Tuesday, March 24, 2009

From the Heisman to The Least of These

Last night, a guy from my youth group and I attended a benefit dinner for Desire Street Ministries, an urban outreach project started in New Orleans. The evening's speaker was the ministry's executive director, former University of Florida and NFL Quarterback Danny Wuerffel. He spoke on the great importance Jesus put on helping the poor and hopeless, and talked about how that's prompted Desire Street to work for spiritual, physical, and emotional change in several urban communities - and New Orleans in particular, where the ministry began and where it is now leading recovery efforts. From church planting to opening schools to medical clinics, Desire Street seeks to transform communities from the inside out.

The group's approach to ministry was very cool, focusing on an incarnational model where the leaders move into and live in the communities they're trying to reach - echoing Jesus, who came to the earth and lived among us. As Derek Webb put it, "Like the three-in-one, know you must become what you want to save." Wuerffel really reflected and personified this philosophy. He was very much a down-to-earth guy. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were in the presence of just another ministry leader, not a millionaire who was a superstar in the sports world. I was particularly impacted by an ESPN video that was played focusing on the New Orleans recovery efforts. Wuerffel and his family lost their home in the disaster, and as the video showed him touring the damage, I was struck by just how unremarkable the home was. It looked more like your average middle-class city home than the abode of an NFL quarterback. Many athletes talk a big game when it comes to faith, but in just an hour watching Danny Wuerffel it was quite clear that this was a guy who deeply understood Jesus' message and mission, and sought to follow in his steps. Praise God for his work, and I'd encourage you to seriously think about supporting the work at Desire Street.

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