It all began almost 9 years ago with a conversation with ROP’s Refugee Outreach and Resources Director, Lucy Bruser, in a parking lot outside a nearby apartment building. A couple weeks later, Donna Godfrey began teaching ESL classes in ROP’s building. Since that time Donna and more than a dozen teachers have partnered with her in teaching hundreds of immigrants in our community to speak better English.
In retrospect it was a wonderful 10th Anniversary celebration, but the evening got off to a “rocky” start when the main video system failed an hour before the dinner began – yikes! With many elements of the program dependent on video (lyrics to praise songs, 4 ROP videos, a slideshow and a PowerPoint) it looked for a while like it could be a very short evening. But God answered our prayers and the church’s Audio-Visual technician managed to cobble together a solution which allowed most elements to work. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Jeff.
Frankly, I admit to being more than a little stressed, but with the help of a wonderful time of worship, led by Christie Gerwinat and friends, and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I think our 200+ attendees enjoyed a beautiful evening together and, I am glad to report, so did I :-).
Many thanks to all those who chose to celebrate God’s faithfulness with us last Friday, and to all those who helped to make it happen. I also want to give a special thanks to Jenny Passchier and Keely Rochford, Principal and Assistand Principal from Crawford Elementary School, who were kind to share the evening with us and share a few words of affirmation and support for ROP. Our partnership with Crawford is a very important and strategic part of ROP’s ministry.
- Any donation from someone who has not previously made a donation to ROP
- Any donation from a donor who has not made a donation to ROP within the last two years
- Any monthly/quarterly donation commitment from a donor who has not previously made such a commitment. (The amount of the commitment for one year will apply to the match.)
- Any increase in monthly/quarterly commitment from a donor who is already giving on a monthly/quarterly basis.
What a difference a week makes. The previous Saturday it was snowing and raining, but yesterday the weather was perfect for a picnic. Thank you, Lord!
With the jumping castles arriving a little late, things got off to a bit of a slow start, but with the great weather and the smell of burgers in the air, a crowd slowly started to gather. It probably did not hurt that a few days earlier we distributed more than 800 fliers around the neighborhood or that our neighborhood elementary school stuffed 512 of our fliers in the back packs of all of their students. Hard to count how many people came, but we know we served 370 hamburgers and 250 hotdogs, so maybe 300 plus. Part of the entertainment was also proved by street artist, Hector, who painted the attached painting in about 1 hour as we watched. Last year, Hector painted the word “DREAM” for us. Can you read this year’s word? If you cannot read it and want to know, just email me. (No fun telling you without even trying :-).
But the best thing about this year’s Neighborhood Party was the opportunity it gave Flourish East Colfax (FEC) – in which ROP partners with Agape Missionary Church in our neighborhood and 4 other organizations more broadly – to engage more people in our Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) process. Gathering in the park, watching kids play and enjoying freshly grilled hamburgers and hotdogs was the perfect setting to talk about Flourish East Colfax’s mission of making our neighborhood a better place to live and work and to invite people to get involved and come to our next Neighborhood Meeting on May 10th.
Many participants responded quite positively to the invitation to get involved and all seemed thankful just to be there. My favorite reaction came from a lady who has lived on the western edge of the park for 8 years. She remembered seeing last year’s “Neighborhood Party”, but did not join us. This year, she chose to take a chance and see what we were up to. After experiencing the positive energy of the event and hearing why we were having the party, she told one of our FEC partners that she was so excited it gave her goose bumps.
Truly, it all made for a great day with a special shout out of thanks to the International Section from Cherry Hills Community Church who did much of the hard work of set-up, clean-up, food preparation and service and monitoring the games and jumping castles for the kids. This was a huge blessing as it freed up us FEC types to engage with our attendees, get to know them a little better and invite them to our May 10th Nieghborhood Meeting.
Of course, with ROP’s Annual Dinner comming up this Friday, May 4th, I also want to take this opportunity to make a “final” invitation for you to join us. In addition to celebrating the last 10 years of God’s faithfulness to ROP’s ministry, we will be anticipating some of the directions God is leading us as ROP moves forward and especially in the area of Community Development. See below for the time and place*. If you decide to come, please RSVP to [email protected] by Tuesday evening.
To see more photos from Saturday’s Neighborhood Party click on this link.
- Please share a story of life change or Kingdom impact with your participants;
- Please share a story of how volunteers grew spiritually or in the development of ministry skills;
- Please share a story of something really cool that a volunteer did this month;
- Is there anything else you would like to share about something that happened in your ministry this month (negative or positive)? and
- Please share a couple prayer requests (ministry or personal)
- The students in one of our ESL classes decided to pray for one of their fellow students struggling with vision issues.
- The husband of a student in another ESL class was tragically killed in a work related accident. Several ROP staff and volunteers attended the funeral and ROP was able to provide our building for the reception.
- A Work Readiness student is working hard to improve his reading skills.
- A regular participant in our Wednesday lunch outreach to the homeless asked for prayer from several volunteers that God would help her leave her life of addiction and bad decisions. Another participant was convicted of his need to return to Jesus and a good church.
- Refugee Outreach Director, Lucy Bruser, had the privilege of leading 3 ladies into a relationship with Jesus at a TUMI related Resurrection Day evangelistic outreach. (TUMI is a seminary level program for urban church leaders.)
- Work Readiness had an Easter Party in which 2 Mormons, 1 Muslim and 2 Christian students chose to participate.
- Another ESL teacher reports that more of her students are coming to class twice each week because she is helping them work on gaining their US citizenship.
