The following was written by Bruce, a missionary to Northside Danville with Grace and Main Fellowship and through Third Chance Ministries. Parts of Bruce’s story been shared in this newsletter and at various speaking engagements over the last several years. When Bruce first met Grace and Main, he was sleeping under a house in one of the neighborhoods, but now Bruce is approaching five years of sobriety and is one of our key leaders, overseeing our Tool Library, coordinating with mission teams, taking a big leadership role at the Urban Farm, and helping friends in the neighborhood to find work.
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Ever get so caught up in work, trying to accomplish so much, trying to keep up with the Joneses? I recently found myself caught up in some of the excitement that came with the warm weather: new work that’s coming up for our friends around the neighborhood, lots of food growing on the Urban Farm, building our new tool library. It seems that I got so caught up with what we’re going to do that I forgot about the things that really are important: friends, community, folks that are like family. I started missing things like community dinners, worship, spending time with the folks I love and that have—over the last five years—adopted me as one of their own.
But, about six weeks ago, all of my plans changed when I got an unexpected break: my ankle.
I remember the first thought that crossed my mind was: “How am I going to get all this stuff done with a cast on my leg?” I forgot, I guess, that I live in community with wonderful people who would all pitch in and see things done. I had friends come and take me to the doctor, grocery shopping, to pay my bills, to cut my grass, whatever needed to be done.
When we build up community and friendships that have deep running roots we can rely on one another in times of need, loneliness, or just an ear to listen. We can also coach and encourage one another. Do we always agree on everything? No, but we all agree that we can work it out. That, if a situation is handled with love and thoughtfulness, there is nothing we cannot work out. If we listen to our hearts and the voice of the Spirit, we can work it out.
Get to know your neighbor, build up your community, or maybe come and visit ours. Is it easy? No. Is it worth the effort? Yes! Say hello to your neighbors, get to know them, step outside your comfort zone. The changes and blessings in my life have been both profound and plentiful because of the people God has put into my life—because of Grace and Main. God tells us to love our neighbors as he has loved us. Maybe that’s because we might find that diamond in the coal mine if we have the eyes to see.
Since, God comes knocking on our door in many forms, you might want to answer the door. We may find that love and peace we have been looking for all our lives. We might find a really good friend. There’s just no telling what we might find it we open our hearts and minds to whomever God put at our door. Sometimes, we just need to take the leap of faith—even if we have to do it on crutches.
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Here are five of Grace and Main’s favorite photos from the past month (or so) for folks who might be interested in getting a glimpse of community life and our shared life and work.