This week I've been blessed with visitors. Well they weren't really here to see me, they came to see the city. Four Texans and a Kentucky boy planning to relocate to the Chicago area in the near future to set deep roots in one of the neighborhoods.
Whatever "it" is, they have it. They spent their days wondering around the city checking out neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Logan Square, Chinatown, and Wrigglyville (among a few others). They were looking for communities with great diversity, affordable living, and some sort of true community mentality even if only in bars and coffee shops. Logan Square at first glances has been the most promising neighborhood they visited.
Getting to run around with this team was a huge blessing to me. I don't think they realized just what an impact they had on me. I was blown away by their genuineness and their simplicity. They let me cook for them at my house (one of my favorite ways to let people know I love them). This was funny because of the soup thing I didn't even try my own cooking. Then we had some great church conversation in the basement with this sounds of Lucas on the guitar (we named one of his songs "the express").
They also got a chance to meet Mike and Julie (and Emma) and Karen and Kelsey at the Grafton. I hope they found that conversation beneficial. Mike had some advice from one church planter to another and answers to some of their questions. The Grafton was a really cool place. I'd like to go back sometime and sit on the couches in front of the fireplace. I love Fireplaces.
Yesterday they did some exploring of the U of I downtown campus, ate at Una, and hit up Navy Pier at night. Navy Pier at night has to be the coolest thing I have done in the city. We went on the roof of the banquet hall building at the very end of the pier, laid down, and imagined the stars. I don't know what Lucas, Michelle, and Jonathan were thinking during this experience but it took me back through a spiral in my life beginning in China noticing no stars, to the country motorcycle rides, to camping, to now. God is in the city. That was super cool!
Michelle and Jonathan are seriously considering moving up here in May. Heather and Andrew would follow in May 2008. And Lucas will do grad school first. They all finish undergrad this May. We should begin praying for people for them to begin friendships and ministry with when they move here and also for their spiritual development and logistics of it all before that time. Like I said earlier, that have IT. God's involved in this team. Their hearts are passionately seeking Him in all they do.
One more thing, what they are doing is not full time ministry. They want ministry to be a part of their life. They are moving up here to work and to live. When they come they will have a normal apartment and normal jobs but in they off time they will be in the neighborhoods making friends and bringing a life-giving message. They are not a charity but they want to help make life better for the people surrounding them. What they are doing is something all Christians can do and possibly should be doing. It is a missional mindset in the midst of life. They don't have to relocate to Chicago to do this. They could have done it in Dallas or Louisville. It doesn't matter. All that to say, I think they have a good idea, even a Biblical idea.