A Sense of Community

“...we don’t want to do stuff FOR them, we want to do stuff WITH them… part of this comes from a heart that God has given us for the city... growing up there, but also a heart for at risk kids, the creative potential that exists there, the betterment of society for the glory of God…”

“...The sense of community wasn’t something that was foreign, it was just there.”  

Randy Chestnut and his wife Denise grew up in Old North Dayton, the northeast section of Dayton that resides between the Great Miami and Mad Rivers. This area of the city was first settled by German immigrants and now is home to many refugees and ethnic groups. Over the years Randy is sad to note that the area has deteriorated due to a lack of finances and the poverty level of the those residing there. In 2011 he and his wife moved back to their old neighborhood with the full intent of being as involved in the community as possible. He describes a love for his community as something that was completely natural, remembering growing up attending school and playing at Stuart Patterson Park with other local kids.

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       Now living in the center of Old North Dayton, Randy pastors Hope Community Church and is involved in multiple areas. He works alongside local business owners, neighbors and other ministries, including Apex (as the Urban Engagement Team Lead and facilitates getting Apexers involved in urban Dayton). Assisting in a myriad of programs and activities such as National Night Out/A Taste of Old North Dayton, open gyms, health clinics, mentoring, block parties, and summer arts programs to name just a few. His heart is to see the people living there come together to rebuild the area. To know what it looks like to see God redeem a neighborhood. Through all that he oversees and is involved in, he is extremely passionate about others using their talents and gifts within the community. Doctors, artists, ministers, business people, anyone who has a calling and interest in serving-- whether they are currently believers or not-- he wants to support and encourage their vision. Seeing potential especially in the younger generations, he possesses a heart to inspire and come alongside the young people, providing an outlet for their creativity, energy and social needs. And there is a big need, specifically for sports activities and art.

“...we don’t want to do stuff FOR them, we want to do stuff WITH them… part of this comes from a heart that God has given us for the city... growing up there, but also a heart for at risk kids, the creative potential that exists there, the betterment of society for the glory of God…”

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The community has enthusiastically come alongside, the schools are especially supportive and desire to be more of a community center. In the past Randy and his ministry have assisted in camps and VBS programs throughout the summer. Next year the schools have expressed a desire for a program EACH week of the summer! This not only provides activities but could also open doors to provide meals for children during the summer when normal school meals are not available.

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Randy believes that an integral part of evangelism and sharing the Gospel is living with people, creating relationships and, when possible, providing for their needs. In and through all of this, there is also the desire to see continued follow-up and discipleship when needed. One of the biggest questions he poses as a challenge to himself, as well as to others in a position of ministering is, what if this works? What will the follow-up, the relationship look like? With this in mind, he is excited to have house church training for the specific area of Old North Dayton, and is always excited for volunteers and those who are interested in coming alongside this vision.

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To learn more about opportunities to engage in urban ministry, contact Randy at randy@hope4dayton.net.

 

 

Author and Photographer: Emily Ogden