Colorado draws Missouri missions effort
DENVER – Those who have been to the state of Colorado know that it is an awesome display of God’s beautiful creation. With its majestic Rocky Mountains where clouds hover, to the tall trees where the red-tailed hawk makes its nest, Colorado is striking.
In the southwest corner of the state, one comes to what is known as the four corners, the only point in the U.S. where four states touch. This high desert plateau region consists of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. It is known for its Navajo Indian Reservation and its gorgeous sunsets. It would be hard for one to imagine such beauty and then come to the horrible realization that in a state that is surrounded by all this lay one of the most spiritually lost cities in the country, Denver, the state capital.
Although Denver is best known for many attractions such as its ski resorts, zoo and museums, along with the musical talent that has come out of the city, there is a side to Denver which remains well hidden. Putting on the masquerade of the perfect, old western town where it might seem as if one is living in the times of the old sitcoms such as Bonanza or Gunsmoke, no one sees the more than 8,000 persons left homeless on the streets downtown. Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, has partnered with a church plant in Denver, seeking God’s will as they try to reach these lost souls.
In February, Concord’s young adult Sunday School class went on a mission trip, led by Kevin Hall, to minister to young adults. The trip was in support of Hope Valley Baptist Church and their efforts to reach the lost for Jesus. Pastor Korey Buchanek, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University who is leading this new church, advised Hall to take this group of young adults to a center that would open their eyes to the emptiness of this beautiful city.
The Denver Rescue Mission is a ministry that seeks to bring hope to the lost homeless by providing the small necessities of life that we all take for granted each day. They are things such as a sack lunch, simple medical care, or a warm place to rest.
“We serve three meals to about 1,200 homeless each day and provide shelter to about 200 each night, but we not only provide for the physical needs of these lost individuals, we also seek to provide for the emotional, mental, and most importantly the spiritual needs as we are a spiritually foundational ministry where God is first and utmost in rehabilitation,” Director Larry Griffin said.
Concord’s team went on to help the Rescue Mission pack lunches for the homeless who come in seeking help and serve supper to those who have the opportunity and ability to make their way to the Lawrence Street Shelter in downtown Denver by 8:00 p.m. each day. As they served these homeless men, women and children they became aware of just how blessed they were. “They’re so excited to see us. It’s amazing how thankful they are for the food they get when others would be complaining that the food wasn’t good enough,” said Nathan Fuller, a member of the young adult class.
The next stop was a local food bank where the team helped the workers separate food into categories so it could be distributed to lower-income families and those in need.
Buchanek’s inspiration to reach out in these places springs out of a ministry that he and his church helped establish.
“Our philosophy is to reach the community through ‘random acts of kindness,’” Buchanek said. “The church is always seen by the lost community as always taking but never seen as giving back to the community, so we’re trying to break down those perceptions.”
The results of this ministry are astounding as this young church that was started only four years ago has grown from five members to 85, and is continuing to grow. Hope Valley Baptist is different from other “traditional” churches in many ways. One of those differences is that they hold services on Saturday afternoons. Some may find this strange, but Buchanek said, “We want to make church accessible to all, and there are many who are not able to attend on Sundays, plus people have certain perceptions of church on Sunday and that’s another perception we want to break.”
After servicing the community with their “random acts of kindness,” Buchanek and those ministering with him leave behind a card that simply says, “This is our simple way…of saying that God loves you. Let us know if we can be of more assistance.” On the opposite side is “Hope Valley Church” with their email, phone number, and web address. Focusing solely on the surrounding community in which they live, Buchanek said that “about 80 percent of the church congregation has responded to these cards.”
Among those people is a church member, Lisa Valencia, who gave her testimony about an email she had sent Buchanek Feb. 10. In her email she wrote: “I’m going through a great deal right now. I feel as though your message last night spoke directly to me. You talked about Christians having to give up things when they became Christians and I’m grieving the loss of one very close friendship since I gave my heart to Jesus.” She went on to say, “She (her friend) was raised in a way where she doesn’t trust Christianity and is raising her children in a similar way. This has forced me to have to cut ties between her family and mine since I’ve seen her wearing t-shirts with serial killers on them and sayings like ‘I’m with Satan,’ or ‘Hello…my name is Satan.’ I used to join her in wearing these kinds of clothes, thinking that it was funny, but since becoming a Christian I’ve stopped, and she just doesn’t understand.”
Lisa Valencia and her family started coming to Hope Valley because of a ministry they have called “breakfast on the go.” This is where the pastor along with other members stand out on the street corners of their neighborhood and hand out quick breakfasts for those in the neighborhood on their way to work. Valencia received one of these breakfasts, including one of Hope Valley’s cards. She became curious and went to church that Saturday, and it has changed not only her life but that of her entire family.
Buchanek and his wife, Heather, who have been married for 10 years and have three children, live in a suburban community of more than 3,500 homes within about a five-mile radius. Ninety-six percent of these people claim to have no church affiliation at all.