Last Friday I had the opportunity to participate in something for the first time: my workplace has organized prayer walks each Friday of September. While I’ve been a part of prayer walks in the past, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at this one.
- a big crowd of people marching around (think Joshua and the walls of Jericho)?
- people shouting, calling on God to do something BIG (think Elijah and the fire)?
- people chanting bible verses for an hour, while my mind wanders aimlessly (sorry, but sometimes I have a hard time focusing)?
But, none the less, I was excited because the location was less than one mile from my house. We met at the old Johnson Elementary School. I say old, because the building is no longer utilized as a school. I don’t think it’s utilized for much, and it’s my understanding that it will soon be auctioned by the school district. This location was chosen as a prayer walk site because of its proximity to many of the families we minister to through my workplace.
I am pleased to share that none of the three bulleted points listed above happened. A small group of people gathered. Two that I work with, the former principal of the school, a gentleman from a local church, and a lady who lives in the general area. The former principal, Pat Michaux, was kind enough to give each of us a copy of a book she wrote: Memoirs of an Inner City Elementary School Principal.
I am not so pleased to share that one of my colleagues, actually my supervisor, was solicited by a prostitute. While one could find some humor in a lady approaching a ministry director in a parking lot at 7:30 in the morning, asking for payment for her services, further analyzation has left me feeling sad about this. It’s disheartening that a woman’s life has come to that.
After meeting for a short prayer together at the front of the school, we separated into smaller groups. As we walked the neighborhood surrounding the old school, I realized how much I want to be a part of the difference that can be made in this neighborhood. Technically, I suppose, it’s part of my neighborhood, beings it’s less than a mile from my home. I pass down the streets we walked every school day, as I drive my daughter to middle school. We passed homes of her classmates, homes where hope didn’t seem to exist any longer, and homes that were fixed up and cared for. We passed a market whose story was recently in the news. We passed near where a police officer was ran over and killed last year. We saw two churches while we walked, and lots of people out in front of their houses.
I pulled away from the ex-school on Friday morning, needing to head for my office. While doing so, I had the overwhelming feeling of hope that one day, the place I’d just left could be my workplace. When you get out of your car, and take off on foot, you see places up close. You see people face to face. You actually get to say, “Good morning,” instead of driving on by. I felt like I’d once again received a nudging from God, letting me know this is where I belong.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt that prompt related to my job. While I’d really like to personally come up with whatever dollar amount Fayette County Public Schools wants for this building, that’s probably not going to happen. While I’d like to arrive there tomorrow and claim a room there as my work space, that’s not realistic. Yet more than before, I desire to not only live where our family lives, but be fully immersed in this part of town. Maybe I need to go back and take another walk around. Several times.