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Greater Charlotte embraces urban mission

By Brooke Turbyfill

Southern Spirit staff

David Bosch, in his 1993 essay titled "Toward the 21st Century in Christian Mission," said this about the mission of the church: "The mission of the church, as the mission of Jesus, involves being sent into the world - to love, to serve, to preach, to teach, to heal, to save, to free."

That mission is eminent in both the 614 and the War College in Charlotte, N.C. Nothing else is more important to the leaders - Rob and Heather Dolby - than relational ministry and lifestyle evangelism. While the War College and 614 are two separate entities, they coordinate well together because of the values placed on incarnational ministry and relationship-building.

The 614 in Charlotte is not a building, nor is it a corps - it's a faith community, a collective group of Salvationists who live in a predominantly poor, Hispanic, African-American neighborhood. There they meet for fellowship, Bible study, prayer and to share the gospel with others. The Dolbys - soldiers who graduated from the War College in Vancouver, B.C., Canada - have been commissioned as local officer sergeants.

The Dolbys' passion for incarnational ministry equipped them to move into a neighborhood where they stood out due to their white skin color. They've been pleased with how accepting the community has been.

Heather Dolby said that their presence in the neighborhood is bringing change for people like Nicole. After the Dolbys moved to Charlotte's J.T. Williams Housing Development, Nicole - a homeless prostitute - visited them.

They prayed for her, but she quickly left before they could help her further. It was several months later when they ran into her again. A woman they didn't recognize waved to them. She came up and said, "Remember me, I'm Nicole." She continued to tell them that their care for her had opened her eyes to the love of God. "You guys remembering my name and being nice to me meant so much to me. I knew God loved me if He sent two white people here." Since her initial meeting with the Dolbys, Nicole had entered the Center of Hope, Charlotte's homeless shelter for single women and women with children, and was in a recovery program.

 

The War College (Charlotte campus) is a training ground for Christians who want to make a difference in the lives of people such as Nicole. With its first session underway, the WC is a welcome new neighbor to the Southern Territory.

War College Facts: Charlotte Campus

 

The purpose: The War College is a ministry born out of the 614 to train and equip warriors to win the world for Jesus.

 

The leaders: Rob and Heather Dolby

 

The duration: one year

 

The place: The J.T. Williams Housing Development in Charlotte, N.C.

 

The topics: salvation, prophetic ministry, evangelism, Bible study, preaching, critical thinking and theology

 

The net: Cell groups of 6 to 8 people become the open door for neighbors to join the 614, and WC students help facilitate the groups.

 

The result: Students at the WC don't just learn in a classroom; they live out the classroom every day.

 

The inspiration: "William Booth said, ‘Go for souls and go for the worst,'" said Heather. "Isaiah 61 commissions us to bind up the broken-hearted...These are the broken-hearted."

 

The application: Go to www.warcollege.com and click on the Charlotte campus.

The one-year program is divided into two increments. During the first nine months, students live with the Dolbys and learn about hearing God, critical thinking and sharing their faith. "We never teach anything in the War College that you can't use," said Heather. Throughout their time in Charlotte, students will actively participate in ministry.

One such ministry is reaching out to the neighborhood children whose parental supervision is limited. Besides a backyard Bible club (with activities such as computer classes and Bible lessons), students can invite youth to the local corps. There's also a three-month internship for students to apply what they've learned. Through a sacrificial lifestyle and dedication to serving others, WC students learn that "just being there" is how relational ministry impacts lives.

Major Todd Smith, area commander of Greater Charlotte, said, "I've been greatly encouraged by the level of commitment of these young people and their willingness to live that lifestyle to meet people in need."

One such person in need was a 14-year-old boy from the J.T. Williams Housing Development. The boy never went to school, but the Dolbys noticed that he was fascinated with computers. So in cooperation with DHQ, the boy's mother and his school guidance counselor, the Dolbys made a proposition: If the boy agreed to complete makeup work from his school absences, then the Dolbys would set up a career exploration day for him. They arranged for him to shadow a member of the IT Department at DHQ. Not only did the young man learn about computers, but he also gained a mentor.

Heather Dolby said that's part of their role as well - to help Salvationists who have a desire for missions but don't know where to start. "We're an in-between person creating a net to help people get connected to mission. When you're called to it, it's the most joyful thing in the world."

Heather feels that the WC and the 614 are working together to build a foundation of God's love in the community. "We're making a platform for [people] to say, ‘God is real. There is hope for me.'"

Photos, top to botttom, L to R:

Heather Dolby keeps 5-year-old Cameron warm after day camp water games. Rob Dolby helps a neighborhood boy who has hurt his ankle. Two day-camp participants are proud of their crafts.Brothers Bull and Bobby teach their dogs to smile for the camera.

Firecrest missioners take their place in the inner cities

The experimental Firecrest training was discontinued in September 2006. It now makes way for an even greater emphasis on the SAMS ministry being utilized by many corps across the territory. However, the two training sessions of Firecrest placed eight missionaries in the territory:

Doyle Duren - Chattanooga East Lake, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Shimei Hewitt - Birmingham 614, Birmingham, Ala.

Teddy Beshah - Durham, N.C.

Steve Wulfing - Nashville Magneso, Nashville, Tenn.

Ashish Pawar - Nashville Magneso, Nashville, Tenn.

Jonathan Poff - Greenville, S.C.

Nemin Chandler NJ - Greenville, S.C.

David Vaughan - San Antonio, Texas

In both Chattanooga and Birmingham, Firecrest missioners and SAMS are working as a team to conduct outreach ministry. A keen observer would note that the secret to a good team ministry is having passionate, supportive officers. The Firecrest missioners and SAMS commend the officers in these six cities for their vision of the communal mission and their compassion for the lost.Major John Needham

Photos, top to bottom:

Ashish Pawar, originally from India, came to the Southern Territory to serve in an urban area after his parents attended last year's Urban Forum. "I had this passion for meeting people and telling them about God," said Pawar. Shown here at a breakfast for homeless men and women in the Pittsburgh community of Atlanta, Pawar said he is learning how to communicate God's love through simply being there for others.

Jonathan Poff, from Ponca City, Okla., helps serve food to the homeless. He said his passion is for "disenfranchised people, the people everyone else has given up on." While Poff has participated in urban mission overseas, he said, "A lot of times we forget that we have a mission field right here in the U.S."

David Vaughn, a Firecrest missioner, enjoyed a hug from a friend at a breakfast for the homeless.

Nemin Nj talks to a 4-year-old named Janaya who waited patiently at Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta while her mother sorted through some donated clothes.

Firecrest missioner: Shimei Hewitt

Name: Shimei Hewitt

From: The Caribbean

Deployment site: Birmingham, Ala.

What she does: Works and lives at the shelter for women and children; disciples them; develops relationships with people in the community; helps with cell groups.

Why she loves it: "What I like about what I'm doing is it's developing my personal Christianity. My faith in God has increased. Before, I believed in healing but thought you had to have this great anointing for healing."

A divine encounter: One day, Hewitt met a woman at the shelter who asked for prayer for healing from a bleeding disorder. Hewitt prayed, and the next day the woman returned to say that her bleeding had stopped.

Greatest challenges: Being away from family, communicating effectively and learning how to relate the love of Jesus to people when they don't do the right thing at the right time.

Her encouragement: "We don't have to be limited. There is freedom. Yes, we're in the Army. Yes, we have leaders above us. But just obey; like the Bible says, do what God tells you to do."

 






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