Greetings from Colfax Avenue!
My goal today is a brief email, just to catch you up to where we are right now. A number of things are falling into place that I will fill you in on in a few weeks. But just a quick word about the picture. This is the motel that Maria, who I told you about earlier, manages. She is the lady whose husband was killed just outside the motel about 5 years ago. Notice the hand-written signs in the window. Although it is too small for you to read, one of them says that the parking spot is permanently reserved for the police and fire department. That probably tells you something about how often they visit! And, yes, that is my motorcycle partially parked in that space:).
Here goes: We continue to fall in love with and feel a deep call to serve along East Colfax as we live out our “Jesus on Colfax” ministry. And, we also have a deep sense that at this point our primary focus is to be on those living in the motels along Colfax. Diane and I are learning what it means to be “urban missionary pastors” to those who live in these seedy places strung along East Colfax.
As we do that, we continue to partner with Mean Street Ministry on Monday evenings as they do door-to-door ministry in about a half-dozen of the 25 motels in what we think of as our “parish”. At the same time we are also working in 2 motels that they are not connected with, The Radiant Inn and The Aurora Motel. We are in there on Tuesday evenings with just a couple of other people, starting to build relationships with people living there, bringing food, praying with them and seeing where Jesus might lead.
Our goal in all that is to move beyond simply knocking on a door and giving food. We want to develop long-term relationships with people who live in the motels that allow us to not only point them to Jesus but also helps love them and helps them find meaningful resources for the many needs in their lives. We are seeing that happen as we come back during the day time to follow up with people we have met on Monday and Tuesday evening. We also have a dream of being able to start some Bible Study/House Churches in a few of the motels.
Our plan is to move to North Aurora to be a part of the community and have even more regular access to the people we are ministering to. We would ask for your prayers for that. We want to be as close as we can be to the motels. There are two ways we could accomplish that. The easiest way would be to find an apartment just off Colfax. The other, more challenging and dangerous, is to actually move into the motels for a season, going there to simply be the presence of Jesus in a community of staggering need. At the moment we have a pretty strong sense that Jesus is leading us to move into the motels for a season but ask you to pray with and for us as we seek final clarity. Diane and I would put ourselves in places where there are many challenges–addictions, gangs, violence. But at the same time, it would give us tremendous access into the lives of many people who God created and whom he loves deeply. We will let you know more about that in the next email, but likely we would leave some of our kids in our house in SE Aurora and Diane and I would move by the first of September, either to a motel or to an apartment.
We appreciate those of you who have already given or jumped in in one way or another. We know many others of you are interested as well. In the next email I will give you a couple of clear ways you can join us on a journey, particularly over the next year, as we live in the middle of the urban poor and homeless. Will you be a “balcony person”, praying for us, learning with us and cheering us on? Or might some of you be interested in being “on the field” people, joining with us in this ministry in a more direct way? Details to come!
We are currently building a web-site that will give you a broader sense of what we are doing. We are also working on getting our own 501c3 designation that will allow us to take financial contributions directly rather than through Family in Christ. We think both of those steps will make us a bit more efficient and easier to access.
Speaking of financial donations, I will also give you a clearer sense in the next email of our financial needs and some ways you can help. But in the meantime, we would love it if you would consider supporting us financially in this. Tax-deductible donations can be made through Family in Christ Church. Details on how to give are at the bottom of the email.
We continue to be excited that God has called us to minister in and among the materially poor. As we do, we get to love them and also learn and receive from them. It is a rare and beautiful gift that Jesus has given to us! Keep us in your prayers and stay tuned.
On the personal front, we are busy planning our second wedding of the summer. Our 4th daughter, Daviah, will get married to Sumner Bradley on August 13. Say a prayer for them as they start their lives together. We are very excited for them.