The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Day 16: Signs of hope — from near and far
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By simplyfaithful
March 2, 2013 11:10 a.m.

Today, Lawrence Jones shares his thoughts on signs of hope. He says he happily lives in Rochester with his wife and two children.  Along with being a follower of Jesus, he works to develop housing for low income families and seniors.  And he is a member of New Life Presbyterian Church. Lawrence…
Christians sometimes use the phrase “On God’s Time”, which is usually longer that we want it to be.  Yet, I feel a great source of hope when I look back and see how far we have come in the past 25 or 30 years.  I will give three examples:
After 40 years of The Cold War, with its nuclear warheads, brinksmanship, bomb shelters and espionage, along came Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost (meaning “openness”) and perestroika (meaning “restructuring”).  The Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 with nary a shot being fired.  For those who lived through the Cold War, this was a miracle and gives us hope towards the possibilities of peace.
IMG_0974In the 1980s, apartheid, a system of racial segregation denoted by government policies of white supremacy, under which black residents had only limited rights was the law of the land in South Africa.  Nelson Mandela had been in jail for over 25 years.  A combination of increasing international scorn and isolation, along with F.W. de Klerk becoming President spelled the end of the worst of the oppressive treatment from the Afrikaner minority.  This happened with much less bloodshed than anyone could have guessed.  While still a country with its challenges, the distance that South Africa has come in less than a generation is miraculous and gives us hope about the capacity of people and nations to change.
Locally, if one drove down South Avenue in Rochester in the 1970s or early 1980s, they would have seen many boarded up storefronts as well as a good deal of trash and graffiti.  It was an urban neighborhood in decay.  The Rev. Judy Lee Hay and others started the South Wedge Planning Committee in 1975.  Over the next 35 years this directly led to a revitalized neighborhood. It took hundreds of people and many thousands of hours of labor, but now the South Wedge is among Rochester’s most vibrant neighborhoods.  It didn’t happen overnight, but the efforts of churches, businesses, concerned citizens and a responsive City of Rochester led to a transformation.  It gives us hope for all our neighborhoods.

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