BY LESLIE COWELL
Five years ago, I heard about a ministry called Common Ground Montgomery.
I was sitting in a Sunday school class at my church discussing mission work in the inner city, specifically about moving into neighborhoods to serve alongside the existing community. A guy next to me raised his hand and said, “You know there is a ministry doing this kind of work in Montgomery.” I immediately went home, found the website, and emailed CGM founder Bryan Kelly. We made plans to meet, and my life has never been the same.
One of the biggest ways that CGM has impacted me is that it has made me more relational, and this change in me has been on my mind the past few days. Relational is a scary word for me. I’m a very focused and driven person. I don’t have time to chat; there’s work to be done!
...I’d always been this way.
In the past, I filled my schedule with stuff to do, and stopping to spend time with people - well that just wasn’t on my radar at all. I'm a very private person and, perhaps, guarded by distance in that privacy. One does not show weakness, or talk about how messed up you are, or speak about when you are mad or upset; people might think less of you. You smile and go on as if everything is fine. That was me.
Looking back, now five years down the road, I think about how I’ve changed. My involvement at CGM is the reason. The Lord is working there. He is present and He is moving. He used CGM to mold me in a way that I never expected. He used the staff at CGM and the families we work with to take the old, private, never-sharing version of me and change me.
Now I yearn for relationship. I want to get to know people, share with them, and listen to them. I want to hug people (which for me is a big deal, because I’m not the hugging type!). I want to learn from others. I want to hear stories from other people.
Relationship means: "the relation binding participants, a kinship.” This binding is the Lord. I may not look exactly like our neighbors in the Washington Park community where CGM serves, we may not have all the same life experiences, we may not always think or do things exactly the same way, but y’all, we are all messed up the same through and through. We all have weakness. We all get mad and upset. And it’s in this binding, in this kinship, that the Lord thrives in. He develops and molds us more in His image by relationship. This is what it’s all about.
Isn’t it amazing what God uses to mold us?
For me, my CGM journey, and a journey into relating with and loving people more, started with one small comment in a Sunday school class.