LifeLine Christmas Story 2009

Once upon a time, (actually late last week, or the week before, it doesn’t matter, it’s just a story) a little non-profit sat forlornly on the curb with its chin in its hands. It was Christmastime, and the little non-profit didn’t have any Christmas programs to offer.

All the other non-profits had their Christmas coat drives and dinners planned. They had shelters open and parties booked. They had fund drives and toy drives and Christmas concerts galore. But the little non-profit had none of these, and was feeling self-conscious.

“If I were a real non-profit, I’d have programs,” it moped.

But then a man shuffled by in a worn-out coat. “Do you have a coat drive, because as you see, mine is worn clear through?”
“No,” said the little non-profit, “I don’t have a coat drive. I’m sorry. All I have is this big bus full of clothes, but for that you need to give something back.”

“Like what?” questioned the man suspiciously.

“Well, what can you do? Do you have a skill or talent to give? After all, everyone has a need, and everyone has a gift.”

“I used to lay carpet,” said the man, “But I haven’t had work these last few months.”

“That will do nicely,” said the little non-profit, and they got up to go look in the big bus for a coat.  On the way there they met a woman with two little children. “Do you have a food drive? My children are hungry and the month is not yet half over.”

“No,” said the little non-profit, “I don’t have a food drive. I’m sorry. All I have is an emergency food pantry, but for that you need to give something back.”

“What do you mean?” asked the woman.

“Can you mend clothes?” asked the carpet layer in the worn out coat.

“Look at my children. Of course I can mend clothes,” replied the woman. Her children’s clothes seemed fine, but if you looked closely you could find here a patch or there a mended tear. But you had to look very closely indeed.

“Then come with us to the big bus,” said the little non-profit. “We have lots of donated clothes that need a little mending to make them good again. After all, everyone has a need, and everyone has a gift.”

Just as they all turned the corner, the little non-profit, the carpet layer, the seamstress and her children nearly collided with a young man on a skateboard.

“Do you have a Christmas concert I can go to? Something with Screamo?”

“No,” said the little non-profit, becoming a little more self-conscious with all these people in tow. “I don’t have a concert. All I have is a Community Center. The neighborhood children are out of school and need someone to spend time with them. Can you teach them anything? After all, everyone has a need, and everyone has a gift.”

“I can show them how to flip a skateboard,” offered the young man.  So after they had visited the big bus and picked out a warm coat for the carpet layer and taken a bag of mending for the seamstress, they all went by the Community Center. The food pantry was there, and the children were all lined up on a big roll of used carpet, eating a snack. The snack was made by a retired school teacher who gave four hours a week at the center. She also gave money that bought the snacks, and heated the building, and helped pay the staff. Of course only the little non-profit knew about that part. The children all took keen interest in the skateboard, and the carpet layer looked at the big roll of carpet and the bare concrete floor, and smiled a big smile.

And the little non-profit didn’t have time to worry about not having a concert or a coat drive or a Christmas program. There was too much going on in the community. “After all, everyone has a need, and everyone has a gift. That is why we build community.”

James Grasley

CFA Newsletter Winter 2009

View the CFA Winter 2009 Newsletter (PDF).

Celebrating Education Together

The room was loud, kids, books, and games were everywhere, parents were on the floor and paper covered the wall. To many this scene would scream chaos but to the families of Rogers Park it was the very essence of community. The evening was about celebrating education, with school starting the following week the timing could not be better.

Parents and children alike had a great time reading with each other, playing math bingo and memory games, sculpting out of clay and putting puzzles together. The volunteers from the community who put this evening together where thrilled with the participation and excitement the parents displayed at the opportunity to spend this time getting their children excited about starting school in a few days.

While all of the games, art and books were exciting, it was the wall covered in paper that got the most attention. Each person was asked what they were good at, what gifts they had and to write/draw them up on the wall. No one was excluded from this exercise as the paper reached all the way to the floor so that everyone could reach and if you could not write you drew.
By the end of the evening the wall was covered with the amazing gifts that were represented in the room. Neighbors found out things they never knew about their neighbor before. People who had never met found they had things in common with each other and connections were made.

The evening ended with new friendships made, others deepened and a sense of pride in the gifts that they possessed as a group. Discussions were had on when they could get together to use these gifts for the benefit of the community. The event not only celebrated the start of a new school year but also the continuing education that Rogers Park has many common and unique gifts that need to be shared.

