But is this possible? Can a whole city prosper? Can a whole city be lifted out of poverty? There are those who are trying. Listen to Steve Fricke’s story from Wilmington, Ohio. Steve is both a pastor and a businessman. A couple of years previous to this, a major employer in their community closed which eliminated 10,000 jobs from the area. Steve writes,
With our community experiencing double digit unemployment the local businesses have suffered. For over two years the local community pastors have been meeting weekly to pray for spiritual and economic revival. We specifically are asking for the abandoned store fronts and factories to be refilled with prosperous Kingdom minded business leaders. And we are asking for Gods creativity to be released among area believers to start new business and fill the old ones.
As a business person myself, I recognize the need to encourage the business owners to dig the ditches in preparation for God’s provision to be released. We can sit around complaining and worry about what is going to happen to us or we can dig some ditches. For some this means hitting the pavement again to make sales calls or expand their market territory. For others it means dreaming again about what their business’ can become and the importance it carries in the community and in the Kingdom. By that I mean keeping people employed and continuing to contribute to the overall economy. Some may need to go back to what they did in the beginning to make their business a success. But the need is encouragement for their business talents to be released in expectation of God’s provision.
Specifically, we have commissioned two retired business men to visit each establishment owned by a Christian. One of these men is a retired banker and the other a retired customer service representative. They are praying with the business owners and their employees. They are asking God for prophetic words for that specific business. They are offering their experience and expertise in giving ideas and consumer perspectives so the owners can make adjustments if necessary. And they are helping the owners connect with others who have ideas or have overcome obstacles and who might offer additional encouragement. I personally have been able to assist one establishment in a cost savings plan which yielded the owner more than $9000.00 in savings this year.
Secondly, the community pastors have yearly held a ‘Be the Church Day’ where our congregations come together, as one force with no church labels, to do service projects around our city. This year we are concentrating on blessing our downtown business district. We will clean, paint, wash windows, do repairs, sweep sidewalks, refresh planters and mulch, clean restrooms and do anything else which will let the owners know in a practical way that we care and we are praying for them.
When you are in the desert and all you see around you is dry sand, you need a word of encouragement to dig the ditches for God’s provision. He is good and faithful always and I am confident the ditches will run with fresh provisional water in Wilmington again.
Steve’s reference to digging ditches is taken from 2 Kings 3:16 where Elisha told the Kings who were in need of water to dig ditches. They followed his direction and the next day the ditches were filled with the water they needed. It was both Biblical and practical.