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lostness in the frailty of life

It has been a heavy couple weeks in our community in terms of loss of life and violence. We send you this update so you can pray with us for our community and for the healing that is much needed in the days, months, and years ahead. Already, there are really redemptive things happening and beautiful examples of God's love and Kingdom. I will be writing about those instances in updates to come, but for now, please pray and help us bear up with others in this season. I am more convinced than ever that we are in the right place and that God really loves those who are suffering in our neighborhood. Below is a reflection from Matt Wolfe, our director of media.

Psalm 34:3,
Bryan Kelly

LilRodney "Falfa" Hurst, pictured far right.


I usually refrain from writing as, even though I am on staff with Common Ground Montgomery, I am the most removed of all staffers; I don't live in the community and I am only required to be onsite once a week for a few hours for staff meetings. So I refrain from writing anything that might be attributed to me (after all, who cares what, for all intents and purposes I am, an outsider has to say - let those who are in the trenches speak), and I simply try to do my job of ensuring that there are venues for those that would speak. I handle communications for CGM, whether print materials or social media or the website.

But as someone who has one foot in and one foot out, I thought perhaps I might offer a small bit of insight into some of the recent violence and tragedy in the community that CGM serves.

Last week, about 100 yards away from the CGM main building, a store clerk was shot (and later died) during a robbery. Watching the surveillance footage that the police released you see the alleged shooter walking in front of a house that belongs to the staff of one of our partner ministries. When the alleged shooter leaves, it looks as if he's walking off behind these same set of houses.

A few days ago a young man - a former member of our After School Program, someone that had played on one of our youth basketball teams, someone that had grown up with many of our students, someone known by the nickname "Falfa" - died from a gunshot wound.

As I sat watching the high school students during a dinner in their honor of finishing out the school year and having three students honored more for graduating and moving onto the next phase of life, there was a palpable burden in the air. One of the high school girls covered her face for more than half of the presentation because she was crying. Another girl, a senior being honored, started crying towards the end, and her mom came up and hugged her and walked her to another part of the house. One student came up to me and asked, knowing that I'm the "picture guy" (I take all the pictures and shoot all the video for CGM), if I could look in my archives and find any pictures of Falfa.

I walked away that night, not saying goodbye to any of the students; after all, what could an outsider offer beyond a tiny bandage on a gushing wound. As I left I saw another student sitting by herself in the driveway. I don't think I ever saw her sad until that moment. She had the look of lostness with a quarter smile.

For all of you reading this, perhaps you might say a prayer (if you're the believing sort) for the friends and family of Falfa and of the store clerk (his name was M.B. Manik).

For those of you reading this and that are affected by these deaths because you knew them, because you loved them, because you were loved by them, because you were in class with them or saw them when you were buying something from that convenience store, take heart in your loss. The depth of that feeling of loss and emptiness presupposes a deep fulfillment, too. There is more yet to come.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

(Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)

And if even that is too much to bear, or are words that have no meaning to you, then I humbly offer this line from Gandalf (of the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King): I will not say do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you would like to help the family of LilRodney "Falfa" Hurst

An account has been set up at Guardian Credit Union. You can give at the credit union or online at The account is in the mother's name, Monica Johnson in care of LilRodney Hurst. The account is #38368. The routing is #262276410.

The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday,May 28, 2014, at noon at Freewill Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Edward Nettles is graciously officiating and accommodating this family. E. G. Cummings Funeral Home has been entrusted with the arrangements. Common Ground Montgomery is coordinating the Repast.

Please send all monetary contributions to Guardian Credit Union or E. G. Cummings Funeral Home. There are still many other ways you can serve this family, such as food, printed funeral programs, etc.

For more information on how to help, contact CGM staffer Ken Austin at 334-398-0467, or at