Tuesday, April 7, 2015

There's A New Gang In The Neighborhood

New building for Life Restored Church

Pastor Alex Fleming talks with a purpose, a grand vision of hope and restoration as he shares how there is always a group of young men and women who hang out at the "picnic" around the corner from the church. He explains that these are drug dealers and prostitutes doing their deals on the west side of San Antonio, an area of high drugs, prostitution and crime. I envision a park with picnic tables and a bunch of people hanging around. He laughs and and says, "no, the Picnic is the corner grocery store where they hang". He explains that one gang will dominate until they are run away by the police and then a different gang takes their place. But now that his church has moved into the neighborhood, he says that his church members have become the the new "gang" in the neighborhood, a group of courageous believers who are handing out the hope of the Gospel instead of drugs, death and destruction.

Lots of work on the interior
Life Restored Church lives out the meaning of missional every day. But without the help of a suburban church that has chosen to be missional, they might not exist. When churches work together to impact and grow the Kingdom, it is a beautiful thing, a true definition of missional. Crossroads Baptist Church, an established, traditiounal church in a middle class neighborhood of west San Antonio recently partnered with Life Restored Church, one of our Missional Association
church plants near downtown San Antonio,
to support the church plant not only financially but also with mission teams and individual members.

This spring, Life Restored Church desperately needed to find another place for worship. Working with Crossroads and The Missional Association, pastor Alex Fleming was able to locate an affordable building for sale near Haven For Hope on the west side. It wasn't a pretty building but Alex was really excited about the possibility of worshipping there and ministering to the neighborhood.  The problem was having to quickly raise money for the down payment and also the cost of refurbishing the old building. 

Pastor Alex Fleming and new disciple
Crossroads was there to help with both. While Life Restored Church members got busy raising money through bake sales and such, a Sunday school class at Crossroads raised over $5,000 and within a month, Life Restored had raised the needed funds for the down payment and enough to start the renovation. Crossroads then provided a general contractor to donate his time to oversee the renovations. Teams have been sent to help the members of Life Restored with the construction, cleanup and remodeling. 
This is definitely an area of town that the Crossroads members would consider their "Samaria".  Pastor Alex Fleming had an
opportunity to start a church in the suburbs but chose to locate the church near where he grew up on the west side. He decided that he would not be just the pastor of a church but the pastor of the neighborhood, to work to restore a neighborhood and give its inhabitants a renewed hope. The first Sunday in the building saw a packed crowd and 9 people who made decisions to follow Christ. They also hit the ground running with a program for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. A small house on the property is being used to house some of those going through rehab. It's only the beginning step to reclaiming an entire area of the city for Christ, but Alex has a vision and a plan to continue to restore lives, give hope and 

Being missional for Crossroads was not difficult. It just took a pastor, Doug Diehl and church leaders with a passion for going and giving outside of their own church, to say yes to a inner city church in need. Not many men and women have the courage or calling to live and serve in the inner city. But those who do minister in urban areas need the help and support of suburban churches. It's a great partnership that can provide a means for those in the suburbs to experience what missional means, what living out the Gospel is all about.  Wouldn't it be great if every church in the suburbs had a partner church in the inner city or started one. Perhaps we could reclaim some of the lost territory when our churches evacuated the inner city to head to the growing suburbs.

1 comment:

cheri rodriguez said...

I'm proud. Our Lord works great

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