A Day in the Neighborhood
It’s a Thursday evening. I just came inside from doing yard work with at least 7 of the neighborhood kids who were taking lazy rotations to ‘help’ me shovel and move dirt. While we work, we take breaks to watch about a half dozen other neighborhood boys and girls take trick shots on the new basketball court. Others sit out front talking to my wife about grades, birthday parties and summertime plans. Our kids are making the rotation at will between friends, daddy’s work, basketball, biking, and mom. This is the Antioch house, where we partner and live to make disciples with neighborhood youth: empowering the leaders of tomorrow. We currently live here and hold weekly meetings for meals, bible study and fellowship with 20+ of our neighborhood youth.
Earlier today, I led a team of 7 out to pray with our neighbors 4 blocks East at the 810 House. Every week we meet to intercede for our neighbors and then head out in teams to share the Love of Christ. My team met three young ones who had never heard the Gospel before. I explained the whole Bible story as best I could and all 3 asked Jesus to live in their hearts. (Try explaining the Bible story to someone who’s never heard of Jesus…it’s both refreshing and challenging finding words and stories that aren’t ‘churchy’) The 2 other teams prayed with many others as well, bringing the total to 4 who prayed for salvation today.
What I love about neighborhood evangelism is the fact that we have a greater chance of staying in touch. We want to form relationships that will last an eternity. I was able to chat with the kids’ grandma and invite them to our Thursday night programming with Antioch. We had Action Bibles and Jesus Story Book Bibles to give them, and 2 homes within 4 blocks to invite them to. With each significant encounter, we ask permission to record their address and contact info for continued follow up.
There’s never any guarantees that we’ll see the fruit of our labor during this lifetime; but Christ’s promise remains the heartbeat of our days here: “remain in me and I will remain in you…and you will bear much fruit. Fruit that remains.” As we are faithful to obey Christ and stay rooted and grounded in His love, He will bear fruit that will last an eternity.
Things aren’t always this beautiful.
This past month, a neighbor boy had a gun pulled on him. He hasn’t really wanted to talk about it, but Miah was able to spend some deep time ministering with family and neighbors. She sat for a couple hours in our kitchen with 2 of the neighbor girls in particular; sharing life experience and prayer.
Neighborhood violence has been on the rise as the weather warms. It seems every week there are more stories of people effected by hate. The Star Tribune recently reported that 120+ reported shootings have happened this year to date. A grandma was hit several blocks over by crossfire and died last week. There is a basic understanding among neighbors that this summer is going to be violent as gang wars escalate.
I’ve been praying about how the Holy Spirit might want us to respond, and felt His leading to develop the “Salt and Light Campaign.” (www.thelightofnorth.com anyone can sign up to follow/participate.) The basic approach comes from an understanding that as “ambassadors of Christ” and “ministers of reconciliation”, our prayers matter and influence our environment. “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but rulers, powers and authorities,” the Bible says. “Our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds..” “the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective…” I want to do as Hezekiah did; spread out these bad reports before the Lord and ask for a monumental move of the Holy Spirit. Only He is able to bring peace. Many have tried in their own strength to solve our problems. We need God.
This is a multi-denominational strategy to cover every day from mid-June to mid-August in corporate prayer (salt) and blessing (light). We have over 20 neighborhood churches and organizations so far that have ‘adopted’ days to hold neighborhood prayer meetings, followed by an act of blessing for our neighbors. The blessing could be anything from popsicles to street witnessing, but the point is to love our neighbors well and establish relationships that will lead to the healing of our community. Each days’ event will be posted on the website, and believers from all the local churches will be notified and encouraged to come together for prayer.
It’s going to be awesome!
NEEDS and UPDATES
For the Salt and Light Campaign to go well, I do need some admin support. If you or anyone you know would be willing to donate 5-10 hours per week in data entry and phone work, please let me know![email@example.com or 612.750.6994] (WordPress knowledge is a plus!)
