Calling Out to God

Posted on by COYFC

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”  (Zechariah 4:10)

by Steve Knotts
Director, City Life Center
“Sammy” lived in South Park, a housing project just south of our City Life Center. South Park is known as a rough place to live. Drugs and crime are common. We’ve impacted a small handful of kids from that neighborhood, but most stop coming around in high school as they become more immersed in the gangs and delinquent activity that surrounds them.
This was true of Sammy. During middle school he came regularly to the Center for Bible studies and activities, and even accepted Christ during one of our JV summer camps. But when he reached high school he got involved with the streets so we saw him less and less.
In August 2017, Sammy was shot to death in the South Park neighborhood. His funeral was one of the saddest things I’ve ever attended.  But it also inspired our City Life team to cry out to God on behalf of the young people of this troubled neighborhood, and ask Him what He wanted YFC to do.
At this same time, a young man named Peniel was seeking God’s direction for his life. Peniel grew up in an apartment complex similar to South Park (maybe even worse). He’d seen friends get involved with gangs, and even saw friends shot to death in front of him. He’d been following Christ for a few years, and was attending church in another part of town. But one day, as he was on his way home from work, he felt God ask, “Peniel, what if I called you to leave everything and go back to the Westside?” 
Through God-orchestrated events, Peniel has joined our staff and is leading a new work in South Park. And a dynamic and diverse team of volunteers -- young and old, male and female, black, white, Asian -- has joined him to make an impact on these young people.  The team prays together every week, volunteers every week at the small rec center in that neighborhood, and has even begun a small Bible club. 
And God is honoring this effort! Over the last year several kids have come to believe in Jesus. Many youth are taking part in leadership and character-focused small groups. And a few families in the neighborhood have begun to read the Bible together as a family. One mom recently thanked the team, through tears of joy, for their impact on her two sons. The leader of the rec center has also said that the volunteer team is one of the best he’s ever had.
God cares about broken people in tough circumstances way more than we do.  He answers prayer, sometimes even before we ask.  And He wants to use His people to be a blessing on all people in every location, including -- and maybe especially -- the very difficult ones. 
Prayer is a huge foundation of any significant work for God.  Peniel and his team are very dedicated to prayer.  Pray that God would protect, grow and guide this team and continue to give them favor with the youth, families and community leaders.  Pray that God works through them powerfully to be a blessing to all the people in the South Park neighborhood!
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