I moved onto my block in north Minneapolis about a year ago, and am ashamed that I am just now becoming part of my neighborhood. First, I want to thank everyone who reached out when someone on my block shot out both of my windshields. Definitely not something I wanted to wake up to, but I am so thankful that it happened. Why? I experienced what it means to be part of community - to be prayed for, loved, and taken care of. It melted my heart when Nunu, a six year old boy on my block said, "I wish I could fix it for you." It humbled my heart when another young child asked me, "Do you cuss?" "I have," I said, "But I try not to."
Cecilia Wiliams spoke of the beauty that IS in North Minneapolis - Sometimes we have to look for it harder than other times, but it is there. Saturday night I was on a mission to bring my neighbors to Urban Jerusalem. I went down the street and was discouraged that the kids I had invited were no where to be found. In my frustration, God said - "Why do you try to 'do' things for me? Why do you follow your own agenda? Why do you become frustrated when things don't fit your schedule? This is not about you, it is about Me. Following me will not always be convenient. Following me means building relationships, it means 'putting in the time'. You can not expect to change your neighborhood if you are not in it. Praying is action, not wishful thinking" Ouch, I know.
I tried to keep that near my heart as I set out to go to the gym on Monday night. I opened my front door to find a gentlemen drinking with two of my neighbors. As I took off for the gym, God stopped me and said, "This, this is what I was trying to tell you. Stop!" I talked to the man who told me a lot of 'lies' including that he dated 50's Mom. And just as I was going to take off thinking I was just talking to the alcohol, he said, "I'm dying of liver failure." And that was it - the need, the message behind empty words. "Keep me in your prayers," He said. And I prayed for him right there. Broad daylight, people passing by, an 'uncoordinated' prayer, but it spoke to what community is. It was a testimony that people need Jesus. Bottom line, people need Jesus, and we find Jesus in community. If this man had sat on my steps a few months, even a few weeks ago, I probably would have passed by. But it is because of community and the prayers of those in my life, that I was able to see a need and respond.
I work for a company whose motto is, "Blessed to be a blessing." I pray that I and others would realize we are blessed not for ourselves, but blessed to be a blessing. Be encouraged that gunshots are not the only thing that is heard on the block - prayers and praise are coming forth and we will continue to refuse for things to stay as they are.