In the early morning hours once a month, as a truckload of Feed the Valley food pallets is unloaded, a neighborhood begins to emerge to help pack and distribute 150 food boxes. They greet Cody and Lilly Wing, the neighborhood’s missionaries through Take the City’s Project Lifehouse– strategically placed homes that reach the neighborhood community for Christ.
A few years earlier, Steve & Kristen Bedsole discovered during COVID that food drives would be beneficial for the neighborhood. A local church, the Verge, with Pastor Chuck Odum, was inspired to come alongside and help. That’s when the Wings came on the scene.
As time passed, the Wings realized that the neighbors desired a true community– they were already holding block parties, for instance– but weren’t clear on the next thing to do to make it a reality, until the monthly food drives inspired them. “We found the heart of the neighborhood, which was not just come, get, go,” Cody said. “When they saw we were committed, they began to not only pick up a box, but began to help to distribute them and set up/tear down. They started serving each other.”
“Every month as we get together,” Lilly shared, “we pick one word we want to speak over our neighborhood and pray into that. They’re always ready to pray over what they want to see decrease and what needs to increase.” The sense of community addresses intangibles like loneliness and hopelessness and tangibly lifts the spirits of everyone involved.
People are also drawn to the Wings’ Lifehouse and frequently visit. One adolescent boy came onto the porch, just because “it feels comfortable and makes me feel safe.” Since then, he has started to hang out with Cody, helping him with projects.“Forging relationships are the key in trying to build community,” Cody reflected.
Even those still trapped in addiction come around and help every month, explaining, “Y’all are good people and are doing good things.” “Ultimately,” said Lilly, with Cody nodding in agreement, “we show them the One True good thing.”
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I have been serving in some way with Take the city since October 2013. I spent a lot of time on the prayer team in the beginning and encountered God’s heart for the city in a life changing way. When the teams came back and shared testimonies, it was always fun to see that our prayers coincided with some of their testimonies in special ways. More recently I have had the privilege of leading a team to a nursing home where I used to be an employee. I used to pray over the facility every day, and it was such a miracle to see an old friend who lives there give his life to Jesus on one of our outreaches a year later. God sure has a way of answering prayers. And Take the City is an answer to so many prayers that have gone up here.