Earlier today, I got an email from one of ROP’s ESL teachers. She related to me a request from one of her students. The student was asking where she and other refugee moms could go for help keeping their teens out of gangs. The teacher lamented that she did not have any great answers for her student, but as she pondered and prayed about the issue of gangs and teens, God brought to mind a book she had read many years ago, The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. It is the powerful story of how God led young pastor Wilkerson to New York City to minister to at-risk caught up in gangs and drug use. Toward the beginning of his ministry, Pastor Wilkerson felt led to raise money for a building where kids could come to hang out, plays games, build healthy relationships and learn about a God who loved them.
Our teacher is convicted that the 1523 Boston Building across the street from ROP’s existing building should become the same kind of place for teens in our community.* I could not agree with her more. With its full gymnasium and lots of other classroom and meeting space, we envision the 1523 Boston building becoming a great resource for our community and especially its children and teens. But honestly, as much as ROP’s ministry and community would be blessed by the addition of the 1523 Building, the greatest need of our community’s teens is for people, i.e. relationships with mature Christian adults who can speak both love and truth into the lives of kids in need of both.
So when my teacher friend asked in her email how she could help, I told her by all means to pray for and help spread the word regarding the 1523 Boston building opportunity, but where she could help the most with our teens would be by praying for and helping us get the word out regarding our need for people called and gifted to work with at-risk youth. I also put her in touch with Matt Smith, ROP’s Youth Ministry Director, who is eager to talk to this mom and see how he might help with her son or daughter and other refugee youth in our community. But Matt needs help. There is only so much that one guy can do. He needs more men and women to join him in this very strategic ministry. Sometimes, all it takes for a young man or woman to make a good choice toward the kind of life God has for them is a word of encouragement and affirmation from a healthy adult role model who genuinely cares for them. If you are interested in being a part of this critically important ministry with at-risk youth, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with Matt at [email protected] or 303.570.7501. He will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
And while I am making an appeal for youth-oriented volunteers, I want to also mention ROP’s Reading Mentor program at Crawford Elementary School which will be starting up again on Wednesday, January 23rd. We would love to add a couple more people to our awesome Reading Mentor team. As a Reading Mentor, you can play a critical role in helping an English language learner to succeed academically and in life by simply helping them learn to be a better reader. The time requirement is from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. every Wednesday for just 10 weeks at Crawford Elementary School. I know it can seem like a long drive for some, but my suggestion is to either bring a friend to volunteer with you or to listen to your audio Bible as you drive :-). If you are interested or have questions, please let me know.
* The 1523 Boston St. Building, aka the former Boys and Girls Club, went up for sale a few months ago and ROP is feeling led to try to buy it. So far we have a $300k commitment from The Anschutz Foundation, but we need quite a bit more to make an offer which is likely to be accepted.