By Dan Crain, REMERGE Pastor and Connector
I love history and firmly believe that God is about writing stories. At REMERGE we believe that Christ is in the world reconciling all things, particularly his people and that this reconciliation has been going on for a long time.
I love the deep and rich history of our South Atlanta neighborhood. A few years ago it was a regular rhythm of mine to sit and listen to the stories of our neighborhood from Ms. Ella, Ms. Mary and Mr. Haygood. They are all legends of South Atlanta, having lived here their whole lives. They are stories of joy and pain and of the faithfulness of God.
Since getting to know the matriarch of South Atlanta, Ms. Ella, the spunkiest 97 year old you will ever meet, I have learned much. Ms. Ella passed away recently and she left behind a real legacy. As we would sit together, she would tell me story after story.
One of the stories that stuck out is the story of Turman’s Field. Turman’s field is the area currently where A-Tow operates, right next to the neighborhood on Jonesboro Rd. Growing up Ms. Ella said that this was the field where the black and white kids would join up and play. South Atlanta was the black neighborhood and Lakewood was the white neighborhood. Turman’s field was the buffer zone.
Last year I had the opportunity to host an Immersion Experience team from Indiana with REMERGE. Immersion Experiences are what are typically called Missions Trips. Because everything for us is about creating community around Christ, we invite outsiders as guests in our community to learn from our community members.
One of the days they were in Atlanta they wanted to come and visit South Atlanta. We set up their so that it wasn’t going to revolve around giving and doing something, but about receiving, learning and understanding the rich history of the neighborhood. I invited some of the young men who I walked with from our church to come and help the group out. These young men got to share about the neighborhood and their experiences and what they enjoyed about the neighborhood, but also their challenges.
After this we all went up to the basketball courts in the neighborhood. We threw out a basketball and soon enough a game ensued. It was a joy to watch kids from the neighborhood and kids from Indiana playing basketball together. No one was in charge. No one was giving anything other than himself or herself. Everyone was receiving something.
It was Turman’s Field sixty years later.
These young men from the neighborhood spent the rest of the day hanging out together and getting to know one another. It was a joy to watch their relationships grow during the day.
Now Turman’s Field looks like the REMERGE South Atlanta Youth Group facilitated by Michelle Witherspoon. Every Wednesday night at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in the neighborhood, Michelle and her amazing team doing a phenomenal job of facilitating community and reconciliation around Christ with black and white children from the neighborhood. This is deeply personal to me, because our son is now a part of this diverse community.
Maybe as our culture continues to grow more divided racially, culturally and socio-economically socially learn the beauty of playing together in the Turmans Fields around us? Christ is reconciling the world to himself and sometimes it begins with us just playing together.