Met with Mike Northcutt, pastor of Eastmont Baptist this morning (right) at Chappy's Deli. He has a great heart for God and people and it was a pleasure/blessing to talk for 2.5 hours. During our breakfast, people kept coming by and talking to us. One man, Art Douglas (left) owns a tax service. Every year at Thanksgiving, he invites 50 of his poorest clients who have taxable income of under $20K (below poverty line) to join him for a Thanksgiving Dinner at Chappy's. He gives them all a copy of the movie, Pay It Forward, and encourages them to be a blessing to someone else in the next year. I told him that he reminded me of Jesus' story of when you have a banquet, to invite the poor, lame, blind - those who cannot pay you back - and you will be rewarded by God at the resurrection (Luke 14;13-14). Art is #tellingabetterstory. Mike is too with his ministry and life. So cool.
What difference does prayer make? It can affect a lot, both before God and before men. With the Charlottesville riots on August 11th and 12th, I contacted my friend, Pastor Terrance Jones of Strong Tower Church at Washington Park. I asked if he wanted to meet for prayer on Monday evening. He did and we just shared it on social media. That next evening, on August 14th, 2017, around 70 people in Montgomery from multiple churches and different races prayer-walked up Dexter Avenue from Court Square Fountain up to the State Capitol Building and back. The purpose of the prayer walk was to ask God to change our foundations associated with racial injustice and to replace ancient animosities with peace.
Here is a video of the prayer walk: CBN covered the prayer walk and it received around 45,000 views from around the country.
The purpose of prayer is to join God in what He is doing, hear from Him, speak to Him about what we are going through, and ask Him to intervene in our situations - may His Kingdom Come and will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Prayer is a place where Heaven and Earth Collide. Dexter Avenue is one of the most historic streets in America. It is where one of the largest slave markets in the Antebellum South was located, where Rosa Parks got on the bus that fateful day in December, 1955. It is where the telegram to fire on Fort Sumter starting the Civil War was sent, where the first capitol of the Confederacy was located, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pastored his first church, and where the Selma to Montgomery March culminated in 1965. It is a street that encapsulates the racial, class, economic, and religious struggles of America, and it is where we met to walk and pray, believing that if God can intervene and change core issues that we still struggle with, then all else will be changed.
The work of CDI is to foster spiritual, social, and economic development in communities around the world. As a fundamentally Christian ministry that works to interface with all aspects of society, the initiatives of CDI are meant to position people, groups, churches, and communities to "tell a better story" than the stories that have been told before. That is the gospel story at its core, but it also involves the implications of the gospel - justice, mercy, humility, peace, kindness, renewal, redemption, love, community. To do that, we must understand our history - where we have come from - so we can know where we are going. We also need to be rooted in a "way of living" that is not self-serving, but that is based in "sacrificial love" where we consider the interests of others ahead of ourselves. That is the "better way of Jesus." When we live out these principles together and apply them to every sphere and domain of life, we will see shalom emerge - peace with God and peace with men.
When we walked and prayed that night in response to the racial riots of Charlottesville, that is what we were praying for. We'll have these prayer walks again in the future because we have new stories that are waiting to be told.