Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
2020 has been full of surprises, twists, and turns, as we all can attest to.
Beginning in January, I was commissioned to work with Pastor Juan Gonzalez and Beautiful Savior in the area of ministerial outreach and community development in Lehigh Acres, Florida. My purpose is to bring people and resources together as God presents the opportunity to form a new mission start and connect people to Christ through Word and Sacrament ministry.
This is to aid in fulfilling my call to Amigos en Cristo, “To plant two ethnic ministries in SW Florida and reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The goal of this collaboration is to meet the community’s identified needs in 5 basic areas through physical and spiritual care: 1) Community & Economic Development, 2) Business Incubation & Job Creation, 3) Eco-Village & Food Distribution, 4) Youth & Family Life Resource Center, and 5) Cultural Center for the Visual and Preforming Arts. These goals focus on a ministry of presence built on relationships. The new church plant is founded on the idea that we will be a hub for ministry and that change will only happen, if we can identify and mobilize the God-given gifts within the community. It is an approach that seeks to build strong, sustainable connections from the ‘inside out,’ through forging and nurturing relationships of care and creativity as we love God and serve others around us.
The new church plant is a life-giving tool engaging and supporting our Lehigh Acres communities, tackling poverty through education, building leadership capacity, and helping to grow healthy, resilient, and inclusive neighborhoods where all are able to participate and flourish. The Church in Christ is the epicenter for change in the family. Our collaboration is not only to see our parish families grow healthy into a viable body of Christ, but to see Lehigh Acres and the surrounding neighborhoods evangelized. It is our desire to go to people where they are, on their turf, as Jesus did in His ministry, shaping ministry by Word and deeds, meeting the people’s needs so we can then connect them to Jesus as He commands us to do.
With everything that is going on, we are presently in the Identification and Organizational phases of this new mission start. Programs are continually being developed and connections are being made daily, either virtually or in person. We are planning for more physical meetings in the up-coming months to keep the momentum going. We are seeking to mobilize people through a variety of networking and outreach platforms, as we continue to interact and engage with the residents of Lehigh Acres. Wisdom seeks council and so we are continuing to reach out and connect with several financial advisors and fundraising specialists to assist us in developing a new perpetual funding model for ministry and sustainable revenue for growth in the future. If you know of someone who has the heart for ministry and can assist us, we would be greatly appreciative. Please contact me directly for more details.
Presently, my mission and ministry are building capacity and leadership within a small group-missional community context to reflect the multicultural community we serve. Through small groups we will grow through singing, prayer, study and reflection, sacraments, and application - as people learn to: 1) Know God, 2) Find Freedom, 3) Discover Purpose, 4) Make a Difference (via our programs: Dream Team, Small Group Hosting, Meet-ups, etc.). This new ministry model creates a culture of self-feeders and generosity. This small group ministry nurtures the church to become a church of small groups, rather than a church with small groups.
Together with Beautiful Savior, we have completed a 3 to 5-year business and strategic plan for the new mission start with a clear vision, mission, purpose, and value statements, including written goals and timelines for completion. Some of this I have shared with you in this update.
If it is on your heart to learn more about the wonderful things God is doing in Lehigh Acres, please connect with me. If it is your desire to assist in the ministry in some capacity, please connect with me. If you are seeking to bless us with your time, talents or treasures, please contact me. Simply put, contact me and let me know you are out there. Your prayers and support are always welcome and appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I am here to help and called to serve.