Because it is foolish to plant a church in an impoverished neighborhood.
It’s even more foolish to plant a church in an impoverished neighborhood that is 99% black when the church doing the planting is 99% crazy white.
But to rev up the foolish factor and cast it into a whole other level of making no good sense, then consider that this church plant, in the 99% black community by the 99% crazy white church, is being planted in the dirty south.
We’re talking full blown crazy making.
I know you’re either shaking your head or chuckling over your bowl of grits and that’s okay. Shake or chuckle. I don’t care. I’ve done both, usually at the same time. And on a good day, I let a river of tears rolls right down my face while I laugh and shake my head.
But the truth is this: Of all the doors in Rocky Mount, the only door that God opened to our church was at Baskerville Elementary. The only one.
And then there is this: All the kids in our neighborhood attend Baskerville Elementary. Including our kids. (More on this later…another don’t want to write it kinda post.)
I know God has a sense of humor because my life is a comedy written in His own pen.
At 9:30, every Sunday morning, I load the 2003 Chevy Suburban with six wild ones dressed in all variations of Sunday best, none of which include a dress or a monogram, and we roll right over the railroad tracks into no man’s land.
I use the term no man’s land loosely because there are obviously men in the land, but the land is not prime real estate. It’s not even sub par real estate. It’s just rows and rows of shotgun houses with metal bars at the windows. It’s Section 8 housing and Payday Loans. It’s KFC and Roses. It’s neighborhood stores and pink flamingos and broken down cars with tinted windows and shiny rims. It’s four schools and one childcare center and more church buildings than I can count.
It’s the kind of land no man clings to in his American dream.
But it is where God has rolled out the welcome mat and the place where we’ve staked our claim. It’s the place where we’re all in. And it’s the place where we’re made foolish to shame the wise…the wise, more often than not, being ourselves.
I could write a small book on all the ways Jesus came close to the least of these. I could spin a week’s worth of words devoted only to imploring us to love the poor, to serve others, to lay down our lives so that others may live. And initially, that was my intent. Last week, I had planned to take my small stack of notes on why we are who we are and turn the notes into something worth considering.
But after days of wrestling with all the why’s of Baskerville, I feel this deep seeded desire to be quiet, to let Jesus smile at all the unanswered questions of Why Baskerville?
I have no desire to stake our claim in the Bible Belt or jockey for position alongside the Big Four in our city.
Gone is the need to state the reasons why we drive right into the government sanctioned ‘hood in Edgecombe county and pick up trash or play pick up basketball.
The fight I once had for proving right Jesus’ model of drawing others unto Himself is just gone.
I have only Jesus and the new life He is birthing in this calloused, good girl heart of mine.
This is His story here and we, Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount, are simply a body of believers heaven bent on doing what Jesus has asked us to do:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
This is the second post in a three part series titled We Are Fellowship and I hesitate when writing anything about our church. God is mysterious and most every time I think I have Him figured out, He spins my world off center.
And I’ve wrestled a million words about Baskerville down to nearly nothing,
Because Jesus needs no words to make Himself known.
And I think He does such a marvelous job of glorifying Himself without my help. Don’t you?
Later this week, I will answer the question Why Avent Street? and conclude this series, We Are Fellowship. You can read the first post in this short series here.