Porch Ministry

We’ve been looking at houses lately — ones with more outdoor space and a little more elbow room. I’ve wanted to move for three years, but working full time during the week and sometimes attending meetings and church on weekends just won’t allow much time for house hunting. Two weekends ago, we made time to look at a few model homes. The one I fell in love with had a great outdoor space and a wrap around porch. Actually, every house I set my sights on has some sort of porch.

My love for that aspect of a house probably stems from memories of my childhood house and those all around it. Nearly every house in my neighborhood had a porch. It was a gathering place during the day to play jacks, cards, and school.  In the evenings, the adults sat outside to talk, laugh, and dance until the sun set on their activities. I equate fond memories with sitting on the porch.

Most families in my neighborhood today have decks or outdoor spaces in the back yard. It’s a great way to escape in my opinion. It doesn’t have the same effect as sitting on the porch. Perhaps that’s why some prefer decks to porches — for the privacy it provides. Sure, people gather in back yards and grill on their decks, but the chances of an occasional passerby stopping by diminishes. Such is not the case in neighborhoods where porches are the feature. In this case, your gathering spot builds community. Not only can you share a meal, but you can also foster lasting relationships that span generations. You can start to take back communities that have fallen victim to crime and neglect.

We are so much stronger when we partner up, break bread, and forge a path that leads to change. I was reminded of how things used to be while sitting on my mom’s small porch today after a brief shower that led to a sweet summer breeze. One of her neighbors stopped and waved hello as I sat on the porch soaking in a little Vitamin D and reading the news on my phone. He was reluctant to venture into my space, not knowing what my reaction might be. He asked permission to speak with me, and I obliged, not knowing what was on his mind.

He asked who I was and introduced himself. I knew who he was, but I allowed the conversation to flow naturally. He discovered that he knew my family well, and I disclosed that I knew his as well — even his children. He talked about mistakes he made in his past, mistakes he had made recently, and a strong desire to do better in the future. I listened intently, not really knowing my role. When he was done, I simply told him to make peace with the past. Repent for anything that you’ve done to hurt others, and make things right if you can. He assured me that he was a better man today than he was when he was raising his kids. I smiled, intimating that I recognized a change in him as well.

He left me shortly thereafter with a little more pep in his step despite the sheet of humidity shrouding him and me both. I went inside to cool off a bit and reflected on that divine appointment. I don’t know whether what I said mattered, but I do know that being on the porch at the appointed time was necessary. I love it when God uses me to be his hands and feet. He sometimes catches me off guard, and I fail miserably in my opinion, but today, I think I followed his lead and didn’t attempt to control any aspect of the conversation. Tomorrow’s outcome might be different, but today’s message from the porch was well received.