What struck me as I listened to their story was the emphasis they placed on prayer and the way prayer served as a gateway to philanthropy. I recently met two new friends associated with a millennial-focused ministry called Mosaic Ministries, located in North Chicago, Illinois. Mosaic is a diverse group of young people, many of them students at Trinity Evangelical Seminary, who live together and gather weekly for food and prayer asking that God’s Kingdom become a reality in the community where they live. Every Monday evening, they come together to pray as they seek to discern what it is they are being called to do and be in North Chicago. mosaichouseministries.org
Several years ago, one of the issues facing the mayor related to police corruption and brutality directed toward racial minorities. The Mosaic community began to pray for the mayor. The mayor, a Baptist Deacon and trustee in his church, learned of the Monday prayer meetings and asked if he might attend one of their sessions. In turn, the mayor asked the group if they would be willing to attend the Town Council meetings, sit near the back and quietly pray for the discussions and decisions. As a result, a relationship was formed between Mosaic and the community leaders.
Last year the old, abandoned city library became an issue: What to do with it as the basement was a cesspool of mud and water with the entire building in need of major repair. Fiscal wisdom said: “tear it down,” but history reminded the community leaders that the building had been a place where people gathered to learn and dream. After deliberation, the Town Council gave the building to Mosaic to rehab as the centerpiece of its emerging community ministries. The building, renamed Mosaic Hub, is in final stages of renovation. It will serve as the launching site for community dinners, prayer walks, Bible studies, block parties, a bicycle rehab ministry called Holy Spokes, and a high school ministry in partnership with the Fellowship for Christian Athletes. Recently, in collaboration with twelve area congregations, the launched a new program, Mosaic Initiative, to address the challenges facing communities of faith; how to speak to the spiritual longings and nurture the religious lives of young people.
Mosaics are artistic creations, composed of diverse pieces of various shapes, colors and sizes to create a big picture with each piece of equal value. As they gather to pray and serve and build community networks of care and reconciliation, the goal of Mosaic is to witness to the reality of God’s Kingdom in the here and now as the social boundaries of race, class and gender are bridged and the prayer of Jesus in John 17 “that they may be one” becomes a way of life.
Prayer and philanthropy! And I think of a Methodist congregation in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania. For a year they conducted monthly prayer walks in a nearby distressed community to discern what they were being called to do. They subsequently turned a boarded-up store front into a Roots of Faith Community Center that is now the home of a mentoring program for low income families called Circles, an auxiliary library providing after-school resources for young people, a pro bono legal clinic, a free health clinic, The Neighborhood Table (a free community dinner) and a weekly Bible study and Sunday evening worship service. faithfoxchapel.org
What is prayer? In prayer, we practice the presence of God as God becomes the audience of one to whom we play the whole of our lives and the neighborhoods where we live, asking for wisdom and insight. What is philanthropy? Philanthropy has to do with loving the world as we volunteer and use our gifts and resources for the public good and the floourishing of God’s creation. Years ago, an editorial in the New York Times citing the research of a philanthropic psychology professor read: “Jen Shang Understands the Power of Prayer – to Open Wallets;” to which I would add this phrase: “and Hearts and Minds.”
Do you have a story to tell as to how prayer inspired and informed your living and how in giving you found yourself to be part of something bigger than yourself? Please send me your story!