February 26, 2011
We have had some exciting developments recently in our downtown ministry. We are becoming much more widely recognized, and usually have at least a few residents of the Bluff sitting on the burned-out church steps or wall waiting for us to arrive. We are able to wander the streets inviting more people to come without feeling uncomfortable or in any kind of danger. We are particularly pleased when we have a number of children in attendance. The children love Miss Amy, who holds “Sunday School” on the second set of steps. Particular fans of hers are 13 year old Jenario, and his sister 9 year old Miyani who are there almost every week. They warm our hearts with their big smiles and hugs. Jenario is very sharp, and often sits in on the adult side, enjoying answering the questions that Frank poses by way of going over the major points of the previous week’s lesson. He is learning a lot.
During the bitterly cold winter days the Lord still brought people to hear his Word taught. On one occasion when it was so frigid that we knew we could not stay outdoors, one of our regular families invited us into its living room. On another cold December day Frank and I arrived by ourselves as Bob was not with us and Amy was out of town. We seemed to be unable to attract anyone to the steps and eventually Frank got started with me being the only person in “class”. However, the Lord honoured Frank’s “stubbornness” and it was not long before people started joining us, and we ended up with eleven people! The only day that we could not make it in was December 26th, because of lingering snow and icy conditions. (That was the day that we had to delay the Alpharetta service until the afternoon).
Frank believes that the ministry would have more impact if a way could be found to purchase a house in the neighbourhood which would be made available rent-free to someone who would be willing to function as an “anchor” to the ministry. A house that could fit our needs would run in the range of $10,000 to $15,000. It would also be used to hold the Bible study indoors on cold and inclement Lord’s Day evenings, and maybe facilitate other aspects of the ministry. He is working with a Christian realtor to investigate the possibilities. We were very blessed to meet a young African-American ministerial intern whose mother was raised in the area and went to the school there. He intends to join us at the Bible studies on a regular basis, and came for the first time last Lord’s Day. He enjoyed the experience very much, and it was obvious that others there felt a real connection with him as he engaged them in meaningful conversation.
In mid-January three young men from Erskine Seminary visited for the weekend in order to experience our Atlanta ministry. On the Saturday they went with Frank and the realtor to look at several of the houses in the neighborhood which are on the market. Several of the residents who recognized Frank called out cheery greetings to him (as in “hey, Rev”) and even offered input and advice where they had knowledge of the buildings. Frank also took our guests to the Varsity in order to taste some local colour! Then they joined us the following evening and really enjoyed the experience. We had a total of twenty people in and around the steps that evening.
We have a dream that one day we could claim for Christ the burned-out church building on whose steps we park ourselves every Lord’s Day afternoon! But that really is the stuff of dreams as it is currently on the market for $220,000! And, of course, it would cost a tremendous amount to give it a roof and make it usable. Hopefully, however, if and when it does sell there will be no problem with the new owner about our continuing to minister there.
We are always aware of the spiritual battle that rages around us on the corner of Kennedy and Brawley. Satan doesn’t like us bringing the light of the gospel into his domain. So I would covet your continued prayers for the people of that neighbourhood, made in the image of God but in desperate need of being reconciled to him.