Summers in Bonton is always exciting and fun for the kids in the community. Our KIDS team works hard every year to make Turner Courts the place to be during summer. This year is no different. Every Monday through Thursday, our team will be hosting actives in the gym ranging from science experiments to arts and craft to games.
n our first two posts, we have examined the nature of God's creation and how rebellion against God – sin – has shattered and broken what God intended to be good and flourish. Flourishing is God's design for humanity. We are meant to thrive in our relationship with God, self, our community, and creation. Yet, through the sin of Adam and Eve, and our own personal sin, we have removed ourselves from flourishing and entered into a state of brokenness that none of us can escape on our own.
One of the questions that we are constantly fielding is “I want to help make poverty history. How can I get involved?” We love that question, so we decided to write a short series of posts sharing the different ways that you can serve the poor in our city.
Our BridgeBuilders WORK team is participating in the first of a prestigious multi-year Working Families Success cohort with the Communities Foundation of Texas. BridgeBuilders, along with 8 other agencies from across North Texas, are working with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Working Families Success model in order to bring integrated services more easily to families who are in critical need of support.
You might be asking yourself, “If this series is on a cure for poverty, then what is the cure?" If you are, don't worry, you are in good company. I can’t wait to get to the greatest news ever. However, like any disease, in order to cure it properly, we have to diagnose the problem accurately. That is why these first few entries are going to dance around the cure itself. I want to make sure that the root of the issue is clear before I explain how to tear it up. As the old maxim goes, “A problem well defined is half-solved.” So, let’s continue defining.
This morning, our BridgeBuilders work team hosted an open house for all of our partner agencies in our WORK program's new space. There was a wonderful turn out of many friends and partners, old and new. Breakfast tacos from Taqueria La Ventana and plentiful coffee greeted our guests as they came into our new offices.
For the second year in a row, BridgeBuilders has been awarded a $6000 grant from the State Fair of Texas. Each year the State Fair of Texas funds summer programs, granting thousands of dollars to the local South Dallas community.
It seems necessary to address why and even if Christians should be involved in redeeming society and culture. There are many who deride such activity as being a diversion from the real work of the church, which in their minds is nothing more than articulating the personal plan of salvation (or “gospel,” very narrowly understood).
We are so excited to be spending our first week in our new location at Good Work in South Dallas. Good Work is an incredible new co-working space that will be hosting the BridgeBuilders WORK team and class, along with our support and executive staff.
Michael Craven, president of BridgeBuilders, was invited to help graduate students, in Professor John Potter’s Advanced Mediation class at Southern Methodist University, better understand the culture of poverty.
The class was given a scenario in which they were called upon to mediate a conflict between…
The late Christian theologian and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer predicted in the 1970s that the culture of these United States was heading toward the embrace of those “two terrible values of personal peace and affluence.” While Dr. Schaeffer had many things in mind, I don’t think he fully envisioned how these “values” might adversely affect the modern Christian’s view of suffering and its necessity to working for the kingdom of God.
As we shared this past March, we have been working on moving into South Dallas for more than three years! Thanks to the construction of a new co-working space in South Dallas, we are finally able to do so!
Effective May 14th, we will begin operating out of our new location at 1808 S. Good Latimer Expwy.
For too long the supposed cures for poverty in America have been prescriptions (some simple and some complex) to relieve symptoms. Food stamps, housing vouchers, and income tax credits have all been great symptom relief tools. The only problem is that the disease of poverty is not cured through these treatments. Instead of looking at the problem of poverty as simply a lack of material resources, we must begin to view poverty in light of its root cause, the innate brokenness of humanity caused by sin.
We are still talking about the beautiful weather we had last Tuesday evening for our Spring Fundraiser! We were so thankful to see many of familiar faces and some new ones also. For those of you who were unable to make it, here is a little pictorial breakdown of the evening:
Understanding that the gospel according to the four Gospels is all about how the crucified, risen Jesus is Israel’s promised Messiah through whom God has inaugurated His kingdom on earth; the people of God are those through whom God is establishing His kingdom and renewing the world. This is why we endeavor in those “good works that were prepared beforehand” (see Ephesians 2:10).
Nearly four years ago, we realized that in order to make any real progress in the war on poverty, we would have to first change the culture of poverty through the power of the gospel, so we launched an active “missions” strategy.
We started with outside missionaries living or working in the community.
The term “life skills’ is utterly inadequate to describe what takes place during the Life Skills component of our WORK Training Program. For three-weeks, eight hours a day, students are challenged to take a serious look at themselves, their circumstances and the choices that have led them there. This is an essential first-step in gaining accurate self-knowledge.
