Last month Jody had the joy of teaching about 150 college students some simple biblical tools of communication and conflict resolution at our annual winter conference here in Portland. This is a huge need as so many students now come out of homes that have no semblance of healthy communication. The search for healthy relationships and the inevitable stumbling through communication can be such a barrier to young people moving toward what God is inviting them into. I had the privilege of helping out to model a technique in dealing with conflict well. It was a lot of fun and the students were super engaged.
Dave and Thanh live in old Victorian house in the heart of Portland with four other young men in their mid-twenties. The six of them have intentionally committed to following Christ and making a difference in the city. Dave and Thanh are also are a part of the Discipleship group that I (Matt) lead every Sunday night.
Last Saturday night this community of men hosted a Christmas party and invited everyone in their network of relationships. I was amazed to see a packed house and the Christ-centered community being fostered amongst 20-somethings from across the city. There were people new to Portland and people that grew up here. There were followers of Christ and friends who don’t know Jesus. There were a myriad of organizations, churches and workplaces represented. It was a great environment and great conversations…all because these men are seeking to follow Christ in the city and make a difference for the kingdom of God.
Thanks so much for being a part of our lives and part of the ministry here in Portland. During this season of Advent, we pray that your life is filled with peace and wonder at the glorious riches of our savior.
A while back I (Matt) received the following email from our friend Brad who works in Rockwood. I thought it might be encouraging to hear the long lasting effects of our ministry efforts in that part of the city.
Akram (not his real name) is a resident of the Barberry Village apartment. He is an Iraqi Christian who fled with his family, and is now in the US as a refugee. Like many Iraqi refugees, his cultural background is Christian. On December 30th of last year, a Cru student knocked on his door as part of the Rockwood Knocks! outreach. Akram asked the Cru student to submit his name for follow-up with a local pastor. A Rockwood pastor connected with him, and also connected him with Peter Eversmeyer, who is the Rockwood CDC’s Community Navigator who lives at Barberry. Akram and Peter met, and Akram expressed a desire to start a Bible study for Iraqis with Peter. They are getting that Bible study going now. Who knows where this new inroad for the gospel might lead?
Laura lives at a different apartment complex south of the Max tracks. She is an immigrant from the Mexican state of Michoacan. Laura gave her contact info to a Cru student so that she could learn about opportunities to volunteer in community-building activities in Rockwood. The Rockwood CDC staff contacted Laura, and today she is a leader among the Michoacanos in Rockwood. She has already put on one amazing fiesta that was attended by 200, and an additional one is in the planning stages. These Michoacanos are thrilled to find each other and to reclaim relationships that were severed during immigration and resettlement.
Cru’s outreach continues to have ripple effects long after all of you have left the neighborhood. Thank you so much for your service!
The past month has been full of refining vision for our new role within Cru here in Portland. We know we’re working with 20-somethings who’ve recently graduated, but until now it’s been fairly ambiguous.
Our initial vision comes down to three words that we think will guide what we do and move us toward seeing the city transformed.
Connect – Connecting the disconnected. Connecting people to each other and to Jesus. Fostering environments of authentic community.
Grow – Helping young leaders experience holistic growth. Becoming more of who God intending them to be. Discipleship, mentorship, etc.
Unleash – Equipping and empowering these influential 20-somethings to engage their spheres of influence (neighbors, co-workers, families). Inviting millennials to live out their callings and join with the work of God in our city.
Would you join us in praying that this vision would come to fruition! Thanks for partnering with this new effort to engage our dynamic city. We’re so grateful for our ministry partners and those that join with us in other ways too!
This year was the 2nd annual Portlandia Summer Mission and it keeps getting better. College students from all around the United States were immersed into the City. They ministered on campus and in the homeless and addiction recovery community. It was a transformational time. What a privilige it was to help these students grow, experience God in new ways and engage the people of Portland. Here’s a few pictures…
We did an informal bike tour to get our bearings in the city
We served with a partner organization in the Rockwood neighborhood that cares for under-served youth
The majority of week days were spent engaging Portland students with the message of Christ on campus