Year in Review
There are no words to describe how thankful our family is to partner with you and Jesus in North Minneapolis. As I was reviewing some of the
pictures from 2017, I was reminded over and over of God’s love and faithfulness on to our family and community. I feel like I say this a lot,
but I really mean it: your prayers and encouragement mean more to us than you could ever know. Sometimes this road we’re on is difficult and the
path is unclear. However, I can’t recall all the times where we’ve received a timely text, note, or gift to spur us on along the way.
Below are a few highlights from 2017. God has put us on a mission to “establish a house of worship, prayer, and discipleship in North
Minneapolis.” Sometimes I struggle with what this even means or how to measure success and progress. This morning, Jesus reminded me of John
“I am the vine…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless
you abide in Me.
I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit. Apart from Me you can do nothing…My Father is
glorified by this; that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.”
As I think back to all that He has done, our main responsibility has been to remain in His love. I bring Him my sin and shame; He gives me His
righteousness and peace. What a glorious exchange! And this is what Christmas is all about to us: God’s generosity and grace expressed through
the Love of Jesus. That God would send His only Son, Jesus, to become sin for me so that I could become the righteousness of God and be counted
in His family is beyond comprehension. Thank you God!
Highlights from 2017:
We finished construction on the 810 house in the Fall of 2016, and now the upstairs units at the 810 house are full. God has brought us some men
who desire God’s best for their life and our community. Will you join us in continuing to pray for them as they grow with Jesus in a lifestyle
of worship, prayer, fasting, and outreach?
This past March, we began a partnership with BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) to use their excellent curriculum to guide us in a community Bible
study. We host a Men’s group on Tuesdays, and women gather on Wednesdays. This has been something I look forward to every week, and Miah
reports back the encouragement she receives from the women’s group as well. This year we are studying Romans, and growing as a group in our
understanding of God’s grace.
I don’t keep excellent records on this, but I feel pretty confident in saying that we shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with well over 500 of our neighbors this year. We do this through:
* Weekly neighborhood outreach
* Community Projects
* Special community outreaches
* Acts of service
* Being available
Sometimes we don’t notice the fruit of these right away. As an example, 3 years ago we did a special outreach in response to gun violence by
passing out flyers and praying with neighbors. Through that outreach, I met a woman who worked at a local corner store. Even though she’s moved
several times, we’ve kept in touch over the years and our family tries to help where we can. Last summer, her aunt passed away and she invited
me to pray with her whole extended family. This past weekend, her mother passed and she again invited me to share. It’s a hard time for them,
but we continue to plant and water the seeds of God’s love with her and her family. Will you continue to pray with us for her and many others of
our neighbors who are experiencing pain and trauma? Pray that the enemy would not blind them to the Love of Jesus. Pray that they would find
reasons for joy in this Christmas season.
Some outreach highlights:
Through a partnership with MARCH, we were able to assemble teams to prayer walk every neighborhood in North Minneapolis from May to August.
Through these walks, we were able to pray over the police force and encourage many other neighbors. These walks also gave us the opportunity to
deepen relationships with several local churches, like Shiloh Temple who often hosted for us. A special thanks to Melanie Leehy and Bishop
Howell for their service to the community.
Youth and Family
We’ve continued our Thursday night partnership with Antioch; serving meals, Bible studies, homework help, and games to our young neighbors at the
Antioch home. In addition, we’ve added a Youth Connect time at our 810 Property. Every Tuesday, youth gather to play, read the Bible, and
receive homework help, and create something together (usually cookies or other baked goods). This gives us a chance to get to know each neighbor
and their family more intimately.
One goal of these times is to build trust and relationships that would last through eternity. By God’s grace, we’ve become a safe place and
trusted face to these children and their parents. We’ve had our share of late night knocks for all kinds of emergencies, as well as being
trusted to hear and pray through some deep family trauma. Please continue to pray for wisdom and grace over Miah, myself and our kids.
In addition, partnerships with Antioch and a VBS group in Balaton, MN helped us host a couple Back to School parties. Well over 100 of our
neighboring families received backpacks loaded with school supplies and heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. What makes me smile the most
is seeing the kids from our school programs step up and take leadership roles in setting up, serving, and facilitation these events.
Throughout the Summer months, we were able to host 2 weekly BBQ’s on our lawn. This was a great way to welcome and get to know new neighbors as
well as keep up the relationships we’ve developed. More than a couple times, I would have strangers walk through and break down at God’s
generosity. Other times, new neighbors would come and play checkers or draw pictures and we’d get to hear their story.
In partnership with Plymouth Covenant, we were also able to organize a neighborhood clean up event. This was very impactful, as we had 1
neighbor stop what he was doing and join us. He even made a point to come back to our house fellowship later that morning. Many neighbors on my
weekly prayer walks still remember me specifically from this event and make it a point to pray with me again.
We began turning our garage into a prayer and worship space this year. We have had weekly hip hop groups meet, a pop up skater outreach, as well
as weekly prayer and intercession happening here. We are anxious to continue to use this space in 2018 as a sacred place of encounter with God
through worship, prayer and teaching.
We continue to meet regularly with neighbors in their homes for prayer, encouragement, and bible studies. Our family continues our commitment to
bring neighbors with us as much as possible for ‘normal life.’ I’ve got a couple youth that I bring regularly to the store, or swimming lessons,
or any ‘normal’ activity. They are hungry for relationship and I feel honored to be in a position where we can discuss Pokemon and Jesus while
getting cereal from the store.
We look forward to continuing our partnerships with Antioch, MARCH, Bridge of Reconciliation, and dozens of local organizations and churches
doing good on the Northside. Prayer and outreach will continue. In addition to our regular Tuesday and Thursday youth programming, look for us
to add another round of Teen Alpha this Spring. I’ve gotten a couple text in the past months from teens wanting to get together to discuss “is
God real?” Teens are struggling with the reality of God. We want to inform them as much as possible about who Jesus is, and pray as much as
possible that Jesus would reveal Himself to them.
We’re setting aside time the first week in Jan for prayer and fasting. No other activities will be going on. Check in with our website or
Facebook pages for details on times to gather together. The most important thing is that we remain in contact with the Vine (Jesus)
End of Year Giving
For those who have given to support the ministry, thank you! If you’ve been wanting to contribute and want to receive a tax deduction for 2017,
click here to get it in before 2017 is gone! Update: through your generosity, the cost of heating the garage has been covered!!! Continued
gifts will go towards our efforts in outreach and discipleship in North Minneapolis.
From our family to yours: Merry Christmas and God bless!!!