This past weekend, October 28 – 29, the Impact 360 Class of 2012 ventured to a part of Atlanta that was foreign to many of us. We found ourselves in a neighborhood where drop-out rates were high, incomes were low, and a regard for the law was scarce to be found. In the midst of this poverty-stricken community, however, God established City of Refuge, a shelter for the weary and a light in the darkness. Their mission:

City of Refuge offers both life saving resources and life building tools to individuals and families in Atlanta who are living on the margin. We understand the need for programs that span multiple areas of need – from food, clothing and shelter to job training, placement, housing, healthcare and education. Our goal is to provide access to and information about the best possible opportunities for success to those who are willing to work hard for positive change.

City of Refuge’s operations are impressive. They have a 5 acre campus in the middle of this neighborhood, 3 acres of which are under the roofs of their extensive warehouse space. City of Refuge has taken these warehouses and converted them into a full kitchen and cafeteria, a full service clinic, a school, housing areas, a daycare, even an indoor play area, and they still have plenty of space for future development. With the surrounding outdoor areas, they have begun the process of transforming the land into community gardens. That’s where we came in. After our tour of the facilities, we split into groups that helped in various ways around the campus – mopping, sorting, cleaning, picking up trash, playing with kids, etc. The largest group of us, of which I was a part, was charged with the task of clearing a kudzu-overgrown railroad for the development of the community gardens.

This was no small task. Tucked away behind the biggest warehouse, a quarter mile long strip of land was in the process of being cleared for these gardens. We got the privilege of clearing the last 100 yards. Equipped with rakes, clippers, hoes, sickles, a few pairs of gloves, and some bottled water, we got it done. The work was tough – we got sweaty and dirty, and unfortunately, we were not dressed for the job. But that didn’t stop us. Four hours later, the strip was cleared and we had the satisfaction of a job well done. Someday, there will be families enjoying, literally, the fruits of our labors. Though it wasn’t glamorous – no one saw us working and no one would have known we did it if I hadn’t posted this blog – it was fulfilling work. We were fulfilling our cultural mandate to be fruitful and have dominion over the earth. We were loving our neighbors through service, and learning in the process. Good day.

– Josiah Brown