RENEW OUR DAYS AS OF OLD(Pt.3)

“When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, we were like those who dream”(Psalm 126:1 NAS).

Even when it seems that life has been brought to the brink and there is no turning back…with God there is always hope.  I got to witness this firsthand as I, along with a team of others, ventured into what could be truly described as a “War zone” in Flint, Michigan.

Flint has been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the past few years due to the high unemployment (46%), the high crime: gangs, murder, prostitution, not to mention the daily arsons.  There was such a sense of hopelessness and despair that even neighbors hardly appeared outside their homes, as suspicion and fear pervaded the very atmosphere.  But in spite of this, I, along with a team of about 25-30 from the Dallas Metroplex (some also joined from Arizona and Indiana), were led by a young man, Kyle Martin, to go and see what God would do.

The overall schedule worked something like this:  Ours was to be a nine-day assignment into Flint.  There are nine Wards(or Districts).  The team that had assembled would focus our attention on one Ward a day.  Each morning we gathered for a time of prayer together before we enjoyed a light breakfast (provided by the local believers who enjoyed calling themselves “Flintstones”).  This was followed by some discipleship training and researched information about the Ward we were to enter that day.   We all loaded up in our vehicles, and upon arriving at a central location we broke up into groups for the day and hit the ground, so to speak, engaging the local people of Flint.   We asked the Lord to guide us to whom we were to interact with, offering prayer for their situation or their neighborhood.   I must admit that this, at first, could seem a bit intimidating. But once we began to talk to people as people and tell them why we were there, people generally opened up to talk.  It was obvious that this prayer approach was the right strategy. It wasn’t long before conversations centered around Flint’s history, before their economic losses with GM’s (General Motors) closing.  Two of the most poignant comments made repeatedly by folk were: (1)Church people, “We were a prosperous great city until we forgot God and made GM our God”. And (2) for the man or woman on the street (often eyes listless or numb with hopelessness and despair), “Where is the Church?”

God began to make Himself known in the midst of these conditions as our team, joining with the Flint believers, became visible and engaged in prayer.   We literally witnessed hope begin to rise in the faces of the people.  We witnessed many tangible tokens of God’s mercy and Hand to turn the captivity of Flint.  Daily there were opportunities to share the love of the Lord; often there were salvations and people set free from drug addictions, and some testified of physical healings as well! And one of the neat signs and wonders God gave was that…There were no murders during all this time in the City!  To what do I attribute this “beginning of hope” of a turn around for Flint?  (1) The Church began to come together.  A spirit of unity and cooperation to take back it’s city.  (2) Corporate prayer.  As the believers began to pray daily (actually 3 prayer meetings: morning, noon & evening) there were specific answers to specific prayers. The noon day prayer time was held at a centralized place in the city, and those whom our team met were invited to attend this prayer meeting. Many did come to join in prayer (often the newly converted!). (3) Engaging the local people once again, listening to their concerns, sharing the love of the Lord Jesus in tangible ways, as well as unashamed evangelism, and offering prayer for felt needs. We had occasion to interact with both the City officials and the police.  This is what can happen in your city when, as Eugene Peterson stated regarding our Lord Jesus coming into the earth, “And God moved into the neighborhood”.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2010. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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