So, it begins… yesterday, March 8, 2015… we officially started a new Mission Jackson ministry site on Hollywood Drive. The day was overcast and a little cool, but the Lord blessed us with a window of opportunity to meet on-site. The location of this new outreach effort is centered near Brookfield Apts. and Guardian Courts.
For the sake of this article, let me give you a little historical perspective. About a year ago, I was given an opportunity to take a leadership role with Mission Jackson. One of our site leaders needed to step down due to changes in her life, specifically because her family was preparing for a new job situation and subsequent location move. When I took this position, I also started driving the pick-up van to learn more about where our MJ kids lived. Three of them lived in the Hollywood area, so when I started picking them up there, we experienced a large number of new kids wanting to come with us. Before long, we were picking up 15 to 20 kids from that spot on a regular basis.
This situation, along with the results of interacting with some of their parents, tweaked my church planter sensibilities (you may not know that I am a former IMB missionary). I felt the Lord telling me that this would be a good place to come to and setup, rather than busing them out to a different location. Makes good common sense and God sense, if you know what I mean. From that moment, I started praying about the idea of birthing MJ Hollywood. However, there were some obstacles that needed to be dealt with. First, we simply needed enough volunteers to make it a logistical reality. This took a few months of praying and recruiting and help from our ministry’s senior leadership. We needed to replace my position as leader of the other group, because we wanted to retain it as a ministry site. We also needed to get permission from the property owner. Yesterday, all of these things finally came together with the formation of a seven member team to start the site. These volunteers are: myself, Dawn (my wife), Robert McBroom, Nathan Daniel, Jess Salzman, Mary Harris, and Rachel Harrison. I want to personally and publicly say “thank you” to this wonderful group of people. I also want to publicly say “thank you” to Mundt Properties for allowing us to setup on location. Mr. Mundt was very welcoming, I might add. Thank you sir.
So, what was the first day like with the kids and community?
Since this was the first day, we needed to go around the apartment complex and remind folks that we were there. We were able to gather around 19 or 20 kids and one mom stayed with us the whole time as well. We had good conversations with at least 3 adults. I got to start a good Jesus conversation with one man who brought a little girl over to hang out with us. I intend to continue these conversations weekly as we get to know folks better. Robert had a good conversation with one man who was bragging on Jesus and confessing that he had been going through a spiritual dry spell until recently getting recharged via our good friend Dan down at RIFA. Most of the kids were younger and we did some simple coloring type crafts with them, we did some chalk drawing and hop-scotch on the asphalt, threw a Frisbee around, etc. Most importantly, when I gathered them for a short Bible study, they were really attentive. This was a blessing, for sure. I have learned that with our MJ kids, using a short Bible study or story with 1 or 2 verses is enough. If you go too long, they begin to lose focus. Kids will be kids, right?
I have a burden in my heart for kids in this neighborhood to understand two primary things… first, is that God does have a plan for their lives because He cares about them. Next, He is the only source for true hope in this world… through Jesus, of course. For this first study, I talked to them about hope and change. I tried to engage them as best I could with some questions and a few of them spoke up. This is a good sign. I used Jeremiah 29:11 for my singular verse of scripture. We never know how deeply the seeds of scripture may sink into these young hears, but we know He has promised that His Word will not return to Him void of purpose (Isaiah 55:11). After the Bible study, we treated the kids to some snacks and we packed up to leave – just as the sprinkling rain began to fall.
Thank you for reading through this long article. Below are a few pictures from the day. Please pray for us to have safety, wisdom, and success for the sake of the Gospel as we press forward. God bless you.