Photo above: A sign in a shawarma restaurant owned by an Eritrean woman from a neighbourhood in Clarkston, MI where the Vision Team members stopped. The restaurant serves as a community hub.
In March, a group of MoveIn Vision Team members took the MoveIn vision to 13 cities across the East Coast of the United States. They researched potential patches, spread the vision, and established partnerships with churches and organizations already working among the unreached, urban poor.
Emily, U.S. representative for MoveIn, led a team of MoveIn staff along America's East Coast in the first U.S. trip of its kind that MoveIn has done.
As she saw firsthand what MoveIn could look like in this country, she says she was struck by how much the neighbourhoods they visited felt like home: “MoveIn patches have this kind of unique DNA where they feel very similar, even though they’re so diverse.”
In Clarkston, Georgia, Emily and her team visited a neighbourhood that housed 9,000 refugees in one square mile. Through conversations with community members, they noticed the prevalence of trauma. When Emily asked about gun violence, she learned that machetes are the most common weapon used in the neighbourhood.
While in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the team visited a neighbourhood called Allison Hill, which Emily describes as one of the worst neighbourhoods she’s ever walked through in North America. "You really do sense that this is the bad part of town," she says, noting that, yet, so many beautiful people live there.
The team met many women who intentionally live in rough neighbourhoods and are willing to risk their lives to love their neighbours. Emily says the level of danger in some of these neighbourhoods is a definite challenge to consider when trying to mobilize Christians to move in in the States. She mentions two college girls who had previously moved in as a MoveIn team in Allison Hill and heard gun shots on several occasions.
Emily says she is excited about what God can do through those graduating from the many Christian colleges across the States: “My heart is that the generation of young people who are asking God for vision for their life are still in that phase of dreaming for the world, that God would take that and make a movement out of it.” These schools, Emily believes, could be the sending ground for committed and passionate MoveIners.
Emily says she was surprised in a good way by how active the church is in these broken neighbourhoods: "The Church is seeking to love them.” She described many of the communities as being saturated by church presence, with support programs reaching out to refugees in every area they visited. If MoveIn is going to mobilize in the U.S., Emily says, it will need to establish strong partnerships.
Please pray for the poor and unreached in the U.S., and pray for healing from the trauma caused by violence. Pray for the churches that are active through programs and other outreach efforts that they would have God’s favour. Finally, pray for brave and willing servants who will take risks to live alongside America's most vulnerable