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July 15

A School Year Like No Other

The three Trinity schools celebrated different versions of outdoor commencement ceremonies in June, capping off three months of distance learning.

“We Lost the Children and Now They’re Back”

Ann Brown and Pam Seale at the bench unveiling. Photo by Mary Kay Gleason.

by Elizabeth Grams

Two weeks ago on the South Side of Indianapolis, brothers from the Christians in Mission team unveiled a new feature in the Karcher Street green space: the first of two handcrafted wooden park benches. On each bench, an inscription carved into the backrest bears the name of Ann Brown. 

Ann moved into her house on Union Street in the mid-1940s. She remembers that when she was young, the neighborhood was full of Christian families, most of them members of the neighborhood church, Sacred Heart, with children playing in the streets. Since then, she had seen the neighborhood change to a place where someone could (and did) get into her home and steal her TV, and where prostitution, violence and drug abuse were going on right outside her door.  She prayed for the neighborhood.

Ann, a lifelong Catholic, has a strong faith, which was deepened by her involvement in the charismatic renewal during the early 1970s. At that time she had been struggling with a long illness. A Baptist friend encouraged her to accept Christ Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Ann mulled that over, getting used to the new idea, and she started attending charismatic prayer meetings. She gave her life to the Lord during a Life in the Spirit Seminar. 

She has never forgotten the day, in 2008, when two People of Praise missionaries, Mary Timler and Ellen (Putzier) Earhart, knocked on her door. Ann began coming to the prayer meetings the missionaries hosted in their homes. She told them they were the answer to her prayers. 

It wasn’t long before she started calling her new People of Praise friends her family. After more of them began to move into houses on her block, Mike Coney would take her trash to the road and shovel her snow. (He also helped her replace that stolen TV.) Ann would often sit with community members at church. She started delivering Christmas cookies to every People of Praise household. 

Robin Gonzalez remembers how Ann prophesied to the People of Praise, back when Karcher Street was still a dark alley, home to drug deals and lined with broken-down houses, “Your village will be like it used to be when kids were biking up and down the street, and the sound of kids’ laughter will be heard in the streets.” 

South Side girls group. Photo from V&B archives.

Today, Ann’s home borders the Karcher Street green space and sits next door to the home of Abe and Trish Olson and their children. Ann often sits on her porch so she can watch children play. She knows the names of all the CIM children and keeps treats for them in her home. 

“I always think of Ann when I hear our kids squealing and carrying on out there,” Robin says with a laugh. “I tell her, look, Ann, it’s like you said!”

As Ann’s hearing loss has grown more severe, she has been unable to attend church or community gatherings, but sisters visit with her often and have a rolling exchange of sweets with her. 

Boys play at Action summer camp 2018. Photo from V&B archives.

A few years ago, Pam Seale began to stop in on Ann regularly to help her out around the house, taking her to doctor appointments and guiding her through exercises to help with her arthritis. (Pam has a background in geriatric nursing.) Ann insisted on paying, despite Pam’s protests. Pam set the money aside, not knowing what to do with it. Early this April, it struck her that she could use it both to give Custom Cottage some business and to honor Ann at the same time. She asked Ann if she could use the money to commission a pair of park benches for the green space. They would be a place Ann could sit, closer to the children she loved, but also open to anyone. Ann agreed.

On May 3, the entire CIM team gathered for the unveiling of the first new bench in the green space, just behind Ann’s home. Rus Lyons and George Kane whisked off a drop cloth to loud applause, revealing a brand-spanking new bench. A beaming Ann took the first seat.

She hopes that the benches can be used by many others, like mothers holding babies. 

“This is a good neighborhood,” Ann says. “We lost the children and now they’re back.”

Responses

  1. Mary L Louise Duddy says:

    What a sweet story

  2. Jill Boughton says:

    What a wonderful story, and what a wonderful idea, Robin! Great to see Ann so happy; she's a treasure, fondly remembered from my mission weeks on the south side.

  3. Dan Brewer says:

    What a great story! Thanks to God for showing His love to Ann. And thanks to the Southsiders for their witness to Jesus, especially Pam for following her inspiration to use the money to highlight the Lord's goodness.

  4. Anne Brewer says:

    What a wonderful story! Great idea Pam!

  5. Mary Dohrman says:

    What a joy it is to read about Ann Brown getting the blessing of care by Pam Seale (I saw her in February and I’ve never seen her look so healthy and happy) and the blessings of her money to Pam benefitting the neighborhood and Custom Cottage. Inspiring and uplifting!
    Lord, continue to pour out Your blessings on the SouthSide!

  6. Joan McLeod says:

    Praise God! (And pass the tissues!)
    What a beautiful story of God’s love and faithfulness for Ann! I’m so blessed that CIM brothers and sisters are attuned to the Holy Spirit!
    Love and prayers to you all💕

  7. Bob Badham says:

    What a heart-warming story; it sits very well with me!!

  8. Bruce Olson says:

    Heartwarming!

  9. Maria Elliott says:

    Dear Family of families,
    This story seriously made me cry (which rarely happens). The Lord's tender love for his people is moving and the faithfulness of his POP, specifically the CIM, spreads that love around! Glory!

  10. Nancy Grams says:

    gramsnjg@aol.com
    What a beautiful story and testament to the Lord hearing the cry of Ann's heart and ours.
    Pam, thanks for listening to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit!

  11. Bernadette Fossen says:

    Brilliant idea Pam! Thank you Jesus for the children.

  12. Lynne Miller says:

    Just the story I needed to read after a very stressful day! The kindness of the Lord is limitless!

  13. Carol Ehemann says:

    What a wonderful story of the FRUIT of the south sides outreach.

  14. Ruth Schmelzer says:

    Ditto!! A beautiful story of God's faithfulness, Ann's and the effects of People of Praise membership and their presence in the neighborhood.Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and the witness of YOUR presence in our world!

  15. Philip M Slattery says:

    Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Joan Hiel says:

    Praise the Lord! What a wonderful example of a Holy Spirit sighting. Thank you for your attentive listening and responding and then sharing with all of us so we can all be in Awe together. Well done everyone.

  17. Jackie Vaughan says:

    I love it! How beautiful! God's grace is gushing out of this story onto us!

  18. Terry Prevost says:

    What a beautiful story of God's love and faithfulness. Also about how powerful a prayer warrior's prayers are. You keep praying Anne.

  19. John Vogel says:

    Thank you for this story of normal life.

  20. Mary Gaffney says:

    Beautiful story ❤️

  21. Cheryl Schmitt says:

    What a wonderful story! How refreshing to read the names of women that I've known for years.I can see their faces and remember their laughs!
    It's easy to see them in their roles bringing joy to a neighbor. God bless all of you! Cheryl Schmitt

  22. Lisa Krueger says:

    Such holy blessings to so many, thank you for all your love and care. It's incredible to think of Ann's prophecy so many years ago, to hang on to the truth and live to see the Lord's promise come alive. "Heaven and earth are full of your glory!" Psalm 148

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