The “No Outlet” signs on the edges of the streets in North Highlands didn’t grab my attention when I first moved in with Dan and Carol in Oklahoma City. I was there to learn about what Mustard Seed Development is doing about serious issues like urban poverty, violence and education.

What’s so special about street signs?

Well, these “No Outlet” signs recently replaced their long-standing predecessors—the “Dead End” signs—as requested by Dan. When you’re living in the hood, facing the daily obstacles of a community plagued with poverty and addiction, labeling the place with big yellow “Dead End” signs only highlights the depravity.

Cliff, Mary and Jean in the Mustard Seed office.

But the people of Mustard Seed look at their neighbors and see something different.

The neighborhood is home to people who work long hours to provide for their children, kids who enjoy playing outside and are trying to make it through school and elderly residents with incredible wisdom but need a little help from time to time.

Dan at work in the Mustard Seed office.

The community of 73114 is full of determination and goodness, and Mustard Seed is committed to supporting and organizing the good that exists in the neighborhood to bring about change. The process takes patience and faith that God really does desire us to live in community—even though that means dealing with each other’s brokenness.

Read about Mustard Seed’s neighbors. The hood may sound a little rough…okay, the hood is rough in many ways, but I’ve been walking these streets a lot lately, listening to a lot of folks—and I haven’t met a single dead end.

Santa in the Hood

Ever wonder where Santa hangs out in the off season? Turns out he’s caring for his neighbors in an Oklahoma City hood…

Click here to read this travel journal…


No running water. No central heating. And now she’s at risk of losing her home altogether…

Click here to read this article…

VOICE for the Voiceless

What common ground could 1,200 Oklahoma City residents from 23 groups and churches possibly have?

Click here to see this photo gallery…

Opportunity in Education

If we really value education as a basic human right, what are we doing to make it more attainable for young people?

Click here to read this article…

Culture Guide: Food for the Soul

Welcome to Jean’s kitchen! Strap on an apron and learn what soul food is all about…

Click here to read this culture guide…

Not In My Neighborhood

What’s a resident to do in the face of violence and crime? The answer isn’t what I expected…

Click here to read this article…

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About the Author: Laura is a journalism fellow with World Next Door. She graduated from the University of Arizona, Tucson with a degree in Animal Sciences and a minor in Spanish. She is constantly learning, making friends, dancing, and trying to understand her role in alleviating the suffering of others. Laura also attracts a lot of awkward situations.

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  1. Chuck Gross said... 


    March 10th, 2012 at 9:55 am  

    Laura Stump – I have been away for a few weeks. I just retruned home and into the rythem of daily life and routine. It is good to see that you are still on the move, seeing God at work and bringing His work, as well as the work of His people, to my attention. I’m am still doing the head skratching thing, trying to match Animal Science with your reporting. You are AWESOME!

    • Laura Stump said... 


      March 23rd, 2012 at 6:25 pm  

      Haha…thanks, Chuck! No matter what degree a person has (or no degree), it’s still a joy to share how God is moving on Earth–I think we’re all qualified to share these kinds of stories! :)

  2. Wyketia Washington said... 


    March 15th, 2012 at 5:31 pm  

    OMG…. Who knew? Santa lives in the “hood”! I Love it :-)

    • Laura Stump said... 


      March 23rd, 2012 at 6:26 pm  

      Hey Wyketia! I hope you’re staying out of trouble…or that you’re in the right kind of trouble, I guess :) Thanks for letting me hang out in your community!

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