“In this world you will have trouble; but take heart I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I always feel a bit awkward writing these monthly newsletters. I don’t want to sound too fanatical and make it seem like I’m exaggerating or trying to drum up support. I also don’t want to sound too blasé or depressed and have you think that life is terrible and the world wins. I want to respect the members of my community and not uncover their life, but I also want you to know that God is alive and He is at work. Not because Miah and I are special, but because He is special.
I believe Jesus is God and He gave His life for mine. His incarnation, death and resurrection made it possible for me to live for Him. This means that as a Christian, I have surrendered my rights to my life and have given control of my destiny to Him.
He has supernaturally led us to North Minneapolis. He is doing amazing things in our lives and the lives of our neighbors, but they are often secret things. Miah and I are not looking to fill a stadium or sponsor an event (not that those are bad things); we are simply striving to live a life of obedience (to the best we understand) to Jesus. We want fruit that remains, and the only path given to us is Abiding in Him (John 15). We’ve seen some signs of His fruit this past month and been reminded of His faithfulness in our searching to do His will. As you read, we hope you hear God’s heart for your community as well.
Is 26:8 “Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
We’ve been encouraged by God’s faithfulness. As we remain faithful in the things He’s shown us to do, He begins bearing fruit. There’s no instant formula to make things appear, just a steady pace that God puts before us.
One of those things is our weekly outreach. We committed a few years ago to doing a weekly ‘outreach.’ For us, this means that we go out every week and talk to neighbors, get to know them, and offer encouragement and prayer. We never know what’s going to happen before hand, but it seems every week something does.
This past week was no exception. My partner and I were prayer walking one of the more ‘troubled’ streets in our neighborhood and noticed a new family. I hesitated to bother them as they seemed to be busy pulling stuff out of their car, and we were 2 men walking towards 2 women. I didn’t want then to feel uncomfortable but in passing I mentioned we were doing a prayer walk and asked if they needed anything?
She stopped and mentioned that we could pray for her mom who just had surgery on her foot. As we talked further, she mentioned that they were just moving in after being homeless for the past 6 months. Also, her 11-year old son died this past spring, and today would have been his birthday. My heart absolutely broke.
We were invited in to their home to pray for the whole family and bless their new home. Psalm 84 came to mind and we read it together: “Blessed are those who set their hearts on pilgrimage, they walk through the valley of weeping and turn it in to pools of joy.” Jesus, bless and comfort this dear family. Heal all their wounds. Move in to their pain and meet them in their time of need.
She has committed to doing the next prayer walk with us, and I pray Jesus will walk her through this season of her soul.
We have also done special outreaches depending on the season. Last year we began a Halloween outreach. We set up a stand in the yard with lights, hot chocolate, candy, and games. As a way to chat with each family longer, we allow the kids to play a game in order to win more candy. It’s fun to watch parents play with the kids and compete with each other.
Our whole family really enjoys serving the neighbors. The kids in particular love teaching the game or popping popcorn. It’s fun! Towards the end of the night, one of our old neighbors came through. She remembered us from last year and even though she moved a few more blocks away came by with her kids to check in on us.
She and Miah were able to chat for quite a while, and her daughter and Hannah really hit it off. At the end, our families were able to all join hands together and pray. She has been going through a rough patch and really needed the encouragement. Talking with her family made the whole night worth it. I mentioned when we meet and she has made plans to join us next Sunday for worship.
At the time of our move from the suburbs, I knew Jesus wanted us to be involved with the youth in the neighborhood. I sought out Antioch ministries, not remembering that they had a ministry house just 4 blocks from 810. This is where we now live and host weekly meetings for the neighborhood youth. Outside of our weekly meetings, we share life with the kids and try to get to know their families as well as we can.
One boy we met over the course of the summer because of our new basketball court. (the court has increased our footprint in the neighborhood significantly. Thanks Majestic Masonry!!!) He is a quiet boy of 12, but has started coming to our Thursday night groups this year.
Each week we play games together and share a simple Bible lesson. He usually listens politely, and often has some good questions. This past week we learned about Josiah the king. When we were done, I asked what kind of rules they would make if they were king?
He mentioned he would get rid of guns, then proceeded to ask some really good questions about Jesus (even though the topic was Josiah). Was Jesus God or God’s Son? Did Jesus have any kids? Why did Jesus die? As we talked through all these really good questions, the point of Jesus’ death and resurrection was really highlighted to him. I asked if he wanted to make Jesus his Lord? As we prayed, he testified to feeling peace and joy on the inside in a way that he has never felt before.
Some weeks are very tough. I’ve broken up my share of fights, had difficult conversations with kids and parents, had things I care about broken, stolen or vandalized; but I believe there is fruit that remains beyond these possessions. If this young man or my neighborhood friends are encouraged to live for God, it makes everything worth it.
Even if they don’t, we are committed to following Jesus the best we know how. In all honesty, I have no idea if he will stay with his commitment. I don’t know if the families we pray with will follow Jesus, or if the men I’m discipling will grow to disciple others. All we can do is stay faithful to what Jesus has shown us to do: love Him with everything and love our neighbor with the love He gives.
I’m sure we’ll learn and grow; have highs and lows but that’s life anyway. In this world we will have trouble, but I can take heart. Jesus has overcome the world and He lives inside of me.
A few important notes for the 810 Project before the New Year:
- Our first resident will move in this month.
- For those unaware: the 810 house is a duplex. The lower unit is reserved for community gathering space including bible studies, meals, prayer times, outreach, counseling, after school help, and other community events. The upstairs is intended for long-term discipleship. Those who have a desire to go deep in the word, prayer, and community engagement are welcome to sign up (just get in touch with me). We currently have space for 2 other men. If you know anyone who has a desire to grow in their relationship with Christ and live in the urban setting of North Minneapolis, let me know.
- November Special Outreach:
- We will be doing a Thanksgiving outreach with our partners at Cru. Sat Nov 19 at 9 am I could use a couple volunteers to help me pack boxes for Thanksgiving meals. Afterward, we will be hand delivering the meals to a few homes throughout the Northside. If you are able to give up a few hours to help out, let me know!
- After School Programming
- Next January, we will be starting a 1 day/week after school program at the house. Snacks and homework help will be provided as a way to serve the community and get to know our neighbors more intimately. If you have time to serve Tuesday afternoons in the new year, let me know!
- Mondays: Community Prayer @ 6:30pm
- Wednesday: Bible Study 2pm [varied locations]
- Thursdays: 8am discipleship. 10am intercession. 12:30 outreach. 5pm Antioch youth programming
- Saturdays: Antioch youth ping pong league: 10-12 @ Farview Park
- Sundays: house church @10:30
- Sunday, Nov 13 Camp Good News partnership 2pm Folwell Park
- Saturday, Nov 19 Boxes of Love outreach 9am
One More Note:
I do hope these letters are an encouragement to you in your faith. Miah and I honestly didn’t plan any of this, we simply started praying regularly with others in our living room 6 years ago. Through prayer, He gave us the desire to surrender our wills, agendas and futures to Him. We believe He has led us here and we don’t fully understand all the reasons. There are times we struggle with doubt, confusion, depression; but in those time we remind ourselves of what is true:
Jesus loves us, and even if we are faithless He will remain faithful because He cannot deny Himself. Jesus loves you deeply. We pray they eyes of your heart would be opened during this Holiday season to know the love of Christ that surpasses understanding, and the incomparable riches for us who believe.
Please let us know how we can pray for you. We love hearing from you!
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