“Move into a neighborhood to reach it for Jesus?” We had contemplated, but had never actually done anything like this before.
God was powerfully moving in our friend Jeff’s neighborhood. “Football Evangelism” (see the last two blogs) was bearing much fruit with many young people coming to Christ. Obviously, God was up to something. Was this only just the beginning of a wonderfully productive evangelistic season? Would it be a window of opportunity for eternity that we would miss out on if we didn’t take action now? These were questions Debbie and I wrestled with as we considered the logistics of selling our current home and taking the risks of buying property in a dicey neighborhood in Annapolis.
One of Jeff’s family members had recently moved into the neighborhood to assist in what God was doing. If we chose to accept this challenge, we would become the third family. It would be like living in a Christian commune from the 60’s except that we would all have our own places. This would be an opportunity for us to fellowship, worship, pray, and reach the lost together. We would be a family, a body reaching out instead of being unconnected individuals on separate missions.
We had to admit, it was a tempting prospect. We continued to pray. As a result, there was a peace and a powerful hunger that drew us in the direction of what is real and for what really matters in this life.
Finding a place to live in Jeff’s neighborhood was an interesting process. One of the homes our realtor showed us had a surprise waiting for us as we walked in. The stench that hit us in the face as we opened the front door, betrayed the fact that the occupants, a mother with small children had been living there for months having had their plumbing and electricity cut off. We scratched that one off of the list.
Finally, we prayerfully set our sights on a townhouse three doors down from Jeff. Our Christian realtor fought our choice. He asked Debbie to give him a chance to show her other houses. As she with him on the beautiful deck of a different house overlooking a peaceful back yard with lovely trees, he began his pitch. “You really need to seriously pray about your plans to buy that place because if you do, you’ll probably be stuck with it forever and ever amen.”
Despite his protests, we pulled the trigger and signed on the dotted line for the townhouse in Jeff’s neighborhood. For better or for worse it was now ours.
Our friends helped us prepare the property for our move in. The former owners had apparently allowed their dogs to urinate throughout the house. As we pulled up the nasty carpet and padding, we saw that the dogs’ business had seeped into the hardwood floors and even the walls. Everyone worked hard to help us clean, seal, carpet and repaint our new place.
After moving in, my parents came to visit us in our new diggs. There’s nothing like the feeling of watching your parents walk out of your front door toward their car as simultaneously a fleet of five cop cars screams in, sirens blaring and lights blazing on their way to a drug bust of one of your neighbors! You kind of just ignore it and pretend nothing is happening as you wave goodbye to your folks.
Now that we were there, the Holy Spirit’s move intensified. It was amazing to have God use our own living rooms as outreach centers. We saw so many kids, teens, and adults accept Jesus right in our homes. Unlike having an outreach and then splitting the scene to return home, we lived right in the middle of our very own American mission field. We got to live with, play with, laugh and cry with our new born babes in Jesus.
These babes were born again with technicolor stories, characteristic of the creativity of the Spirit of God. Our next blog will tell the stories of just a couple of the over 150 souls that were led to Christ during our time in Annapolis.
Next – “Jessica’s Rose” and “Dancing in the Streets”