Monday, April 21, 2014

Community Development.

Tonight was the Union County Development Association meeting and, as an elected official, I attended. The speaker was Mrs. Jackie Hogan from Toyota Mississippi. She was introduced by David Rumbarger from the Community Development Foundation, and he spoke briefly about the process involved in bringing Toyota to Mississippi. 

Jobs were evaporating in the northeast Corner of the state and community leaders were desperately trying to find ways of bringing some sort of long-term manufacturing to the area to provide jobs and replace those that had been lost. The leaders from three adjoining counties had tried and failed. There was not enough land available in one large tract.

Mr. Rumbarger was at hunting camp with Randy Kelly, and they were discussing the situation. Mr. Kelly had a great idea. Why not work together? Instead of competing with each other, why didn't leaders from the three counties work together as one to accomplish something enormous?  That's exactly what they did. People stopped putting their personal priorities first and started putting the greater good of the region first. An amazing thing happened! After many difficulties and incredible effort, Toyota announced that they were building their new plant in Mississippi. In fact, they were building their new plant just outside my little village of Blue Springs. 

How likely was it that this little corner of the poorest state in the Union could recruit an international powerhouse like Toyota? Not at all likely. How did it happen? Teamwork and unity. 

What is really unusual to me is that community leaders are great at working together for the good of the community, but the body of believers in Jesus doesn't always do so well. It seems to me that the body of Christ should be THE model of unity, teamwork, and vision. People should look at us and say, "If you want needs addressed, those are the people to do it." Are there hungry people? Call the Christians. They can figure it out. Homeless people? Call the Christians. They will make a plan. I'm not sure that's how we always work, but I think it's how it should be. 

It's my dream that all the denominations in my area would work together as one and function as the body of Christ, in harmony and unity, working from our commonalities and leaving our differences behind. We do that sometimes, but there's a tendency to group along denominational lines. Can you imagine the incredible things that could be accomplished for the Kingdom of God if all we cared about was bringing people to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith rather than protecting our own little area? Imagine the needs that could be met, the lives that could be changed!

How could that happen? A few people who say let's do it, then never quit until the job is accomplished, could bring this miraculous effort to pass. It has to start somewhere. The question tonight is will you be one of the few?