Bethany Dudley

Requip’s Website

Mobilizing People Around Key Kingdom Issues

Every other month I am honored to facilitate the “Let’s Partner ” network. This network gathers Christian leaders who are facilitating and implementing an asset-based community development vision in their various cities. At the table there is representation from 12 cities where grassroots work is happening in 20 neighborhoods. The collective result from our collaboration is astounding!
One of the stories I recently heard from the Baker Street neighborhood in Costa Mesa is about a couple who had made a decision to end their marriage. The following day they received a flyer from MIKA CDC, an associated city member of Kingdom Causes . The flyer was an invitation to a marriage class that was starting in their neighborhood (at the request of neighbors).
This couple made a decision that they would attend as a last effort. Weekly they made incredible strides in renewing their relationship, learning new ways of communicating and how to deal with conflict. By the end of the class they decided to stay married, they both gave their lives to Jesus Christ and are now attending a local church in their neighborhood.
Kingdom touching earth in the home of a struggling couple, reconciliation is a sign of the transformative power of God through his obedient children at MIKA CDC .

Prayer Points:

  1. The Let’s Partner Network of leaders for wisdom, discernment, favor within neighborhoods and cities, funding opportunities as all have been affected by the slow economy.
  2. Continued growth in Let’s Partner network of those living incarnational, missional lifestyles.
  3. AmeriCorp program in our region with members who are positioned in neighborhoods to build relationships with residents, learn what they care about, identify the wonderful treasures in neighbors (skills, talents, knowledge), facilitate dream sessions and planning and connect missing resources to support what the neighbors are working on together.

www.kingdomcauses.org

Connecting the Church and Engaging the Church & City

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate the KC San Dimas team in creating their results-based management (RBM) tool for their Servant Leadership Program at a local Middle School. Local youth leaders go on campus during the lunch hour and utilizing Steven Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” using fun and engaging activities, challenge kids to think about the choices they make, priorities they set and the future they see for themselves. I felt so honored being in a room of innovative thinkers who understood the importance of developing indicators for change at each level of the 7 Habits. I can imagine a whole generation of local youth who are able to implement these 7 habits into their daily lives as this program continues in excellence.

Prayer Points:

  1. As I monthly meet with and coach the Kingdom Causes city catalysts and member organization leaders. That these groups would grow in their organization capacity so that they are able to continue building unity within the Body of Christ throughout their cities as well as continuing conversations with city leaders on ways that the Church of the City may serve. Please pray for me for listening ears, Godly wisdom, discernment, and Kingdom strategy.
  2. Catalyst meetings –connecting city catalysts together for shared learning. Please pray for these monthly meetings that catalysts would be encouraged, equipped, and edified for the work of the Lord, as they learn from one another by sharing their best practices and as they encourage & consult one another through challenges they face in community ministry.
  3. Fall Roundtable Events – please pray that as we host these events that there would be a unifying of what we have identified as three streams in the Kingdom of God work of community transformation. These streams we have identified as: the Christian Community Development movement, City Reaching movement, and the Prayer movement. Rather than each group being silo-ed in their community work in a city, our hope is through participatory dialogue we may see a more unified effort as we value each other’s calling, purpose, and Kingdom roles.

www.kingdomcauses.org

Why Rejoice About Tearing Families Apart?

I heard about the police sting on the day laborers almost instantaneously. One of my neighbor’s boyfriends was in the group that was picked up on 17th Street. I thought it was too bad but there wasn’t much I could do. He was, in fact, here undocumented.

Then more and more women began calling me saying their husbands had been taken, too. By Monday, I had six out of the 11 families whose husbands were arrested asking me for help. The rent is due this week and there was the immediate pressure of where to come up with the money now that their spouses weren’t here or in a position to provide for them.

Our organization, Mika Community Development Corp., doesn’t deal much with relief work. The whole premise of our ministry is to equip leaders to take responsibility for their community. I buy into the idea that if you point out opportunities and open up space for people to work and lead, then they will step into that role and be successful. I believe it is more beneficial for the whole community and affirms the dignity of the individual to offer work instead of hand outs.

