RIVERSIDE CHURCH

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2011 Bolton Rd NW Suite 100

Atlanta GA 30318

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What Adopt-a-Block means to me

November 15, 2015

 

I remember how I felt when I came to my first Adopt-a-Block, it was only 8 months ago.  I was excited to do outreach, to help others, and do neighborhood clean-up, but going door-to-door made me feel uncomfortable.  Even though I had spent over four years in Honduras as missionary, with a major focus of the ministry reaching out to the people of the community, our outreach was usually done with special events or with mission teams from the states.  Many of the people that I served in Honduras I met through church and our private school, so when I did stop by someone’s house to visit, I already knew them and had a connection them.  I’m also naturally a shy and quiet person when it comes to meeting to new people.  I had told myself when I had arrived at the meeting spot that I was going to find a way to come out of my shell.

 

A saying that I’ve carried with myself throughout my years of ministry is, “Be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”  To me this meant, God is going to use me in many ways and put me in situations in order to reach people that are going to be out of comfort zone. During these uncomforting times I’ve realized that I need to find comfort. Comfort that only comes from God.  Comfort in knowing that the work I’m doing has been commissioned from Him and that He is in control.  I believe the reason he puts me in these uncomfortable situations is that it gives Him a chance to prove to me that He’s there for me at all times to guide me anything He puts in front me.  No matter what situation He puts me in, He’s not going to leave and “with Him, all things are possible.”

 

With this being said, I was nervous that first Adopt-a-Block, not only was this my first time going door-to-door but people were counting on my ability to speak Spanish, which I had rarely spoken in almost two years. During our prayer time before starting our outreach, I asked God to comfort my nervous. I remember God telling me, “You’re not alone.”  I wasn’t alone, in the group I was to lead, my best friend, Matt and my younger brother, Matthew were with me, and when it came time for me to speak Spanish, even though a little rusty, the Lord put the words on my tongue that needed to be said. I started that afternoon nervous and uncomfortable, and finished sweaty and dirty from playing on the playground with kids for over an hour, all because I found God’s comfort in an uncomfortable situation.

 

I started this off by writing about my first Adopt-a-Block to share with you, I know that nervous feeling of going door-to-door the first time or second time, and how important it is to trust in God while serving Him, even in uncomfortable situations.  Seeking God’s guidance has turned an uncomfortable situation for me to something I look forward to doing almost weekly.

 

I’ve been blessed to be Riverside’s Outreach Pastor, because I’m able to be on the front lines doing God’s work in our community through Adopt-a-Block. I've had doors slammed in face and others tear up in thanksgiving.  I've been able to coordinate large events, and giveaway food and backpacks.  But nothing compares to the 1-on-1 interaction of knocking on doors and visiting our neighbors.

 

Many of these people we visit each week, they’re down and don’t know how to get back up.  They’ve been beat down by society and have been told time and time again that they can’t do any better.  Many that live in Moore’s Mill Village are a long way away from the land they call “home” and just having someone come by to say “Hi, how are you today?” means so much to them.  They’re thankful for the bread and other food we usually have to give out, but most of all they enjoy knowing someone cares about them.

 

We know that when we stop by to see MJ, that she’s going to invite us in to visit with her for the at least 10-15 minutes.  Or the chance to sit Carlos, a sixteen year old boy who’s paralyzed, can’t speak and has to be feed through a feeding tube in his stomach.  The smile on his face as we talk to him melts my heart each time.  These are couple of the examples of joy that were able to share with others as we do Adopt-a-Block in Moore’s Mill Village.

 

When we started in Lincoln Homes, we made it a point that we’d be seen.  That we wouldn’t go around in small groups but in large groups.  This got people in neighborhood out of their houses asking. “What are you all doing?”  And when we told them that we’re picking up trash and asking the neighbors how there doing because we love our community and we them love them.  They were so surprised and happy to find that someone does care and as we shared plans we have for the neighborhood, there was such a feeling of hope that filled them.

 

I’ve been able to meet so many in little time that we’ve been in Lincoln Homes doing Adopt-a-Block.  We were blessed to have Dede, a 13 year old boy that lives in Lincoln Homes walk with us and helped pick-up trash in his own neighborhood.  At a block party,
Fred opened up to us about his broken heart and allowed me to pray over him.  We were also able to help Haley, a 20 year old lady pregnant with her fourth child and just escaped an abusive relationship with only the clothes on her and her kid’s backs.  These opportunities to help and pray won’t have happened if it weren’t for Adopt-a-Block and following God’s calling to help others.

 

So many we’ve met in both blocks have lost that feeling of hope; hope for a better tomorrow, hope to feel love, hope to better themselves.  With Adopt-a-Block, God is able to work through us to show people His love.  I’ve been able to share with adults and kids the love God has given me and there is hope to live for. Even though society has beaten them down, I’m blessed with the opportunity to say, “There is way to get back up and I’m here to help to find that it.”

 

There are doors that open and close very fast and as I walk to the next door, I pray for God to bless them, but there are more doors that open and before that door closes, we’re being told “thank you.”  We might not have prayed for that person or had bread to give, but hearing that we just came by to say “Hi, how are you today”  and let them know that they’re not alone, there’s someone that cares, it means so much to them.

 

God gives us gifts; physical, intellectual, musical, athletic, and gifts of the spirit, but these gifts weren’t given to us for us to keep to ourselves.  God gives gifts for giving.  His greatest gift He’s given each one of us is love.  He fills us with love every day so that we can share His love so that someone can feel that love through us that doesn’t know Him.  We have to remember that because someone else was unselfish with God’s love, we were able to experience His love for the first time and learn to turn God to seek His love directly.

 

For me, there is no better feeling than knowing that God’s love working through me has given someone hope of a better tomorrow. And through Adopt-a-Block I’m able to do that almost weekly.  Even on the days I’m not going door-to-door, I think about the people I’ve met and I pray for them.  Sharing God’s love with them has strengthen my relationship with Him.  It has given me a renewed hope in my abilities to serve Him and do all that He has called me to do.  In eight months I’ve gone from saying I’ll never door-to-door to embracing every chance I get to knock on a door to ask how someone is doing.  Adopt-a-Block has proven to me that ministry can still be done door-to-door, and people will open up, but nothing will happen if no one knocks.

 

I finish by quoting Dale Stephens, “You can’t change the world, but you can change someone else’s world.”

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