RCCD Anniversary

RCCD3-FB.jpg

This weekend Restoration Community Church Dallas will celebrate three years of God’s faithfulness. Join us this Sunday as we wish Restoration Community Church Dallas, our partner church co-founded by Mike Fechner and Von Minor, a happy anniversary. Located just next door to the BridgeBuilders offices, RCCD is impacting this community through the sharing of the Gospel and edifying the church body through the Word of God, worship and Christian Education.

You are invited, this Sunday, August 21 at 11 AM for a worship celebration, encouraging sermon by Jonathan Evans, Chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys and son of Dr. Tony Evans, followed by a church anniversary picnic on the grounds after service! There will be fun, food, and games for the entire family!

For more information, see the flyer below or click here to visit the RCCD Facebook page.

RCCD-3

Mr. Lee and Ms. Busse

Mom and Dad. That’s what the students, and our staff, like to call them.

One of the more unique aspects of BridgeBuilders is our training team. While the BridgeBuilders WORK program takes many moving parts to be successful, none are more important than William Lee and Julie Busse.

mrleeTogether William and Julie provide life skills training and support for many people who have rarely or never seen encouragement or support. Mr. Lee and Ms. Busse are unique, however, in how they perfectly complement one another.

Mr. Lee provides tough love. Without sacrificing encouragement, he tells students what they need to hear, messages to challenge them, to push them to achieve more than they’ve ever achieved.

His Army background apparent, Mr. Lee commands the respect of the room. But he’s not just a drill sergeant. He has developed a unique curriculum exclusive to BridgeBuilders, which teaches students the relationships vital to their lives: with God, self, others, and creation.

familyIn a near perfect complement, Ms. Busse takes a nurturing role with her students. Her background in special education perfectly suits her to provide the nurturing support students need. The vital needs of encouragement and support are met through Ms. Busse’s teaching and demeanor.

Together, Mr. Lee and Ms. Busse provide the opposite, yet complementary, needs of the students in our program: both the discipline and the encouragement, and together they are helping build a strong, holistic, successful life skills and vocational training course.


What We're Reading - August

WWR.png

Community and Economic Development: Transforming Our Cities Through LoveA call to eliminate the “broken vending machine” policies that characterize most community development work and seek to build on things that already exist in communities rather than trying to build on what is not.

Mission Muffins: Serving the Poor in a Biblical, Sustainable, and Effective Way The story of Mission Muffins, a business geared towards fighting poverty in a biblical and effective way. Homeless men enter the program and receive life skills and business skills and are then employed to sell muffins to local office buildings. BridgeBuilders does something very similar to this through BridgeBuilders WORK. Here we invite low-income individuals to join us for four weeks of life skills and vocational training, after which, we introduce them to one of our corporate employment partners who has available jobs.

PovertyCure Online Magazine PovertyCure is one of BridgeBuilders’ favorite follows. They produce great content and have the same heart as us for true poverty alleviation. They have just released a new e-magazine with some great articles to read. Check it out!

FAQ: What is an Ally?

allyheader.png

Today’s FAQ Blog is about Allies. As a part of BridgeBuilders WORK Life Skills and Employment Training, each student is paired with an ally to be an encouragement through the process. Laura Fechner, the director of our ally program, is helping us answer a few questions… What is an ally? An ally is an adult who walks alongside an employment training student for 4-5 weeks, to encourage and support them in this new endeavor in their life.

Valentino&KenWhat are the expectations of an ally? To meet with their student weekly for lunch, to form a friendship with them during that time. The desire and hope is that it becomes a lasting friendship that goes beyond the five-week training course. Also, allies should plan to attend volunteer orientation and the student’s graduation.

We also require allies to be like-minded in their beliefs with BridgeBuilders, because ultimately through this process we want to see these students find a relationship with the Lord. What do you say to the person who is nervous about becoming an ally? If you can befriend someone who is different than you and has a different lifestyle in a different culture, then you can be an ally. It’s simply walking alongside someone, in order to be an encourager.

Alice&AngelaTell me what an ally is NOT… An ally is not an evangelist, an ally is not a financial resource, an ally is not a professional counselor, and an ally is not a pastor. An ally is simply a friend and encourager.

