Over two years ago when I started on the adventure which is working at CCC, I went to Shreveport, LA for a gathering of people from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Africa. We were all in various stages and ways of replicating the approach to community involvement that has been modeled in Shreveport by Community Renewal International. It was a great introduction to what I’d gotten myself into—moving into neighborhoods to intentionally build meaningful relationships that foster safe, caring, whole communities. Or as I like to put it, loving God by loving people and living into the Lord’s Prayer: Your kingdom come, your will be done here on earth as in heaven.
As this time together drew to a close, one of the CRI ladies gave each of us guests a chance to pick a bracelet with a word on a small rectangle [like in the picture]. I chose a bracelet with the word “community,” and have been wearing it on my right wrist ever since. I love community! I love the image of people sharing life together. I love that all we do as an organization is based in community. The starting and ending point of CCC’s mission is relationships, not only at the face-to-face level but also at the level of neighborhoods in North Abilene—block by block. We invest ourselves in connecting and caring in communities!
One of the groups that we work with throughout the year is a group of teens from North Abilene that we call “Young Leaders of Abilene” [YLA]. These young people are our future! And based on the amazing youth that make up YLA, I’m feeling good about the years to come. Throughout the school year, CCC Community Coordinators Janet Mendenhall and David Adams, the leaders of YLA who live in the College Heights neighborhood, meet with these fun, feisty and fabulous youth and teach them about self-confidence, servanthood, love for each other, and how to grow into the person that God has designed them to be. They also help with various events like the “Back-to-School Bash,” the Easter egg hunt, First Tuedays, etc. They are all loved, taught, and given the opportunity to practice/serve. During the summer they serve as the staff for a 4-week day camp for elementary kids from our neighborhoods. The final week of the summer is spent in serving around town. This year they worked at Global Samaritan Resources and Meals On Wheels, and also made word bracelets to sell for $2 so they could make a contribution to a non-profit of their choice.
Here are some of the words they chose to make into bracelets: love, cherish, hope, kindness, caring, beautiful, peace, encourage, strong, courage. These are all words that are relational. These are all words that we need to believe and “wear” by incarnating them. Every person is made in love by God; every person is worthy of living into God’s ideal for each of us—love, cherish, hope, kindness, etc. May we all wear and live it well!