Recently I moved to a new city and one of the hardest parts about the move was feeling like an outcast. I moved alone and really didn't know anyone other than the leasing agent at my apartment complex. I took the first couple of weeks to learn my way around and find a couple of spots that felt comfortable for me. You know you always have those go to spots where you can get a great cheap meal, pick up a snack, get some work done, or just grab a dessert and think. I found them fairly quickly but I was still alone.
I had decided that once I moved I was going to step out of my comfort zone and try some new things so I came across an author's workshop online and decided to go. At the time I had no idea this would be a major turning point in my time here in this new city. I browsed the tables and chatted with the authors about their products, read the covers of the books and made a few purchases. I stopped at one table in particular and the author standing there was like a pot of bubbling brown sugar. She was so warm and inviting, sweet, engaging and you could see the joy bubbling over in her smile.
We chatted a bit about mental health issues and the church and how seeking help has been so taboo in the black community. I told her that I completely understood, shared with her that I am a social worker and a minister so I see it from both sides. We talked a bit more and she began to ask me more about myself, tell me more about what she does and eventually invited me to be a part of The Tour.
In that moment I had no idea what the tour really was but in the weeks to come I would discover that it's a huge community, a family even. The Tour is a traveling ministry and evangelism group that goes into communities to bring Jesus to the people right where they are. I participated in the first few events and met some of the other members. Our first big event truly opened my eyes to how much of a community it is.
There were about 35 members present for an outdoor festival. We arrived at 7am to set up and were supposed to be there until 7pm. We all shared tables, tents, food, drinks, and whatever resources were needed. We took turns watching and working at one another's product tables, assisting people in need of prayer and supporting the artist on the stage. It was amazing. I only knew 4 out of the 35 but everyone embraced me, supported my vision, celebrated the release of my book, and patronized my table.
After that even many of them helped me spread the word about my book, invited me to other events, introduced me to other authors & publishers, connected me with job leads or hired me for graphic design services. I'd been in my previous city almost my entire life and NEVER got that kind of support from the people I've been laboring with my whole life. I've been in my new city for 5 months now and I've done more, accomplished more, and met more people in this time than I could have possibly done in my home community.
I said all of that for two reasons.
1. We need to get back to a true sense of community. We need each other to thrive and flourish. We need one another to hold up those arms when we get tired. We need the villages back to help raise the children. We can't expect change to happen on a broad scale if we're not actively engaged, supporting, and contributing to our communities. We have to support local businesses, local programs and non-profits, grass roots movements, and local talent. There are so many untapped resources all around you...
2. Your home community may not be the place that receives you. It may be your training ground before being launched. Sometimes God will allow us to flow in a place that is like a trickle in the dessert before He allows us to step into the true power and force of what He has for us. Don't despise your community if they're not supporting you. Do what you can while you're there, serve diligently until God moves you. Even if only one person is impacted, you've been effective.
At the heart of any community there has to be love. That same love that moved God to compassionately give His son for us. The same love that is shown every time So Loved provides a meal, pays a bill, gives a scholarship, hosts an event, or serves in the community. This world can be a very scary place but perfect love casts out all fear. So Love!!
Daytona Beach, FL