The church universal has marvelous opportunities for mission, brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems," says Suzan Farley, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, Newtown, Pa., serving rural Bucks County in the Philadelphia-New York City corridor. Evangelizing, she says, finds its bearings by listening to your neighbors' needs.
Volunteers from Ascension were helping renovate a parish hall in inner-city Philadelphia when they noticed African American boys and young men hanging out on the street. Parishioner Fred Seabright grabbed a football from his car and walked to a park, calling down the block, "Anyone want to play catch?"
From that spontaneous beginning, men and young adults from Ascension now spend five hours every Saturday with between 30 and 60 African American and Latino teenage boys in Hunting Park, a Philadelphia neighborhood marked by poverty, addiction and abuse. They play seasonal sports, share a meal and join in conversation, prayer and Bible study. "Christ's Coach" is now Seabright's affectionate nickname.
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