KOH2RVA: Day 62

This is probably not the best picture that’s ever been taken of him (I snapped it with my cell phone while we were having coffee), but this guy may have the best name in the evangelism business. This is Ricky Love: Church Planter.

Ricky’s from West Virginia, just like me. He went to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, just like me. He has a wife and two lovely daughters, just like me. He lives in Richmond, Virginia, just like me.

But here’s where we’re different:

Ricky and his family live on Church Hill in Richmond, right next to the Fairfield Court housing project. It’s one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, and also one of the most violent. I asked Ricky if he ever hears gunshots at night and he said yes. I asked him how his wife feels about that and he just smiled and shook his head. But Ricky is not just talking the talk, he is walking the walk, and here’s how he does it:

He spends his time in the neighborhood around his house, building relationships and making friends. Once or twice a week he invites everybody over to his house, where they eat some food, and study the Bible, and say prayers for each other. Attendance varies from week to week, but Ricky says they usually have twenty or thirty who come. He says someday they hope to be big enough to need a separate building, but for now they can squeeze into his house, and for now that’s a good thing.

Yesterday I was asking if the church has a future. I believe that it does, and I believe the future of the church may be what Ricky Love is doing: it may be the followers of Jesus going out into their neighborhoods, building relationships and making friends, and then inviting those people to come to their homes for food, fellowship, Bible study and prayer. That’s what the church looked like in the earliest days of its existence, and that may be what it looks like again.

I think that’s a reason to be hopeful. And I think it raises the possibility that almost any of us could do what Ricky is doing. We may not all have theological training. We may not all have the courage to move to Church Hill. But we could all invite some friends over to share food, and study the Bible, and pray for each other, couldn’t we?

Maybe this is how the Kingdom of Heaven will come to Richmond, Virginia–one neighborhood at a time.

2 thoughts on “KOH2RVA: Day 62

  1. This is so encouraging! My husband and I sold our beautiful new home (built in 2004) and bought 2 one-hundred year old houses in a very transitional neighborhood close to downtown. The apartments were purchased with the idea in mind that we could provide clean, reasonably priced apts. for young singles moving into the city to work (I’m pastor of single adults at our church). Our grown children say we moved to “the hood.” We rehabbed a former duplex lower apartment in one of the house for us to live in. This was 3 years ago. We are learning much about the working poor and those who struggle even to find and keep jobs. We’ve learned that they are very generous with one another. We’ve learned that they watch our backs, too. We’ve learned that it is far too easy for comfortably affluent folks to judge and make assumptions about the poor that are ridiculous stereotypes and often quite untrue. We’ve learned that working together, listening to these folks and involving them in faith-based community organizing CAN make a difference! Recently our mayor’s suggested budget that would have cut major funds to our public transportation was overridden after a city hall-packed meeting to protest it changed minds. Several of our churches and clergy have banded together to organize and fight predatory lending which charges an average of 450% APR with only 15 days to pay back. We are confident that even with the millions of dollars poured in to keep those ridiculous (and immoral) rates, we will be able to overcome this and find new ways of helping those who have crisis needs for small loans. God is good. We are loving our neighborhood (which is also only 5 blocks from our church) and have not regretted our decision for a moment! Here’s hoping more will consider doing things like this! We can be the presence of Christ in our lower-income neighborhoods!

  2. You are so right, Jim!! This is the premise that The Micro-Church is based on. Invite some friends, neighbors over to watch FBC on tv with you. Share some good food and fellowship together. It’s the next step in getting them to FBC!! 🙂

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