Greetings to all of you. I hope this finds you well. I haven’t posted in a while as my life has gotten pretty busy. I am hoping to get back into a pattern of sharing stories from the street over the next few weeks. I have missed doing that! But for today I want to give you a quick update on the building(s) we purchased about a year ago. 

Most of you know the story. On my first day on East Colfax I peered in the window of a building with the vague notion of buying a larger building that could house multiple ministries, all with a love for Jesus, a love for those experiencing poverty and a desire to serve them broadly. That one building was part of a two-building complex that once housed Friend Furniture. The story of how we were able to buy these buildings is miraculous. We prayed over them for more than two years before God opened the door to purchase them. If you are not familiar with the story, you can read more at https://mailchi.mp/a6ecc9e16378/the-friend-building

Over the past year, as we have had time and money, we have slowly cleaned and gutted the buildings. The older building, built in 1917, had a tenant that needed to be moved out. After doing that, we did a complete demo of the inside. You will see in the pictures the remarkable lattice-work arches we discovered after removing the drop ceiling. Quite something! The newer building, built in1968, has been sitting empty for 30 years. It also required a lot of work to get it down to a shell. It is a remarkable six-level split design. All brick and concrete, it is built like a nuclear bunker. Notice the striking atrium and skylight in the pictures. 

Last week we began the process of grinding and polishing the cement floors by doing our first level. That project was driven by The Art of Concrete who coordinated donated time and equipment to do this work. Over the next several months they will complete all six floors. Their generosity as well as that of multiple volunteers will save us some $100,000 vs. just paying someone to do this. We are hoping to use that model on other parts of the building as well. 

Our dream is for the building (just going to refer to it as one building from now on) to become a center of life, hope and healing, all in the name of Jesus. One of the Christian developers I am working with on the project said to me one day that he thought the block the building is on might be the worst block on all of Colfax. That is saying something! I love that. If it is the worst block on Colfax, that is where Jesus would be. If that is where Jesus would be, then those of us who follow Jesus should also be there. And we are. We have nearly 24,000 square feet where we will be able to serve among the broken in Jesus’ name. 

We expect the project will require close to $3 million in money or donated services to make the building fully functional. Our first target is $1 million which would allow us to enclose the building, take care of roof renovationsand make part of the building fully functional and able to use. Right now,we are working hard on connecting with donors and foundations who would have a heart for the project. Please pray with us for God to provide the resources to take needed next steps. I will keep you posted as we go along. 

I am also spending a lot of time talking to potential partner ministries who would be in the space with us. We are not just looking for tenants, but ministries who have the same heart and approach that we have for serving the beauty, diversity and brokenness of the community. 

A couple more things: 

• We are adding several photos to give you a flavor of the space. 

• We are hoping, somewhere in the near future, to have an open house so those of you who are local can come and see our progress.

• I am also adding to the bottom of this post a summary of the vision, some potential uses for the building, potential partners and a set of values for the building. This is what we are using as an intro for potential donors. If you have the time, read through it. If you are short on time, note especially some of the ministries we anticipate having in the space. We are excited about job training and about dealing with addiction and the issues behind it.

• If you want to make a contribution to the building, go to our website and there is a link there that will allow for that. We will talk more about this in the near future. 

Blessings to all of you. Thanks for the prayers. 

Shawn

P.S.: We are also looking for a few people who are local who could help on a rotational basis with some of the food we pass out in the motels on Tuesday evening. That ministry continues to grow, and we need more food! We need hot dogs, burritos and fresh-baked cookies. If you could help with any of that on a once-a-month basis, let me know. 

THE JESUS ON COLFAX MINISTRY CENTER PROJECT 

In Old Aurora, on one of the worst blocks of East Colfax Avenue (on the corner of Dallas and East Colfax), are two buildings, formerly home to Friend Furniture. In 1947 Ralph Friend, a returning WW2 vet, opened his furniture business in the first building, built in 1917. In 1968, when East Colfax was the center of a thriving Denver suburb, he built a new building, adding 18,000 square feet to the original 6,000. 

Over time, this section of Aurora and East Colfax descended into the grip of a broad-based poverty that exists to this day. In the late 80’s, Ralph closed his business. As proof of that decay, the newer building has sat empty for 30 years. 

In early 2016, Pastor Shawn and Diane Sikkema felt a call to minister along East Colfax. Shawn left a large church in SE Aurora that he had pastored for a quarter-century, following Jesus’ leading to start a ministry called “Jesus on Colfax Ministries” (JOC Ministries). The heart of their ministry is with those who live in the old motels in East Denver and Old Aurora as well as the homeless. Their ministry focuses on showing up and loving people, building Jesus-centered friendships with a population that is isolated, lonely and overlooked. Their flock is filled with the mentally ill, prostitutes, drug-dealers, former prisoners and desperately poor. Wanting to be incarnational among some of the poorest people in the metro area, the Sikkema’s live about 2/3’s of the time in The Ranger, one of these motels. Along with a team of volunteers they build friendships, practice church in circles of 3-4, have a meal-based house church and do all they can to connect their friends to life-changing resources. 

