Why are we not moving? Meditations on the life of an Inner-city Winnipeg Pastor

I just have begun reading the Harry Lehotsky story (by Paul Boge), and I’m learning about his work at the west end of Winnipeg. It’s mind-blowing, my city, so dark, and yet so much hope. One of his guiding principles was to live in the community you want to reach; it seems obvious, right?

But think about it, tons of churches throughout Winnipeg. Hundreds of people every Sunday, learning about Jesus, hearing good theology, and worshiping Jesus rightly (at least on the surface).

Yet, few to none of those people, myself included, would ever intentionally make their way into these bad neighborhoods, let alone move there.

Reading this book has been challenging for me. There are moments where I want to move to the west end or Osborne (where the church plant I go to is located), but then other times, I imagine a quiet life somewhere more beautiful, safer, more comfortable.

Every time I pick up the book, I began to feel anxious as if it were a letter inviting me into work that I was terrified to do. However, I also feel excited and understood.

When I hear about his encounters with people, I think, I want to have those encounters. When I here about his impact on the community, I think, I want to have that kind of effect on the town. He was crazy, sold out for Jesus, but it was right and good.

I can’t but see our modern, comfortable approach to Christianity as settling for something less then God intended.

But I have to say that this book has been timely. About a month ago, I began attending a church plant; it’s unbelievable. We have monthly pot lucks inviting neighbors, being a light to them, and hearing their story. It reminds me of Harry.

Perhaps the most impactful moment from the book thus far was when Harry went into the first-year review of his ministry meeting.

He and his wife had gotten to Winnipeg and started their work, but it was slow. In the meeting, people were questioning his ability to minister in the community and make an impact.

This hit me hard.

I was getting frustrated and angry at the people for not having enough results.

In some ways, those critics embodied the critics in my own life, those who say I’m not doing enough or doing well enough at reaching people.

It’s one of my greatest fears, that what I’m doing doesn’t matter. I felt for Harry. But as I read about him, I keep thinking this:

He’s the kinda pastor I would want to be.

Though I don’t know where God is leading me, I can tell I’m going to look back on this.