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!
How long have you been serving at BridgeBuilders?
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.
None of the girls participating in BridgeBuilders KIDS After-School or Sports programs had ever seen a ballet nor were they familiar with this classic form of dance. This void prompted Michael Craven, president of BridgeBuilders, to seek a solution. Michael’s own daughter studied ballet for ten years, beginning at age seven so he saw, first-hand, the benefits of this highly disciplined art form and believed that the girls of Bonton might benefit similarly.
This past week, more than twenty 2nd through 5th grade students in our After-School program participated in a community-wide service day in Bonton. Students picked up trash and cleaned around the Buckeye Trails Commons apartments adjacent to Turner Courts.
The project began in response to a lesson taught by our own Shaun Grant, Director of BridgeBuilders KIDS, about what happens to our trash. Shaun was able to use recently donated Google Chrome goggles to lead the kids through a virtual reality tour of the waste disposal process in New York City.
As you may know, we believe that the most pressing need for those suffering from modern poverty in the U.S. is reconciliation with God through Christ. Why? Because the poverty that plagues our cities today is not a financial problem. Modern poverty’s most apparent symptom may be financial insufficiency, but it is really a cultural problem rooted in the human problem of estrangement from God, self, others, and creation that resulted from sin and the fall
It is abundantly clear that South Dallas is the sector of our city with the greatest concentration of poverty in the DFW Metroplex. In West Dallas, where we are currently headquartered, and our WORK Program is housed, there remain roughly 6500 residents living at or below the poverty line. Meanwhile, there are more than 100,000 people living at or below poverty in the neighborhoods south of Interstate 30 and east of Interstate 45, what we commonly refer to as South Dallas.