He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Common Ground Weekly Update-April 25, 2008

As you will read, things are quite busy here.. please keep our neighborhood in your prayers.. TO God be The Glory!!

Grooming for destruction…or transformation?

An eleven year old on our street has been suspended from school a few times in the last couple of months for various behavioral issues. Kevin dropped him off at school early this week and he was sent home within hours. His teacher contacted his aunt about artwork on his paper that consisted of local gang signs and claims. He and some other kids we know have been spray painting abandoned houses and street signs in the same fashion. These are the young disciples who are on a fast track to self-destruction. In the mean time, they will be mighty weapons of terror to our community and Montgomery as a whole as they progress up this well-worn path.

Kevin is sharing his faith with the 20 year-old cousin of this young boy. Almost daily the young man comes over to Kevin’s house for bible study. They are studying the “test of true belief”, which is a bible study tool we use. He has already realized that though he was somewhat religious, and has been baptized recently, that he does not know the Lord Jesus, according to what the scripture teaches concerning salvation. He is deeply interested and excited about what the scripture has to say about our God. Just a year ago Kevin tried to shield other teenagers from this young man because of the wild things he would say around them. He has changed drastically and now he is the one hungering for something with real meaning and power. Please pray for Him.

We have an inroad into many of the lives of these boys and girls, as well as their families and some other current and former gang members. Hours doing the following have given us this doorway : having them in our homes, at our baseball camp, playing basketball in the front yard, dealing with family crisis, feeding them, taking them to movies, taking them to the park, providing ways for their guardians to buy Christmas presents, spending time in their homes, etc. Please pray with us for these young boys and girls. By being in their lives and by having them in our lives we are postured to love them.

A 16 year old girl walked into my yard the other day, pushing her 8 month old baby in a stroller and said, “I heard your wife helps people get back into school.” Now, this was an interesting comment because Kevin has been working with other kids in this way, but Delta has not been involved in any of that process. She said her older brother told her we would help her. But the fact that this girl recognized us as someone who might care was very encouraging. We found the information needed and she will be moving forward with re-entering high school in the fall. She came over the next day and her son played on the floor with our nine month old for a long while. Please pray for us as we build a relationship with her, her son, and her older brother, who is 18. He has been hanging around more and more. We will be going to eat lunch together this week. May the Lord bless them, and may we be able to build deep friendships with them.

As I have said before, patterns of generational poverty, sin, and hopelessness reign in our neighborhood. While writing this email, I received a call from Delta that a neighbor is crying on our doorstep as she, her daughter, and three week-old baby have been put out on the street. The issues leading to this latest ‘crisis’ and many like it are complex and no simple answer exists. Please pray that our King in Heaven will move in such a way that His reign is poured out on our streets. No social-service or self-help strategy holds the power for the kind of change we are trusting for.

Thank you for your prayer and partnership. ‘His word will not return void’ (Isaiah 55).
My hope is in the Lord.
Psalm 34:3
Bryan Kelly