A Transformational Step in South Phoenix
May 2, 2012 Leave a comment
Jeff Bisgrove–Neighborhood Transformation, Phoenix, AZ
Fifty people painting a church, a simple event. One that on its surface doesn’t look all that important, and is not often something we associate with community transformation. Churches are generally not part of the community in our society, and besides isn’t painting somebody else’s property relief and not really development?
All these points are valid, but if you look deeper into this effort to paint a church, you see a bit more. The church that was painted has a small and aging congregation. Their ability to paint their own church was rapidly getting beyond them as the years flew by. However, the people at the church are involved in the community and are well-regarded by the community, and the community decided they would help paint the church. Further, they invited their friends from outside South Phoenix to come and help. So they did. Together.
Black, Brown, White…the colors mixed together as the paint flowed onto the walls. Young, old and in-between; people from 2 years to 75 contributed. Many of the people knew each other, since they had worked together on other things in this community over the years. Painting this community church was another thing they did together.
David Bennett moved into South Phoenix five years ago, with the intent to be in the community, walk with the community, and help the community reconcile and grow. This area of South Phoenix is riven with gangs, often divided along racial lines. Black people do not like Brown people and vice versa. White people avoid the whole thing and do not even drive through south Phoenix. Against this backdrop, David started to work. He helps mentor and teach the local kids; walking with them and their parent(s) to help catalyze them to be more involved in their community. He involves people from outside South Phoenix to help break down prejudice and further God’s reconciliation.
And this is where the effort is today. Brown people helping Black people helping White people to paint a community church because the church congregation cannot do it themselves and the community has compassion for them. This compassion has spread beyond the community to their friends around the city. No shooting. No slurs, or gang colors. No driving the long way around to avoid it. Simply working together.
This community in South Phoenix, seen by most people in Phoenix as ground zero for police calls, shootings, gang banging and drug activity, is showing more. More of what God placed there. It is showing respect, compassion and love for the things that make up the community. It is not the end. It is a step… a transformational step.