It’s a new year, and it feels like a major chapter in my life and ministry has begun along with it. Here’s just a little backstory to keep you all in the loop. About two years ago, I sensed a calling away from the concert tour life and toward a more local, community oriented ministry. I felt God wanted to grow me deeper in relationship with others, and I was missing my family in big ways, too! I started grad school for a Masters in Spiritual Formation at Biola’s Talbot Seminary and was invited to join our church staff at ROCKHARBOR in a brand new, volunteer missionary role called “City Pastor”.
It’s been a wild ride so far, and God has opened some incredible doors! I lead worship now for homeless people at the park, inter-denominational church gatherings, and pastors’ prayer lunches, but beyond the music, I’ve felt an intense burden to reach out to the public schools and the 1,000s of students in our city without direction, proper care, or hope-giving goals. To address this need, I’ve partnered with area churches, principles and administrators, and spearheaded an At-Risk Teen Mentoring Program. We recruited and trained 50 mentors, wrote a 14-week curriculum, and launched 15 mentoring groups on two campuses, reaching over 100 of our most vulnerable, under-resourced teens. More schools and individuals are jumping on board every week now, and I can’t wait to see how this will grow! One student wrote recently; ”Thanks so much for putting me in the Mentoring Group. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me!”
Along with our school outreach, my wife and I have felt a call to the Hispanic communities in our city. We’ve been building relationships with these families for years now and through our church’s support, we’ve been able to provide groceries in tough times for our neighbors, or cover a rent payment or a medical bill, but most importantly we’ve had the chance to sit down, hang out, sing karaoke, develop bonding relationships, and have our hearts stretched for others. As I’m struggling to learn Spanish, many of our neighbors are still struggling with English, and the idea came up in our group to host a night called “Share Your English”. We thought rather than have it be classroom oriented, we’d have it at our house with food, conversation, and games for kids – trying a bit to return the extravagant hospitality we’ve received. It was a hit! With the partnership of three other churches now, Share Your English happens once a week at various homes and locations. Here’s a recent quote from an attendee; “(My host) welcomes my children and I into her home as if we were her family. My kids feel so happy there and are proud to be participating with the other children. If I miss class, I feel like something is missing from my week. All that has happened on Baker St. has given me new life.”
As you can imagine, maintaining these programs, recruiting volunteers, and providing visionary leadership is a full-time job. Now that I am not traveling as much, receiving offerings and selling CDs, our main source of support has become our monthly partners. Our church, the City Foundation, MIKA, and several generous individuals have jumped in, but we are still short of our budget in order to be fully sustaining. We’d like to invite in more monthly partners to join this adventure! If God lays it on your heart, or you know of someone who might want to be involved, please let us know. Thank you!