A Different View of Our Community

I attended the West Ellis County United Way meeting this week and saw something that stunned me. We live in the midst of some of the most wonderful communities. Schools, quality of life, and opportunities for recreation, spiritual development, and great friendship are plentiful. As we watch all the housing development pepper Midlothian, Waxahachie, and the other communities, it’s easy to think that our communities are stable and economically healthy.  The pretty houses and new developments don’t tell the whole story.

We readily recognize that 27% of people in our region can’t afford the basic needs such as housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation.  But what we don’t see are the “ALICE” families.  “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” (A.L.I.C.E.) is how the United Way of West Ellis County describes another invisible people group.  These are the 27-38% of the population who are employed, who live above the poverty level, but are one crisis away from meltdown.  They have no cushion, no support if they have a medical crisis, if a layoff comes, if a major home repair is needed.  They look fine on the outside because they have jobs, homes, transportation, and food.

It’s as if almost a third of our neighboring families stand on their tiptoes in a pool just deep enough that their bodies are submerged, but their noses are above the waterline so they can breathe.  But when a large object is dropped in the pool, the wave washes over them and they are under water.  One out of every three families in our region live in that situation.

That changes the view of our community, doesn’t it?  That’s why our church supports ministries that help local families in crisis.  Our own church staff has visited plenty of families that had great income but no margin.  When crisis hit, that lack of margin had catastrophic results.  And two things are true then:

  1. They needed real help.
  2. Their hearts were open to God’s compassionate love.

As I sat in that meeting this week, it placed a new burden on my heart, a new hunger to look at our community with new lenses, and to encourage people to build margin into their lives.  It also made me very proud of the many groups who, along with our church, seek to look upon our community with compassion.  And into that world of families, God has chosen to plant YOU.  Will you allow Him to minister to need through you?

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