By Rev. Tyler Cronkright, Associate Pastor at Family of God
Recently I have worn this hat more than any other in my regular rotation. I wear it to constantly remind me of the grace and mercy that God has shown me through His Son Jesus Christ. I have found that it holds me accountable to the things that I say and do, especially as I pastor in a very difficult place with Pastor Hill.

We don’t talk much about the struggles about Family of God. You can read more about that in the book that I will write in a few years, assuming I can get Pastor Hill to write the forward. But these next few lines are a few of my confessions as an inner-city pastor.

“I am so glad that you are doing what you are doing.” A great thought that is never completed. Often it feels like the thought that is being withheld is, “ that I don’t have to do it.”

It feels incredibly lonely at times, even in the midst of the many volunteers that assist. Being here day after day is often harder than one can even begin to imagine.

It’s hard to ward off a neighborhood drug dealer day after day after day to protect my family here.

It’s hard to administer medical care to a helpless man who has just had his teeth pounded through his lips because he used a racial slur in a flurry of drunken sentences.

It is hard to stand and give a presentation to a church that is excited about getting more people involved when I’m struggling inside about violent incidents that have left me with blood on my shirt.

It’s heart-wrenching to administer Narcan to a young man that you have discipled, spent time in prayer with, and loved so much.

It’s frustrating to watch people post on social media about doing Bible Study at a brewery (which are good things) when beer has literally killed and destroyed so many families in my neighborhood.

It’s tiring to lay awake at night wondering if the young man you prayed with and hugged on your way out will ever see you again, as he goes back to his heroin habit.

It’s disheartening to watch people you love so much hurt others.

It’s aggravating having to mediate an argument that leads to one person calling his gang buddies to the church to “take care of things.”

It’s hard to show mercy and love to those who take advantage of the church every single day. To those who cuss you out, throw food on the ground, and show no respect to anyone.

It is hard to come home and cry in my wife’s arms because the brokenness in this community has consumed me.

Lent is the church season that we are called to return to the Lord, as the prophet Joel writes. I have never felt that more. There is always the need to repent and return to Jesus, but God has made that so evident to me in these last few weeks. I feel Him screaming at me. In the midst of the storms, Jesus invites us to come to Him, lay our pride at His feet, and rest in the love and forgiveness that only He can give.

Pastor Hill has always taught me that Lent is not about giving up chocolate, Pepsi, or even sports radio. It’s always about Christ. How Christ always has you in his grip because of His sacrifice and is calling us to come home.

I am using this time of Lent to focus on my relationship with God, my study of His Word, and my relationship with my amazing wife. I want to return to Jesus with all that I have and continue to show the same mercy and grace to those I see on a daily basis. I encourage you to do the same during this Lent season. And as always, especially during these very tough times, please pray for us.


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