DALLAS, Texas - Every year millions of Christians from around the world take part in the Global Day of Prayer. But in Dallas, area churches, community leaders and even government officials say prayer is just the starting point to bless the city.
Christians in the city go from praying for their city, to painting, sweeping and mowing lawns in the name of the Lord.
Compassion in Action
Their actions are part of something called, 90 Days of Blessing, which is a time set aside for Christians to serve following the Global Day of Prayer.
90 Days of Blessing involves a coalition of Christian leaders such as Pastor Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and Pastor Ron Scates of Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas.
Pastor Ron says 90 Days of Blessing, part of the Global Day of Prayer, is not just that one event where believers gather to pray, but actually extends arms for three months encouraging churches to take on missions projects throughout the Dallas area mobilizing Christians from all different denominations."
Many say it's about the body of Christ displaying compassion in action.
Charles Armelin is a volunteer with 90 Days of Blessing.
He said, "It lets people in the community know, see that there are people, outsiders willing to come down here and help cut grass, pick up trash, edge the yards, put flower pots and plants down."
"We're hoping that this is getting us out of our comfort zone and when we do that the world says maybe these people really do believe what they say they believe," says Dr. Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, an evangelical Christian, says he wholeheartedly favors 90 Days of Blessing project.
"I hope what we do as a city is we utilize prayer to bring blessings to try to reach out both to our Lord but also to the people in the city," the mayor said.
The impact of the 90 Days of Blessing has been dramatic.
All across the Dallas, scores of homes have been built in poor neighborhoods through Habitat for Humanity. Christians are praying for people in the community, conducting neighborhood clean ups and hosting evangelistic block parties.
One miraculous turnaround has taken place in the Bonton section of South Dallas, which has been notorious for its crime, drugs and poverty.
Karen Alston is a single mother who lived in Bonton. She and her children feared for their lives in the neighborhood.
"The drive-by's and the shootings, my children and I ended up sleeping on the floor. We slept there for three months because it was horrible, jumping up in the middle of the night and hearing my children scream 'Mama, Mama, we're gonna die.'"
Drug Dealer Turns to Christ
Former drug dealer Roderick Yarborough contributed to Karen's horror.
"I have a reputation in the neighborhood of being a drug dealer," Roderick said.
But Roderick's life changed when a local pastor shared the gospel during an evangelistic outreach in his community. Roderick prayed to receive Jesus Christ and today is part of the solution.
"All the guys who used to ask me for drugs. They'll ask me 'You have any kind of drugs, you have some weed, some dope or something?' I say no I don't do that no more. Then they'll say 'Pray for me.' I say how can this really be happening? They just asked me for drugs and now they want me to pray for them," he marveled.
Roderick also makes an honest living now.
"It's just a blessing right there just to be working - working for a ministry at that. I never ever thought that I'd be working for a ministry," he said.
Because of the influence of 90 Days of Blessing on Karen's old neighborhood, she says she is no longer afraid. And thanks Concord Baptist Church, where she's a member, and Habitat for Humanity, she is a first time homeowner.
Karen was happy to give CBN News a tour of her new home saying, "This is my little heaven on earth, a blessed gift from the Lord."
Karen uses her new home to bless those in her old neighborhood every.
"We do a Bible study for young teenaged men from 10:00 to 12 noon and I serve breakfast," Karen said.
Devil's Backdoor Becomes Christ's Front Door
Stories like Karen's and Roderick's are not limited to one section of Dallas.
Arrvel Wilson pastors the West Dallas Community Church. He is also part of Transformation West Dallas, an initiative that creates communities of hope that result in safe homes, safe schools, and safe communities for Dallas' west side.
"The sheriff at times called West Dallas the devil's backdoor and now we say it's the Lord's front door at this time" Wilson said.
Businessman Norman Henry is also a partner with Transformation Dallas. Through Builders of Hope, his faith-based organization, he sells houses on Dallas' west side - a place he says many developers once refused to build.
"The house down the street was a drug house. Another house down the street had an illegal stolen goods operation. Over half a million dollars worth of stolen goods coming out of this house per day. But God has called us to reclaim this area back for his good," Henry said.
Builders of Hope also hires youth from the neighborhood to help build homes in the region, particularly young men on who have gotten into trouble with the law and are on probation.
Willie Thompson used to hang out on corners and sell drugs in the region. He says he is thankful that Henry and Builders of Hope have given him a chance to do better in life.
"Those guys are a real blessing to me and the work crew. They look forward to us doing something to our lives," Willie said.
Many in the Lone star state acknowledge that the Global Day of Prayer is important. But they stress the real blessing comes from the action and the fruit from those prayers.
Ty Richardson servers as volunteer with 90 Days of Blessing.
He said, "We're just doing the Lord's work. We're giving people opportunities to change their lives, get to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior and once that happens, transformation takes place."
Originally published May 8, 2008.