Over 26 years ago my family and I moved from Detroit, Michigan to Georgia. We stayed in Atlanta for some time, but then settled in Columbus, Georgia a year or so later. First we stayed with my cousins in Forest Park, but sometime later we moved to BTW Apartments. A year or so later my mother surprised my older brother and me with a new location. My mother moved us back to the Eastside of town. Regency Park, Forest Road, Eastside Columbus. I met good friends there, friends who I will never forget. I had many neighborhood mothers there, mothers who I will never forget. Even as I write this my heart swells at the thought of the Eastside. I love the Eastside.
For 21 years I stayed on the Eastside before moving to another side of town. Grace and provision, given by God, I’ve traveled to many states. I’ve even traveled across the ocean, but I have been truly raised by the Eastside. The Eastside is a part of me. That’s how God ordained it. Many memories of where I’m from, memories that will be with me until I die. Many people who I love, who I remember from my youth, they come from the Eastside. It’s home to a lot of people I know.
So why am I typing all of this? My reason is simple; I have a heart for the Eastside. A place where I put my life into coming up, from the corner stores, to the barbershops, to the Walmart on Buena Vista Rd (lol), to the High School I graduated from (Kendrick High Junior/Senior yr.), to the Middle School I attended (Fort Middle School), to the streets I’m familiar with, to the neighborhoods I’m familiar with (too many to name), to the people I love (too many to name), and to the neighborhood I grew up in (Regency Park). I’m typing this out of love.
I committed many sins while on the Eastside, sins I’m truly ashamed of. I’m a Christian now, so that means I have a new heart by the Holy Spirit given by God to follow His Son Jesus. That means that all my sins that I committed in the past, and the sins I will commit even now and in the future are taken care of by Jesus. Amen. He saved me, but He didn’t remove my love for where I’m from.
The life of Jesus, the sacrifice of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, the ascension of Jesus, and the coming of Jesus actually intensifies my love for where I’m from. When I say “Eastside” I’m not merely talking about a side of town in Columbus, Georgia. I’m talking about a people who are “Eastside.” The Eastside is a culture. A person is not “Eastside” because of where they stay, but a person is Eastside because of who they are. A person can move from the Eastside and still be Eastside. Staying on the Eastside and being raised on the Eastside will indeed shape who you are. How you perceive things and how you react to things. That’s what being part of a culture does.
For over 20 years the Eastside of Columbus, Georgia has been my “neighbor.” I’m called to love my neighbor. I love my people from the Eastside. Is it wrong to naturally have a heart for the people where you're from? Not at all. Paul the Apostle had a heart for his kinsmen, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1). He’s speaking about the Israelites who God chose in the Old Testament. Paul is aware that the promises of God belonged to them, but he also was aware that many of the Israelites were rejecting their only way to total and complete reconciliation to God.
They were rejecting the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Sadly, that’s the case for many in our day, whether we’re from the Eastside of Columbus, Georgia or the Eastside of Yokohama, Japan. Many are rejecting the only way to total and complete reconciliation to God that’s only offered through His Son Jesus. So yes, I am indeed Eastside, it’s where I’m from. It’s where God has allowed me to be raised. But most importantly, God has stirred my heart for the Gospel to flood wherever He has me. My prayer is that many will respond to the love of God that is freely given through Jesus. Amen. Here’s our hope: Eastside or not, we’re weak and we’re sinful and in need of hope. Here’s our hope if you believe:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.