The following guest post was written by Mercy Church member, Sam Carson.
Driving through the streets of Charlotte, I gain a deep and acute awareness of brokenness and poverty. But not solely speaking of the cracked sidewalks and overgrown lawns in this busy Charlotte neighborhood. But more so the brokenness and poverty lying deep within the hearts of the people themselves. Don’t misunderstand me. This doesn’t exist solely in certain areas of Charlotte. But it exists everywhere there’s a soul. So thus began my heart getting caught in the wake of God’s movement, like that of a paddle boat getting caught in the wake of the Titanic. I couldn’t stop it from happening even if I wanted to.
A few weeks go by before I find myself reading about these laborers in the marketplace who get hired out by this master to tend his vineyard. Being appointed by the master at different times each to the same work, and each agreeing on the same pay as the others, the laborers who were there from the beginning start complaining to God. ‘How come they’re getting paid just as much as we are? We’ve been working much longer than they have.’ Looking back I now see that I’m not much different from those first laborers. My complaint? ‘Where is everyone else? Why aren’t other laborers here? Do they not know that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers few?’ Complaints or not, God still called me.
A few months go by and I find myself worshipping God with other believers before passing out chili cheese dogs to the homeless among the streets in Uptown. It was that night that I found what God had been calling me to months earlier. There are only a few other times in life when I had been more excited than I was in that moment.
I heard about Adopt-A-Block that night for the first time, and when I did, I was in awe. God had been calling me to something and, finally, it was before me. And I jumped right in.
Like Adopt-A-Highway programs that you may be familiar with, Adopt-A-Block is the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center’s (or simply the Dream Center) way of letting neighborhoods around Charlotte know they love them and are committed to serving them every Saturday.
Very quickly I also started serving at Reid Park Live, the Dream Center’s outreach designed to target middle and high school students in the Reid Park neighborhood. This is where I would later meet Jamariea Patterson and his cousin Bernardo Jr (more commonly known as Mari and BJ, respectively). These guys were thrilled to study the Bible together with me. And they both loved coming to Mercy, so much so that Mari said he’d never had a stronger desire to go back to church than what he had for Mercy. They have now both been regularly attending Mercy for the past three months. They have even been baptized since giving their lives to Christ and are now learning how to follow Jesus.
It’s amazing to see God moving through these kids’ lives, but also through others that we serve. There are countless stories of the impact the Dream Center is having on people, or shall I say, God is having on people. And do you want to know the best part about all of this? The best part is that God’s not done!
God is not done calling His children to deny themselves and to picking up their crosses to follow Jesus. Like God did for me, He is calling you. God is drawing you. Don’t resist, just surrender. You’ll be glad you did. And so will others. So will others.