We had an amazing team of 4 come all the way down from Warroad, MN last weekend. They accomplished in 1 day what would have taken me a month. They hung doors and placed trim, among many other things. Thank you Woodland Team!!!
I still have several ‘small’ jobs to do around the house in order to pass inspection. If you know anyone who would be handy with a paint brush or grout, I would love to meet them!
In addition, we’ve had a landscape artist step forward with an amazing plan for the yard. It will be tremendous asset to the neighborhood with a prayer garden and peaceful walkway. However, we need materials donated and possibly some heavy equipment to fulfill this dream. Could you refer me to a landscaping company who might be interested in helping us out?
Finally, Summer is here!
As we approach the summer with our own kids, Miah and I have committed to include at least 1 neighborhood child in the activities that we enroll our kids in (swimming, track, ect). This is our basic approach to discipleship: including our neighbors in the day to day activities that we do; sharing the Love of Christ tangibly and consistently. These aren’t only opportunities for neighbors to participate and learn new skills, it is an opportunity for us to minister on a deeper level with each family.
However, some of these fees are expensive so if anyone would be willing to donate to cover some of these costs we would greatly appreciate it.(www.damascusway.com and click on donate. Choose ‘the810Project’ from the drop down.)
Mostly, we covet your prayers. We are in great need of more intercessory warriors. If you understand the power of prayer and would be willing to join with us in contending for the healing of North Minneapolis, the strength of our marriage, family and ministry, would you please let us know by email or text? We know that nothing good happens without prayer. Prayer is where the work is done and the battle is won.
WE NEED YOUR PRAYERS!!!
To sign up for our intercessory team, simply send us an email at:firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer, if you’d like to ‘taste and see’ what we do at the 810 Project we’ll have ample opportunities for volunteers with the Salt and Light Campaign. Let us know if you’d like to come over for a visit:)
Also, our friends at Trinity Works are heading up a city wide event called “Love Twin Cities”. It a powerful approach to evangelism; combining 24 hours of prayer and worship, with 24 hours of teams going out to witness. For more info or to sign up, go to www.lovetwincities247.com
As always, thank you so much for sending us here! I’d like to leave you with 1 last story that really blew me away and encouraged me. I hope it does the same for you:
I have been walking with ‘A’ for about 2 years now. He’s not a man that you would look at and say, “wow, he’s a really great Christian!” He’s very rough around the edges and we’ve been working off and on about specific character issues. Anyway, he’s got a great heart for his family and is the most giving man I’ve ever met.
This past weekend, he got in an argument with his oldest daughter and some very hurtful words were spoken. He left the house in a bad mood and began driving aimlessly. The meditation of his heart was basically teetering on leaving or minimizing his relationship with his family.
In his state of mind, he apparently was following a vehicle a bit too close. At the next turn, the driver of the other vehicle got out and approached A’s car. The older man asked, “Why were you following me so close?” “I apologize,” said A. “I didn’t realize I was so close to you.”
The old man continued, “That’s not really why I came over here. I came to tell you that your family sees the way you’ve been acting and they need you to love them. I knew your dad when he was a sheriff down south. I know you. You need to love your family.”
Now, A’s dad was a sheriff when A was 4 years old. For this man to recognize A, who is now in his 40’s, from his rearview mirror and put A’s 4 year old face on his 44 year old body hundreds of miles and years removed from their hometown has got to be the most impossible thing I have ever heard of.
To me, this has to be an angelic invitation. Jesus saw what was going on in A’s heart, and sent a messenger to intervene his life. “A” called me moments after this encounter and was flabbergasted. I am too. The fact that Jesus loves us so much that He would interrupt and intervene our day to day activities is something we forget and overlook often. A’s story is a great reminder to me that: 1) God is real. 2) God is Love. 3) God sees what is hidden. 4) God is greatly concerned about the attitude of our hearts.
How is your heart today? Are you in a growing and loving relationship with Jesus? My prayer for you is that you would find the Love of Christ, and be so captivated by who He is that everything else would become worthless. Jesus is worthy of everything, and Jesus is faithful.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, as we strive together to do His will.