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Meet our new neighbors. They came with the liquor store we just bought. When I sat down on a milk crate to break the news to them that their source of alcohol was about to dry up, they hung their heads in acquiescence. But when I told them we would need some workers to clean out and fix up the place, they excitedly clustered around me with ID's extended. Life around the fire barrel is about to be replaced by lunch on the construction site. The liquor store, according to the seniors who have endured the relentless decline of the neighborhood, was the final indignity visited upon them. This prominent corner - gateway to historic South Atlanta - was once the social gathering place of the community. On Saturdays, seniors will tell you, children lined up at the movie theatre while their mothers went grocery shopping and their dads dropped by the barbershop. But the barbershop disappeared years ago (though some of the foundation still protrudes from the earth) and the storefront and theatre buildings were eventually boarded up. Then the liquor store people bought the corner. It was the final nail in the coffin of community pride.

But the tenacious elders - mostly widows by now - never did give up. Their prayers and persistence are finally paying off. God, who has been barraged by their petitions for many years, has finally decided that the fullness of time has come for the rebirth of their community. This has become quite clear to me in the past few weeks. Two months ago when I made an offer to purchase the liquor store with no visible means of paying for it, I was uncertain whether this impulse was faith or foolhardiness. To my astonishment, contributions small and large began to pour in from unexpected sources (a retirement tithe, seed money from a low-income person, a maiden lady's estate, to name a few). On January 16th we paid the owner $300,000 cash and closed the liquor store down!

And now the fun begins. It's transformation time! Time to turn a blight into a blessing. There's a building to gut, land to clean up and years of trash to haul away. There are architectural plans to draw and landscape to design. There is painting and plumbing and carpentry and wiring to be done. There are jobs aplenty for God's diverse family, from the highly skilled craftsperson to the willing volunteer, from the design professional to the fire barrel laborer. Together we will rebuild on this strategic corner a multi-purpose facility for youth, a meeting and worship place for the community and perhaps a restaurant and convenience store.

The fullness of time has come in one small urban corner of God's redemptive work in history! Want a piece of His action? Come with your talent, tools or willing hands. Bring your family and friends, too. Together we will share in the joy of re-creating something of eternal value. Give me a call. (404-627-4304)

Bob Lupton

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