Lamentation for Allendale
“In the midst of her sadness and wandering,
Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor.”
Have you ever talked with someone who grew up in Allendale? Someone who is at least 35 years old, and preferably in their 60′s or 70′s? Do you know what they talk about? They reminisce about how great Allendale was, about the activities and joys and all the flourishing business.
One lady told me that she lived in nearby Estill, but that her dad would take the family into Allendale every Sunday, to get ice cream from the Howard Johnson. Allendale was also where he entertained his business clients.
At the Salkehatchie Arts Center, one room contains old photographs of the community, with its department stores, multiple hotels, over a dozen fillin’ stations, and cars bustling about.
But now, those hotels are defunct, and the department stores have been abandoned or torn down.
“I have cried until the tears no longer come;
my heart is broken.
My spirit is poured out in agony
as I see the desperate plight of my people.
Little children and tiny babies
are fainting and dying in the streets.”
Some people describe Allendale’s fate as that of Radiator Springs from Cars. Formerly a stop along the route to the beach, you understand why Allendale had many hotels, restaurants, and gas stations. But when I-95 and I-26 were built 50+ years ago, fewer travelers journeyed down Highways 278, 301, and 321.
Of course, there were many other factors along the way that led Allendale to where it is today. But we have to remember this: even though Allendale may not be the beach-going stopover that it used to be, it doesn’t have to mean the end of prosperity and joy for Allendale. It just means that we need to think differently.
“For no one is abandoned
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
because of the greatness of his unfailing love.”
Lottie Lewis, a friend and a community activist, grew up in Allendale. After school, she left for 30 years, coming back to care for her mother. She, like many other residents, love their hometown.
They think about the “glory days” of old, and you can see a sparkle in their eyes. They don’t feel like Allendale is done for. And whereas many have understandably lost hope, many others are working hard to bring back hope, joy, and purpose.
Last month, I heard Ms. Lottie share her heart with a group from Community Bible Church: “I have a dream that Allendale will get better and better and better.” What I really appreciate her is that she is working to make Allendale better, and is working to help local citizens to rise up and work to make it better. (You can see her, and others, in this Allendale Video.)
“We looked in vain for our allies
to come and save us,
but we were looking to nations
that could not help us.”
Yes, we need to work and take responsibility to make Allendale a better place. We need to work to make our hope a reality. We need to restore houses, promote healthy living, and help children receive a good education. But we also have to remember that glory and satisfaction cannot come from our own hands.
The truth is that only God can redeem this community. Only God can restore hope. And our hope cannot be in residents, or the government, or young people to rise up and make this place better.
Our hope is in Jesus Christ. Our hope is in the truth that He takes our best efforts (which will always fall short of perfection) and our complete failures, and He is currently in the process of redeeming them, for His purposes and glory.
“But LORD, you remain the same forever!
Your throne continues from generation to generation.
Why do you continue to forget us?
Why have you abandoned us for so long?
Restore us, O LORD, and brings us back to you again!
Give us back the joys we once had!”
- What’s Our Ultimate Purpose in Allendale?
- Jesus Can Redeem the Past
- Pouring in Good, Clear Water
- A Lesson Before Dying: Sacrifice and Freedom
- Review: A Slave of Circumstance
- Improving Our School Report Card
- Growing Up Poor in the South
**image courtesy of I_Believe_ via flickr