A couple months ago I had the privilege of officiating a wedding for a young couple whom I had gotten to know through a friend, and while I was mingling and talking with guests at the reception, one woman surprised me when she flat out asked:
“So why do you live here?”
She explained she moved here this summer from Denver to be closer to her beloved granddaughter (a local), but she was struggling with finding her meaning, beauty, and purpose here in Topeka. Even though she only moved one state eastward, it felt like a whole new world to her.
I could relate to her struggle.
I paused and I thought about her question for a moment. It was a timely question for me. It’s good to be reminded of why we do what we do when we do it, don’t you think?
I responded by saying Jaclyn and I moved here because more than 70% of the people who live, work, and play in the greater Topeka area have no connection to Jesus or His church. I said we moved here because we love the people in this city and we want to see that percentage decrease.
There is beauty. For sure. It might be tough to see, but it's there.
Topeka is like a diamond in the rough. But there are 96,000+ lonely, broken, hurting people in our community who want to know somebody cares about them. Topeka is a city filled with people in desperate need of restoration - people who have yet to know who God is and to be loved by Him…people in need of hope. This is why I moved to Topeka, I said.
Alan Briggs, in his book, Staying is the New Going, reflects on his own reasons for moving to and staying within his community:
I can't control the fact that I'm not a native Kansan, but I can control whether or not I'm a local.
I choose to be local. I love this city and you should too. We care for and look after the people, places, and things we love.