As 2013 came to a close, the violence in Oakland continued at an alarming rate. Forbes magazine again declared it as one of the most dangerous cities in America, second only to Detroit in crime statistics. Not a honor we celebrate, but a fateful reminder to how important our ministry is there.
Our World Impact Oakland site happens to be located in a key location of the West Oakland community. Our Leadership Training Home is positioned directly across the street from a liquor store and adjacent to a notorious drug dealing hotspot. Although the liquor store serves as a grocery store, candy store, and gathering place for the neighborhood, it also draws high levels of crime. Just two days after Christmas, a 26-year-old man was fatally shot there in broad daylight. This event barely made the news, but had a profound effect in our neighborhood. Perhaps, the media saw this as an isolated incident, but unfortunately, this is the second shooting at the same location in the last 30 days!
Many have questioned the wisdom of placing our Christian Leadership Training Home in such a violent location. After events like this recent homicide, I too worry about the safety of our team of emerging leaders and staff who live across the street from this ominous liquor store. But, as we gather together, it is our men that continue to encourage me to let our facility be a light in this dark corner. If Christians choose to move away from dangerous and violent communities, the opportunities to witness to the residents of crucial and under-resourced communities is lost.
Our adjacent church plant, Bay Community Fellowship, was open during the days following the shooting. The Pastor and church team reminded the residents that Christ is still drawing his beloved to Himself. “It is our responsibility to love our neighbors,” says Deacon Dennis. “The work is just beginning, if fact, this is when it really matters.”
Please, please, keep our Oakland leaders and missionaries in your prayers this month. They are our extension of God’s love in a very difficult neighborhood. To that end, we would also like to raise some additional funds to upgrade our property there. Some safety improvements and security equipment would greatly benefit our efforts in this area. Contact me ASAP if you can help.