Reclaiming God’s Property

In our GoChurch series, Alliance Pastor Bob Havenor describes the mission that he and his wife, Sue, and six other people, have begun in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Although Alliance roots go way back in Ft. Wayne, a move to the suburbs left an evangelical void in the urban neighborhoods, where the Havenors have only just begun.

propertyOur team is very organic. Sue and I are modeling a lifestyle where we live among and work with the people we expect God to reach. Nobody’s in professional ministry here. I work in a local auto parts store. We didn’t plant an organization where people with needs must go to a church. We are the Church that has a mandate to go to the people with needs. This is the essence of incarnational ministry; as John 1:14 says in The Message, “God became a man and moved into the neighborhood.” Our first priority is building intentional relationships in every sphere of our lives. It is through a relationally-based lifestyle and theology that we operate. And although we don’t have a church building, we are here because of one that once was in our target zone.

This summer we began systematically prayerwalking every street in our 1.5-mile-square target area. We started at a strategic location that is, first, an easy place to find on a busy central street. Second, and far more important, is what this property once was. This half-block was the site of the Fort Wayne Gospel Temple, a leading church in the middle half of the last century.

In the 1970s, the congregation merged with another local church, sold the property, and moved to the suburbs to begin life anew as Westview Alliance Church, the local body with whom we have a deep relationship. Commercial and local government interests bought up the large piece of property, and today it’s the site of a former Hollywood Video store that is now an empty building and a massive parking lot for the local Family Social Services.

Going Back to Go Forward

We begin prayerwalking at the Hollywood Video store because it is the geographical heart and spiritual epicenter of our target area. The leaders of Westview Alliance Church received prophetic direction from God several years before we showed up that He wanted to “re-dig the wells” in the old part of the city. We also meet there because we are convinced that God is keeping that former video store empty because He isn’t done with that property. We have claimed it as a prime location for an early childhood education center.

If you are doing something for the Kingdom, convinced that God is leading you, then what you are doing is not that new or novel. God, in our case, paved the way with generations of church members who cared deeply for that sector of the city. This is encouraging-we are all vital colors in the grand tapestry God is weaving in this community. He planned on us being here and desires our success more than we do. So we can love others with reckless abandon and live with no regrets.

A Present Need

More than 19,000 people, including many immigrants, inhabit the neighborhood that we want to reach, 48 percent of whom are in single parent households. There is a 27 percent high school drop out rate. Our demographic-driven vision includes developing what we call community bridges in two key areas: early childhood education and literacy. Three of our team members are currently teaching ESL, mostly to recent immigrants. We want to develop literacy centers that can help immigrants learn English, but also help native English speakers learn to read, use computers, and attain a GED.

Just because a church organization moved off of the property and a government agency moved in does not change the lasting imprint of those who walked that ground before we were born, calling on the God of heaven to do something to change the destiny of people in this city. The Social Services building is a memorial to our God who hears and answers our prayers: it’s where the neediest people in the community find help and relief.

The ground is still holy. There is an anointing of redemptive power that has yet to run its course. We expect to see the prayers of God’s saints come full circle and God’s plans manifested in our day. We have no plans to rebuild a church building; our plan is to move in God’s anointing as He rebuilds His living Church in the heart of our city.

Learn More

Read alife to learn more about the Havenors.

Read about other U.S. Alliance churches that are impacting their communities

What You Can Do

Pray for God’s guidance and protection for the Havenors and their team as they reach a city for Christ. Pray that God will prepare hearts to receive His Truth.

 Donate to Alliance Great Commission Ministries.


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