just released their list of the top ten “Fastest-Dying Cities in America.” Four of the cities are in Ohio: Dayton, Cleveland, Youngstown and . . . you guessed it . . . Canton.

There was a time when I would rail at God for placing me in such a depressed area to be a Pastor. “Why am I stuck in an area that is declining rather than exploding with growth and opportunity?”

But in the past several years God has been dramatically changing my heart.

It is in the darkness that God’s light shines the brightest. It is in times of greatest need that God uses His church to meet those needs. When things are at their worst, the followers of Jesus must be at their best!

Rather than be discouraged by the fact that four cities in Ohio have made a list on which no-one wants to be included, we need to be encouraged that it is one of the greatest opportunites for those of us who follow Jesus to lift others up, to be involved with God in community transformation, to bring hope where hope may be hard for many to find.

I, for one, am glad that God has called me to live and to love (in His name) in the great state of Ohio!