Last week our church held their week of service for the community, ServeRDU, which serves as a catalyst for people to be involved with loving our city all year long. There are dozens of service projects throughout the city where as a church we serve and love our city by communicating to them that we are a church for the city. Most of these areas of service are involved in serving one of five areas: unwed mothers, high school dropouts, homeless, prisoners, and at risk children.
Our missional community had the opportunity through the SummitNRC to partner with the Raleigh Rescue Mission in reaching out to a community that is only a few miles from our campus. This community is made up of three apartment communities that in many ways has become one of the more poverty stricken areas of Raleigh where it is not uncommon to see drug deals happen in broad daylight. It has gotten to the place that the police do not even like to be in this area often or for very long.
As a church and a campus we have identified this area as part of our community and instead of turning a blind eye we have decided to engage, serve, and love this community. The name that we have chosen to give to this community as we serve them is I-58 that comes from Isaiah 58. Our focus is gospel proclamation in Word and deed for community transformation.
As a campus we spent three days in this community last week, of which I was involved with two. We are just now starting our involvement with this community so much of the focus right now is on building trust with the people and building relationships. We were able to spend three days doing just that as we pressure washed sidewalks, had a clothing market, cleaned the inside of homes, and held kids activities.
By serving this community for these three days it allowed us to build some initial relationships with the people that will not only be followed up with soon, but we have five small groups that have committed to active, missional involvement within these communities as our focus is long-term not just one week.
Our involvement in this community brings to mind Luke 4:18-19: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
Our long range vision and mission in this community is five years or more if it takes that, where the hope is to see 1 Thessalonians 2:8 come true in the lives of these people: "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."