They shared their stories with us and we spent some time praying for them, then we went to work, picking up broken glass around the swingset and weeding flower beds on base 2.
After lunch, Meridith took us on a prophetic prayer walk around the neighborhood.
Sunday we met a sweet couple, Pam and David, who are trying to sell their house in the country, so they and their kids can move to WWG. Their house is on the other side of the garden and was our first stop on our walk.
Meridith encouraged us to look beyond what our eyes were seeing and to look with kingdom eyes, declaring what we saw.
One specific thing that was spoken was that it would be a house where young mothers could come for ministry on the front porch. Words and phrases I declared were Beauty for Ashes and Resurrection. Kathy (WWG volunteer) said many of the words we spoke were similar to words Pam and David had seen too, so it was very confirming of their vision for this house.
We continued on our walk, stopping to visit with and pray for neighbors who were braving the heat to sit on porches and visit with one another. Granted, many were drinking and doing who knows what, but still it struck me that these folks understand what living in community looks like. And once again, I was reminded that I don't even know half my neighbors' names.
I regret not getting many photos of the folks we met and prayed with, but I was visiting and praying with them too, and simply forgot I was the only one with a camera! I did manage to snap this sweet shot of a cutie-pie who was thrilled to pose for a photo while some of our team prayed for her momma!
As we continued down the street, we turned down an alley lined on both sides with duplexes. There were a few ladies and children sitting outside munching on hot dogs and a treat I've never heard of before - Kool-aid soaked pickles! Yes, you read that correctly, believe it or not! Anyway, every time we'd see children, we'd stop to invite them to play on the new swingset at Resurrection House. As we visited with the ladies amidst a collection of empty liquor bottles strewn about the porches, we noticed a pretty young teenage girl come around the corner. She had a large safety pin attached to her shirt with bills of varying denominations stuck to it. When we asked her what that was all about, she said they were birthday gifts. Her name was Alexis and that day was her 14th birthday. She didn't live there, but had come to spend her special day with her grandma, who unfortunately had been called into work, so she was spending it with her aunties and her grandmother's friends, who basically were using it as an excuse to drink too much. Amy and the girls encircled her and prayed birthday blessings on her while I prayed with another lady, whose son was due to have surgery on July 12, my birthday...
When they finished praying for Alexis, Mary Grace said, "Oh! We need to sing Happy Birthday!", so we sang it loud and proud, but about halfway through, Alexis dissolved into tears. It was at that moment that we realized no one had even sung to her on her special day. What a simple way to love the one...what a good lesson for our girls to learn...something they take for granted was what God used to lavish His love on this beautiful girl on her special day.
The girls suggested we make birthday cards for her when we returned to base, which we did. Unfortunately, when we returned with them, Alexis was gone, but her auntie promised to deliver them to her for us.
After our amazing encounter with Alexis, we thought we were headed back to base, but Meridith turned off the sidewalk and started down this "path", and when I say "path", I mean a weed and sticker infested, overgrown "jungle"...well...perhaps I exaggerate, but what you need to know is that Amy and I are both deathly afraid of snakes and when I looked at all that mess, I thought to myself, "There is NO WAY I am following her into THAT!" But I quickly realized I had two choices - follow Meridith or get left behind in a neighborhood it wouldn't be a good idea to get left behind in!
So, with each step, I said to myself, "Perfect love casts out fear, perfect love casts out fear..." Soon we came to a clearing and when I looked up, what I saw nearly took my breath away.
I was surrounded by "houses" or what used to be houses...really no more than frames and foundations left of some of them, each one with the remains of a pathway all leading to a central courtyard with a lamp post standing stall and proud, even in its dilapidated state. I said quietly to myself, "It's like wintertime in Narnia."
Meridith told us this was once a beautiful community where neighbors congregated in the courtyard living life together. Now it was a place of ruins and devastation...garbage piled up everywhere...one word came to mind - squaller...
And yet, a strange sense of peace settled on us as we stood there in that mess, and somehow it felt like we were standing on holy ground...
Meridith then shared with us a passage from Ezekiel that speaks of bringing life to the ruins. She then said something that literally brought chills...she (who hadn't heard what I had said earlier) said, "The first time I came here, I thought to myself, 'it's like winter in Narnia (GASP!) BUT Aslan's on the move'!"
We could see children laughing and playing! We could see bright, happy colored, clean houses, we could see life and community...
We sang the John Waller song, Our God Reigns Here over that property, praying that soon it will become part of WeWillGo's ministry.
As we made our way through to the other side, we could see evidence of people having used these falling-down houses as shelter...one word - heartbreaking...
As we turned onto the street, Meridith pointed to the street sign:
She said she could almost hear Jesus' voice saying, "Bloom, church! There's only one way - MY way!"
I couldn't help but think of the Casting Crowns song that says
But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way
As we made our way back to base, we stopped and prayed with a few more neighbors and prayed over the few churches in the area...churches that keep their doors locked and windows boarded up all week, only opening long enough for a hurried service on Sunday mornings...we prayed for the Spirit to wake them up to the mission field ripe for harvest all around them...we also prayed it for ourselves...that we would wake up to the mission field here in suburbia, where people don't even realize they're living in their own kind of squaller...
This was my favorite day at WWG...a day of dreaming with God...a day of connecting with His people...a day of loving The One and loving the one...