A native of Akron, Joe Tucker grew up in Firestone Park and is a 2003 graduate of Garfield High School. After High School, he went on to receive his Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Akron in 2008. Joe spent one year in Philadelphia, PA working with Mission Year. In 2009, he returned to Akron and began with South Street Ministries as a volunteer with the youth programs. Joe currently serves as Executive Director of South Street Ministries, and he, his wife, and two sons live in South Akron. Joe is an avid X-men fan, Akron enthusiast, and committed Christ-follower. This blog is the last in the 20/20 Come and See series.
I am never bored at South Street Ministries. 2017 has elicited a wide range of emotions from loss, betrayal, and uncertainty, to joy, hope, and love — but never boredom. One of the reasons that I am never bored is that I have a front row seat into God’s transformational work in the lives of so many women and men that come through the ministry — from college interns learning about poverty, to 5th graders stepping into 6th grade, to the life-long drunk celebrating 9 months sober.
I want to tell one such front row seat story about seeing God’s transformational work through the building of The Front Porch.
The renovation of The Front Porch has been a seven year project. We started and stopped a few times over as we had the funds/capacity to see the space transformed. Now The Front Porch has a fully-functional kitchen, a suite of second floor offices, and a multi-purpose health room that hosts Faithful Servants Urgent Care Center twice a week.
But that has not always been the case.
I always love when those who had seen the building in its old state tour through once again. They cite their memories of debris and deconstruction then marvel at what has been done, what God has done through God’s people. One such group of people was a CLC (Christian Leadership Concepts) group from Hudson, who first came to The Front Porch in 2012.
This group was completing their 2-year curriculum for the CLC and was challenged from that study to find a local place to serve. Not knowing where to start, they asked Christ Community Chapel leadership and were soon connected to Duane Crabbs. Duane was invited to their group to share, and he did, telling stories of bars and bikers, drug-dealers and discipleship, and his own testimony and trials.
He didn’t give them a clear service project, but challenged this group to visit The Front Porch and get involved. So the group came to visit. Eric Harmon and I met with them to tell them about the scope of work that still remained to be done in the building, and they committed to walking with us through it.
Terry helped develop a plan for moving forward. Jim and Rick advocated for further support from their home church of Christ Community Chapel. The group brought in other talented individuals to see The Front Porch project through. Doug helped with web-design, and George committed to serve as the General Contractor for the project! This group of Hudson church-goers and South Street staff met monthly to pray and push things forward. In time we received the needed support to renovate the Café, provide a new roof for the clinic space, and eventually complete the second floor!
This is the story about a group of church-goers from Hudson looking to apply some meat to the bones of their faith. And in the service they provided, they impacted the trajectory of The Front Porch project and God’s Kingdom work here!
I share this story to highlight how partnerships work. Oftentimes the needs at South Street aren’t addressed by one-time service. It takes commitment and presence to see transformation take place. It also takes sacrifice and support.
When I consider and pray over the many men and women who support South Street Ministries, I call that group the ‘unlikely partners.’ It is the many moving pieces and people who come together to make a ministry possible. As 2017 closes, I invite you to join that unlikely partnership.
Serve with After School or Open Gym. Support financially. Pray regularly. Like the small group that helped with The Front Porch, find some facet of South Street to plug into where you can see God’s Kingdom advance through God’s people!
As we reflect on 20 years of presence and ministry in Summit Lake, we honor Duane and Lisa and their family. We also recognize the hundreds of others that make South Street Ministries what it is today. In whatever way you support, thank you for being our partner. Thank you for risking with us to see a community renewed for the sake of Christ.
To make an end-of-year donation towards the work of South Street Ministries, click here.