Over the last couple weeks I have been trying to walk around the neighborhood a lot more and pop in at local businesses to stay present. We had been engaging the Nepali community well over the last couple years but realized that we had been missing large sections of our neighborhood with this exclusive focus on Bhutanese-Nepalis. So we’ve been trying to learn more, hear people’s stories, and get a broader sense for what is happening.

Some of the conversations and interactions have confirmed what we already know while others have been extremely insightful. Today my teammate Molly and I must have talked to more than 5 people who were pretty rough around the edges but were genuinely seeking for deeper relationship, even connection to the body of Christ. Seriously? Who wants to mess with the church these days?? 😊 That shocked me quite honestly. In a culture that seems to be preoccupied with so many other things, our community is waiting for meaningful engagement. Sometimes you just have to show up.

We walked south of my house last week and one in every three storefronts was open for business. The rest were simply shut down or boarded up. Yesterday and today we walked north and the neighborhood gets rougher in that direction. Probably less than 20% of businesses were still in business making the ratio more like 1 in very 8 storefronts still with the lights on. As we walked deeper into the heart of the blight though, people were so incredibly open to talk. The longing for connection was like few things I’ve ever experienced.

Every Thursday and Friday morning we are taking an hour and a half to prayer walk the streets around here. After the walk we will begin chatting with folks who are out and about, visiting storefronts, and engaging neighbors in conversation. Nepali, African-American, white – we are increasing the temperature in being present. Many of you know that we did a 3 week fast back in January and one of the take-aways from that concentrated time of prayer was to begin to drench ourselves in the entire community. We know the future for Nepalis is one of integration and we will do our best to lead the charge.

It never ceases to amaze me that some of the most impactful and paradigm-shifting moments I’ve had in ministry have been ones of extreme simplicity. Walking around. Praying. Chatting with folks. Passing out chocolate covered pretzels. Anyone in the world can do this. We’re upbeat as we will continually raise the bar in our presence in the community as we join Jesus in bringing His love, liberty, and hope to every pocket of our neighborhood. Let’s go!