ATLANTA—“The secular consequences of your faith is what will convince most people to respect your faith,” Robert Woodson told the Coalition for American Renewal’s National Symposium, A Call to Awakening, on September 20.
Mr. Woodson is the founder and president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise based in Washington DC and active in 39 states. The Center identifies people in troubled low-income neighborhoods who are tackling social problems such as gang violence, drugs, school dropouts and prostitution, on their own initiative. It then provides them with organizational skills, and additional resources to help them be more effective.
Listening to such people and learning from their experiences is the most effective way to change such neighborhoods, says Mr. Woodson. He calls them ‘Josephs’ after the figure in the book of Genesis, who, despite being a Hebrew with no social standing in an Egyptian jail, was listened to and then lifted up by the Pharaoh to prepare the country to meet a coming time of famine.
Mr. Woodson is the author of The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers Are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods, which tells the story of some of these social entrepreneurs and their achievements. All of them are driven by their faith to do the work they do, and many have undergone radical personal transformations, giving up lives of crime, drug abuse, or prostitution. They then put their past experiences to use in helping their communities tackle those same problems.
This last step was the key. “The superiority of your principles and beliefs has to be shown,” Mr. Woodson concluded, “by producing a superior way of life.”
For more information on the Coalition for American Renewal, visit renewournation.org