As I sat in my office surrounded by these suddenly single moms listing what they needed to get through the week, I was perplexed by the fact that 72 hours earlier these women and their husbands were self reliant. They were formulating a plan to pay the rent.

Now, in order to show men that they have to be responsible for their actions, we have deported them, and the burden of care for their families is on the community. Churches, individuals and companies have pitched in to make up the short fall in rent for this week. As generous as this is, it’s just a short-term solution. Now the hard work starts of mapping out a long-term plan for these women and their children.

Of course I could do nothing. I could “let the market take care of itself.” And I’m starting to think this might be the best solution. I hear this admonishment often in the news and in our own city policy discussions –- this idea that if you open up economic opportunity it will either succeed or fail based on the demand for the product.

The more I reflect on the immigration situation the more I hear this phrase in my head. I keep trying to figure out how we got into this situation in the first place. At the risk of making a very complicated situation too simplistic, I think it goes back to us as a nation, trusting the market’s ability to take care of itself more than our laws.

The economic opportunity was so great in the last few decades that our systems couldn’t keep up. There weren’t enough visas for the amount of foreign workers we needed to keep up with the economy so we found ways outside the law to keep it going.

Then we changed our minds. We decided that enough is enough and now we want to enforce these laws. So we’re cracking down. The market has failed us. We are afraid there’s not enough for everyone and so we’re back to trusting in the law. In the mean time there are millions of people caught between our invitation into opportunity and our crackdown with the law.

So I cannot do nothing. These millions of people have become our neighbors and coworkers and friends and those who serve us in many capacities. I can’t do nothing because my faith as a Christian requires justice and mercy. Some say it was justice for the 11 day laborers to be deported. Now it is mercy that must follow through on the ramifications of those men being removed from our community and their families.

Several of my fellow Costa Mesans commented on the Daily Pilot story about the police bust using language of celebration and rejoicing. While I disagree with the reasoning, I can understand the support of the police actions.

What I cannot understand is those who rejoice in the fact that our neighbors’ families have been torn apart. Children are literally crying for their fathers, and mothers are scrambling to get by. You can say they brought it on themselves but why would you celebrate that kind of pain?

I have cried a lot this week. I cried with the women who don’t know how they will provide for their families. I cried with the men as I sat in a hotel room in Tijuana explaining that the church in Costa Mesa is standing with them and their families. But mostly I’ve cried alone in my car wondering how we became a city that tears families apart on purpose and then rejoices about it.

Crissy Brooks

Visit Mika’s Website

Visit Crissy’s Blog

The Miracle Baby

Carlos Arturo is a miracle baby. When his mother Maria was three months pregnant, her husband committed suicide leaving her a widow with four kids, and one on the way. During her fifth month of pregnancy, Maria had emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder and at six months the doctors put her on bed rest in the hospital for a month. So it was no surprise that when Carlos Arturo was born 5 weeks premature weighing 6lbs., the doctors called him a miracle baby.

Maria and her family live in Shalimar, one of Mika’s four neighborhoods. Through all of this, Maria was never alone. The week after the suicide, Crissy , Mika’s director, visited Maria and asked who had been supporting her. She answered, “The ladies who meet in the park have been here everyday.” These “ladies who meet in the park” are the Shalimar Neighborhood Action Committee, Comunidad Unida. Immediately they circled around one of their neighbors in need. This support continued throughout the pregnancy as I and other neighborhood leaders would visit Maria, take her kids out to activities and pray with their family.

Carlos Arturo, a child whose path to life was paved with sorrow, sickness and strife, entered the world in celebration and the love of an entire community.

Effy Sanchez

Servant Leadership: Developing Students During the Lunch Hour

Students of the past used to worry about what they would do after graduation, what school they would go to and who they would marry. Today’s teens face very different decisions.
Some of the issues are life-threatening or life-changing including: teen pregnancy, drug/alcohol abuse, self-destructive/hate behavior (such as cutting, eating disorders), mental health issues (specifically depression), the emptiness of pop culture, communication technology allowing us 24 hours of global news and needs, bullying/youth violence, peer pressure, worries about the future with nuclear war, environmental destruction and economic windfall always on the horizon.
How can students face their future with a sense of hope and expectation rather than doom and feelings of being overwhelmed by it all? How can they be empowered to make a difference?

