A Dream is Born to Serve Inner City Indianapolis
My heart has always been tender for “the vulnerable”—children and those in need. For many years I have been serving as a children’s pastor and have been involved in serving the poor, building homes in Mexico, etc. but that involvement has been sporadic and no long-term, relational endeavors emerged from those opportunities.
Help Me Realign My Life to Your Heart
At the Global Leadership Summit in 2011, each attendee was given a piece of broken terra cotta pottery and we were asked to write on these sharp-edged chunks our prayers and hopes for things that God would do through us. My heart was deeply stirred after listening to the conference speakers talk about serving the lost and needy in our communities and the world. So, I filled my terra cotta shard with words and phrases like “Messy”, “People first” and “Help me find those in our community who need hope, help, rescue.” On the back I wrote “Help me realign my life to your heart.” Sitting next to me at the Summit were two dear friends who were about to embark on a long-term mission adventure to Nicaragua. God’s Spirit fell on all three of us and we wept as we filled these clay pieces with prayers. That moment was the beginning of a four-year journey of praying and seeking God for how He might want me to live out those earnest requests.
I keep the shard of terra cotta pottery from the GLS on my desk and read what I wrote on it on a daily basis.
A Two-Year Journey to Reaching Out
I’ve asked for authentic inroads for ministry to the marginalized in Indianapolis. It has been a two-year journey. A couple of doors opened last year and I was able to help my church body engage in inner-city ministry. They were two great events, but they were only events. I was challenged deeply to take risks to reach those who are truly hurting and in need.
The Sunday after the GLS, we invited a homeless advocate for the city of Indianapolis to come and speak to our elementary children. He is a man who has chosen to become homeless so that he could help the homeless in our town. The children heard what it was like to be homeless and then they responded by packing 110 lunches for homeless children. The speaker delivered the meals to homeless kids at lunchtime.
The children in our church are developing awareness for the life challenges that others face. They ask lots of questions and often have awe-struck looks on their faces as the reality of the suffering of others dawns on their understanding. Their actions toward helping others have been compassionate, generous, and authentic. After we prepare lunches for the homeless or pack snack bags for children who have nothing to eat over the weekend, the kids pray over all they have done. Their prayers are filed with statements that reveal they have really thought about someone else’s needs and are truly seeking God to help the recipients of their gifts.
Our Soul Food meal ministry is an on-site ministry where families can purchase, prepare, deliver and serve meals to one of the homeless communities in Indianapolis. This ministry just launched this year and parents are bringing their children with them to help serve food and develop friendships with the guests we serve. The children seem to be “color blind” when it comes to race and also don’t seem to really notice any exterior differences. They just play, laugh, serve and chat with the guests.
Tilling the Hearts of Our Children
Over the past several months, God has been placing the word “instill” on my heart. It’s a parent’s responsibility and also the responsibility of the church to instill compassion and mercy, wisdom and grace in the hearts of the children they shepherd. The word “instill” contains the word “till” and I believe that we must till up the ground of each child’s heart by providing real-life opportunities for them to witness the needs of others and then demonstrate to them how to respond in God-honoring, relevant ways to those needs.
We will soon begin serving breakfast once a month at an inner-city health clinic on Saturday mornings and will also be a part of packing weekend snack bags for kids who would otherwise not have additional food on the weekend. Also, in the works is a “sharing garden” where our church families grow vegetables in their backyards to share with inner city families and homeless who don’t have access to fresh produce. We are excited to take these steps forward in 2015.
Thanks for sharing about the Christ-centered bold dreams that others have lived out. Each story truly challenged me to action! The Global Leadership Summit brings together top-notch leaders in the world to share their stories. I’ve often sat in the chair as a listener and wondered “God might use them but why would He use me to minister to the homeless?” I’m just an average white woman in an average church in mid-America. It took four years of prayers for this ministry to launch. It didn’t come quickly, however, with faith and patience, God is birthing something beautiful. Prayers are being answered.
No matter who you are, lean heavily on the One who has the power to do anything, and wait patiently for His timing. He wants to use each of us to further His Kingdom and display His love and grace through anyone who inclines their heart to Him.
– Lori Salomo, Summit attendee, Indiana