The Christian church increasingly finds itself marginalized and shut out of the public square. Despite our constitutional protections for religious freedom, public hostility to Christianity is clearly on the rise. In short, the post-Christian era in the West has begun in earnest. This raises the question posed by the late theologian and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer in his 1976 classic book, “How Shall We Then Live?” Schaeffer’s question anticipated a post-Christian world in which the West would jettison the values of Christianity and the Church would find itself at odds with the prevailing culture.
While more than five million children attend camps each summer, too few come from our inner cities. Summer camp is much more than a fun vacation. Living, playing and sharing adventures together, camp becomes part of a child's development into a healthy, productive adult. At camp, children improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and learn the social skills of positive interaction that stay with them for a lifetime.
Thanks to a partnership with Sky Ranch, 25 children from Bonton will receive scholarships to attend summer camp in Van, Texas.
We are thrilled to announce that after two years of hard work, BridgeBuilders’ After-School program has received official recognition from Dallas Afterschool as a “Certified” After-School program. According to Dallas Afterschool, our approval was achieved in record time!
Research overwhelmingly shows that quality afterschool programs can increase academic scores, social-emotional skills, attendance in school, and reduce negative behaviors.
Last week, I wrote how the Great Commission is God’s strategy for the full conveyance of the gospel and the resulting transformation, including the transformation of those conditions that foster and sustain poverty in America.
Ironically, that very same day Barna Research, in partnership with the Seed Company, released their headline findings from a study that examined the U.S. Church’s ideas about missions, social justice, Bible translation and other aspects of spreading the gospel around the world.
Dallas County Magistrate Judge Lela Mays, who presides over the Dallas County STAC court, will use every reasonable means at her disposal to help people get their lives back on track and this includes BridgeBuilders’ highly effective Life Skills and WORK training program. As such, Judge Mays refers defendants to BridgeBuilders knowing that they will receive a serious and needed challenge to their former way of thinking.
Today we get to meet Mary Meneley, one of BridgeBuilders’ most faithful volunteers:
I began serving as a volunteer at BridgeBuilders in July 2010, when the operation was located at the Eye Clinic Center. The clothes closet ministry was part of the partnership BridgeBuilders had with the Women's Ministry at Prestonwood Baptist Church. The prior coordinator moved out of town and Debbie Stuart asked if someone might feel led to take her place at a meeting I was attending. One of my friends, who was also at the meeting, said to the group, "That would be a great position for you, Mary."
People are often skeptical when I say we are “making poverty history.” However, the gospel has been making poverty history for more than 2000 years where it has been faithfully conveyed through God’s three-step plan for changing the world: The Great Commission (1. Go and make disciples [Christians]; 2. Join them to the church through baptism; 3. Teach them the truth related to all of reality and how to obey all that Christ commands regarding same).
Why does God allow so many of His children to be poor? He could make them all rich if He pleased. He could lay bags of gold at their doors. He could send them a large annual income and bless them with abundance.
There is no need for anyone to be poor except that God determines it be the best...
Recently, surveys were distributed to all parents with children in our After-School program and the results were encouraging, to say the least!
A total of 38 parents responded to the survey, which asked eight questions that ranged from, “I feel as if my child receives the homework help needed at BB Kids.” to “BB Kids is a safe and healthy place for my child.” Asked to rate their answers from “Strongly Agree” to “Disagree,” the parents answers were unanimously “Agree” or “Strongly Agree.”
Thanks to a partnership with the Veterans Administration (VA), BridgeBuilders is helping struggling veterans return to work. While most veterans are highly capable, disciplined people that have been improved by their service, there are some who struggle. Over the last year, the VA has recognized that our unique focus on the spiritual and philosophical barriers to flourishing are proving effective at helping struggling veterans thrive again.
You might remember our story last month about our MISSIONS Director, Josh Conner, training Frisco Bible Church (FBC) to serve in South Dallas. Well, last week, twenty-five students from FBC chose to forego the beach and spend their Spring Break serving in Bonton.
In Bonton, where single-parentage is the norm, poverty is epidemic, and 53% percent of parents dropped out of high school, “disengaged parents” are a major factor in low academic achievement and “failing schools.” We want to help change this!
I joined the BridgeBuilders team in August of 2005. I’ve been here since, nearly 13 years.
How did you get involved?
I was hired to be the GED instructor at the old Turner Courts.
How are you connecting your education & formal training to making poverty history?
I am trained as a special education teacher. That formal training gives me a unique sensitivity to students’ individual needs in our WORK program. I also spent time teaching in inner-city high schools which God used to affirmed the call on my life for urban ministry.