In the late ’60s and ’70s, Bethel Lutheran, Chicago, was part of a coalition of 20 West Side churches in a project called West Side Isaiah. Its aim was to build 250 homes in the area. When the other churches dropped out because of the expense, Bethel proceeded alone, and the project evolved into Bethel New Life (www.bethelnewlife.org).
The original project took its name and mission from Isaiah 58:9-12:
“If you remove the yoke from among you the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”
Or, as a more recent quote puts it: “If you build it, they will come.”
*The actual line from the film Field of Dreams is: “If you build it, he will come.”
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers