I have been praying for this neighborhood for 6 months! It is Dallas' poorest neighborhood, poorer than the 9th Ward in New Orleans. I have been working some with a non-profit focused on community restoration there, but I have been so ready to get "hands on" and actually meet the people who live there. (So far, it's just been me and another woman talking about what we want to do, not yet doing it.)
I get to go to South Dallas today because of Champions of Hope!
Champions of Hope is a discipleship and mentoring organization in South Dallas (75210 & 75215). That means school age kids are paired with a mentor who invests in them for an extended period of time. You may be familiar with Mercy Street in West Dallas. Champions of Hope is their sister organization, started abot 5 years after Mercy Street.
Since Mercy Street has been around a while longer, they have gotten to see what it looks like to support students all the way through, starting in the 4th grade and ending with the 12th grade. It is a transformative process, and because of Mercy Street and many, many other organizations in West Dallas, that community has changed dramatically. (Go drive around and look sometime!)
The goal of Mercy Street and Champions of Hope is not to go in and "fix" a neighborhood but to live with them, love them, and watch as everyones' lives are transformed, the life of the mentor and the mentee.
And while West Dallas used to be the poorest area of Dallas, now it is South Dallas.
It seems strange to me sometimes—I never thought I'd be here. I was happy with my comfortable, affluent life, in my protected, comfortable, affluent neighborhood. I wasn't looking for a change. I had a great job where I got to "rub shoulders" with "important" people. Why would I ever want to leave the ease of where I live, the good job, the steady, healthy paycheck for something that is uncomfortable, difficult, and very different from the world I'm used to?
Well, it was God's idea. God was in charge when I got fired from my comfortable job. God has been in charge as I've struggled for over a year now with what I'm supposed to do with my life. I was on one track, you know, the fast and easy track, and the Lord disrupted my plans for my life. It took 6 months for me to come out of that old mentality enough to start to hear from Him about what He might have for me next. It's taken another 6 months to start applying for jobs in the non-profit world, where I can actually work hands on every day. And I still don't have a new job. Talk about something I never expected . . .
But then I remember that it wasn't my idea in the first place: it was the Lord's. I have no idea what I'm doing, but how can I not go when it is He who calls me?
I know I have so much to learn. I know I have no idea what I'm getting myself into, but it doesn't matter. I know I'm following God's leading, so I am safe with Him.