Archive for the ‘Ministry in Baltimore’ Category

rayI’m not much of a football fan, but I do want to see a great blessing on my city of Baltimore.  I love the joy and the hope that a winning Raven’s score inspires.  I love the camaraderie and brotherhood of cheering neighbors.  I love hearing veteran linebacker, Ray Lewis, say through tears, “No weapon formed against us shall prosper!”

I remember back to the stories after the Super Bowl of 2000 when Ray Lewis was embroiled in a nightclub murder investigation, doing his own thing, living his own way.  To be honest, this city is full of people who look like the Ray Lewis of 2000.  Talented, loveable people, who in living their own way, who in doing their own thing, have gotten caught up in the wave of destruction that has pushed them in way over their head, and fully beyond their own power to regain control.

But in the past 13 years we have seen a different Ray Lewis.  A Ray Lewis who wears Psalm 91 on his undershirt, a Ray Lewis who unselfishly encourages his teammates, and to my understanding a Ray Lewis who has humbled himself before an Almighty God and has experienced a life transformation.

May Ray Lewis be a sign for our city.  A sign of hope.  A sign of victory.  A sign to the one enraptured, then captured, then capsized by sin, that there is yet hope and a future –hope that comes through our rescuer and redeemer, Jesus Christ – the one who makes all things new!

Psalm 91 speaks to us, my dear Baltimore friends,

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the AlmightyI will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Baltimore – This is your time!

A Love That Lasts

Posted: February 10, 2012 in Ministry in Baltimore

I fell in love with the Wilkens Avenue Mennonite Church community of inner city Baltimore when I was an early teen.  Coming from rural PA to help with Vacation Bible School, I was enthralled by the noise, the action, and the accessibility of neighbors living close-by.  But more than that, I was drawn by the feelings of acceptance and love that I felt from the people at Wilkens Avenue Mennonite Church.

Twenty-five years later, my husband and I find ourselves living here in Baltimore and pastoring this same church.  I still love this community.  Where else can you go where people are just sitting out on their front steps, ready to include you in their conversation?  Where else are neighbors so intimately involved in one another’s lives – for good or for bad?  Of course my eyes are now opened to the difficulties of life here, too, the hopelessness, the layers of bondage that addiction brings, the poverty, the dearth of positive examples to follow.  But consequently, it’s a simple thing to shine in the darkness here – as simple as meeting and caring for a neighbor with the love of Christ.  The hard part is continuing to shine with faith and love, and to not fall prey to the hopelessness that always lurks in dark places.

As a congregation we are learning that in this atmosphere it is vital that we stand together and recognize our need for one another.  The needs outside the walls of the church as well as inside are often too great and we cannot face them alone.  Our weekly Care Groups are vital places where we are refreshed and where we invite others to be refreshed.

We also understand that the church building itself can sometimes be a barrier to those who feel too ashamed or too different to enter.  We have endeavored to go outside as much as possible to break down this barrier and make Jesus and His Church a little more accessible, with outdoor services on our front parking lot (complete with hotdogs and snow cones) and outdoor prayer meetings which allow those passing by on the sidewalk to casually join in for needed prayer.

Lastly, in the past few years in particular, we have found partnerships with others to be so valuable:  Nueva Esperanza, a beginning Latino church plant, meeting in our building on Sunday evenings and sharing our heart for reaching this neighborhood;  Narcotics Anonymous, ministering to over 100 addicts each week on our front parking lot and in our church basement; college students with the Baltimore Urban Program volunteering their time; Westside Assembly of God, a near-by church, sharing services with us this winter while their church was under construction; churches from PA helping with a new neighborhood food ministry; work groups who have come to help on projects in our church and school.  We genuinely appreciate the larger Body of Christ that interconnects with us and encourages us here at Wilkens Avenue Mennonite!

-Marita Scholtz