Loving Our City

lovingourcity

As a church body that knows Christ, we know an aspect of our faith is living like Christ. And Christ loved his people. We know that part of living our faith together is about loving our city together. LOFT City Church is a community in Richardson that sees all people as created in the image of God and longs to see them worship in spirit and in truth. We want to love the hurting people of Richardson and the rest of the world!

This is a first of a series of blog posts on how to love our cities well, especially the vulnerable. The blind, the sick, the hurting – the outcasts of society were the ones Jesus drew near.

It’s our calling to help the marginalized as well. As Jesus said,

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 25: 44-46

Before we can love our city well, we have to know our city well. I highlighted just a few aspects of the city so we can consider how individually and as a church, we can be agents of light, truth, and change in our cities.

  • Richardson has been recognized as a safe place for families, a great place to raise kids, and many companies call Richardson home. More than 88,000 people work in the City of Richardson each day.

  • There were 40,020 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.2% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families.*

  • According to https://datausa.io, 10.4% of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Richardson, TX (11,176 out of 107,196 people) live below the poverty line. The largest demographic living in poverty is Male 18-24, followed by Female 18-24 and then Male 25-34.

  • The most common foreign languages in Richardson are Spanish (13,518 speakers), Chinese (3,676 speakers), and Vietnamese (2,153 speakers), but compared to other places, Richardson, TX has a relative high number of Urdu (972 speakers), Hindi (1,463 speakers), and African Languages (1,572 speakers).

I encourage you to look up your own city if you don’t live in Richardson. Learn about its strengths and gaps and how you can have a small part in your neighbor’s life. Maybe it’s reaching out to your literal neighbor, helping host a block party this summer, or volunteering for a shelter or library. A lot of communities offer ESL or computer skills classes, or they have retirement communities that would love to lunch served or music played!

As believers, we are required to love and show mercy. The great thing is, we’re already equipped for these things! Love and mercy don’t require big gestures. Usually, it’s just about offering a hand when no else does or listening to someone who has no one to talk to.

For the summer, we’ll be reading reflections from members of LOFT about ways that we can pour into the places we live and work.

Don’t wait. How can you love your city today?

*As of the 2015 American Community Survey

Meet Citlally

Citlally Ramirez
It is amazing how many people we come across on a day-to-day basis. Often times we don’t pause to hear their stories & or get involved in their lives. We forget that the amazing transformation that happens with the Gospel begins with a passing conversation.

This is the first part in a video series, in which we introduce the stories of a few people we have met across our city & our church. It is just a glimpse of how God has used His people to impact the life of one. This isn’t the story of one ministry or church, but the collective impact of many individuals.

[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”FfJorXghvtM?rel=0&showinfo=0″]

TRANSCRIPT

Hi, my name is Citlally Ramirez. I was born in Santa Barbara, California. I was raised in different parts of the country. First raised in California, Georgia, Mexico & Texas. I’m the oldest of three, I’ve a brother & a sister & my parents are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico.

I’m currently a senior studying biology & I help my professor conduct research. I have been doing that for three years now. When I’m not in the lab, I’m usually co-ordinating events for the International Justice Mission campus chapter that I helped cofound. Our focus is to raise awareness about human trafficking & to empower students to become volunteers in the community. For example, becoming volunteers at a shelter for battered women & victims of human trafficking.

In April 2011, I was going through a rough time, & it was during the same time that I came across an Intervarsity booth. They told me about this 24/7 prayer tent, & I thought it was really strange & different. So I decided to check it out one night & I purposely took my bike just because I thought that if I felt uncomfortable getting off I could pass by. But all of the people there were staring at me because I was the only person there so I kinda had to get off. So I got off & we started praying, & that was really different for me because when I heard their prayers, it sounded like they were just talking to God. I thought that was really cool. I also prayed, but I didn’t know how to close or open. I really liked that, so I returned to community engagement with Intervarsity & that is where I met Lisa Jacob. She took interest in me & I thought it was strange, I though I was her project & I had to impress her. But I started seeing that she did really care for me, & she actually wanted to help me in this walk with God. We started talking about deeper things, about Jesus & I knew who Jesus was. I knew he died on the cross, but didn’t know what that meant. Now I know that His death on the cross meant that the veil was torn & that I could speak directly with God. I could use my own words. He wanted to hear me. Just knowing that completely changed my life.

That same year, I started going to LOFT. The church was offering rides from campus to the church. The same person who picked me up that day, I saw him with a microphone on stage & I was waiting for him to get off stage, but then I realized he was the actual pastor, that Sam was the pastor. After service, I saw how everyone was talking to one another, how close they were to one another. Tara Kinra, she offered me to have lunch with her at her place & I though it was really strange & really kind of her because she didn’t know me & she was offering me to go to her place. She made me feel like I could become a member of that community. A community that genuinely cares for one another, that is very welcoming to new members.

