Two Special Observations
I thought I would share two things I saw this week that burdened my heart.
First, I was driving down our street one day at about 2:30 in the afternoon and saw seven neighborhood kids playing in the street. I knew all of them so I stopped to talk. After I realized that school hadn’t let out yet, I asked them why they were home. Five of the seven kids had been separately suspended from the middle and high schools. The other two kids were ‘sick’, so they stayed home and played outside all day. The kids were between five and fifteen in age. I’ve also seen another fifteen year-old walking our streets all day long for about two months. He comes by my house in the afternoons to play basketball. He flashed a pistol at one of our neighbors last week when she told him he needed to quit walking the streets and go to school. As mentioned before, a recent national study gave our high school the name of ‘drop out factory’.
The second thing I witnessed occurred during our baseball practice earlier this week. We watched a police car come barreling around the outside of the center-field fence while we were batting. As the policeman parked and jumped out of his car, at least 20 youth came running from behind a building. Some of them jumped the fence and came running through the middle of our practice, and some ran away in other directions. They were gambling and smoking marijuana. During our practice times in the course of the last year we have witnessed gangs initiate their prospects (other teens) by coming together in groups of 25 and beating them. We’ve seen kids smoke marijuana on many occasions. Just yesterday, one of the guys we are mentoring told me about the aftermath of a stabbing that happened at school that day.
Our kids seem to be on a crash course with destruction. Please pray for us and the other churches in our neighborhood as we seek to see the Kingdom of God manifested in our midst. Unless godly families are raised up as light in our community…unless a new culture begins to replace the old one as we participate in the new creation in the Gospel of the Kingdom of God … it will only get worse. Obviously, I believe there is real hope for transformation. Please pray for our community.
Will you pray for our next potential decisions on a facility?
I was deeply convicted of something while attending a missions conference one night this week. I feel like I have strayed off course in some of our planning towards some ministry ‘space’ to carry out various outreach, recreational, and development initiatives. We have been thinking hard about finances, about locations, strategy, and what to include in building or renovating a facility, etc. These are all necessary and are a part of good stewardship. But, something else happened in my heart. I believe that God moved us to actually seek Him earnestly in prayer over these upcoming decisions. I am asking you to consider doing this with us. Will you seek His face with us about the timing, location, type of space, and resources toward a ministry facility with us? Many of you tell me constantly that you pray for us. I believe it, because so many doors have opened for us over the last year and a half. Now, I am asking you to commit to doing it daily with us over the next two months. We have two potential options.
Our first potential option is to build on some land we already own at the front of our neighborhood. It would require rezoning, and the city would have to relax some set-back rules for this type of building. We could build office space, a full size basketball gym size floor we could use for a number of things, a kitchen, a few small classrooms, and a small computer lab. The location is great, but parking would be very limited, and we will have used all the space available. It would be new, nice, and an easier and much quicker ordeal than our second option.
The second potential option is on the west side of the neighborhood. I love the location because it’s three blocks from my house and sits between both housing projects and Washington Park . It has a number of old buildings on the property, sits on 5 acres, and is connected to 10 more acres of vacant land that is also for sale. It’s next door to the neighborhood middle school. It would be a renovation nightmare, but it has tremendous space for any future growth of our work. It obviously would be more expensive. Please consider committing to pray for us in these decisions.
We hope that God will clarify the best decision as we pray. I am so grateful for your friendship and support of our ministry. We could not do what we do without your prayers, help, and support. May God bless you and keep you until I speak to you again.
Psalm 34:3, Bryan Kelly