Along with that ministry of loving presence, JOC Ministries has a heart to help people find paths to a stable and sustainable life, a life that moves beyond the poverty that cripples so many in this community. That poverty exists at multiple levels—physical/financial, relational, emotional and spiritual—and their belief is that service in the name of Jesus needs to address all those levels, balancing the need for salvation with the need for jobs and a sustainable life. The community is broadly poor and beautifully diverse, ranging all the way from the homeless and motel-dwellers to a large immigrant and refugee community, as well as a long-standing Hispanic and African-American community.

On Shawn’s first day on Colfax, in January of 2016, he walked Colfax, noticing many empty buildings. He had an idea to find a larger building that could house 6-8 smaller ministries, all with a love for Jesus and for those caught in various levels of poverty, a place to join together in loving and serving the poor. When he looked into the window of the1968 Friend Furniture building, empty and strewn with junk, he noticed that it seemed bigger than other buildings along the stretch. Something tugged at his heart and he began to pray over the building as a potential ministry center. 

Shawn met Ralph Friend, just a month before his death. Ralph’s dream for the building was that it would be an art gallery and expressed pretty clearly that he had no interest in a pastor owning it! Over a stretch of a couple of years, the door seemed closed to purchasing the building but many from JOC and others continued to pray over the building. Finally, God opened a door and JOC Ministries was able to purchase the 2 buildings in September, 2018 for $1.4 million.  Since then, effort has gone in to moving a tenant out of the older building and gutting both buildings to a place where a build out can begin. The newer building is very solid—precast concrete, twin-t construction—but needs all new infrastructure as well as a new roof. The older building, a very unique structure, is also very usable but will need some stabilizing, a new roof and new infrastructure.

Here are some of the ministries envisioned for the space: 

• Gathering Space: The hope, especially for street level and motel folks, is to have a “Family Room” space in the building, a place where they can gather, enjoy some comfort and companionship and find the loving presence of Jesus. Many simply have nowhere to hang out. 

• Restaurant/Coffee Shop: Some space will be dedicated to a restaurant/coffee shop, both aimed at serving those in various levels of poverty. The restaurant will be modeled after the Same Cafe and Cafe 180, places where anyone can come and enjoy a meal, regardless of their ability to pay. That concept brings together multiple socio-economic groups in one space, a key value of the JOC Building.

• Job Training: The restaurant will be served by a commercial kitchen that will also be the center of job training in the restaurant and hospitality industry. With work insecurity rampant in the community and a deep need in this area, it is an ideal way to serve the community with food while training people at the same time. In addition, the kitchen could be used to develop a catering business. 

• More job training: One vision is to partner with a ministry that has a vision for training people in one or more of the trades (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrician, Welding, Construction, etc.). The need for trades people in the metro area is very high and for those in the community, it also provides a pathway to a job that pays well and would allow families to stabilize and thrive. 

• Addiction Recovery: Some of the space will likely be focused on addiction issues, in particular in the areas of mental illness and unresolved trauma that lie behind most addictions. The dream here would be to find a path to healing for some of our friends, a healing that is multi-faceted and ultimately driven by Jesus. Healed, their chances at a positive, productive and God-honoring life increases dramatically.

• Social Enterprise: Part of the space would also be aimed at social enterprise, the creation of new businesses that could impact the community even while releasing people’s dreams for a meaningful livelihood. 

• Art School and Gallery: Aimed at finding, training and supporting artists from the margins—the homeless, motel-dwellers, immigrants and refugees in particular. 

• Other Possibilities: Counseling ministries, youth and children’s programs, medical/dental services, worship space for churches, etc.

Financial Status and Need: 

• JOC Ministries (a registered 501c3 entity) was able to purchase the building for $1.4 million with a generous lead gift of $400,000 from the Denver area Christian Reformed Properties Committee. The remaining $1 million is being carried as a 5-year interest-only loan with the Friend Estate. 

• While still working on details, we think it will take somewhere around $3 million to fully build out the space. Depending on the ministry partner, some space will be tenant-finished. Our goal is to raise $3 million from a combination of donors and foundations. $1 million would allow us to get the buildings enclosed, take care of some basic infrastructure andwould make the older building fully functional for use. 

• Over the long term, the building should pay for itself via lease payments from the various tenants.

We would love it if you would prayerfully consider partnering with us in this project. 

Rev. Shawn Sikkema 

Street Pastor and Team Leader, Jesus on Colfax Ministries

www.jesusoncolfax.org

303-589-3213

JOC Building Values

• This is Jesus’ building, available to serve as He directs.

• As Jesus did, the JOC building will serve all who come, with a central focus on those caught in various levels of poverty—physical/financial, emotional, relational and spiritual.

• The JOC building will be a center for gathering and community-building, bringing together those often separated by race and socioeconomics.

• The JOC building will focus on bringing healing and hope to those who are broken and who have given up hope. 

• The JOC building will focus on job-training that will provide people with the skills they need to create a self-sustaining life. 

• The JOC building will provide opportunities for the development of social enterprises, helping people unleash their dreams to find a sustainable life.

• The JOC building will provide space for training in the arts, especially for those on the margins of society, releasing the beauty of their gifts for others to see. 

• The various ministries serving out of the JOC building will be viewed as partners in ministry with JOC, not simply as tenants. Prayerful collaboration will be key.

• The JOC building will serve to bring beauty, life and transformation to one of the worst stretches of pavement in the Denver metro area.