Thanks for praying for me and for my neighborhood.
Please allow me to share some of the things that have been happening on my block. As you know, I have been praying that God would build a community of grace, joy, creativity, love, and trust between me and my neighbors.
Earlier this year, we held a progressive dinner. Four homes opened their doors to all who live on our street. Two homes hosted appetizers and drinks. We all gathered in the first and then walked down the block to the second. The third home hosted supper. All of us walked across the street to take part in the feast. Then we all walked back across the street to a fourth home for desert. Over 40 of my neighbors came out for this afternoon-evening long celebration of community. Ages ranged from 2 year old toddlers to 70 plus year old grandmothers. There were Asian, African American, African, European, South American, and whites all having a great time together. Christian, Jew, Muslim, and secular neighbors had a grand time together. Each neighbor brought food and drink to share with all the others. Even though the NFL playoffs were on, none of us missed them at all.
We hold the next such party for those that live on this block next month. My wife and I will open our home as one of three host homes on our block for this gathering.
A month later, we met with the Police Captain of our district. He was expecting maybe 3-5 people to come out on a Tuesday night. Instead over 40 neighbors came to a local park to meet with the Captain and to express our desire for better cooperation and attention from the police and the neighbors. He had never seen anything like this in his over 2 years on the force. Several of my neighbors and I are now in regular communication with the police leadership, and all of us call the police when we see crimes being committed. All of this came as a result of the many break-ins of homes and cars on the block and the tragic attack of a woman at the bus stop at a nearby corner.
Our block has been so much quieter since!!!!
A few weeks ago, eight of my neighbors worked with me to move a tree from one part of the block down the street to another part of the block the night before I left on the trip. I decided that we needed to dig this tree out and remove it due to the fact that it was about to completely obscure the stop sign on the corner. The hard thing was, we had to dig out the stump to clear the new box for the new tree. Oh the joy of such work! Actually it was a lot of fun as so many neighbors were involved. We have joyfully planted 5 new trees as neighbors on our block. Number 6 -7 will be planted on our block by the end of next month. I have just today purchased a willow oak tree that is already tall enough to clear the stop sign so that no accidents occur. And my neighbors told me that they want to help contribute financially.
Last night, I planted a row of shrubs along the fence of a neighbor. She is a black Muslim woman who lives alone in her house across the alley from us. She and my wife and I have become friends. A couple of weeks ago, she walked up to me while I was sweeping, and we got into an amazing conversation about peace, God, transformation, grace, art, justice, and the neighborhood. She told me that she had just been in our house visiting with my wife. She told me, “as soon as I walked in the door this wave of peace swept over me. It was beautiful. I had not experienced such a peace like this in so long and definitely not since I moved into the neighborhood 12 years ago. Thank you for bringing peace to the community.”
At the end of last month, four of us met at our house for supper and prayer. We asked God to bless the neighborhood with his mighty hand of peace and protection. We asked Him for grace to forgive those that sell and buy drugs, attack and rob others and to break our hearts for the lost and dying around us. It was a spirit filled time of prayer and intersession.
We have our second prayer meeting about the neighborhood – that God would bless and hold this neighborhood in His hand - scheduled at another house on the block!
A Muslim neighbor (who helped the tree moving and the parties) is helping to set up a meeting for the two of us to visit with the Imam of the Mosque on the next block. My neighbor has learned that the Imam is deeply interested in seeking the peace of the neighborhood. And when he learned what was happening on our block, the Imam told my neighbor he wanted to meet with us.
I have been in a relationship with the Deacon at a congregation located at the corner of our block. We have become friends; we enjoy each other’s company. He and I (and other neighbors) are now in communication about the crime on the block, and his church is praying for God to raise up other prayer warriors from among the saints that live in this area. We planted the relocated tree from the corner into an empty tree box in front of his church. And this newly moved tree is now in full bloom! I have never seen that before. Usually a tree goes into shock when it is planted and especially when it is uprooted and replanted.
And after the conversation with the others in the prayer time last month, I am interviewing each of the 34 churches that are within my zip code to see if they have any members that live in the hood, and if so, are those members interested in praying with us for the Lord to bring peace to our neighborhood.
So far five of these churches have responded. I praise God for each of these. And one has also shared that they do have members that live in the general area of our part of the city. I really look forward to meeting with the pastor of this congregation sometime soon.
Thanks for asking!
Peace and grace