On Tuesday some signs were put up on our block that say “NO BALL PLAYING” this has left the neighborhood in an uproar, the police have been standing on the corner to enforce this, and the homeowners at the end of our block have been out on the streets telling the kids that they need to take their fun elsewhere. There are a few reasons that the neighbors are heated about this, one is these signs were put up with a petition, however none of the neighbors at the end of the block where my home is were asked to sign a petition, the signs are posted between one house and another on the block and it is unclear about where no ball playing is too take place, and no one seems to have a clue what the real “rules” about these signs are. Last night one of the officer who was on the corner monitoring said ball playing, told me he assumed it was for the whole block but he wasn’t sure. I am a little unsure about how he can enforce these rules if he’s not even clear about them.
I politely told this “friendly” officer that I run a program at the church and that we play outside a lot and that I planned to continue to play ball in front of my property, and I thought it was ridiculous that I was being told what to do on my block in front of my house. His solution for me was to call the Southeast district community officers, which I do plan to do today. So as I was walking home last night from speaking with this officer, I knew exactly why the signs had been placed on the block, I knew exactly who had petitioned for these signs to be put up, and I too felt the anger of my neighbors, because the reality is these kids are playing football or bouncing a basketball, they could be standing on the corner hustling drugs, they could be busting out car windows, they could be clearing out our homes, but they aren’t they are playing ball.
As I walked home a couple of the boys told me that the neighbors who wanted peace and quiet on the block yelled at them earlier for running down the block, that they told them they needed to learn how to play in a park, this made me even more angry, but as I walked past their house God reminded I was put on this block to love ALL of my neighbors, and that I should pray for my neighbors, and help them to see the movement we are trying to start with the kids on our block, I should pray for Him to be revealed to them through us and what we are doing here and that I should invite them down on a Wednesday evening to hang out with us and see that the kids really aren’t that bad, they are just kids. In my head I argued with God about all the reasons why I didn’t want to do this, but He gently reminded me of Matthew 22:37-39, “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,” those neighbors deserve the same kind of love that I would give Ms. Ray, Ms. Ida, Big D or Ms. Crystal. They are no different, just a little more difficult to love.
So since I never see them, today I am going to send them an email and invite them to join us for church on Sunday and then tell them I would love for them to come and spend some time loving the kids with us on Wednesday evening, and through this I will get to love on them. I prayed in front of their home last night that they would be open to what God is going to do here and that their hearts would be open to my emails and invitations.
So would you pray for me today as I call the Southeast District and find out the actual rules of these signs, and as I send an email to my neighbors inviting them to church and to hang out with the kids? Would you pray that God would bridge the gap between them and the other neighbors, and they would see the community they are missing out on?