KC San Dimas is sponsoring a pilot program at a local middle school. “Servant Leadership’s” goal is to develop Student Leadership in students by raising their Emotional Intelligence (EI) through modeling and implementing the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

EI is quickly replacing IQ as the most sought after individual quality in the marketplace. Therefore developing EI in adolescents will prepare them for future success. By raising EI of a student population, they believe students will be self motivated to do well in school, have healthy relationships and engage in extra curricular activities.

Last month, I had the opportunity to sit in on the leadership’s planning and review meeting. This team is made up of people who are passionate about students including youth pastors, teachers, parents and neighbors. The team reviewed ways they are building servant leadership on the a local middle school campus.

In Kingdom Causes we value students and believe it is God’s call for us to mentor, invest and give opportunities to young people as they discover and grow into who God had made them to be. We can’t think of a better way to do this then through this innovative Servant Leadership program developed by Kingdom Causes San Dimas. We also believe in the power of partnership. We can not mentor students alone, but in partnership with schools, teachers, parents and communities.

The Servant Leadership Team spends time on the campus during school lunch hours interacting with students and asking them questions about priorities, values, hopes and dreams. One of the questions they recently asked was, “What is the most important thing you do in the morning?” The follow up activity is the “medallion” activity. Medallions with the following names: health, spiritual, financial, relationships, recreation, education are placed on a pole. Students were asked to take each off and place around the neck of a fellow student and then line the students up in order of importance for life. Discussions followed this activity of “Put First Things First”. As a result, students were better able to personally process their values.

Another activity, “Sharpen the Saw”, asked the students, “who is their hero and what can you do to be like them?” Using the 4 Quadrants of Life (a poster board with the headings spiritual, mental, physical and emotional) students were asked how they sharpen their saw in each of these areas.

By enabling and encouraging students to grow in these aspects, this activity creates opportunity for students to serve their community. Servant Leadership – developing students to serve their community!

Please check out Kingdom Causes San Dimas website for more inspiring stories like this.

The Risen Christ Got There Ahead of Me

Eunice, my intern, and I started a “Missional Living” Sunday School class a while back at my former church in Monterey Park. I spoke from Scripture how God is a missionary God. Mission is part of his inherent nature in the Trinity, and one significant implication for us is to recognize that God is already up to something before we arrive to “do mission.” I’m excited to see how the class can be a space to excite people’s imaginations for the Kingdom. I’m excited to see how two pictures can make sense rather than seem like two unconnected worlds!

I also read another devotion from Eugene Peterson today (an excerpt from Under the Unpredictable Plant) that relates to this truth about mission flowing from the heart of God:

In every visit, every meeting I attend, every appointment I keep, I have been anticipated. The risen Christ got there ahead of me. The risen Christ is in that room already. What is he doing? What is he saying? What is going on?

In order to fix the implications of that text in my vocation, I have taken to quoting it before every visit or meeting: “He is risen…he is going before you to 1020 Emmorton Road; there you will see him, as he told you.” Later in the day it will be, “He is risen…he is going before you to St. Joseph’s Hospital; there you will see him, as he told you.” When I arrive and enter the room I am not so much wondering what I am going to do or say that will be pastoral as I am alert and observant for what the risen Christ has been doing or saying that is making a gospel story out of this life. The theological category for this is prevenience, the priority of grace. We are always coming in on something that is already going on. Sometimes we clarify a word or feeling, sometimes we identify an overlooked relationship, sometimes we help recover an essential piece of memory–but always we are dealing with what the risen Christ has already set in motion, already brought into being.

If we are all ministers of Christ, we are “always coming in on something that is already going on.” To me, it’s a relief to know that it’s not all up to me to make something happen; the risen Christ is already there! Can I get an AMEN?!?

Jesse Chang, Kingdom Causes Alhambra, Catalyst

Visit Kingdom Cases Alhambra’s website by clicking here .

Transforming West Coconut Grove

Miami, FL- After taking a full year to create relationships in an impoverished community, Urban Resurrection, a group of activists living in the West Grove are now starting to see changes. Three years later, they are a respected part of the community and the community is seeing empowerment as well.

They have started community groups that make plans to change their community. Plans have included gardens that feed over six households, an open mic for youth once a month, two businesses with the youth, mentoring programs and block parties. Local politicians respect them, but most of all, they are a part of the community.

