and spiritual needs. Thanks to donations from members and financial backing from the church – we help hundreds with housing, financial assistance, food, and clothing. We offer prayers and a welcoming place to seek God – trusting that God will heal and do more than we ever could.
God calls us to care for the needy, protect the vulnerable, and to provide for the least of these in our midst.
1 John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Psalm 82:3-4 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy.
In Matthew, Chapter 25, Jesus says that He comes to us as the hungry, lost, and broken – and our eternal destiny is linked to how we respond to Him in that condition.
Lord, we come to you knowing that it’s only by your Grace that we are blessed to have so much. We see you in each broken life, and in all those you bring to us to love and provide for their needs. Please bless these efforts to help our brothers and sisters in need. Raise awareness and provision to care for them. Give us your Spirit of mercy and compassion. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Local Mission Coordinator