If you hang out long enough with the youth of Hope for Augusta, you’ll hear them refer to East Boundary, their neighborhood, as “The Bottom”.
There’s a reason this title has been given to the neighborhoods of East Boundary. Many on the outside see East Boundary and the surrounding area simply as a poor, crime ridden, worthless area that has no potential and nothing to offer the rest of Augusta. And many who live on East Boundary begin to believe these descriptions, feeling trapped in a life of poverty and feeling as though there is no way out. This is the Bottom: this is as bad as it gets, a dead end. The only thing left to do is to try to survive the Bottom or try to make it out. Nothing good comes out of The Bottom!
But we want to proclaim something different, something true. Is there poverty? Yes. Is there crime? Yes. Years of systemic injustice has created this. However, the Bottom is not the end, it’s not worthless, and it certainly has a lot of potential and a lot to offer the city of Augusta.
In fact, The Bottom is filled with beautiful, smart, and gifted image bearers who have something to offer Augusta (and beyond!) and who can teach us all something about who God is.
The Bottom is filled with parents who love and work hard for their children, with youth trying their best to resist the “pull of the streets”, and with children having fun with their friends. The Bottom is filled with men, women, and children who can transform their homes, neighborhoods, and schools into flourishing environments to the glory of God.
Isaiah 61 claims that Jesus came to “bring good news to the poor…that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.”