DC Talk’s popular song, “Jesus Freak,” includes the lyric, “What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak?”
For the last three-and-a-half years, William and Lindsy Wallace lived that line.
“I think if heaven is going to be a freak show, which it is, I want my living room to reflect that, too,” said Lindsy, 38. “That’s what it’s going to look like in heaven, and we can usher the Kingdom in now.”
Come and get it
While living in Miami, Florida, the Wallaces filled their home with a diverse group of people who were brought together by love.
“We had people from all different walks of life,” said William, a former videographer at Southeast Christian Church. “We broke bread together. It was never a homeless feeding program, but a potluck.”
It was packed full of what society would deem as projects, but to the Wallaces, they were friends.
For instance, a 70-year-old veteran with PTSD, who was also a former street preacher, dropped in on a daily basis.
“One of our favorite neighbors was an older Vietnam vet,” Lindsy said. “He was homeless and had addiction struggles. I saw him every day. There were several conversations where we were sharing the same thing and I remember going, ‘We’re so much more alike as humans than we realize because no one would have picked us as friends.’”
The people coming in and out of their home included drug dealers, prostitutes, the homeless, city officials, addicts, attorneys and a local leader in the church.
“Sunday dinner was the anchor,” Lindsy added. “Opening up our home and breaking bread with people was the gateway for everything else that we did throughout the week. People knew us. They knew that we were real. They’d seen us yell at our kids and saw the mess that we were, so they felt comfortable. So it was the thing that led us into deeper places with our neighbors.”
Mission in Miami
The Wallaces moved to Miami in 2015.
Along with their six children, the Wallaces packed their bags, left Louisville and moved to “The Grove,” a small neighborhood at the southern tip of Miami.
“We moved to a marginalized neighborhood in Miami almost 4 years ago,” said William, 43. “We had a theology on living among the poor that we had previously studied. So we had it in our head, but not necessarily in our heart.”
The Wallaces ended up connecting with InnerCHANGE, a missionary movement with teams living and working in places of poverty in 18 cities throughout the world. InnerCHANGE is an incarnational ministry that journeys alongside the poor, rather than trying to grow their income level.
“Jesus came into the world to model how to uplift marginalized voices,” Lindsy said. “Jesus embodies the poor in Matthew 25. So the poor reveal Jesus to me, and it’s a reciprocal relationship. We aren’t the service providers in our neighborhood, but it’s us in relationship with one another.”
Marginalized groups may feel as if they are less important than those who hold more power, prestige or privilege in society.
“Those living on the margins are people who society has continually pushed aside, pushed down or oppressed and don’t have equitable opportunities or access,” Lindsy said.
As followers of Jesus, the Wallaces not only broke bread, but broke barriers with people on the fringes.
“The lines are blurry because they become your friends and family, which I think is how it should be,” Lindsy added. “It shouldn’t be a ministry service project or a program because they’re people, and we care about them.”
One of the ways William showed he cared was by starting Resurrected Builds. William hired young men to help him build furniture and provide them with jobs. As they worked shoulder to shoulder, William was also building relationships.
Around the neighborhood, William would regularly do a prayer walk, and his presence drew people to start spiritual conversations with him.
“In Miami, we very rarely left our neighborhood and drove more than two miles,” William said. “You have to be out walking the streets. If you stay on your couch the entire time, it’s hard to develop those relationships. You have to be present and visible. I kind of stood out in Miami because I was the only bearded white guy with tattoos.’”
The Wallaces held a weekly Bible study for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to drop by.
However, after three-and-a-half years, living in solidarity with the poor presented its challenges and created stable housing struggles for them and their six kids.
After having to move to six different houses during that season in Florida, the Wallaces moved to Louisville’s West End in January 2019.
They are currently exploring their options for their next phase of ministry.