“We’re connected to churches, businesses, non-profits, government, but mostly we’re connected on the streets,” said Laurie Cook one of the co-founders. “Relationships give us the platform to do what we do.”

What they have been doing has grabbed the attention and admiration of local politicians as well.

“They have done great work,” said Homer Wittaker, aide to Commissioner Carlos Jimenez. “They have created a real community of neighbors to take care of one another’s needs.”

Three years ago, Michael and Erika Philip, their 3 children and their friend Laurie Cook moved to Miami from Chicago with the financial backing of churches and friends to help in the community of the West Grove, but they didn’t start any programs. To the dismay of many of their supporters, Urban Resurrection spent the whole first year developing relationships and trying to get to know the West Grove rather than starting programs they thought would solve the problems they saw.

“We moved in and listened to what the people had to say and built a strong trust level,” said Michael Philip one of the co-founders. “We don’t act until the community says what they want to do.”

The West Grove is a historically Bahamian community where more than 40 percent of the 3,000 residents of this 65-block area live below the poverty line, and these activists live in the community itself.

With its now six staff and five volunteers, Urban Resurrection makes sure they are directly involved in the community.

“Our volunteers are required to go through a rigorous, six-week training program before they work with us,” said Cook. “In our mentoring program, our mentors are required to spend time in the community with the family of the kids they’re mentoring.”

Every week Urban Resurrection meets with the Carter Street Block Club with its neighbors to discuss what the needs of the community are. The group, made up of people from all ages, from small children to its oldest member who is 83. This community group has closed a generational gap that exists in the West Grove.

“There is at times a divide between the generations here,” said Cook. “We have brought young people into our community meetings and the elders are surprised by what their young people can do.”

The group has started a garden initiative that supplies food among the seven houses in the group, and the same group has organized a hurricane preparedness program. In response to youth violence that occurred in 2007, another community group decided to create their BEATS (Bringing Eternal Arts to The Streets) program that attracted one volunteer, a rapper from the Tampa area, to teach their hip-hop class over the summer.

“This is not just another organization. This is a relationship,” said Sekajipo Genes, a Christian rapper who will be releasing his first album in December and has moved to be in the West Grove permanently. “Urban Resurrection is a big story.”

The organization is now starting two businesses headed by some of the youth in the community: a t-shirt design company and a photography company. Orders are coming in from around the United States.

When asked if it is uncomfortable being white in a predominantly black community, Michael Philip who is white but has adopted two children from Ethiopia, responded that he enjoys the culture here and feels comfortable.

As one politician, Stephen Murray a Democratic Committeeman who blogs about issues pertaining to the West Grove observed of Urban Resurrection (see article below), “They are extremely popular within the community. Community organizations like these fill the void that local government cannot.”

New Pediatric Clinic Opens in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans

Four years post-hurricane Katrina, citizens of the Upper Ninth Ward communities now have full access to their very own pediatric clinic, Kids’ First Pediatric Clinic, located at 3512 Louisa Street.

Desire Street Ministries/CDC58:12, Abundance Community Residents, Children’s Hospital,and LSU Tiger Care Partnership has been working diligently to provide medical services for thousands of these citizens. The new clinic officially opened its doors on September 1, 2009. However, there was a ribbon- cutting ceremony on August 28th, followed by a ‘Second-Line,” a New Orleans’ own dance celebration in the streets of the city. Keynote speakers like: Danny Wuerffel, executive director of DSM along with others, came to speak to citizens during their dedication dinner.

“Once the flood waters receded after Katrina, our ministry team returned to the Upper Ninth Ward to help rebuild. Initially, progress was slow as families and resources trickled back into the city. In the four years since Katrina, we’ve resumed high-impact programs, one by one,” Wuerffel said. Some of those programs and services implemented are:

  • Helping to gut over 600 flood-damaged homes, preparing properties for rebuilding
  • Rebuilding and renovating nine flood damaged homes
  • Providing financial literacy seminars for local families
  • Serving over 150 local youth each year through after school and summer programs focused on education, recreation, and character development
  • Resuming Desire Street Academy to graduate 8 local young men this year while pursuing charter school status for the 2010 school year

The clinic served over 700 patients before the Katrina floods and now those numbers have doubled post-Katrina. DSM, New Orleans Director, Marcia Peterson said, “After Katrina, and periodically since, we’ve surveyed returning residents to learn the most pressing issues and obstacles to recovery. Our ministry efforts have been focused on meeting those priority needs.” DSM stands firmly on the outreach mission to encourage and equip leaders to revitalize impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development.

