This month Lisa and I will be vacationing in New Orleans – a place I’ve never been, and one that Lisa was last in as a baby (they lived in Biloxi, Mississippi during her dad’s earlier years in the US Air Force.) We’re looking forward to seeing part of our country that we’ve never seen – it’s people, it’s scenery, the great food, and I’m sure lots more. There’s a lot we’ll get to see and do – I’m looking forward to exploring a part of our country I know only a little about.
The next couple of months we will be preaching on the Essential Challenges of the church – the things that can make us uncomfortable, and the challenge to embrace those challenges, rather than run away from them. Just as I’ll find New Orleans different than what I’m expecting, I’ve found that Orenco and Hillsboro are different than they were just a few years ago.
For starters, our population in Hillsboro has grown more than 20% in less than a decade. Much of that growth has taken place in the Orenco area of Hillsboro – as we have seen more than 10 apartment complexes built within the last two years in the Orenco Station area alone.
What are some of the other interesting facts of Orenco? Two of Hillsboro’s largest elementary schools are in the Orenco area, Orenco and Quatama, and they are ranked 1st and 4th in population, according to the latest statistics available (2017). Our latest demographic studies show that more than 4,900 of the 17,350 people living in Orenco are under the age of 19, with more than 2,550 of them under the age of 10.
Adding to that, there are another 8,500 people in the 20-49 age range in Orenco, with the largest group found in the 30-39 age range (3,521) – again, according to the 2017 demographics report. Those in the age group of 50+ total more than 2,800 people. These people all live within a mile radius of the church – these are the people our Lord has entrusted to us for ministry and mission. What a task we have ahead of us – and what a joy that we can do this for our Lord.
Where do we begin? What can each of us do? In looking for answers to these questions, I found an excellent article by Beth Debayle, written for the Surge Project. Let each of us consider her suggested ways:
1) Be led by God’s Holy Spirit. It is God’s Holy Spirit that leads us, that equips us, just as that same Spirit did with Jesus’ disciples and even Jesus Himself.
2) Build relationships and share the Good News of Jesus within your sphere of influence. Let us be salt and light, even a city built on a hill that cannot be hidden.
3) Finally, simply this: Give. Through our plenty, let us together give, supplying seed to the sower and bread for food – so by increasing the harvest (see 2 Corinthians 9).
Let us be led by God’s Spirit, to those already among us, with the same priority that God has used to seek and find us. Amen.