By CJ Counts, Grace of the Lord, Aurora, CO
Our church has always had a very aggressive outreach and community engagement strategy, but recently we are seeing a higher return on our investments than ever before. It seems that people are more willing to hear about the hope inside us, and secular organizations are opening up their doors for our spiritual care where doors used to be closed to Jesus Christ.
It’s not just our church having this experience. We are friends with many other ministries and churches in our city, inside and out of our great Send Network, and we are hearing similar reports from everybody we talk to! It seems like the city is primed for gospel conversations and spiritual care in a way that really could lead to a large revival!
I could give a ton of examples, but one really exciting opportunity for us has been through Arapahoe County Child Welfare system. Our relationship with this organization started about a year ago. Right after we launched our new church, we established a relationship with a number of local government leaders and programs in an effort to engage our community and get to know the ground level needs in our city. We partnered with another non-profit organization who directly connected us to help meet the needs submitted by Child Welfare Case workers for foster and kinship families.
The idea was simple and started out small, but now has snowballed into something much greater! At first, we would hear about small items needing donated to foster families. Typically, a child would be taken from their parents in a last-minute emergency, and go to a foster home where the new parents were unprepared. As a result, there would often be needs like a crib, or diapers, but would not be ready to afford. When we signed up, we thought “there’s no way a financially unestablished small church like ours could meet any of these needs”, but it turned out that we were able to meet more needs than any other church signed up to receive these requests! And we were rarely spending any money, because most of the items were donated from a collection of “hand-me-downs” from families in our network.
We personally deliver all of the items, and we bring a little Care Package full of soda, snacks, and our Gospel Gift Bags which contain stuff to encourage salvation and connection to our ministry programs that may be of interest. As a result, we have had families join our church, and we have personally witnessed dozens of salvations!
It was so successful that the Child Welfare department asked to partner with us on a Christmas Party in 2019. They promoted our party to everybody in the Child Welfare system and we had more people in our little space than we have ever had before! Through donations of toys from Children’s Hospital, and a potluck-style dinner, we were able to give generously and saw a number get saved that night.
Fast forward to when the COVID Crisis began, we sadly had to pause our five monthly community outreach projects. However, our ministry to foster families continued stronger than ever! We were able to maintain these relational investments while cooperating with state guidelines and left an impression on the agencies.
Eventually, the Case Workers started to let us care for them too! We were invited to host a prayer gathering where that entire department was invited, including their H.R. and Finance divisions. Over 300 Case Workers plus the other departments got an email invite from their leadership with a video invitation from me, a Bible Thumping Jesus Freak, offering to pray for them and provide Christian-based spiritual care! The prayer gathering took place via video chat, and was a big hit!
These relationships have allowed us to provide care in ways we never dreamed of when we first started. It began slow, but as of today, this ministry has become a staple in our programs, so we praise the Lord!