In Thomas Wolfe's 1940 novel, You Can't Go Home Again, the main character George Weber returns to his hometown only to be shaken by the force of the outrage and hatred that greets him.
Growing up in North Minneapolis, I have never really had a desire to return home again. For the last fifty years the north side has been plagued with drugs and violence. Recently, however, the Lord began nudging me to lead an outreach into my old neighborhood.
Whenever the Holy Ghost gives direction, I always wait for the supply. God's provision came in the form of a call for help from Father Roger, senior pastor of St. Andrews Episcopal Church on James Avenue North. Father Roger shared that few churches in the community reach out, but he wanted to change that.
So Father Roger and I began planning a fall leaf raking project with his immigrant congregation. Although I knew that executing this kindness outreach was something we could do well, I was concerned that our workers might be reluctant to venture into the 'hood' to serve.
Well, I was wrong. Last Saturday, October 20, thirty workers from Living Word, some of whom drove from Faribault, Bloomington, Elk River and St. Paul raked leaves in fourteen yards for two hours. We had so much fun! One of our teams was even rewarded with hot chocolate and doughnuts.
What made my whole day more special was meeting a young minister named Melanie March Leehy. I learned that she is the daughter of one of my high school friends, Johnny March. Melanie, who works with Pastor Roger, has a dynamic ministry to hurting people on the north side. She reminded me so much of her dad.
Every yard that we raked received a message of God's love. The most important lesson I learned on Saturday was that you can go back home because home is where the heart is.