- 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!
The Christmas devotional below was sent to me by my friend and Director of Men’s Ministries at Cherry Hills Community Church, Mark Shupe. I am forwarding it to you in the hope that it touches your heart as it does mine.
And she gave birth to her first-born son and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7
Two-thousand some years later after God physically entered our world to tangibly showcase His incredible love for us, we still struggle to fully welcome the wonders and workings of God into our lives. Like so many who were around during the days of Jesus, we often miss seeing and experiencing God in the midst of our busy, hustle and bustle lifestyles. Or, we find ourselves looking for a God formed in our own mind and expectations and fail to make room for the one true God who works in mysterious and often unpredictable ways.
In reading the Christmas story I am reminded of how God showed up in very unexpected ways. Mary was not looking to get pregnant (especially by the Holy Spirit); Joseph did not sign up to be the father of the Son of God; the Shepherds were minding their own business and not looking for an angelic visit; and the general population certainly were not looking for a King who would be born in a manger, or a Savior who would end up humbly dying on a cross.
Much of life this side of heaven is filled with the unexpected, unplanned and unwanted. Life often does not go as we plan and desire. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where it says, “then someone had a great plan.” But, the Bible clearly reminds us that God does have a great plan that includes each of us. It is better than anything we could plan. God’s plan is often different than what we expect or even want. Yet, it is all those unexpected and even unwanted happenings of life that God works His wonders in our lives.
God’s invitation for all of us this Christmas is simply to make room in our hearts for His mysterious, wonderful and good workings in our lives. Embrace the unexpected as opportunities to see and experience the presence and provision of God and in so doing, truly welcome the Son of God into our world.
Even as we thank God for the most incredible and amazing gift we will ever receive – the gift of His son, Jesus – let us also make room in our hearts for His unexpected, unplanned and even unwanted blessings.
This morning’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Christmas Party was a beautiful time of celebrating the true meaning of Christmas as well as sharing a lot of fun. Each ESL class provided their fellow students and teachers with a Christmas presentation. Several sang Christmas Carols and songs and one shared the Christmas story with us.
The fun included some hilarious games. Try moving a cookie from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands or opening a Christmas present with cooking mits on your hands. Many laughs and smiles were exchanged along with some Christmas gifts.
At most of our Flourish East Colfax (FEC) neighborhood meetings we break into small “voice groups” (Pride/Respect, Safety and Unity) and work on ways each group can make our community better. But, back in October the entire group decided we should work together on planning a Holiday Party for the people of our community and especially those that live on Boston and Chester Streets where several or our FEC organizations are concentrating our attention. Since one of our primary goals is bringing all the people of our community together, the Holidays seemed like a great time to invite more people from our neighborhood to gather for some fun and to get to know one another a little better*.
Usually, when we do events like this – especially events at our building – ROP ends up carrying most of the load. Not so this time. All ROP really did was provide the building and print and hand out party flyers. All the rest – invitation design, food, decorations, games and entertainment – was taken on by various sub-committees of people from our neighborhood, which was totally awesome and further confirmation that this Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) thing is working. Yay!
Even though the planning and execution were going well, I confess my expectations for turnout were not very high. However, I was very pleasantly surprized. By the end of last Saturday’s party, more than 75 people had filled out name tags, including a lot of first timers. And if I do say so myself, I think all enjoyed a great time, including delicious food (with prizes awarded for the best home-made main dish and dessert), holiday games and even the singing of some favorite Christmas carols.
Hopefully, a few photos will help to tell “the rest of the story”.
It is with great thankfulness to God and all those who chose to participate that I report to you that Restoration Outreach Programs received 80 donations totalling $65,940 through this year’s Colorado Gives Day. This result far exceeded our goal of $50,000 and last year’s CGD total of $37.8k through 56 donations.
We are humbled by this generous outpouring and tangible expression of support for what God is doing through ROP’s ministry and pledge to exercise careful stewardship over these and all the gifts entrusted to our care.
