An update from Bryan Kelly, at Common Grounds Ministries, serving our inner city communities in Montgomery:
A teenager, from Washington Park, that I have been meeting in a discipleship group with for years, recently said that he hears his own voice talking in his head. His voice talks, to him, constantly. He was terrified the rest of us in the group would think he was crazy. He thought he was the only one.
The voice in his head brought up constant doubts: about him, about God, about who can be trusted in his life, about any real sense of hope, about fears, shame, powerlessness, confusion, etc. He said it feels like a constant
He hears:“You are going to fail.”
“Nobody really cares about you.”
He, like you and me, doesn’t realize that so many voices make their way deep inside us and usually sound out as our own voice. Lies are deeply embedded and come from so many different directions. They end up
sounding like our own voice. Our small group spent some time, in honesty, listing the messages we
hear, feel, and the ones of which we live out. The vulnerability was palpable, to say the least.
We then asked a simple, but profound, question: If following Jesus (discipleship) is the call on our lives, how do we learn to clearly hear God’s voice above all the others? How do we move towards a place where the inner recognizable voice is His, and where the competing voices are recognized for what they really are?
After yet another theft from our property, an adult in our community told the kid who revealed who committed the crime, “I told you not to tell and to stay out of it!”
The adult said this because the young man who told was later engaged in a fight by a family member of the guilty party. The answer, the community answer, the cultural answer, is: “Don’t snitch!” That is the corporate voice.
According to the boys in my small group, many people in Gibbs Village know the identities of two murderers in unsolved crimes in our community. I asked them what has happened since the silence? They said four others
have been murdered in retaliation, each one building on the last. Because the inner and outer voices of our community hold to this way of life the young boys of our neighborhood grow up thinking they are standing
up for our neighborhood in their silence and violence, when in reality they are destroying it, their loved ones, and themselves.
It wasn’t until we listed the voices and messages they live by that the boys in my group could
vocalize that for themselves. We asked: What if God ‘s voice was the one you could discern, live by, and
love our neighborhood through…?
More and more young boys and girls are meeting the Lord, learning to hear his voice, and experiencing life change in our neighborhood. The temptations, destructive examples, and negative teachers are an overwhelming presence for these kids. It is sad and feels defeating many times.
Yet, light always overcomes darkness. God is using so many intentional Christians from inside and outside Washington Park to keep showing up and walking alongside kids and adults. The result is a spreading of the
Gospel, discipleship of many, and more and more pictures of radical love. God is at work.
Transformation is happening. May the radical love of God, long term discipleship of urban youth,
through the power of His Spirit raise up multiple generations of leaders who live by His voice! Thank you for praying for and partnering with our community.