I returned last night from Arsenal Street in St Louis.

On the south side of Arsenal just west of Jefferson is the Salvation Army’s Temple Corps. Envoys Steve and Ketsia Diaz are the corps officers. A few weeks ago they moved there from what had been the corps officers’ quarters in the suburbs. Steve and Ketsia now live across the street from their corps building. Two doors down lives my son, John. And a few doors further east are Gavin and Marianje. John, Gavin and Marianje moved to St Louis from Portland OR and Chicago because they were called to come join the Diaz’ in serving in the Benton Park neighborhood.

We met for dinner Thursday evening at what now is established as a weekly gathering hosted at Steve and Ketsia’s. We talked about the opportunities to become involved in working with others in Benton Park for substantial changes that would make life better for its families and young people. This area of St Louis has deeply entrenched poverty accompanied by hopelessness.

After dinner Envoy Steve has been leading a discussion based on readings from Robert Lupton’s Theirs Is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America. On some days, Steve, Gavin and John play one-on-one in the corps gym early in the morning. John, Gavin and Marianje are committed to helping at the Temple Corps in a wide range of ministry, doing about anything needed. During a recent snowstorm they served two days as part of a ‘rapid response’ team that prepared 400 meals for St Louis policemen. Afterschool program. Developing contacts and support in the neighborhood for the Army’s work. Meeting neighbors. John’s Alaskan husky, Boone, is great for starting street conversations. Getting a new playground started.

These three households of Salvation Army people are creating a shared life focused on mission in the neighborhood. They are looking for others who might join them in St Louis. I can help you get in touch with Envoys Diaz.

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