Last week Mike and I met with Dana Stevens, one of the founders of Shelter of Hope, a ministry to urban poor and urban youth in Chicago's north Lawndale. His journey toward where they're at has been one of miraculous provisions and increasing success. They're rennovating an 11,000 sq ft building to house a cafe / diner, hip-hop recording studio for youth, barber shop and barber school. It's all about bringing people and resources together in the life-giving plan of God in Christ.
I asked Dana how he found this area and got started. He explained that after hearing about crime and poverty, he simply began praying and walking through the worst parts of Lawndale he could find. Slowly, he discovered relationships and ideas that began shaping a contextually relevant vision to help these people find Christ and His total provision of redemptive life.
He started by praying and walking.
Praying ... I am so often tempted to fall into elaborate plans and strategic models for ministry; but as the Psalmist says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1). Any hour we spend in earnest, humble, available prayer - speaking and listening to the God of the universe - is an hour mightily invested into God's kingdom work in and through us.
And walking ... the kingdom life God calls us to is a life of walking one step at a time. Walking by faith, not by sight. Walking by the Spirit, not the flesh. Walking with the word lighting our feet. Walking step by step, not knowing fully what's next but walking just the same. Often the next steps will not become available until we have taken the one step God has placed in front of us. If we fail to obediently take that one step He has revealed, then none of the following steps have opportunity to emerge.
Praying and walking. The secret of our success.