Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Many are willing to go a mile, but only a few are willing to go two. Can you imagine what our communities would be like if we were willing to invest 10 years? What would they be like if we were willing to go two miles instead of one? Where would they be, what could God do? Imagine! Ruth Arnold, the Executive Director of 2nd Mile Ministries, believes real transformation and change in a community takes a great deal of time, it takes perseverance, a willingness to remain, to endure.
2nd Mile Ministries is a Christian community development organization working in the Brentwood neighborhood north of downtown Jacksonville, Florida. In their community overall life expectancy is four to nine years shorter than any other part of the city. For males, life expectancy is a five full years shorter than the next lowest community. Forty-three percent of children live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate (19.5%) is more than double that of most other parts of the city. Of those still in the school system, less than one out of four of local high school students reads proficiently (24%). Their community has its challenges but God is calling them to live life, to prepare for the long haul. Ms. Arnold said, "They are building a basilica not a circus tent."
God is calling his people to live in the city, to raise their families there, to share in the struggle of everyday life and to be a people that bring peace in a hostile environment. What I discovered during my recent visit to 2nd Mile Ministries is that “being there” can make all the difference. They are making their presence known by living life to its fullest.
Their mission at 2nd Mile Ministries reflects their call to transform Jacksonville together: “We are seeking to see the Gospel renew lives and communities so they are transformed in every way.” They want pursue comprehensive community transformation by planting their lives in the Brentwood neighborhood and focusing our energy directly towards that community. They want to do more than just share about Christ; they want to see lives truly transformed. They want develop future generations of leaders who will be leaders of transformation in this community and communities all around the nation.
Being present, praying, linking arms with and partnering together with others who care about some aspect of our community’s transformation, and persevering in “the hard, ‘dry’ life of the streets of our community” is not an easy task, but it “is the perfect place for God to use us as his light and move by the untamable power of his spirit to create a blaze. A blaze that consumes, multiplies, transforms and radiates his glory for miles around,” says Ms. Arnold.
It is their goal to be the presence of Christ in ways that can be tangibly known and felt often by individuals and partners within their community. They live in their neighborhood, shop in their neighborhood, play in their neighborhood, and serve in their neighborhood. Through this they build meaningful, life-changing relationships. Through this people in their community feel their presences. Through these people in their community come to know and be transformed by Christ.
Be present! As Ruth Arnold and 2nd Mile Ministries have made their presence known—pursuing, serving, loving and supporting the Brentwood neighborhood on their turf, in their spaces, and under their leadership, make yours known in you neighborhood. You don’t have to go around shouting “ta-da I’m here!” but know your neighbors names, know who they are, where they work, what they do, be sure they know you and who you are.
Pray! Pray for others first. Pray that God’s peace may be realized in the city – in your neighborhood. Pray that others may experience the healing power and love of Christ and to experience the fullness that comes from being in relationship with Jesus.
Seek the peace – join with already existing leaders and organizations and the assets they possess in order to develop future generations of leaders who will be leaders of transformation in this community and communities all around the nation. Mentor a child, get involved in public schools, become a part of after school activities. Understand the complex web of city government, real estate, education, health care and finance. Be a part of your neighborhood. Be a part of a church and the outreach that they engage in on a regular basis.
Be willing to preserve. Remain committed and invested, because change takes time.
Check out their website: http://www.2ndmile-jax.com