This week, our featured blogger is Melissa Long, who is the program director of Boy With A Ball Boston (BWAB). She began her journey with BWAB after the Lord called her out of a career in science and into a career of loving others. Since joining the team, her relationship with Jesus has strengthened, and she can’t wait to see what the Lord will do as she and others love the city of Boston. Click below to read about how Melissa is doing the long, slow work of relationship building, and letting go to see kingdom movement take place.
“As I’ve set out to build a team who together will achieve this God-sized task of creating mentorship relationships and small groups based on what individuals need to reach their dreams, I knew that I needed to rely on the Lord’s wisdom, power, and work rather than my own.”
As a ministry leader, I often meet with individuals, but there has been one meeting that I’ll never forget, where the Lord gave me a taste of His power and work to come. It was a sunny day in late February, and I was with two of Boy With a Ball’s global leaders and one of Boston’s ministry leaders, seated at a picnic table overlooking the Charles River. I was about to move to Boston in a few short weeks to relaunch the local site of Boy With a Ball, a faith-based youth and community development organization whose mission is to help young people reach their dreams and to use their lives to love and transform cities. I came into the meeting with specific ideas of how it’d go and what I’d say, and I became frustrated when the conversation went in an unexpected direction.
In that moment, I faced a conscious decision: would I remain frustrated by and bound to my own expectations, or would I submit to the Lord and join Him in what He was doing? The meeting continued, and I quickly decided to surrender to the Lord. And just like that, I felt like I was submerged into the river of who He is, going where He was going, unsure of where the conversation would go, but excited to see what He had in store behind each twist and turn. In that February meeting with the Lord, I started to see Him mightily picking up the logs and brambles in my path to clear the way. I had no idea that in the months that followed, He would continue to clear my path in ways even mightier than this.
In mid-March, I arrived in Boston to relaunch the city’s site of Boy With a Ball. We organize a neighborhood-based outreach called Love Your City, our model for loving and serving at-risk neighborhoods. As part of Love Your City, our team and volunteers go on weekly Walkthroughs in the neighborhood each Saturday to meet and build friendships with community members. As friendships grow, we learn about what individuals are facing, and as we see common barriers, we can then create mentorship relationships and small groups (ESL classes, tutoring centers, parent groups, etc.) based on what individuals need to reach their dreams. As I’ve set out to build a team who together will achieve this God-sized task, I knew that I needed to rely on the Lord’s wisdom, power, and work rather than my own.
We’ve been laying the groundwork to launch Love Your City in an apartment community in Jackson Square, and part of this foundation involved building relationships with the office staff managing the apartments. We started with dropping by the office to get to know the staff and see how they were doing. Our friendships deepened as we continued going by and helped out with a maintenance day at the apartments.
Several weeks later, I met with the manager of the apartments to learn more about her office and to share about who Boy With a Ball is. After I shared, the project manager turned to me and said, “You have my blessing and support to go door-knocking here. You’re going to need a way to get into the buildings during the week, and you can see us for access as you need it. I’d also love to show you the conference room we have that you’re welcome to use anytime. And you should have a table with us at a cookout we’re hosting next month to share about what you’re doing with the community!” I didn’t expect this at all, and I can’t fully convey how amazing this breakthrough is! We thought it would take many more months of loving and serving to see a community partner help us become established in the community. Because of this move of the Lord, we were able to launch our weekly Walkthroughs in early September! We’ve seen the Lord make a way for us each week, and we’re so excited for how He will lead us into deeper relationships with families in the community.
At this point, there are many areas where we need volunteers to join us and use their gifts to love a hurting neighborhood: joining us on Walkthroughs, learning about the community with us, recruiting other volunteers, grant writing, social media/communications, and fundraising!
But even more than that, we’re so excited to see how the Lord will continue clearing our path and drawing us into deeper relationship with Him as we go with Him into loving this city. It will start with a growing group of volunteers with unique giftings and backgrounds uniting from businesses, churches, and universities all across the city under the mission of Boy With a Ball to love a hurting neighborhood. But our hope is that it would expand to these volunteers uniting in other areas of life under the greater mission of Jesus Christ to love those all around them. As believers, we’re called to share the love of Jesus and advance His kingdom on earth, but just one person, or even one organization or church, is limited in their ability to take on this God-sized calling alone. When only two or three people gather, Jesus is there (Matthew 18:20). Imagine what He could do in a neighborhood or in a whole city when that number grows exponentially.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about Boy With A Ball in Jackson Square and how you can be involved, you can contact Melissa at email@example.com.