Just over five years ago, on November 4, 2015, I rode my motorcycle down East Colfax Avenue and had a deep sense that I had come home. A few months earlier I had stepped down from my role as Senior Pastor of a church I had led for over a quarter century. At 58, Diane and I were trying to discern what our next chapter in life and in ministry would be. Where might Jesus use us next?
Over the next few months it became clear that He was calling us to the people of this community—diverse, battered, broken, poor and yet incredibly beautiful. We came here with nothing, no money, no ministry plan, just the sense that Jesus wanted us to give our lives away serving and living here among the poor. What a journey we have had since then. We have seen and experience Jesus in amazing ways in this world.
I am grateful for those of you who read my blogs, as through them I describe the complexity, pain, and beauty of this world. Next year we will celebrate five years of this work. We have already lived over four years in Room 36 at the Ranger. When I stop and reflect, there is one thing that stands out: the people, who have become friends and family to us. We love them deeply and are thankful that we get to share life with them.
A small example: It is Monday night and our friend Lacey stops by Room 36 to borrow our car. She and Billy have been our friends for several years. Both have prison time behind them. The car they drive was given to them by donor friends. The heater is broken so she can’t drive it in the evening to do Door Dash, part of how they survive. So a few nights a week she borrows our car. She will be off parole this Friday and have a new lease on life. They have endless challenges but are working hard at a functional life. Jesus is working on them. They are a part of our flock. We love not only serving them, but enjoy a genuine friendship with them. We have many more like them, friends we live among, love, enjoy and help as we can.
God calls us to love our neighbors. Our neighbors have huge challenges. But what a joy to give our life to loving them. Jesus is at work.
Much more is going on: We have a growing team of volunteers; we have a strong and active leadership team; we have built good relationships with a wide range of other ministries, churches, and organizations in the area; we are making significant progress on rehabbing the first of our two buildings. We believe that the best of the work we are called to is still ahead of us.
We are deeply grateful for all of you who have walked this road with us through service, prayer, and financial support. Your help has allowed us to fully give ourselves to this work. God has continued to provide.
As we head towards year end, I do want to encourage you to prayerfully consider supporting us (or continuing to support us), especially financially. We depend on that to do our work. In years past, we have only asked for money to support the work we do in the motels and on the streets. This year, we also want to ask you to consider support for our building rehab.
Our first priority for giving is to our motel/street ministry fund. Important as the building is, motel/street work is the heart of what we do. We don’t want to sacrifice that for the work on the building. So, as God leads, start there. That money keeps Diane and me in the motel and on the streets and also helps support a small part-time staff.
In fact, to give you a bit of a taste of what our motel/street ministry is like, here is a video that shows our team at work on a Tuesday night, and also at a time we gathered with the team for a meal. Notice our friend Lenny who we sing “Happy Birthday” to at the end. He is a dear friend of ours with many struggles—physical and mental health, addictions, isolation and loneliness. As we do for many, we bring love, life, and stability to him.
Now, a second priority, the rehabbing of our building. Phase One is the older and smaller of the two buildings. We are already well under way in that project. We are calling it “A Place To Come To,” believing that our friends need a safe space where they can find loving community and practical help, all centered around Jesus.
God has already provided so much for this project. We are grateful for Kamal Sabeh, a general contractor with a heart for Jesus and the poor. He is doing a great job of running the project. We also have others who are working for free or giving us remarkable prices for their work, all because they believe in what we are trying to do for our friends and for the community. In fact, we think that just in Phase One, we will save $250,000 through donated services. In addition, the City of Aurora is giving us $250,000. We are grateful for that. That is a healthy start on what looks to be a $750,000-$1,000,000 project.
We are also glad for the Anschutz Foundation who has made a commitment of $100,000 on a matching basis with us. In other words, if we can raise $100,000 that will become $200,000.
However, we would like to raise more than that. Our goal is to add as little debt as possible in this phase. So, beyond matching that first $100,000 with Anschutz, we have a goal of raising another $100K by year end. In other words, we are prayerfully setting a goal of raising $200K. With the Anschutz money that would get us to $300K.
Again, we need to take care of our motel/street ministry first, but if you are in a spot to consider a gift to help with the building, we would appreciate it. We had hoped to do a bit more of a campaign and open house gatherings for this, but Covid and construction have really limited that. However, if you would like a personal tour of the building, let me know.
The space will fill up quickly. We will launch our “Family Room,” a place for our motel/street level friends to gather in a safe, loving environment, a place to feel the love of Jesus and also connect to resources they need. We will launch a restaurant, “A Seat At The Table BBQ.” God has sent Greg Salinas to create this. He is a genuine Texas BBQ guy with a heart for our friends. The restaurant will provide a nice meal to all, regardless of ability to pay (everyone can have a seat at the table). It will bring together poor, rich, and middle class in one space, a deep value of ours. He will also do job training in the BBQ and restaurant business, likely for folks with criminal records. In addition, we will have several churches and a range of other services and ministry in the space. We are, to say the least, pretty excited!
We also have a video on our building that lays out the vision of the entire project. You can watch it here:
So again, if God tugs at your heart on the building, we would love your help.
And, in all of that, please keep us, our team, and our friends in your prayers. Know that our prayers are also with you. We thank God for all of you.
Click the GIVE button for details about how you can give or to give online.
Shawn and Diane
*All gifts are tax-deductible.
*Names of our friends changed to protect identity.