Piper tells stories about the early part of his life, and confesses that he was racist. But many years ago, Piper moved into a multi-ethnic city. This is what he has to say about the city.
"We moved into the city and have lived within walking distance of the church in Elliot Park and Phillips ever since (now almost thirty years). The 2005 ethnic breakdown of our neighborhood was 24.6 percent Caucasian, 29 percent African American, 22 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Native American, 5.9 percent Asian, 7.4 percent other. Immigration patterns have changed over the years with various groups swelling and shrinking from time to time. But that is pretty much what I see out of my study window on 11th Avenue South."
At the age of 50, Piper and his wife were asked to adopt an African American girl. This is what he says.
"Noël and I took long walks together in those days as we sought the Lord together. Finally, I knew the answer. Love your wife, love this little girl as your own, and commit yourself to the day of your death to the issue of racial harmony. Nothing binds a pastor's heart to diversity more than having it in his home. That was over fifteen years ago. In those years, we have tried to pursue as a church a deeper and wider racial and ethnic diversity and harmony."
But this candid confession of Piper is most interesting.
"If any of this sounds valiant, don't be too impressed. I am not a good example of an urban pastor. Because of the way I believe God calls me to use my time, I don't have significant relationships with most of my neighbors. Nor does our church reflect the diversity of this neighborhood.
There is diversity, but nothing like the statistics above. Probably I could have been far more effective in immediate urban impact in this neighborhood if I had not written books or carried on a wider speaking ministry. Some thank me for this ministry, and others think I have made a mistake..."
I think there is much to ponder.
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