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Lowertown

Craig Felker

Craig & Wife FTR 476704_10150730864333363_1761869264_o copyMy wife and I recently sold our home to move into an apartment in Lowertown, an arts district in Paducah, Kentucky. We had owned a home in the suburbs, a house with a red door and a huge yard, located within a mile of our families. But God had another plan for us, which began to unfold when we discovered the community coffee shop in Lowertown. We developed such a love for the people there that the coffee shop became our second home. It became part of our rhythm of life.

One day, after leaving the coffee shop, we had a revelation that changed our lives: The passion we had for Lowertown wasn’t ours; it was God’s. God’s love had been implanted in our hearts.

Since moving into the neighborhood, I have met each week with a friend who doesn’t have faith but reads scripture and confesses sins to me. (How awesome and strange is that?) On Thursdays, I attend a morning prayer service with the guy who lives next door. My wife and I have developed deep relationships with the people of our community. God has given us a heart and a mission to love our neighbors as family. We celebrate, share meals, hang out, make wedding plans, and suffer hardships together.

I have always thought of a missionary as someone who lived in a straw hut in a foreign country. While God calls us to the nations, God also calls us to our neighbors, to live and serve locally as well as globally. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NRSV). Second Corinthians 5:20 (NRSV) says that “we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” I’ve started to view myself as a missionary and an ambassador to my friends and neighbors.

How can you be a missionary or an ambassador for Christ today? You can go out of your way to do something special for a friend, sit with someone no one else talks to, rake leaves in a neighbor’s yard, or pick up a shift to help someone at work. What you do isn’t as important as why you’re doing it. Living and serving locally is about who you are: a missionary and an ambassador for Christ.

Think about the rhythm of your life. I spend time every day in a coffee shop with my family of neighbors. The rhythm of your life might include a job, school, sports. Ask God for opportunities to speak to people in these arenas about how God’s love is at work in your life and about your experiences with Jesus.

If you are thinking, I can’t do this by myself, remember that Jesus says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NKJV). Christ isn’t calling us to do this alone. Christ is right there with us. Be encouraged because Christ has great plans for you. Trust his leading, and start seeing yourself as his ambassador.

 

DIG DEEPER

Hearts of Saints image

Think about who you are and how you will live as a follower of Christ. Next, think of your neighbors, the people you interact with every day. Which of them have faith in God? Give thanks for the ways you encourage one another in living out your faith. Then consider how you think about or interact with your neighbors who do not believe in God. Write their names in a journal and pray for them every day. What are some practical ways to show them the love of Christ?

 

Hearts of Saints photo by Ben DeReinzo

Craig Felker is the frontman for the band Hearts of Saints and a missionary to Lowertown in Padukah, Kentucky.

—from devozine (January/February 2014). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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