In 2012, I asked God to really grow me in Him. He opened up an opportunity to go to Bombay through LOFT. In Bombay, we worked with Bombay Teen Challenge, which is a ministry that works in the red light district to rescue girls out of sex trafficking. It was such an incredible blessing to be there. On the very first day, one of the girls signaled me to stretch out my hand, my arm. So I did, & she placed in my hand a bracelet that said forgiven. That was such a beautiful moment because I had always struggled with guilt & shame, & God was reminding me that I was forgiven, that Jesus had paid it all. Upon returning back from Bombay, I returned with so much new hope just seeing how much the girls loved Jesus despite what they had gone through.

These past two years have been an incredible journey in my walk with Jesus. God has given me an opportunity to travel to Bangkok & as team we will be living in the slums. We will showing the love of Jesus by serving them. So I’m going to need a lot of prayers & support, as I take this leap of faith. I pray that God will use me to minister to people that meet there.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 94:19, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.” I don’t know where I will be in the years to come, but I do know that I want to serve Jesus with all that I have. I’m very blessed for the invitation to be part of his works.

[pl_alertbox type=”info”]You can support Citlally on her Bangkok trip at Intervarsity and then type in “Citlally Ramirez, STiM 13” to donate.[/pl_alertbox]

Life on Mission

Camelot Tuesday LOFT City Church
When we first started, one of our deepest desires was to foster a strong relationship with the people in our church neighborhood in Richardson. We did not want to simply invite them to come to us, but we wanted to go to them. Serving at the Camelot apartments was the opportunity God opened for us. Every Tuesday night we have the privilege of hosting kids from the apartment and the neighborhood. With the help of volunteers, we created a place where they can be honest with each other, without fear of rejection, and where we can encourage them to pursue God in complete surrender. A few of months back, we had a chance to sit down and interview some of the kids. Here is what they had say:

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[phone][/phone]

Why another church in Richardson?

Dallas Richardson Map
A question that I am often asked is why are we starting another church in the Richardson area. Richardson is a city that is saturated with churches, we have more ministries & churches in our metroplex than most countries have in their entire country. It’s a great question.

Churches in Richardson TX

To answer that question, I want to quote a book from a pastor that has invested heavily into my life over the last three years. Pastor Bob Roberts is the pastor of Northwood Church in Keller, a church that helped plant LOFT. I will write another blog soon about the influence that Pastor Bob has had on LOFT and how we are the church we are because of his influence.

Bob has written a new book called, “Bold as Love.” It will be released in a few months, but I received an advance reader’s copy this week. In the first chapter, Bob talks about how our society has changed and he specifically addresses the changes in the Dallas area.
[pl_blockquote]There was a day when faith was tribal and defined by geography. Not anymore. Every religion is everywhere. Even in Dallas. Today, 44 percent of the population was not born in an English-speaking nation; 238 languages are spoken in the DFW area; 28% of the population doesn’t speak English in their homes! We have Little Pakistan, Koreatown, Little Iran, Little India, Little Arabia, Chinatown, three Little Vietnams, four Little Mexicos, Little Nepal, Ethiopia/Eritrea.

Hispanics make up a large portion of the metroplex with roughly a million people. But there are also 40,000 Arabs, 90,000 Chinese, 25,000 Columbians, 5,000 Egyptians, 80,000 El Salvadorians, 7,500 Cambodians, 8,000 Bangladeshis, 15,000 Ethiopians, 90,000 Indians, 40,000 Iranians, 20,000 Ismailis, 50,000 Koreans, 25,000 Nepalese, 10,000 North Africans, 50,000 Pakistani’s, 30,000 Filipinos, 40,000 Polish, 22,000 Puerto Ricans, 80,000 Vietnamese, and dozens of other ethnicities.

In 1975 there was one mosque in the entire DFW area. Today, there are forty three. The closest mosque to me is about two miles away, the closest Buddhist temple is four miles, and the closest synagogue is five miles. The whole world is around me – and it’s around you.[/pl_blockquote]

What an opportunity for us to share to love for Jesus. What an incredible time for us to be alive. What a great reason to start a church that will reach the nations of the earth. What a great time for us as believers to move out of the comforts of what is safe, normal and constant and take risks for the sake of the Gospel.

God has allowed us to be born and be alive at a time when we will run into all sorts of people who need to know the love of Jesus. Whether you’re hungry or hurt, lonely or lost, full of questions or looking for a home, there’s a place for you at our church. We want to help you find a place where you can connect with others in your stage of life. Our desire is to disciple you to think & live missionally. As we continue to invest resources into reaching people in Richardson, the Dallas area & beyond, we pray that we can make a Kingdom impact at a global & local level.