Last month, I had the privilege of going on the Brookside Road Trip led by Dale Shaw. Let me begin by saying this was an experience that completely shattered my prior view of what generational poverty means and the complicated nature of how to rebuild a broken community. Allow me to explain.
Like many living in the Northside area of Indianapolis, I had a naïve perspective of the impoverished communities surrounding me. It’s easy to see videos of global poverty and distance yourself from those situations because they are un-relatable or far away, but we often overlook the need in our own cities as well. We hear “Global Outreach” being preached in churches across the country. Yet we neglect the equally important call for “Local Outreach” that exists in our own backyards.
I was stunned to learn how geographically-close I am to the Brookside Community. A ten-minute walk away from where I work, there is a community that has experienced so many generations of poverty and brokenness that its reputation is tarnished. However, I have good news: God is on the move in the Brookside Neighborhood. Where many have failed to turn the struggling community around, God has powerfully intervened. Brookside stands as an example of the change that can happen when God’s people come together for the Glory of His Kingdom.
The Brookside Road Trip walked us through the strategic vision of rebuilding a community, centering around The Five Pillars of a Healthy Community:
- A Culture of Place and Relationship (Heart Change Ministries)
- Jesus-Centered Churches (Nehemiah Bible Church)
- Opportunities for Economic Development (Purposeful Design)
- Strong Education Structures (The Oaks Academy)
- Safe & Affordable Housing (Covenant Community Housing)
As a group, we traveled to each of the above locations, highlighting a different pillar and learning how it contributes to the community. We learned about the amazing work God is doing in Brookside and we prayed over the leaders of each ministry.
Before this experience, I assumed that if you work hard enough, you can overcome any situation. I thought everyone can have the same opportunities if they are willing to work for them.
But generational poverty is not just a disadvantage, it’s a handicap. It’s not something you “overcome” on your own. It’s not something money alone can fix and it’s not something people alone can fix. It’s something that can only be fixed by God working through His people with time, resources, and a heart for those who need a Savior. Brookside is a community that desperately needs help via mentorship, guidance, opportunities, and more importantly: The Love of Christ. Without it, nothing could change.
I took my childhood privileges for granted. The things I thought were common knowledge— like how to nurture a baby, hygiene, wants vs. needs. These are behaviors that need to be taught, and I was blessed to have mentors and parents teach me these skills. Most of men and women in this community have never had mentors or loving parents, and neither have generations before them. In fact, when we visited Heart Change Ministries on the Road Trip, I learned that it often takes three to five years to re-wire and teach an individual who’s come from generations of poverty.
I was so deeply touched by the impact and passion of this ministry. College Park is helping to change a community. We are helping equip people with the tools they need to break free from poverty. God is good, and God is on the move in Brookside. Do not deny yourself the opportunity to be a part of something great God is doing in your own backyard. Consider going on a Brookside Road Trip.