December Update: The Place

Our dear Prayer Team,

Thank you for your ongoing prayers. Wow! So much has happened as God continues to weave a testimony of his provision and faithfulness as we pursue the goals of this ministry. Yesterday we finished up our crucial Panhandle Gives fundraising campaign. We had set a goal of $30,000, but God had better plans. We raised $54,725! With the separate amplification funds, we will eclipse $60,000. That’s DOUBLE our goal! Will you just praise God with us for this achievement?

As we face so many challenging parts of this work, this kind of money reconfirms that God is walking with us. It reconfirms in our hearts that we’re exactly where we should be. Crystal and I talked late into the night last night, recounting all the ways God has provided over these years. What a story He is writing through the passion He’s given us! Praise God, because we often feel so small and inadequate in the face of the problems we see. Some days, I just have no good answer for anything! Some days, I just break and cry about how overwhelming it all is. But then on other days, like yesterday, we are reminded that we are not alone. We are a community of Christ-followers, and God does a lot with willing hands.

Now that you’ve finished praising God with us, please pray for us as we open The Place! Just yesterday, we signed the lease for our multicultural community center. Our lease begins January 1, so we’ll be using a lot of those funds we just raised to buy furniture and everything else that’s needed. This community center has been a dream for 3 years, and yet it never felt like the right time until Afghans started coming into our community. With 200+ coming by January, we knew we needed to be proactive to care for them well. Most don’t have transportation or access to the Internet. So we are opening the Place within walking distance of where they are being placed, and we’re starting things off with a computer lab and free WiFi! We’ll meet an urgent need on day one, and then we’ll work to offer a schedule of programs based on the specific needs we are seeing.

Here are some specific things you can pray about:

  1. The schedule—How do we keep people in The Place at all hours so it’s useful? How do we equip volunteers to serve as volunteer hosts? How do we offer the right classes at the right times without competing with established programs in our city? How do we keep it staffed on such a limited budget? How do we handle open tutoring times in a way that actually works?
  2. The students we’re leaving behind—One thing we’re coming to terms with is that we may need to move our current class, which meets in an apartment complex, into The Place. At this point though, we don’t believe these Somali women are likely to drive all the way across town to our new space. This breaks our heart, because we’ve been investing in this group of women for years! How do we hold onto those relationships?
  3. An Afghan interpreter—We are trying to hire an Afghan who speaks the Pashto language. We want this person to help us in connecting mentorships, serve as our primary interpreter, and to be on hand at the community center to bridge so many language and culture gaps during our programs. But we’re struggling to find the right person. This might also stretch us, as this person would likely be Muslim. How can we make a Muslim feel welcome in our staff meetings where we often pray for those we serve, in a manner that might make some Muslims feel uncomfortable? There is a lot to think about! Please pray that God brings us the right candidate who will work well with our team. Should this person be from this new wave of Afghans, or from someone who is much more stable in our city? Can we pay them enough to encourage them not to work at a meatpacking plant, where they would make $22/hour?
  4. Initial setup—There are so many details to consider! Where do we get good classroom tables? What kind of couches do we need? How do we make the space feel homey and welcome to everyone?
  5. My staff—Finally, please pray for my team as we grow with new hires, and as we expand into a new space. One issue is that we’re moving most of my team to the new place, leaving me in our ‘business office’. Another issue is that I am asking a lot of my team, some of whom are part-time. All of them have a full-time heart to honor God with their lives and work, but I can’t ask them to work 40 hours if I can only pay them for 20! Please pray as we grow into new expectations, that we will understand our limits and be able to put work down to rest.

As always, thank you so much for your prayers! As you can see, we have a lot going on. We will be closing from Christmas through New Years so all of my team can rest. Pray that they will rest well and recharge. Have a Merry Christmas! I’ll get the next update out to you in early January!

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