I always drive the same route to work. One day while sitting at a red light a few blocks away from the office on a double-booked kind of day, I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit tell me to, “Take a right”.
Not one to argue with the Lord, I clicked on my blinker and made the right turn. My curious eyes drank in the new sights on a road I’ve never driven before. My unexpected right turn landed me in an urban community, called Avondale, made up of nine hundred residences that house over 3,000 people–mostly Hispanic and African American with a few Anglos mixed in.
I did some research on the population that existed within half a mile of my ministry headquarters office, and the statistics for its tenants were disheartening–not only had they been labeled as “Struggling Urban Diversity” by the Percept Group, but there was also a very low population of married people and two-parent families.
I felt sure that as the president of a global ministry delivering a biblical message of purpose and hope to children all over the world, God had intended for me to take that right turn in order to discover this patch of needy children located in my office’s back yard.
We did further research on the demographics of Avondale and found that it was ranked in the bottom 1 percent of US neighborhoods for safety–not exactly the best conditions for children to grow up in. We even went door to door to personally ask the residents what kind of help families in their community needed.
Next we did exactly what we would have done in any other corner of the world; we created goals and designed a program— called Cultivate— that would achieve the desired outcomes for this specific community, then we sought out partner ministries and churches to come alongside our efforts to “Cultivate” and sustain the relationships and work we were starting in Avondale.
To make a long story short, the crime rate has dropped 26 percent since we launched the Cultivate program for Avondale, and the stories of individual lives changed continue to pour out of this once neglected and desperately dangerous sector.
Had I not been prompted to take a right turn and deviate from my typical commute to work, I would have never known about the parcel of needy children right in my ministry’s own backyard.
I’d like to challenge you to stop and pray right now. Ask God to show you the specific “right turn” He wants you to take in order to discover the ministry opportunity He has placed in your vicinity that you might be missing by sticking to your regular route.
This story was originally featured in my book, Hope Delivered.
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