by Sean Connolly
Fifteen years ago, on President’s day of 2002, Nick Holovaty, J-T Kelly and I laid our eyes on Allendale for the first time. I am so grateful for all that God has done there over the past 15 years. For Stephen Parker who first brought us to the neighborhood and for Miss Beebe, our first friend, who called the police after someone broke into our house, before we had even moved into it. For the first Action teams who came in the summer of 2002, enduring the heat and the early mornings, and for Jeff Fournier and Steve Hendrickson who led our construction effort, turning our mistakes into a home that still serves its use today. For Ricky Thomas and Pete Hammer, who lived in our first missionary household. For the beauty of the neighborhood—the narrow roads, the birds chirping in the pecan trees, the rolling hills that make for a country atmosphere in the middle of a mid-sized city. I am grateful for the children, those we knew then and those we know now, and for their parents, grandparents and other relatives who love them and envision a glorious future for them. Most of all I am grateful to God who called us as a community to go to Allendale, and gave us a prophetic vision, expressed in a poem that Nick and I wrote together, based on Isaiah 65, that still rings true to me today:
I will rejoice in Allendale, and be glad in my people;
no more shall there be in her an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days.
For the child shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
You shall build houses and inhabit them;
you shall build schools and learn in them;
you shall build hospitals and be healed in them;
you shall build businesses and spend your days in them;
you shall pave roads and drive on them;
you shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit;
you shall not build and another inhabit;
you shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a live oak tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
You shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity,
for abandonment or fear,
for welfare checks or sex;
for you shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and your children with you.
You shall live together in a new Allendale,
and in a new Allendale you shall fill out your days.