My favorite GUPY Bible study, perhaps, was on Jeremiah 29:1-14, where we talk about being Owners and not Renters. Many Christians know Jeremiah 29:11 by heart (for I know the plans I have for you…), but most don’t realize it was spoken to a people in exile, in a foreign land, who were being encouraged by God to seek the good of a city that was utterly opposed to Him and His people.
As we read and study the passage during GUPY, we talk about how God was urging His people to be Owners in that city, to be there for the long haul (70 years), not having a Renter mindset of just passing through. We talk about Jeremiah 29:8, where God tells His people to have His dreams and plans, not their own, and we talk about living counter to the American dreams of prosperity and comfort. It’s always a challenging passage for the students and sets a good tone for our summer.
What has really brought me joy in recent years is to see that the things God asks of His displaced people (Israel) are things that have happened in Glenwood in the past 10 years since Diane and I displaced ourselves here. We have built houses (bought a house, and there are now 4 more intentional home-owners in our Glenwood group); we have planted gardens (in our own yards and the Glenwood Garden); we have had children and seen other families join us; and we have increased in number (there are now 9 intentional households connected to our church or spun off from GUPY’s past in Glenwood). God has brought His promises for blessing and change to life.
And I think it has been encouraging for GUPY’s through the years to know that God has good plans for His people, plans to prosper and not harm, and that prosperity can look different in a poor-er neighborhood. Prosperity in community and relationship; prosperity in learning to pray in response to need; prosperity of hope.
As we wrapped up GUPY this summer, I was excited to see that GUPY’s from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2011 now make their home here in Glenwood. I am excited to know that 56 students have spent their summer in our home and with our community, pouring into Glenwood kids and their families, and even my own kids. I love how the kids in our tutoring program watched eagerly for the GUPY’s to be walking the neighborhood on their first day here. And I can see how GUPY’s have advanced the work of Glenwood Family Ministries by being examples of Christ and of young men and women who are in college, working towards a degree.
As we think back to 10 years of living here, we’ve seen a tutoring program grow from 4 students in our living room, one day a week, to over 50 students overtaking Grace Community Church three days a week, cared for by over 100 volunteers. And that tutoring program is now a part of a non-profit and has its own full-time staff.
In the past month, three loooong time addicts from Glenwood have come to get help with rehab from drugs and alcohol.
And my family and I feel rooted, anchored, and at home at the corner of Silver and Haywood.
On 9-24-01, I wrote: I will be free. We will be a part of this neighborhood. We will love and eventually we will be loved. I will walk in the power and freedom of Christ. You are my hope, O Lord, and you are our protector.
And God has brought it to pass.