This month for our Focus on the Field update, we are featuring one of Boston’s inner-city neighborhoods — Jamaica Plain. Jamaica Plain or JP was annexed into Boston in 1874. JP is known for its beautiful parks including: Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and portions of Franklin Park (Boston’s largest park). There are 3.3 sq. mi. of housing space (excluding public property and parks) in Jamaica Plain and according to the 2010 U.S. Census there were 37,468 people living in JP and not a single independent, Baptist church.
Historically Jamaica Plain has been home to many immigrant workers who would work in the many factories and breweries in this neighborhood. Prior to the Prohibition, JP was home to over 25 breweries. The need of the gospel in this neighborhood has been very evident for a long time. Although many of these breweries didn’t survive the Prohibition, the need for the gospel still remains.
JP is still home to many immigrants. In fact, due to the high percentage of Hispanic and Latino people in Jamaica Plain, portions of this neighborhood have become known as Jamaica Spain. Over 30% of the population of JP is Hispanic/Latino. Most of these people are from the Dominican Republic. 16.5% of the people of JP speak Spanish at home and 37.8% of those who speak Spanish are unable to speak English very well. The Lord has directed us to begin learning to speak Spanish as well as other languages so that these people can be reached with the Gospel in their own language.
Again, over time, with the lack of any like-minded, Bible preaching witness, the wickedness of JP has only gotten worse and worse. JP is considered to be the most lesbian friendly neighborhood in Boston, MA. In June, JP hosted the “JP Block Party”, an event sponsored by Boston Pride (an LGBT activist group). Although the LGBT crowd has a stronghold in JP and it would seem there is no hope for a place so deceived by Satan, there IS hope in Christ and His glorious gospel, but sadly no one is sharing that hope with them.
Criminal activity is another serious issue in Jamaica Plain. In the first 90 days of 2016 over 225 violent crimes were reported in JP alone. In this year alone over 200 drug related crimes have been committed in Jamaica Plain. For many, JP is a neighborhood to be avoided, but for believers it ought to be a target for the Gospel to be preached and churches to be planted. After all, don’t we often repeat cliche’s like, “the darker the night, the brighter the light”? I can’t help but to think that if we really believed that Biblical principle, believers would be rushing into these areas to share the Gospel and plant churches. However, Jamaica Plain and neighborhoods just like it have been neglected by our churches and as a result the hopeless people of Jamaica Plain have turned to sin to find hope rather than their only hope – Christ.
The people of Jamaica Plain need to hear the good news of the hope that is in Christ but, “how shall they hear without a preacher?”. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matt. 9:38