- A Work Readiness volunteer blessed the Director and the program by preparing solution keys for new curriculum.
- A Wednesday Lunch Outreach volunteer is considering expanding the program by leading a similar outreach on another day of the week.
- Numbers are decreasing in our ESL program mostly because students are getting day jobs.
- One of our strong male volunteers in the food bank is moving out of town. We are praying for a replacement or two.
- One week, several teens decided to play soccer which gave Teen Ministries Director, Matt Smith, and lead volunteer, Rick Randall an opportunity to spend more time in prayer and then work with one student and teach him a Bible story which he was able to share back.
- Kids who earned enough stars in our children’s ministries were able to go ice-skating, many for the first time
- ROP’s May 4th Dinner – A Celebration of God’s Faithfulness – I, Kent, provide a brief preview of why the appropriate response to reflecting on the first 10 years of ROP’s ministry is Thankfulness*.
- Youth Ministry Pursuing Its Own ABCD Process – ROP’s Youth Ministries Director, Matt Smith, shares how a very diverse group of teens is coming together to address the issue of violence in their schools.
- Story of a Christian Paradox – We are the Ones Most Blessed – ESL student from Central African Republic, Joel, comes to ROP for help with English, and teaches us about blessing others.
- TUMI – Transforming Our Community – Director of Refugee Resources and Outreach, Lucy Bruser, shares about The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) and how God is using it to equip urban pastors and church leaders to advance the Kingdom of God in the city.
Celebrating 10 Years of God’s Faithfulness – I, Kent Scroggs, look back over the first 10 years ROP’s ministry and share a few examples of God’s faithfulness in meeting challenges and preparing our ministry for the next 10 years.**
- Community Working to Reach Neighborhood’s Youth – Youth Ministries Director, Matt Smith, shares how God is bringing ROP together with others in our community to reach out to and disciple our neighborhood’s youth in a “high context” culture. (If you want to know what “high context” means, you need to read the article :-).
ROP is seeking a few folks to fulfill a couple critical roles with our ministry:
(1) Reading Mentors – ROP’s after-school reading mentor program is one of the most strategic programs we have. I can say this emphatically because when we help a young boy or girl (most of whom speak another langauge at home) learn how to read more effectively, their chances of succeeding academically and succeeding in life improve exponentially. This semester’s reading program starts at ROP’s neighborhood elementary school (Crawford) next Wednesday, January 31st and runs every Wednesday afternoon from 3:15 to 4:45 for 10 weeks to April 25th.
One of the “Voice Groups” established at our Flourish East Colfax Neighborhood Meetings is the Pride/Respect Group. The goal of this group is to increase the sense of pride and respect that our neighbors have for where they live and work. A couple months ago the Pride/Respect Voice Group hooked up with Bill Gondrez who heads up the Blockmeister program. Bill, with the help of a grant from the City of Aurora, provides pretty much everything needed to make picking up trash as easy as possible for any person or group that commits to keeping the area around their home or business trash-free. That may not sound like much of a commitment to most of our readers, but here along East Colfax Avenue, it is a serious ongoing challenge.
In order to help meet that challenge, ROP has invited our neighborhood organizations and businesses to partner with us in this effort. I am glad to report that all of our nearby neighbors – Boettcher Boys & Girls Club, Adventure Dental and E&J Automotive – have accepted that invitation and formally joined our local Blockmeister team (see attached photo).
One of the side benefits of regularly picking up trash along our street is that it gives us an opportunity to meet more people and invite them to come to our semi-monthly Neighborhood Meetings. It is also our hope and prayer that, as our neighbors see their streets made cleaner, their sense of pride in their surroundings would increase and they would choose to join with us in making our neighborhood a better place for all of us to live and work.
Ultimately, of course, our prayer is that working together with our neighbors would provide God-given opportunities to show the love of Jesus Christ in word as well as deed. This is a big part of what Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is about. It is not a short-term process, but we are excited about the progress we are already seeing. One step at a time. So far, so good :-).
When I received ROP’s November financials from Mark Knutson, ROP’s Business Administrator, and saw the $72k year-to-date deficit, I remember thinking God would have to do a miracle in order for us to finish the year ‘in the black’ (revenue > expense). Well, He did. It started with $66k from an incredible best Colorado Gives Day (12/5). But even after that great start, we still needed to receive at least another $36k to finish the year with a surplus rather than a deficit. And we did.
I think all donations with a 12/31/17 or earlier postmark have now been received, and I am very pleased and humbled to report that for December 2017 ROP received 210 donations, totaling $122.3k. This significantly exceeds December 2016’s previous record of 190 donations, totaling $83.7k. And it means ROP will finish 2017 with a surplus of $10k to $20k. Absolutely amazing!
We thank God and all those who contributed to this incredibly generous outpouring of support for ROP’s ministry. We humbly receive these gifts as God’s affirmation that ROP is heading in the right direction and pledge to continue to exercise good stewardship over all donations as we seek to provide for basic needs and build God’s Kingdom within our community.
We also see this amazing outpouring of support as a wonderful 10th Anniversary gift :-). Yes, it was almost exactly 10 years ago that ROP was launched by Open Door Ministries and began its ministry on East Colfax as an independent non-profit. A lot has happened and changed over those 10 years, but we are thankful for all God has accompished over the last decade and all the volunteers and donors who have partnered with us in ministry along the way.
We are also Excited, Blessed and Looking forward to the next 10 years of ministry. And you are invited to join us because the truth is, we cannot do it without you!