BY SHELLY BARSUHN
“The world has come to our neighborhoods,” said Mark-Peter Lundquist ’78. “People who have a desire to go across the world can just go across the street.”
As Vice President of Urban Ventures, Lundquist has special understanding of the need in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that focuses on the Central and Phillips neighborhoods of South Minneapolis. Its mission is to break the cycle of generational poverty in the community by developing youth and strengthening families.
“When I became a Christian in 1973,” he said, “there was not really a demarcation between evangelism and what you’d call the social gospel. I understood you bring people to Christ and meet basic human needs. Ministry is done face-to-face.”
The Urban Hub offers numerous opportunities for students— mentoring, support groups, camp experiences, and spiritual growth and leadership development for middle- and high school-age youth.
“This kind of ministry,” said Lundquist, “isn’t covered in seminary. It’s entrepreneurially driven.” One of his developments has been a recording studio that works with about 80 kids a year, giving voice and guitar lessons and lessons in recording arts. “It’s all in the neighborhood and free and there’s no way these kids would otherwise have access.”
How does the Church fit in? Lundquist noted, “There’s something here that can have the same effect as going overseas. I would like to see people try to become personally involved in the life of another. You don’t have to be the coolest or smartest. You don’t have to look great. Even if you’re awkward, show up, show up, show up.”
What happens? Simple—friendship. People start loving you. Lundquist is honest. This doesn’t happen when someone volunteers once or twice.
“Of course we need those one-time things, but there’s a difference between charity and justice. Charity is cleaning out your basement and giving clothes to a local nonprofit, but biblical justice means showing someone how to balance her checkbook…teaching someone why he should avoid a check-cashing place…helping her open up a bank account.”
All of this is slow, plodding, methodical and time-consuming. Biblical justice is not marching and carrying a sign. From Lundquist’s perspective, it’s walking with someone so they can one day walk into transformation.
Reflecting on his years of work in the Church and with youth, he had this observation: “That’s the gift the poor have for the rich. To show them ‘Yes, in some ways we’re both beggars—in different ways. I’ve got something you need, you’ve got something I need, and we both need the touch of God in our lives.”
For more information, visit urbanventures.org.