Monday, October 21, 2013

The Vine: Transforming the City

by Richard and Jessica Shore

Jessica and Richard
When we first moved into our downtown Raleigh home, we knew we wanted it to be place of blessing and welcome for our friends and family and we knew we wanted to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, but we had no idea what that would look like. The house God led us to buy is conveniently situated next to eight low-income apartment buildings teeming with kids. As we slowly met a few kids over our first year, we knew we wanted to deepen the relationships, but we didn’t know what the first steps needed to be.

Last spring as our Vine community was planning our summer agenda, a couple of people felt that the summer would be a good opportunity to expand our focus to include outreach. As we discussed options, Ford and Lindsay approached us and said, “How about we meet every Wednesday night at your house this summer, feed healthy meals to the kids and just love on them?” Immediately, a few hesitations came to mind: “Will kids even come over? What will their parents think? What will our neighbors think? Will it feel authentic? How will our Vine community engage these kids? How do we feel about opening our house to strangers?” Without having any clear answers to these questions, we still knew it was a big push in the right direction! Sure, we said, we’re in!

Almost every Wednesday night this summer members of the Vine came over to help prepare and serve healthy food and play all kinds of games with the kids. Throwing the football, playing kickball, covering the sidewalks in chalk and jump roping were the typical activities of choice. Some nights we only had eight kids while other nights we fed over twenty-five. We slowly got to know a few parents and they became comfortable coming over for dinner, too. Since the summer ended, we’ve transitioned to one Saturday morning a month to continue the relationships.

Those of us who have served side-by-side on Wednesday nights have grown closer by serving and stepping into an unfamiliar setting together, but the two of us have felt additional unexpected blessings from this experience. In a practical way, we’ve gotten a taste of parenting without any real, lingering responsibilities.

More importantly, we’ve been given the opportunity to develop close relationships with most of the kids. They knock on our door on an almost daily basis. Sometimes we can play, sometimes we can’t, but we always try to make time to hear about a little about their day and provide a high five or hug.

In this adventure, the Lord hasn’t worked through a single person or through a miraculous discernment. He used a community of believers by planting the vision in a few people, providing the physical location through a couple of people, giving the ability to plan and prepare the meals in a few others and the playfulness, listening ears, and compassionate hearts in many more.  It is a beautiful example of the Lord using many spiritual gifts to be His hands and feet in downtown Raleigh. We’re grateful to be a small part of his big vision for downtown and we are excited to see what he does in and through Apostles in the city. 

1 comment :

  1. I am so blessed to know and serve alongside you, Shores! You both shine so brightly for Christ and have encouraged me in so many ways!