The phrase "Lot pitched his tents near Sodom" is used in Genesis 13:12 as a criticism of Abraham's nephew. He chose to live near the city renowned for wickedness because he coveted the fertile land that could be found there. Over time, he adapted himself more and more to its mindset and became comfortable in the city itself. His daughters were married to men from Sodom, and when the warning came from angels that Sodom would be destroyed imminently, Lot had a great deal of difficulty taking action. In fact, the angels had to take him and his household by the hand to lead them out.
Our decision to spend a night at Eden Springs Campground in Benton Harbor was made even though we had heard some negative things about the city. However, we had a richer perspective because of one of my classmates at a summer course I took in Iowa. She was the principal of a Christian school intentionally planted in Benton Harbor. She and a group of Christians did not "pitch their tents" in Benton Harbor because they were lured by worldly values. Rather, they saw the great need of the mainly African-American population and endeavored to provide Christian education to families regardless of their financial situation.
The River of Life School reflects the ministry of Jesus, who entered our broken world. When John 1:14a says, "The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us" (NIV), the original Greek word translated as "lived for a while" is the same one that means "pitched his tent." When the Old Testament was translated into Greek 130 years before Christ (the Septuagint), the exact same word is used for Lot's action and that of Jesus.
Our motives for living in close proximity to the broken people and places in our world make all the difference. With the Holy Spirit to guide us, we can live faithful lives no matter where we make our dwelling.