Saturday, October 4, 2008

Earning some street credibility

One of the most significant doors for effective ministry God has opened to the CORE Church of Troy, in this inner-city community, is children's ministry. This neighborhood is 95% residential and ranks near the top of NYS's list of communties with a high percentage of teen & single mothers. There are many children, some as young as 5 & 6, running these streets unsupervised.

One of the earliest burdens God put on my heart, when we came to Troy in the spring of 2006, was the need for someone to stand in the gap for these great kids. Having been born and raised in this very community, God has sent me and my family back, to reach out to the kids and families who live here now. These same streets that He rescued me from are the mission field He has prepared me for and appointed me to.

After two and a half years of reaching out, we have reached a point where we have earned what is referred to in inner-city ministry as "Street credibility." This term refers to the point we've reached where children and single moms, homeless pedestrians, community leaders, etc., know us and trust us. This has become more obvious tome over the past several weeks, through a series of defining moments.

Today, for example, I was at the church cleaning my office (a chore I had been putting off all summer). I was really getting into it when I hear a knock at the side door of the church building. I looked out my office window to see who it was. It was Steven, a 12 yr. old neighborhood boy who has been fellowshiping with us since this past spring. I was going to tell him that I was alone and busy when I noticed that he looked rather depressed. I asked him what was wrong when he informed me that two older boys had threatened to "beat him bloody." He was also bored and wanted someone to talk to. I spent the next half hour listening to him as he poured out his thoughts. After our conversation ended, he rode off on his bicycle, and I went back inside and finished my office cleaning chore. I thanked God for the opportunity to chat with Steven and minister to him. I also asked God to forgive me for wanting to shrug Steven off, because I was busy with my own things.

I still have some cleaning left to do, but it will get done!