Alumni Link

Transform Lives, Transform Communities

Published Date: September 20, 2013

by Sandra Blumanhourst, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore Campus, Alumni Office

We received an email from Mr. Bill Tillman, Director of Advancement on the Florida Dunnam Campus, about one of our alumni, Dennis Owen (2009, MDiv).  Dennis is a retired attorney.  The email read “Dennis lives in Jacksonville, Fl, and has been very involved in a ministry to take back the city of Jacksonville for Jesus Christ. Within the last 6 months the Chief of Police of Jacksonville held a news conference to tell the media that crime had dropped dramatically in certain parts of the City of Jacksonville and the Chief gave credit to God through the efforts of the organization to which Dennis belongs.”

Dennis mentors at Windy Hill Elementary School, is co-chair of the Education Sector of Transform Jacksonville & Northeast Florida, and as a member of the Nehemiah Project Team.  Dennis describes himself as “passionate about seeing Northeast Florida transformed into a blessed, peaceful and prosperous community, evidenced by strong families, high employment, high graduation rates, low crime and low poverty.”  What follows is Dennis’ description of Transform Jacksonville & Northeast Florida.

Transform Jacksonville & Northeast Florida’s goal is not to fight a culture war, but to transform lives, transform communities, and connect leaders in the 6 key influence areas of the city through which any city would be changed, transformed:  Government/Military, Education, Family, Business, Arts and Media.

To do this, we as Christians must follow the timeless instructions which Jesus gave to His disciples in the Book of Luke Chapter 10 in the Bible. He said go into the towns and cities and speak peace to the people, eat what is set before you, heal the sick, and say to them, “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.”

Putting in today’s language, Everyone in every street, neighborhood, school, workplace  is being blessed and prayed for by prayer walkers.  We

  • Speak “peace” –  Bless them

  • Eat what is set before you-  Fellowship with them and listen

  • Heal the sick – Pray for their felt needs (physical, job, marriage or children issues, etc.)

  • Say “The Kingdom of God has come near to you- Say, “God loves you and wants a close relationship with you.

 God yearns for and desires that we respond positively so that the Kingdom would break through continually in households, streets, neighborhoods, and city. There are hurting, lonely people all around us searching for hope. But too often, we’re preoccupied with our activities and don’t even notice them. Maybe it’s time to slow down and open our spiritual eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to help us build relationships with the people in our neighborhoods. God places opportunities all around us, and if we’re attentive, we’ll take advantage of them with a smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a kind greeting, or a helping hand. These are little steps toward friendship with our neighbors. And as we listen to their heartfelt needs, we can pray with them and respond to their immediate physical needs. Then tell them about Jesus.

The evidence of God’s handiwork can be seen in the dramatic results from Adopt-Your-Street-Prayer movement, even though the sowing of blessings, fellowship, ministry, and God’s ceaseless kingdom activity, is hidden from us. What we see in the dramatic reduction of crime in Panama Park is love at work — that part of God’s purpose which has come to life and grown above the surface of our neighborhoods as we put “neighbor back in the hood.”

I think that this is what Jesus is getting at in this parable of God’s Kingdom (Mark 4:26-34). God takes care of the Kingdom and is always and everywhere seeking to make real its patterns of redemptive grace through the seeds of kindness, righteousness, hopefulness and peace. But the sower scatters the seed. That’s our job—to be sure that God’s seed gets out of the bag and into the barren soil of our lives. Seed everywhere. Seed all over the place. Seed that lands in every part of our lives.

Transform Jacksonville & Northeast Florida is called to mobilize the marketplace to transform Jacksonville and Northeast Florida by the power of Jesus Christ in keeping with the five pivotal paradigms for nation transformation:

  1. We are called to disciple nations, not just individuals (Matt. 28:18-20).

  2. The marketplace, which is the heart of the nation (business, education and government), has been redeemed and now needs to be reclaimed (Luke 19:10).

  3. Every Christian is a minister, and labor is worship (1 Tim. 2:1-8; Acts 20:34-35).

  4. We are called to take the kingdom of God to where the gates of hell are for Jesus to build His Church (Matt. 16:18).

  5. National transformation must be tangible and the premier social indicator is the elimination of systemic poverty (Gal. 2:10).

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