Local Mission at Stones River Church
As I mentioned in the previous post, a lot of the good things that have taken place at Stones River Church in the last year have grown out of a commitment to prayer. We’ve had dedicated seasons of prayer and fasting, but perhaps the most transformative practice has been prayer walking. We began by walking through the neighborhood around the church property, asking God to open our eyes to his presence, lead us into relationships, and give us opportunities to serve. This becomes a powerful discernment process as we debrief together after each walk.
Early on, our attention was drawn to the local elementary school, Mitchell-Neilson. I have to give credit to my wife Megan, who shared a strong spiritual perception that we should be engaging this school. Our little church has a disproportionate number of educators and school workers, and a significant overlap between our gifting, passion, and context quickly emerged. Through another church member, we made contact with the principle, Dr. Shields, and were immediately invited to bring our prayer walk into the hallways and classrooms of the school after hours. We began supporting the staff and faculty in a variety of ways, and a wonderful partnership has emerged.
Mitchell-Neilson is only a few blocks from the church building, and it happens to be the elementary school with the highest incidence of low-income and at-risk students in the Murfreesboro City system. A surprising number of the students’ families live in temporary housing (such as motels) and lack basic resources.
At the beginning of the school year, the principal and much of the faculty and staff attended SRC on Sunday morning to share their struggles and hopes. It was an astonishing time of dialogue and worship. We continue to be amazed by the opportunities to serve families in our immediate context that have arisen through this new relationship.
An example of our work with Mitchell-Neilson: We received an email early this semester requesting help with with an unplanned shortage of lunch monitors. We sent out a last-minute request to church members, and a handful of us were able to respond. (We can’t take pictures of the kids, but the photos below represent our response team’s effort.)
Our desire to is to support the teachers, faculty, staff, and students in such as away as to convey God’s love for them. We’ve helped with field day, read books to classes, and helped stock the Soar Store with items for rewarding student behavior. One of our favorite things to do is delivering surprise treats to the teachers’ lounge (since so many of our members are teachers, we know how much this is appreciated). Most recently, we delivered a delicious chips and dips buffet just before Thanksgiving break. My daughter Ana used her mad skills to ink the posters below.
More good things are in the works—look for future updates. In the meantime, join us in prayer for all of our Mitchell-Neilson friends. We’re so grateful to God for the open doors that have accelerated this ministry in ways would couldn’t have imagined a year and a half ago. We’re hopeful that trust will grow and deeper relationships will soon emerge.