Before winter rolled in we walked over a marathon in prayer in the city of Oakdale. (Starting back up soon, so be sure to keep up with our events for future walks and join us!) We’ve met all but one principal in the school district, and had plenty of coffee shop and roadside conversations, and here’s what we know:
1. Oakdale schools have hidden struggles.
Many are surprised when I tell them the results of conversations that I’ve had with the principals in this district. The percentage of students on free and reduced lunch is one of the key markers that the government and local organizations use to determine poverty. Eagle Point Elementary (right on the border of Lake Elmo and two miles away from Woodbury) is at 40% free and reduced lunch in their attendance. That’s the lowest number you’ll see in this city. It’s as high as 64% at Oakdale Elementary and even higher in the Maplewood schools in the district. Every principal I've chatted with has mentioned mental illness and increasing poverty as the struggles that keep them up at night. The problem is that for so many when they think Oakdale, they think right next to Woodbury/Lake Elmo and assume there’s no need.
Sources: Interviews with Principals and ISD 622 District information.
2. There is beautiful diversity in the city, just like in God’s Kingdom!
As I’ve walked the streets I’ve found that Oakdale is filled with all kinds of diversity. One side of the street has single family homes, the other has townhouses. The next block has an apartment building. White people live next door to Hmong people, African immigrants connect with American Blacks. Blue collar, white collar, no collar, all in the same city. 35 different languages are spoken by students and their families in the school district, with the top five being: English, Hmong, Spanish, Cambodian, and Chinese! When I think of what heaven looks like, I think it’s all sorts of people from all walks of life rubbing shoulders together under the banner of Jesus. We get a little slice of that here in Oakdale!
3. There aren’t enough churches here.
When I ask people on walks or in coffee shops about what churches are here, a surprising amount cannot name one. When I ask about the churches active in the community, even fewer can name one. This isn’t a knock against the churches in Oakdale. There are some great ones here doing important work. This simply means that there is a significant need for more people impacting the city in the name of Jesus.
4. People are catching the Remedy passion!
Our monthly DREAM meetings were awesome in catching the vision and building momentum. At our last DREAM meeting, people started asking: "Why don't we start doing all the things we're talking about? Let's start acting like church!" So begins a growing core team with passion for the Remedy vision of engaging people in the way of Jesus. We are excited to see the Remedy at work in the lives of people, bringing the hope and healing found only in an eternity changing relationship with Jesus. We’re starting to meet, dream, and grow. Now is the time to join us in making history here in the name of Jesus!
Pastor - Remedy Church