Ok so this weekend I had a bit of a meltdown. Within the last 2 weeks I’ve mailed out the UC newsletter and published a blog about violence in our neighborhood and our response to it. In it I specifically talked about a ServeFest neighborhood cleanup on October 16th and how we were not going to cancel out of fear. Did you read that post? I was really confident in my response to the violence and I was firm in that we weren’t reacting in fear.
And then Friday, October 15th happened.
I convinced Jason to take me out to dinner alone since the kids were at his parents’ house. But first I had to wait for him to come home, so we didn’t get to leave home until almost 9pm. At 9:30, sitting in the restaurant waiting for food, our phones started going nuts with the buzzes of voice-mail and the dings of text messages. It was our friends trying to find out if we were ok. They live about 2 blocks away and could hear gunfire in the direction of our house. My first thought, since I knew that everyone was fine in our house, was about our scheduled ServeFest cleanup the next morning.
I was very comfortable saying we weren’t responding in fear when there was a couple weeks time between the violence and the cleanup (where several volunteers would be walking our streets and alleys picking up trash). But the night before was a little bit too close. So I began an internal battle. I contacted many people to pray, including the coordinator of the event. I asked people to pray for wisdom about whether we should cancel. After dinner, we got home and didn’t see any police presence – telling us that no one was hurt or killed, and so I resolved that it would be ok.
But when I woke up at 5am Saturday my heart was heavy. There was no reason to be awake yet, but there was no going back to sleep. Instead of reading like I usually do I knew I needed to pray. My fear was heavy. Crushing. Exhausting.
Wait, I had hundreds of newsletters and a whole blog written about how I wouldn’t be paralyzed by fear. Sadly, that thought did actually cross my mind… I did not want to eat my words. But let’s be clear: the safety of our volunteers is a far higher priority. I was willing to cancel and already had my next newsletter update worded in my mind. It simply came down to prayer about how we really would respond. I emailed friends and had people all over the country (and the world thanks to my friend in Austria) praying immediately. If the battle between good and evil was going to be waged, I was not going in alone or unarmed.
And quite the battle I had – prayer, worship and baking were all involved. By 8am when I had to get ready, I had no answer. But then it was time to walk out my door, I did, and it was peaceful. I looked up and down my street and there was no movement. It was a lovely, still, calm day. Peace overcame me from all around. There was no voice, just calm. It was the peace to move forward.
In the end we had a lovely day.Â We were blessed by Grace Fellowship Church of Pickerington’s Youth Group. Their group of 16 youth and adults served well. They scraped and painted the front porch at the ministry house, they finished the final fall harvest of the garden, and we cleaned up more than 20 bags of trash on two streets and two alleys. The shots from Friday had hit a car on my street, which had windows busted out but no one was hurt. Keep praying, the battle rages on.