I was recently asked to write my answer to the following question. In doing so, I was able to relive the excitement of one of the ways God fostered health and growth in our church this past year. Read this and celebrate with me!
What has been one exciting process, program, event, etc. that you have seen that confirms to you and your leadership that your church is moving toward being healthy and growing.
For 6 years, we (the elders) have engaged the church in praying about where the Lord would have us focus our corporate missions efforts locally here in Albuquerque. As I stated above, many of our people live missionally here, but we felt led to ask God if there would be a neighborhood or people group here in Albuquerque that we could serve and minister to as a corporate body. As we prayed, the Lord began to move in the hearts of several of our families to focus their ministry efforts on a very poor area of town known as “The International District.” Many Albuquerque-ians call it the “War Zone” because of the high gang and drug-related crime in this neighborhood. Surprisingly, a few families even sold their homes in the heights and moved down into the neighborhood. As we saw this happening, we realized that the Lord was answering our prayers. Even before we knew what the answer was, God was calling our people to go!
So, in August of 2013, we made it official. Our new mission field is the International District of Albuquerque. We are starting our mission effort there by adopting a small Christian school in the neighborhood called “Escuela Luz del Mundo.” Our prayer is that the school will serve as the front door through which we can enter the neighborhood and make relationships with the families there. When I officially called our people to go, some 50 people signed up to help at the school. Currently, one family is building a home with attached apartments in the neighborhood where they will live and minister to those in need of affordable housing. Three of our young men are coaching the basketball team at the school and are building relationships with over a dozen students and their families. Our people tutor, teach, assist, and do administration at the school. In addition, our people have raised over $15,000 to give to the school just in the last few months. To me, this is health! And to me, this is growth – the growth of our people and the eventual growth of the kingdom when our ministry efforts there lead to people in the neighborhood surrendering their lives to Jesus.