Something big is moving in our city and that something big is God. I want to share with each of you a vision that God has impressed upon some leaders within our church and our community. The vision is big, but so is our God. In our city of Huntington, WV we have been struggling the last few years with the plague of increased drug activity and with that has brought crime and prostitution. Granted, this problem is no doubt spreading throughout small town U.S.A. as sin continues to move at epidemic proportions. But in our community, one that is small and close knit, there’s an opportunity to bring light into the darkness of one of our most troubled neighborhoods and the local news is taking notice. Below is the story, as covered by the local newspaper, the Herald-Dispatch:
HUNTINGTON — One thing was clear during Monday evening’s kickoff meeting for a proposed skate park and community center at the old Imperial Lanes on Huntington’s 8th Avenue — faith in God will be at the foundation of the project.
That was not only mandatory for River Cities Community Church Youth Director Michelle Protzman and youth leader Kevin Vallance, but it also was important for many of the 25 or so folks that showed up at the Barnett Center.
Vallance discussed what he said God has laid on his heart. That’s to transform the old bowling alley, closed for more than four years, and its vacant parking lot into a skate park and recreational center. Many people had questions, but Vallance said the meeting really was about gauging community interest.
“I was pleased with the turnout,” he said. “I think the word will get out and more will get involved.”
Many who offered comments said the old facility has become an eyesore in Fairfield, and they are glad to see someone taking the reigns to transform it into something that will serve the youth.
“I know what’s out on the streets,” said Todd Benners, who has three sons. “These kids need to see someone who cares.
“If we can rebuild the positive aspect, the negative will go away,” he added, referring to the drug problem that has swept through Huntington. “It won’t go away by force, but by all the positive aspects.”
Others asked where the money would come from, who would run it and how it would be sustained. But Protzman reinforced Vallance’s stance that this was God’s project, and a faithful attitude is the only thing that matters at this stage.
“(This project) will not matter if God is not in it,” she said. “No matter how much money we throw at it. If God is in this, you will not be able to stop it.”
Virginia Ward, a mother of two who lives across the street from the Imperial Lanes, said she supports the recreation center being built on a Christ-centered foundation, supported by volunteers and a safe haven for children from the streets. Right now, she said, those places are limited.
“I’m thankful for the Fairfield East Community Center, but it can only do so much,” Ward said. “I just want a clean place to take our children.”
The Fairfield East Community Center, however, was supposed to be the home of a new skate park, said Charles Holley, director of development and planning for the city. In 2007, the city of Huntington designated $130,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds for a skate park to be built there.
Holley said the park was never built because there were concerns about the amount of space available at the community center. But the money is still designated for a skate park.
The city has never considered the old bowling alley as a site for a skate park, although it is in a neighborhood that qualifies for CDBG funding, Holley said. The grant program goes toward projects in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.
“There’s potential at that site, but we would have to look at it more closely,” he said.
District 5 council member Sandra Clements, who attended the meeting, said another site in the city is being looked at for a skate park. But she didn’t discount whether the money could go toward this proposed project.
The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 6 in the parking lot of the old bowling alley.
“We really don’t have details,” Protzman added. “We’re just asking you all to get on your knees and join us in prayer.”
For more information, Vallance can be reached at Kevin_Vallance@hotmail.com.
I covet your prayers, for not only this vision, not only this community, and not only this city, but for our nation. I firmly believe that a revival is coming to this country and it will come in one of two ways, either by choice, we Christians bow down and return to God to take back our country from the sin that ensnares it or we are broken down to our knees and with the hope that God has mercy on us. It’s visions like this one that set the tone for us to bow down and lift this up to God, that He may receive the glory, that His light will shine throughout the country. That this once great nation will know that He is Lord. So I ask you, in whatever way God puts in your heart, to pray for this. If God places this on your heart please pass it along to everyone you know so that they may pray, because I know that this revival has to start somewhere. Also, if you have similar visions from God in your community and would like the message to get out, feel free to email the information to me and I will post it so that we can all be praying. Our Christian Community knows no boundaries and if we can’t rely on each other through our faith in God, then who can we reach out to?