Like Jesus, whose “heart was touched with pity for them because they seemed to him like sheep without a shepherd” (Mk. 6:34), we yearn for the salvation of all members of the human family. In each of our locations, through our words and our actions, we share with our neighbors the good news of life in Christ. We send missionaries to live in neighborhoods in the Mississippi Valley, striving to become neighbors who live close enough to help when the heat gets shut off, when a child gets rushed to the ER or when an elderly neighbor has a fall. We help with a prayer, a visit, a phone call, a friendly smile. We strive to spread the gospel and build community the old-fashioned way, face to face and one by one.
Allendale/Lakeside is a neighborhood in Shreveport, LA, where roofs sometimes fall on residents, where neighbors often struggle to pay their bills, and where many hundreds of dwellings would fail a building inspection. It’s a place of struggle and suffering as well as a place of shining beauty. With its aging live oak trees, its narrow roads, the way the sun filters through the trees and mist at 5:30 in the morning, children playing hopscotch and tossing footballs in vacant lots, magnolias blooming in February—Allendale inspires loyalty and fierce love.
People of Praise members have been living in Allendale since 2002, repairing leaky roofs, toilets and staircases, knocking on doors and visiting with neighbors, doing the small, simple things that make a huge quality-of-life difference for their neighbors. Every summer the People of Praise sends dozens of volunteers to fix up houses in Allendale and to run a summer camp for local children. About 20 People of Praise missionaries live in Allendale year-round, joining with their neighbors for walks, Bible studies, prayer, meals, conversation, work projects and children’s activities.
Our work in Allendale took a big leap forward in the fall of 2015 when we opened the doors of Praise Academy at Lakeside: a People of Praise School. This vibrant neighborhood elementary school currently serves pre-k through fifth grade students and will eventually expand up to eighth grade. Praise Academy at Lakeside's mission is to provide an education that fosters each child's natural ability to become a productive, employable, and active participant in his or her family and community, through a Christ-centered, classical education.
The intersection of Linwood and Madison in Evansville, IN, used to be called “Devil’s Corner” because it was the site of so many fights and drug deals. In 2012 a group of People of Praise missionaries moved into two houses on the intersection. Now praise songs echo from the front porches, and neighbors come over for barbecues and conversation. Children play games and learn Bible stories on Saturday mornings, and adults meet together in small men’s groups and women’s groups throughout the week. Every summer, through its Action program, the People of Praise sends volunteers to help out neighbors who need repairs to their homes. Missionaries and neighbors go door to door all over the city, talking about Jesus, praying for healing and inviting people to come and be part of this community the Lord is building.
Indianapolis South Side
In May, 2007, two young men in the People of Praise were driving around Indianapolis hoping to talk to some strangers about Jesus. They got lost, and decided to stop and talk to people in an older neighborhood with some peeling houses and occaional out-of-season Christmas icicle lights still dangling from the roofs. The people they met that night wanted welcome them in warmly. They wanted to hear about the Lord and they wanted to pray, so the men came back, bringing other missionaries with them. Today about 20 People of Praise missionaries live in houses they have renovated near the intersection of Meridian Street and Karcher Street. They hold neighborhood prayer meetings and meetings for children, an annual tent meeting at Pentecost, and weekly men’s and women’s meetings. The annual summer day camp draws many local children. In the summers the People of Praise sends Action volunteers to help South Side neighbors with their fix-it projects.