“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Years ago on a Wednesday night, our Bible study group had been studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. As we were discussing Jesus’s words, a mom and her two teenage daughters came to us for help.
They were homeless.
I asked our group for suggestions about what we should do. One of our ladies, Lavada, said, “I have a room.” The family went to stay with Lavada a couple of days. Then, they came to our house and lived in our basement a couple of weeks.
It was challenging. They were grateful to us, but they also lived and interacted very differently than what we were used to. We learned much about ourselves in this experience, such as how unprepared we were to welcome strangers as Jesus directed. We grew weary of transporting, feeding, giving and peacemaking.
But we discovered that our guests loved us, despite our differences. In the end, they were able to get jobs and an apartment. I don’t know where they are now, but they taught us to open our door in a way we did not think possible.
Jesus is clear about how we are to be salt and light to the world. At Open Door, we want to be like Jesus. We want to be the safe place and the light to those seeking His mercy and love.
Our story begins in 1989, when John and Carol Withers of Columbus, Ohio, quit their careers and moved to Lexington, KY, following God’s specific calling. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. “ The Withers knew they were meant to take up a specific spiritual battle here.
They mowed lawns, made enough to live on and planted Open Door Church. Around 1992, John got a call from a lady at Revelation Baptist Church, asking if he and Open Door would like their building free of charge. At first, John refused because of the “rough neighborhood.” But then he felt a clear correction from God and accepted the offer.
We have been at 749 Addison Ave. ever since. Pastor Adam Jones now leads our congregation.
Open Door has always been small, but potent. We stay very busy with our mission to love God, love people and change the world. We believe Jesus is the way, and the Bible is true. We are convinced life is better with Jesus and His people. We take the words of Jesus seriously, and we constantly try out what He says. Such practice has led us to many adventures, about which you can read in our “Stories” tab. We are fiercely committed to the complex, yet beautiful, labor of loving well. In the end, all that matters is faith coming to life through love. Jesus leads us to be more loving people, planting Gospel seeds that will grow a more loving city, nation and world.