Neighborhood Ministries keeps growing, and things have been moved from here to there around the property lately. I was looking for some particular boxes that held our archives. It meant pulling all kinds of boxes down just to find what I was looking for.
You see, our friends, the architecture firm of Nelson Partners, is creating a book that tells their 30-year story of their marvelous accomplishments, and beautifully, they want to include their journey with us, the miracle of participating in designing and helping us build this property.
Boxes and boxes and boxes filled my office, it smelled of old photographs and paper. I started sifting through memories of peoples’ lives and the stories of this place. I got lost in what God has done, what he had planned long ago … the amazing things … the answered prayers, the years of prayer, the waiting for him to work and then he did. I wanted to sit, really sit with my THANKSGIVING … God you have done amazing things. How we can, and often, hurry through our hallelujahs. I didn’t this time.
Heather from Nelson Partners came by to pick up what I had found. She walked into the mountain of boxes and stacks of pictures and unsorted memories and smiled. She is new to us and was happy I was looking for what she needed, I think. “Want to walk around?”, I asked. I wanted to tell the story before I gave her evidence, picture wise, of what I was going to tell her. I wanted her to imagine what Brad Nelson agreed to be involved with in 1999. And so we walked together down to what we call the north end of the property.
“Here”, I said, “this whole eight acres was encapsulated by razor wire, filled with broken buildings, a property with layers of debris, weeds and tipped over grain silos. E.J. Montini from the Arizona Republic had just written an article in the newspaper calling this neighborhood, ‘The most dangerous neighborhood in Phoenix.’” Then I showed her the picture of what we showed donors, the children in the ministry, our church, the ministry team and volunteers, actually you all saw it too, because so many of you were with us in those days …
… a future unimaginable at the time, a beautiful community center, carved out of rubble and discarded life.
We walked and talked, she recorded the stories, the dreams of what it would become, the handprint of her firm on building after building. The development of this place. We got back to my office and I gave her boxes of pictures and fundraising materials from the journey of the past twenty years.
Then Dalila came by, she needed some t-shirts printed at Opportunitees. She is the Executive Director for Elevate Phoenix now. “Dee, I found some pictures of you when you were in high school during Kids Club, want to see them?” Two hours later and memories upon memories of all God has done … we talked.
Then Tony walked in, a State Senator now. “Want to see your youth group photo albums? I found them in all of these boxes.” He sat with them for a while, remembering. “Here is your summer intern fundraising letter from when you were 17,” I said. One of our staff heard Tony introduced at a public meeting as “from” Neighborhood Ministries.
Then Tanya at bible study … whose dad’s funeral we all just did, “Your picture is on my desk from when you were about 10,” I said. There is Jessica, holding a little girl, who we think must be about 34 now. Then a stack of pictures of Raul when he was a kid, today his air conditioning company fixes the 150 units on our property all year long.
I’m still sorting through 37 years of our Neighborhood Ministries life. And I proclaim … “God, you have done amazing things. You have always done what you said you would do; you have done what you planned long ago. I honor you and praise you, Lord, you are my God.”
As we come into this Thanksgiving season, we want to thank you, our dear friends, for walking with us all these years. Will you continue? We need you! Join us as a team member, through prayer, or with a special Thanksgiving gift that continues the work of God in this place. We hope you will.
You may remember our special friend who wishes to remain anonymous. He or she agreed to match all gifts made to Neighborhood Ministries this month, up to $50,000. That means, right now, your support will make twice the impact in the lives of the children and families we serve!
Thank you again. On behalf of all of us at Neighborhood Ministries, we wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving.
P.S. Don’t forget, the matching gift doubles all gifts this month – including tax credit gifts! That means gifts up to $400 or $800, that you can claim as a credit on your taxes, will be DOUBLED as well! (see insert for more information) This is an opportunity to effectively give $800 or $1,600 worth of hope this season – for free! Thanks again and Happy Thanksgiving!