As you know, God has been leading Tim and I to start doing ministry in a particular North Nashville neighborhood. We’ve been spending regular time there… usually at least 2 or 3 times a week. Lots of praying, listening to folks that live there, playing basketball with kids, meeting with community leaders… taking in the neighborhood. This is a season of immersion and interaction for us. [Link to blog]
I thought I’d share a story of one of my experiences with you as we’ve been taking in the vibe of this area.
One Saturday morning we went to hang out at a park in the area and some kids invited us to play basketball with them. I think this was really the first time we went into the neighborhood to just hangout. Everything went well and after a while we left to continue with our day. The strange thing is that for the rest of the day I was in a serious funk. Out of nowhere I was feeling depressed, discouraged, aggravated, very tired and worn down. My body was sore and I just kept wanting to sleep the whole day. That is not like me, especially when it’s a nice day out (which it was.) The day slowly passed and I kept thinking… what is wrong with me?
That night as I was falling asleep, I asked, “God, what is wrong with me? What’s going on today?” Probably should have asked that much earlier!
I felt like he said, “It is a spirit of oppression.” I was exhausted so I fell right asleep. When we woke up the next morning, Tim and I talked about the previous day and he prayed for me. As He prayed, the Spirit also told him that it was a spirit of oppression. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition for the word oppression. It said “prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.” That made sense because this neighborhood is in one of Nashville’s historically African American communities. And as we’ve learned some of the history, there has definitely been various kinds of racial and economic oppression over the years.
As the day moved along, I started to feel better, but I spent some time that morning processing the whole thing with God. He told me that this is how some people in the community feel all of the time. That is their norm… which is in stark contrast to your norm. Feeling this will help you to know how to pray, what to pray, and fill you with more compassion.
I’ll be honest, I felt kind of scared at this point and thought… Am I going to have this same experience every time we hang out in the neighborhood? God assured me that when this type of thing happens I don’t need to be overtaken by these feelings and let them dominate. He said “We will go through it together. In Me, you are strong and powerful and these things can’t overcome you. Just stay as close to me as possible and pray for the community.”
I have not experienced feelings like this every time we are there, and certainly nothing so strong. I will tell you though, there’s not a time that we are there that it doesn’t come to mind. When I think about it, I pray in Jesus name for there to be freedom from oppression. I’m so grateful for this experience because it helps me remember who God is, and to keep praying for this community.