Comeback of a Neighborhood Association

In September of 2009, the Harriet Tubman community brought back to life their neighborhood association.The association had been inactive since 2000. In 1985, a group of concerned ladies from the community banded together to form the original neighborhood association for the Harriet Tubman community.
Troubled by the deterioration of their community by violence and drugs, this group visited several neighborhood associations throughout the South to learn and gather ideas on forming their own organization.Soon after organizing, the group began addressing the issues that concerned them about their community. At one time, they had brought in several social service groups and small businesses to locate into the community.
As the years passed by and this original group of ladies began to get older, many of them were unable to continue their activities with the association. Given that at the time there were no residents of the younger generations interested in carrying on the work, the association slowly faded out of existence.

In the Summer of 2009 during a collaboration with Hope for the Inner City and its AmeriCorps members for a annual block party, many of the residents who were on the planning committee expressed an interest in revitalizing the neighborhood association for the greater good of the community. Meetings were held to nominate residents for the leadership positions of the association. With the help of the AmeriCorps members, the residents worked together to organize and hold the election of their leaders for the association. Six residents were elected to the leadership positions in the association and will begin holding meetings in the Fall of 2009. It is truly a great accomplishment to see the residents come together to form this important group for the betterment of their community.

For more information on Hope for the Inner City visit there website: www.hope4theinnercity.org

Meeting with the Mayor

In late September the Monterey Park pastors group met with the mayor of the city. It was refreshing to hear a committed Christian share his unlikely journey from a small town in Saskatchewan to having an office in the city council. I was impressed with his candor and honesty with the often gray and cutthroat world of political life, and how integrity and clear ethical boundaries were needed to survive without compromise.

But when we asked what it would mean for the churches to be more involved in the city, I don’t think it was necessarily the “magic” answer that we may have expected. Perhaps we expected “the top” to have the best ideas and wisdom. Maybe we had thought it was going to be an easy “this is the most important priority for our city, please help us.”

Instead, we got what is reminiscent of Jesus’ words, “the first shall be last.” Getting involved with various organizations like the PTA or city events was his main suggestion. Getting back to the grassroots, to our local neighborhoods. “But whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:43). Jesus said this in the context of the disciples jockeying for positions of influence. We too can be seduced by the desire for more influence and access to the corridors of the powerful, even as we seek the Kingdom in our city. So I liked that reminder that the way up is always down.

Kingdom Causes Alhambra, Jesse Chang, Catalyst

Kingdom Causes Alhambra

Learning to Treasure Hunt in the Neighborhood

Some months ago Terri Larson, our Strategic Program Director, provided training to almost 15 people representing six different organizations (Kingdom Causes cities, Let’s Partner neighborhoods and partner ministries) in the Kingdom Causes Bellflower office. They came to this training with various expectations of learning new strategies and concepts, to hear stories from other neighborhoods, how to connect with neighbors and families and how to connect with the work of the Church.

It was exciting to hear as people shared what experiences they have had in their neighborhoods in regards to community development. Whether working with neighbors, mentoring students, building a community garden or running a neighborhood resource center, all who attended shared God’s heart for people and place. These local residents, Kingdom Causes and Let’s Partner staff members, volunteers, etc. are serious about being equipped to love their neighborhoods.

During the training they spent time studying Matthew 5:13-14 and talking about ways we can be “salt and light” to our communities, being instruments of hope and joy to the neighborhood and learning how to “treasure hunt in our neighborhood” – looking for what resources/gifts/talents are in the people and community and potentially yet to be recognized and utilized.

What is ABCD? ABCD is Asset Based Community Development is a way to find and mobilize what assets a community has. It is about catalyzing neighbors to work together for the good of all in their neighborhood.

What is in your community that shouldn’t be? In what ways does your neighborhood reflect the Kingdom of God? How can you work to make your community look less like hell and more like heaven? What barriers to change do you find in your community? What is the hope in your neighborhood? What are the gifts/treasures in your community? How can you be “salt and light” to your neighbors? You are a gift to your neighborhood! How will you offer your talents as a blessing to those around you?

