Over 300 flyers and bilingual street signs went out into the neighborhood for yesterday’s Dec. 4th meeting. C.U. was on the agenda to once again press the City Board to approve their plans to take part of our street, build a ‘plaza’ – ultimately expanding their campus. As the ‘largest private land owner in NYC’, we knew of Columbia’s neighborhood take overs – I encouraged one neighbor, “With God, all things are possible”. But what would God do?
Over the weekend I studied the book of Nehemiah. I often study the Bible with the commentaries by Zac Poonen, a gifted teacher. I highlighted some notes to meditate upon…
- “Fear is the opposite of faith, and when we act in fear we are acting in unbelief.” Nehemiah may have feared before the King (“I was very much afraid”) but he never compromised, he pressed on.
- “If we really believe that God Almighty is supporting us in what we do, it is ridiculous and foolish to fear anyone.”
- “Nehemiah was a great organizer and a man who could motivate people. The people worked with him happily because he worked alongside them.”
- “Nehemiah was a fearless man who was not seeking for a reputation as a kind, gentle person…If you are concerned about your reputation, you might as well forget about building the church.”
I do consider humility and meekness foundational in Christian character. But I also see the boldness of God’s leaders who confront opposition with zeal when set forth by God. Although the presenting battle in my neighborhood is not spiritual per se, I believe that the Lord is doing something with me and my husband, perhaps preparing us for spiritual battles in these last days. For example, after speaking at a podium in a large gathering, I really sensed new confidence within. I find myself more comfortable engaging with people in public places such as bus stops and stores, extending simple kindness with hopes of sharing God’s love.
When the meeting started, almost no one was there. Thankfully though, by the 3rd agenda item Bob and I turned and saw the room full – once again, standing room only. Many new people came, obviously from work. There were seniors, young adults, many Hispanics and even students! “We’re from the Columbia School of Social Work…We are with you! We stand in solidarity with your neighborhood against the expansionism or our university!” Really!
Months ago, C.U. initially deceived the City Board, presenting a building plan with an elaborate but devious survey to quickly convince the Board: “93% of all people polled are in favor of our plan!” They neglected to report that only C.U. students were polled, the residents were totally unaware. Now, aware and informed, our stand came forth with clarity and strength…and with fire!
The room heated up as one by one all the neighbors cried out against C.U.’s plan, and they had done their homework! The C.U. reps began to shrink. When they presented, all points seemed to fall to the ground, their strategies exposed and deflated.
After nearly two hours, it was time to vote….or once again table the issue!!
The Board was divided but the majority confirmed, a vote must take place. The whole room was silent, we stood up, waiting for their votes………….with 2 abstentions, THE CITY BOARD VOTED AGAINST COLUMBIA’S PLAN!! WE KEEP OUR STREET!!
(Of course, the giant may resurface and come back next year…)
Somehow I was the point person in this endeavor, my husband to a lesser extent as Bob works long hours. Several people acknowledged us and expressed gratitude for our continuous outreaches and signs to notify them. Maybe the Lord is giving us favor. After our victory we met more neighbors from our street, some whom had lived there for 30 years, contact info was exchanged and we conversed.
While I had wondered about God’s plan in this, Bob frequently quoted Proverbs 31:8 to me, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…” A true calling, but I also believe that with God, there’s often more than just the ‘issue at hand’. We prayed for our neighbors’ salvation and entered a different arena…but I believe God is not finished!
Together we saved our street, but neither a ‘Bible study’ nor ‘prayer meeting emerged. After 30 years the Lord introduced us to many folks and perhaps with future purpose. ‘Coincidental’ meetings, times of sharing or, who knows, when calamity strikes one day, could we be ‘point persons’ for prayer?
Only God knows!
Thank you friends and brethren for your prayers!!
P.S. C.U. should change either their school motto or their deceitful exploits…It is never good to hide hypocrisy behind God’s word. (They had their flag with this seal standing at the meeting!)