If you missed Colorado Gives Day, it is not too late to make a year-end donation to ROP and help us finish 2017 in the “Black” (revenue > expense). Right now it looks like it will take about another $30k of income to reach this goal. If you would like to help us reach this goal, please make your check payable to ROP and mail it to PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040.
You can see it on their faces, in their smiles and in their sincere gratitude. Generosity is a gift from God that opens people’s hearts to the love of Jesus Christ. This year, ROP was able to bless 40 families with the ability to bring joy and love to their children by partnering with Colorado Community Church (CCC) in their annual “Christmas Store”. Families nominated by ROP and other organizations shop for their kids at nearby Central High School and pay a fraction of the normal cost to buy Christmas presents for their children. This creates an environment of open hearts to be able to receive and embrace the love of Jesus Christ.
Each of our ministries within ROP were invited to nominate families for the opportunity to shop at this year’s Christmas store. ROP’s staff did a fantastic job of communicating and coordinating with the families that were shopping in spite of the language and communication barriers that were present. The families were also offered transportation to ensure they had the opportunity to shop and not miss out. The parents I spoke with were extremely thankful and talked about how their children would be so happy receiving gifts at Christmas. Experiencing the joy of giving and receiving made this a very special event that blessed every person involved.
This Christmas season, may each of us experience anew the joy of receiving the gift of God’s love through His Son, the perfect gift to the world.
When asked what ROP’s ministry strategy is, my short answer is often to say that we try to “scratch where people are itching.” By that I mean that ROP seeks to meet the practical or felt needs of those coming to us for assistance, needs for things like food, language acquisition, and jobs. We meet many of these needs through ROP’s regular programs, like our Food Bank and English as a Second Language and Work Readiness Programs. Sometimes, however, we get requests that our programs are not able to address. Often, we end up referring these requests to other organizations, but on occasion a volunteer or staff member feels led to step beyond their ministry description and address a more unique need. The following story comes from Marla Vlieger, ROP’s Education Director, regarding a special request from one of her Work Readiness students.
“Andrea” is one of my former Work Readiness students who graduated with her GED earlier this year. Since then, she has started college and has even been able to buy a car. But she had a problem. She didn’t have anyone in her life who could teach her to drive and help her get her driver’s license. So, she asked me and I agreed to be her driving instructor (using her car, not mine :-). We started lessons in May. She made good progress even though we could only meet a few times a month. Last week, she took her driving test, but did not pass :-(. This week, however, she tried again and passed. Yay! Andrea is very excited to be driving to school and work instead of taking the bus, especially because of the coming snow! (This photo is of GED Graduate, “Andrea”, and her driving instructor, Marla.)
Sometimes our stories are about “big” things like a Thanksgiving Outreach or the start of a new lunch program for the homeless or the launch of a new affiliated counseling center. But every day at ROP “smaller” stories are taking place, where God gives a staff member or volunteer the opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone who needs a little help. Marla’s story above is just one recent example.
Your support of Restoration Outreach Programs is a critical part of these stories, big and small. Indeed, they could not happen without the support of our financial partners. So, as we approach year-end, we ask for your consideration of a special year-end gift in support of ROP’s ministry. And if it works for you to make your year-end gift on-line through Colorado Gives Day (CGD), reduced fees and other financial benefits make this is the best time of year for ROP to receive donations via credit card.
To make a Colorado Gives Day donation just click on this link to ROP’s page on the CGD 2017 website. If you are making your donation before December 5th, you just need to be sure to check “CO Gives Day” under “Donation Frequency” and your donation will be scheduled to be made on Colorado Gives Day, Tuesday, December 5th. Of course, it also works fine to make your donation on 12/5. It also works fine if you prefer to send a check. Checks should be made payable to ROP and mailed to ROP, PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040.
If for some reason the link does not work or is not handy when you want to make your donation, just type Colorado Gives Day into your browser to go the CGD website and search for Restoration Outreach Programs. This will quickly get you to ROP’s CGD Donation Page.