Kingdom Causes provides these trainings, along with Discovering God’s Heart for Your City workshop several times through out the year. If you are interested in participating in one of these interactive workshop trainings, please visit the Kingdom Causes website or email us at:

Green Bean Coffee House Burns Down

On October 23, 2009 the Green Bean Coffee House and three other businesses were destroyed by a fire. For more information on this story visit these links:

http://www.kirotv.com/news/21401279/detail.html

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/65765377.html

http://www.auroraseattle.com/2009/10/23/green-bean-scorched

Ring…Ring…Ring…

“Hello this is Randy Rowland.”

“Hi Randy, this is Jeff.”

“How you doing Jeff?”

“…Well…”

Randy [With gusto]: “The Green Bean is unscathed and doing just fine!”  ”On the other hand, the building is gone.”
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
Dear Friends of the Green Bean Coffee House, Sanctuary Church and the Greenwood community:

With that wonderfully framed perspective, a new course and future for both the Green Bean, Sanctuary Church and the community has been set.

The people, people in community, all alive and unhurt are intact, present and will move on through this crisis.  In-fact they will be more vibrantly alive and mission-driven than ever before.  The stuff of brick and mortar, lath and plaster…went up in smoke or fell to the ground.  Yet the substance of meaning, care, life, spirit, joy, and future – was only fed toward advance, perhaps like never before.

So you know by now of the fire.  The fire raged rapidly and totally consumed the Green Bean and 3 other businesses just adjacent the C.C. Teriyaki, Szechuan Bistro and Pho Tic Tac.  In addition to the businesses, the Taproot Theatre was severely impacted, not burned but suffered major water and smoke damage.

What started out as shock followed by tears then by profound grief, began by noon to turn toward hope: “What’s next?”  Talk began among people gathering across the street: “This is a community thing…we’ve got to pull together.” Talk was beginning to swirl that nearby businesses, untouched by the fire, where exploring how to turn some of their net receipts toward those impacted by the fire.

I stood on the street for about 3-hours.  Once people were allowed to gather on the sidewalk across the street from the fire – most just came, stopped, stood quietly…and simply stared at the smoldering ruins.  It was easy to start conversations…”It’s so sad.”   Replies came:

  • “Yes…so sad…I loved the Green Bean.”
  • “This hurts, the Vietnamese restaurant was the most authentic in the area…tragic,” says Dave (a travel journey tour guide)
  • “My 10-year old son is in a play at the Taproot…I am am afraid to tell him what has happened here,” say Robin (a mom of 3)
  • The Green Bean was such a wonderful, safe place for so many of us in the neighborhood,” anonymous.
For me, the most gripping moment was when I turned to my left and saw a Japanese mother with her 2-year old daughter on her back, her other young daughter in her grasp as she kneeled on the sidewalk.  The youngest was verbalizing, “Fire-man!”   Below her sister and mom was the saddest face in the neighborhood I think.  That little 5-year old girl was transfixed on the remains of the Green Bean…her face hid none of the big grief welling up in such a little heart…so transparent it was.  It was the saddest thing I saw.

This sweet one, not fully understanding what was going on or why, knew without a measure of doubt she had lost something valuable-a place where wonderful people of all kinds gather and softly celebrate every day.  This place, the Green Bean, held people in community in such a way (whether people knew or not) they were experiencing the King’s Kingdom, His Presence, a foretaste of His Fullness “heaven on earth”.

This little 5-year old knew somehow that something near & dear was taken away.  But of course we know, as Pastor Randy Rowland so well expressed, temporal stuff may be gone, yet that of eternal, living and true – continues on.

I trust soon, this little Japanese-American girl will walk through the doors in a newly remodeled building somewhere near Greenwood and 85th, where a restored Green Bean and community freshly arise from the ashes.  And we will see a smile that sings:  ”Joy!”

So community…continue to pray.  I can’t wait to see how the Lord is going to keep on doing His good work.

Jeff Littlejohn

For ways to help and more updates on the Greenwood arsons visit these links:
http://www.greenbeancoffee.org/
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Greenwood Business Owner Threatened After Arson at his Restaurant
Greenwood Arson Suspect is a Convicted Firebug
Greenwood Arson Suspect Charged

Greenwood Arson Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

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