Last week I had a chance to visit the city of Baltimore to visit with church planters in the area and discuss ways that my church family at Old Fort Baptist Church can assist in the work they are doing in the city.
The trip to Baltimore was amazing. The church planters in the area are doing great things, yet the weight of the lack of Gospel presence in the city was noticeable and heavy.
After arriving in the city Monday afternoon, I met with church planter Ron Willoughby for dinner and a trip around the south-western part of the city. He drove me to a location where his church gathers on Saturday evenings for worship. Next to the elementary school where his church meets are three buildings designed to house children of schools that are in need of repair and are no longer safe for the children. The playground used by those children has many areas boarded up, and Ron informed me that the slides are not usable because people hammer nails into the bottom of the slide designed to cut children on their way down the slide.
On our way out of the neighborhood, Ron noticed several youth walking around near the street. He recognized them and called them over to the vehicle. After introducing me to them and chatting for a few minutes, Ron asked if the youth would be around over the weekend to get together for a cookout. The reaction he received gave me the impression that the youth do not make it far passed their neighborhood. One youth responded pointing over towards apartments behind him, "I live right here, of course I'll be around."
The next day, I had the privilege of meeting with five other church planters that are being faithful to proclaim Christ, even if no one else will. I met with a church planter that is the only evangelical presence in a part of the city that has 65,000 people. I met with a planter who is pouring into a neighborhood where his ministry focus on his community has created a need to have a ministry for prostitutes, and a special focus on challenging the youth to consider furthering their education after high school. I visited with a church planter that had an office for his church in a mall right next to Frederick Douglas High School. Last year his ministry changed dramatically after the death of Freddie Gray and the rioting and protesting that followed in his part of the city and even in the same mall that his church office is located.
After much prayer and great discussion, we will be planning to return to Baltimore with a team August 1-7. This initial trip will be a great introduction to the city of Baltimore as we will have an opportunity to see the city, and also watch the Baltimore Orioles play against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night. While getting to experience living life in the community, we will have a chance to participate with small group gatherings on Wednesday night and Thursday night as we prepare ourselves to assist in having a community event Friday night. The trip will conclude with helping The Broken Wall Project with their weekly community gathering Saturday at 6pm.
For more information about what Ron is doing in Baltimore, go to www.brokenwallproject.org
If you are interested in being a part of the 8-10 member team heading up from Charleston in August, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org