Anxious, uncertain, waiting: all of us have been there, but fortunately we have a God who meets us and provides every time. I didn’t expect God would provide for me by calling me to serve in a place that was once coined the attractive name “the swamp.” But that’s exactly what he did.
What is Brookside?
The Brookside neighborhood is comprised of approximately 2,500 residents. It’s a place where:
- Racism is still prevalent
- Many houses are abandoned, and a myriad of other homes are too broken-down to be inhabited
- Many marriages are at best unhealthy for those who have stayed. There are almost no godly father figures influencing the family.
- Fox 59 reported that Brookside was once “one of the highest crime areas in the city”
- Most schools don’t have the resources or the staff to support a healthy learning environment for children
Now things are turning.
The once-sticky web of generational poverty is breaking because Jesus is setting individuals free. The newfound safety and peace in the city are by God’s grace alone. Only he is able to completely change lives and thus change the community.
Nehemiah Bible Church, Heart Change, Covenant Community Housing, Purposeful Design, and The Oaks Academy are all Brookside ministries that are doing God’s work in Brookside, and ones that College Park Church partners with.
How Brookside is Changing Me
Two years ago, Brookside was a neighborhood that I likely drove by on the way to a Pacer’s playoff game, but now it is a place filled with students and neighbors whom I love.
I have a deep heart for Abby. She is a 1st-grade student who I am tutoring. What’s more, God—by his grace—is producing a heartfelt compassion in me for the oppression and struggles specific to African-Americans.
One of the things that I noticed Brookside did for me was that it revealed sin that I did not know I had. It would be accurate to say that God brought me a kind blessing by bringing me to an apartment in Brookside. While my role in this community has primarily focused on taking care of other souls, being concerned with others’ growth has proved to be the best thing for my own maturity.
God is using mentors, tutors, Bible study leaders, woodworking teachers, and missionally-minded people to love a community that is on the upswing. And God has used this truth to remind me that he can use us wherever we are. You don’t need to move to another neighborhood or nation to make an impact for his kingdom.