Celebrating 40 years of HOPE, LOVE and POWER
The mission of Neighborhood Ministries (NM) is: “to be the presence of Jesus Christ, sharing his life-transforming hope, love and power among distressed families of urban Phoenix, igniting their passion for God and his kingdom.”
As we have been sharing with you since December 2021, this year 2022 is our 40th anniversary year and we are celebrating all year long. I want to look at what God has done these past 40 years through the lens of the cross in this Easter letter.
Remembering RESURRECTION LOVE.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’
– John 11:25-26
There are stories of those who have grown up here at Neighborhood, they are … Miracles. Overcomers. Cycle breakers. Community Transformers. All bearing witness to the love of God.
Irene Thomas, the mother of six children, is an overcomer. She remembers that … “As a young girl I will never forget the warm, happy, “belongingness” feeling I got when I first came to the ministry. I now know that feeling was Love! As I got older, I stayed involved in the ministry to give the same love I received to others. Here is my testimony, my love got greater as my love for God was ignited. I now share His love everywhere and to everyone.”
Remembering RESURRECTION POWER.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
– Romans 8:11
We have begun to experience the joy and wonder of remembering the spaces of empowerment in the mission. We had our first of three smaller celebrations in February, this one was called “Neighbors at Work”. It featured the growth of jobs, workforce and small business development. It was a perfect evening of telling stories, getting glimpses of the micro-businesses over the years and remembering the people who have given of themselves as servant leaders so that people and business development might flourish here at Neighborhood. Mark Fellman, who was the recipient of the first annual Manny Esparza award that night, says this about Neighborhood: “Probably the greatest blessing I have seen at Neighborhood Ministries is watching the staff mentor the kids at an early age, then seeing these young people coming back as leaders. I see this in the woodshop which is the place I give leadership to during the week. Now to me that is a success story, God clinging to hearts giving hope and love. This place is their home and together we are making cherished memories. I thank so many for making this all happen, all of you, all the volunteers, my own family, Mimi my wife, life changing for all. This place is a win-win, where all of our dreams and talents come alive.”
Remembering RESURRECTION HOPE.
“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
– 1 Peter 1:3
The month of March will host the “Spring Alumni Reunion” for the past recipients of our WKDS College Scholarship. Since 2008, Neighborhood has made it financially possible for our young people to go to college. Our reunion event will feature the stories of university graduates, who because of the laws in Arizona prohibiting Dreamers from access to financial aid and requiring these students to pay out of state college fees, went from hopelessness to hope. This scholarship made college available and our students could dream again. Alfonso Vazquez, who is the current director of the WKDS College Scholarship and also one of it’s recipients, says this: “The recipients of the Scholarship are resilient, once having hope for their future academic goals, they never gave up. Almost all held full-time jobs while going to school and finishing their degrees. They remembered the hopelessness they once felt, but this Scholarship changed their lives, pain was transformed into hope.” Listen to some of the college graduates that will be at this reunion: Alicia Solano says: “This Scholarship transformed my life completely, financially and emotionally.” Marylin Rodriguez says: “WKDS had a very big impact on my academic journey. It brought financial relief in a moment where my school payments were stressing me out. This assistance allowed me to have a healthier lifestyle while attending college and working full time.” Juan Cisneros says: “The Scholarship allowed for me to solely focus on school instead of worrying about how I will pay for it.” We are living within the Resurrection love, hope and power that Easter has birthed in our lives, in our mission and now in our city. As we bear witness to what Jesus made available to us on the cross, rendering sin, death and Satan powerless against us, we give testimony to His love, hope and power. We have gone from death to life!
Dearest Friends! Thank you for all you do, for every gift you make, and for walking alongside us these 40 years. You are part of the Easter miracle here, and we love you for that.