Continued from September 6, 2013 Newsletter
Ten years later, I’ve been reflecting on the gifts that have come through this door (some of which sure didn’t feel like gifts at first). Little by little, we followed the kids who came for dinner to their homes, to their schools, downtown to the jail, and to the basketball court. Eventually, this led us to our work with Walltown Aspiring Youth.
When folks coming home from prison told us what it felt like to grow up here, we began to see the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. Our Project TURN grew out of a deep sense that we need to have conversations across the prison line if our country is to experience genuine conversion today. People who needed a place to come home to gave us a renewed hunger and thirst for justice.
Month by month, I’ve written to tell you the story of how all of this has led me to turn and turn again. And you’ve joined us to be part of this story in so many ways through School for Conversion. For all that, I thank you. And I give thanks to our God when I think of you.
But, unless you stop by the house, you rarely get to hear from Leah, who doesn’t dwell on repeating herself but prefers to get to work. A couple of months ago, a reporter from InTouch Magazine stopped by to take some pictures and talk to folks here. In our kitchen, he asked Leah to explain why “helping the needy” doesn’t really describe what we’re doing here. Her response gives me the occasion to share the wisdom Leah prefers to live without much talk (and this fine picture from the magazine, which captures the message precisely).
"A lot of people think of our house as a mission of sorts to bring the gospel into the neighborhood," Leah said, "to which I would invite them to come and see, because the gospel is very much alive and well here. Our neighbors have taught me a lot about the gospel--about their struggles and their faith, hope, and joy in the midst of that. So the term 'needy' isn't one that we've used over the years, but is actually part of the reason we were drawn here to instead see our neighbors as people who have a lot to teach us, and as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ."
So, there you have it.
If you have time for a story from me this month, you can read about my friendship with Jeremiah (and see more recent pictures of life around here) over at InTouch Magazine. If not, Leah has, as usual, gotten to the point much faster.
Peace and all good,