This past Saturday, I invited some friends to join me on a prayer walk in my neighbourhood in North Oshawa. I’m about a month into this whole church planting adventure, and I could think of no better way to really start than to spend time in prayer, out in the neighbourhood.
We started at my home, walked down the street, and then crossed over one road into a park, leading us into an area full of high-rise apartment buildings and families struggling to make ends meet. Two of my friends who were there that morning live in this area, intentionally living with and for those who are around them to bear witness to what it means to be a follower of Christ. (For more on what they’re up to, check out their organization, Move In.)
I was so struck by the disparity of the two sides of my own neighbourhood. On one side of the road is where I live - big, beautiful trees shading a well-kept road. Older homes - some of them feeling a little worn and tired, some of them re-done and beautiful - all of them well-loved and lived-in and full of families of all different ages. There are pools and kids playing on the streets and people living…well…comfortably. And then on the other side of the road were faceless apartments with too-high rent, forcing people to choose between rent and groceries or laundry. There were people with little access to all the comfort and amenities we enjoy on my side of the street.
And we’re just blocks away.
We stopped in a park, sandwiched between the library and a community center, where people constantly gather and play and enjoy the Ontario summer. We stood under a tree and we prayed that God would bring His hope and peace to this neighbourhood that’s full of disparity and contradiction and diversity. That God would show us His heart for this neighbourhood and all who live in it - on either side of the street.
It was a beautiful way to begin a Saturday - and to begin a new community of faith.
The word that kept coming to my mind all morning was life. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” God wants us to have and know and live His Life, with a capital L. He wants His people to infuse light and life into the dark places in our cities, our neighbourhoods, our world. He wants us to know Him, so that we might really, truly live.
And so there we stood, in this community space - this space where so much life happens - and we prayed.
I left that morning feeling energized, inspired, and a little more in love with my neighbourhood here in Oshawa. We meant to be out for 30 minutes - instead we were out for an hour and a half, and I, at least, felt God’s heartbeat for this place.
Christ came that we might have life, and now we have the privilege of being God’s partner in that mission - to bring life, that all my have it, and have it abundantly. And I am so, so excited to keep looking and leaning into those places where life happens, so that others can know the Life that God has for us.