Is a House in the Hood on Your Bucket List?

Liza is a natural beauty who shines Jesus. One of the things I love most about her is that she’s had this routine for years where she spends most Wednesday nights with God. I think that’s a big part of why He’s writing such an incredible story in her life right now. In fact, I think it’s so great that I want you to know about it. Read Liza’s account below to see what I’m so excited about.

I’m one of those people who wrote my bucket list years ago. It’s full of things I imagined would make an adventurous, worthwhile life. But it’s recently become clear there was a large oversight when making that list.

I didn’t put “live in the hood” anywhere on it.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8–9).

So yes, “live in the hood” is now somewhere near the top of the list . . . but I’m getting ahead of the story. It all started in the spring a couple of years ago.

Spring 2012, Pregnancy Care Center, Michigan

I started volunteer work at the local pregnancy care center—not because I was particularly drawn to that field, but because I was looking for ways to share the Light. One of my first times there, I saw a girl walking by with bleach-blonde hair and hard, empty eyes. My heart tightened knowing I would soon be in a counseling room with her or one of her friends having no idea what to say or how to relate. But at least I noticed her. That was new. That was progress.

God doesn’t just see 142 million orphans. He sees one. And another one. And another one.

The pregnancy care center ended up changing the way I see people like her entirely. Cut to a year later: precious friendships, baby showers, laughing with, crying with, and learning how to love people the way God loves.

June 2013, Set Apart Girl Conference, Colorado

At a Set Apart Girl Conference in Colorado, I heard the miraculous testimony of a rescued street girl from South Korea, and it sunk deep down into my heart that God doesn’t just see 142 million orphans. He sees one. And another one. And another one.

He sees Ayushi, begging at a rickshaw on the streets of New Dehli. And He cares so much. He wants to rescue her. And He uses His hands and feet, His people here on the earth, to go pick her up out of the dust, brush her off, and make His love real to her.

The gap between my comfy life and volunteering at the center was becoming wider and wider. It didn’t feel right anymore.

Much like the story of the little boy with the starfish, each life was beginning to be important and worth rescuing to me. Verses like Isaiah 58:6–11 and Luke 14:12–14 started to jump off the page. God was giving me a glimpse of His heart. Through tears, I started praying prayers like:

God, if there are people out there You want to rescue, I’d consider it a privilege to be the one to take them by the hand and lead them to safety. Please send someone to rescue them. Send me.

January 2014, Lori’s Home, Ohio

The gap between my comfy life and volunteering once a week at the pregnancy care center was becoming wider and wider. It didn’t feel right anymore. How could I truly love the people God had so clearly drawn my heart to when I kept them at such a distance?

Then I connected with an old friend, Lori, who told stories of Christians (herself included) who’d just asked God to show them people to love and then moved right next door to them in the rough part of town. I had no idea Christians could just . . . do that. They called it Christian Community Development, and there were associations and conferences and everything.

That made so much sense. That’s what Jesus did with us. He came incarnate, God With Us, and stayed. He came into close proximity with the ones He loved to rescue them and redeem them. When He finished the redemption work, He went to heaven, sent His Holy Spirit, and now gives us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18–20).

From that day forward, knowing how much Jesus loves the poor, the least of these, the broken, the castaways . . . and knowing how much He loves me, I knew it was time to connect the dots and just go live with these people and make His love real to them.

All that was left to do was find a “hood.”

To be continued tomorrow . . .

(Hey, girls. Paula here.) Did you catch what Liza said?

The gap between my comfy life and volunteering once a week at the pregnancy care center was becoming wider and wider. It didn’t feel right anymore.

You’re probably still sharing a room with your little sister (or maybe not!), and I don’t imagine “living in the hood” is even an option for you at this point in life. But in what other ways is God calling you out of your comfort zone in your everyday life?

Oh, and I’d love to hear . . . do you have a bucket list? What’s on it?

About Author

Paula Marsteller no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her two young sons and seeking to practice "radically ordinary hospitality." She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in Central New York. You can catch her writing on

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