Story 1 – Neighborhood Based: The Blitz at Moncrief Park
Pastor D grew up near Moncrief Park and from a very early age, began to preach and follow the Lord. Over the course of his life, he married Patricia, raised kids, worked in the city, served in churches, and looked for ways to bless the world. He regularly engaged in outreaches around Jacksonville for years, but his heart was steadily drawn back to the community he came from – which had become a center for crime, poverty, and broken families.
In 2020, Pastor D began to connect with other pastors in the Moncrief Park area and found an open field next to a church where he could gather people and resources. At the beginning of 2021, he used a football metaphor to put out a call for action. He invited people to a Blitz. In his words, “The devil’s been on offence in this neighborhood a long time. If you want to disrupt the offence, you call for a blitz!” The “blitz” was simple: gather, go for a prayer walk on the streets once a month, picking up the trash while walking. Afterwards, there would be a praise party with music and preaching. He put out the word. People started showing up to help.
A good many people volunteered and showed up to do whatever they could. But some of his helpers were leaders in their own right. The biggest help – his wife came out with his children to pray, serve, and to help set up. DJC brought the sound system. Robert came up to read and pray. Nan brought hot food to share. Someone from church brought clothes to give away. Someone else brought groceries. Tony B brought people who wanted to see a change. I brought a willingness to help anyway I could – and ended up being invited to preach.
One Saturday a month, in the open field, the team offered food and clothing for any with needs, and offering music, prayer, and preaching. During midweek, Pastor D would come back to gather kids for Bible Study. Remember the question: what is good news to the people? In this case, it was someone showed up who cared for their community. Someone is meeting needs here. Someone is offering love and hope in a place where both seem in scarce supply.
Over the year, the community of people gathering monthly grew. Anyone who desired to do something about the poverty and brokenness in Moncrief Park was welcome and included. Mission drew community, and now there is a community on mission. In that place, the name of Jesus is being lifted up. Prayer is being offered. Needs are being met. People have come to faith.
He was uniquely prepared for years to lead a mission like this. He was very clear about what needed to happen and how people could be involved. He sensed the time to start and began to engage. He invited and included others.
This work is ongoing.