Speak life to your surroundings
From an article by Transform Our World
Anderson is a small town, population 10,000 in California’s Central Valley. It has a history of generational poverty, which accelerated around 30 years ago when the local mills closed down and the jobs disappeared. In their place came drugs, welfare and hopelessness, bundled with increased crime.
As a successful software executive with business sense, DeAnna Gallagher, along with her husband Mike, knew that Anderson was not the logical choice to take up residence, but God had placed it on their hearts because the town had become a place of sorrow.
The Gallaghers prayed and God responded. They were introduced to prayer evangelism by folk from Transform Our World. City leaders and business people, two groups not used to interacting, were brought together and were blessed and peace was spoken over them (Luke 10).
They were given a word that the colour yellow would be significant for them as they settled in Anderson.
In 2009, they gathered the Anderson leaders to take a poll of where they felt the pain was in the community. The Police Chief identified a particular neighbourhood that generated 80% of their police calls. That same area had one of the lowest life-expectancy rates in the county.
"The light went on for us about what a profound thing it would be to change that, so God would get the glory.” says DeAnna.
Then, there was an amazing turn of events. First, DeAnna sold her software company, which happened in a miraculously beneficial way. After the sale, God gave her a word she’d never heard before: ‘Manter.’ She internet-searched it, and discovered a bright yellow house for sale on a street called Manter Drive in the middle of the same neighbourhood identified by the Police Chief.
They took a drive to see the street for themselves and there were people walking around literally bent over; they could feel the weight of their hopelessness by just looking at them.
Next, they learned about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) that affect a person’s entire life. [See a blog on these here]. Did they have an incarcerated family member? Sexual, verbal, substance or physical abuse? Household mental illness? It turned out that most of these were not only present but were more than double the state average in this county. But, with God, needs become opportunities.
They bought Manter House and re-purposed it as a faith-based community center because they wanted hurting people to have a place to come in, have food, learn vital life-skills, and be listened to, in literally a family-room-type setting.
At first, the neighbourhood atmosphere felt very dark. But over time, many people reported a newfound sense of peace while on the property, and people who have been in the neighbourhood many years became openly amazed at the tangible changes they began to see around them.
DeAnna and Mike prayer-walked the neighbourhood whenever possible. Then, God led them to the ‘person of peace’ in their area, who was a public health employee, a Community Organizer assigned to our city and their neighbourhood. They offered Manter House as a connection point for her to meet the local residents, and she was overjoyed to accept. They knew the Holy Spirit was moving when she declared that she felt ‘all googly’ when she stepped onto the property.
As time went on, God began moving on a larger scale as the Gallaghers focused on building up their neighbours. The pastor of their church led their congregation to learn about prayer evangelism and city transformation through Transform Our World's teachings. They dedicated themselves to praying through a different school in the city each month.
Tangible results soon manifested:
1. In the same four block area around Manter House, there had been a 63% decrease in violent crime. DeAnna adds, “The Police Chief also recently reported that ‘We are one of the few cities in California where crime has gone down instead of up!’”
2. The Community Organizer and DeAnna put together a personal transformation curriculum called Future Story, which has gone to the top of the curriculums promoted because the outcomes have been so good at setting free those stuck in cycles of generational poverty.
3. The local school district has a new Superintendent who is bringing fresh vision and unity to his staff and Anderson community leaders. They have also seen increased participation by teachers and students in serving their community!
4. Once a year, every city employee in Anderson is hosted for a lunch facilitated by the church to express their love and appreciation for their lives and service.
5. The ministry has spread beyond Anderson and has been encompassed into a larger organization established to transform all of the county.
Summarizing their thoughts, DeAnna is enthusiastic: “Speak life to your surroundings and follow the trail God puts you on!”
This 2 min video gives you a flavour:
Why not learn more about prayer evangelism here?
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