What does this commitment entail? A new ally will attend a 90-minute volunteer orientation on the third Saturday of a month. After that you’ll be matched with a student in one of our classes according to a list of criteria on the application. For example, we match men with men, women with women, maybe we’ll match you based on shared characteristics like children or age, just so there is some sort of common bond.

After being matched, you would come to our West Dallas offices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday for an hour to have lunch once a week during the five-week course. If you come on a Tuesday or Thursday, BridgeBuilders provides lunch, otherwise you would need to bring lunch for both of you, or take your ally out to eat. On the last Friday of their curriculum you will definitely want to attend the graduation.

What is your ongoing need for allies? We need MANY allies. We are ramping up our training program and hoping to have more students than ever, so we need new and fresh allies who want to build these relationships. This is a very important service we provide for these students, many of whom simply need consistent encouragement.

If you have interest in becoming an ally or have more questions, email Laura at lfechner@hisbridgebuilders.org or click here.

Unique ways to support BridgeBuilders

specialgiving.png

Did you know that as a non-profit, BridgeBuilders heavily relies on donations in order to continue our work? Don’t run away just yet, this blog is not us asking you to give, well sort of… Recently we have begun a few unique ways for you to support BridgeBuilders, without writing us a check.

United Way UWMD_LogoThe BridgeBuilders WORK program was recently awarded a grant from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. This is great news for our life skills and vocational training, but it is NOT the end of the help we hope to get from United Way.

Receiving this grant also means that we are now a United Way Service Provider. If your company hosts a United Way employee giving campaign, you can now add BridgeBuilders as one of your designations!

Amazon Smile Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 8.31.53 AMYou may have seen us talk about Amazon Smile, but here’s a short refresher. When you shop through BridgeBuilders’ account on Amazon Smile, a small portion of your purchase is given as a donation to BridgeBuilders.

If you shop on Amazon as much as I do (great prices on diapers!), then this is a very simple way to support BridgeBuilders financially, and it won’t cost you any extra money!

To shop Amazon Smile, click here or the icon on the right, and login in to your Amazon account. But be sure and Bookmark the page and shop from Amazon Smile from now on, so BridgeBuilders can continue to receive your support.

So whether you stock up on toilet paper and paper towels online, or give through your employer, thank you for helping us continue to work to cure poverty in our city.

S.A.F.E. Camps

This summer the BridgeBuilders community staff, along with a host of volunteers, have put on the S.A.F.E. Camps in Bonton. These camps have provided not only a safe and healthy atmosphere for the children of Bonton while they’re out of school, they have also provided instruction in numerous sports and activities. Additionally, every week there are focused days on character development and academic progress, and Field Trip Friday provides an opportunity to go to places like Hawaiian Falls and Flight Deck, an opportunity the kids may not get otherwise.

While the camps do provide a fun environment, ultimately the goal is the continue the positive work being done in the lives of the kids in Bonton during the school year through the After-School Program and the sports programs.

The summer has presented unique obstacles, specifically in the area of challenging the students to work hard. However, through the challenges we have seen transformation in the lives of the Bonton youth.

Check out a few pictures below, and for more about the summer progress from William "Coach P" Pearson, our Director of Youth Sports Programs, check out our August letter, hitting mailboxes in a few weeks.

FAQ: I Got Your Back

FAQ-IGYB.png

Today’s blog is part of a new series on Frequently Asked Questions. Stay tuned as we address some of the common questions asked of us: who BridgeBuilders is, what we do, our history, our future, and more. Today we are talking about I Got Your Back, our annual back-to-school bash and school supply drive, coming up on August 20.

What is “I Got Your Back”?

IGYB is an event geared towards helping parents equip their kids with the necessary materials for getting back in the classroom with confidence coupled with a back-to-school bash to kick off the school year with gusto. It was launched 8 years ago with BridgeBuilders’ co-founder, Velma Mitchell, and her desire to provide school supplies to the kids in the housing projects in Bonton.

Why is IGYB needed?

The average price of school supplies is skyrocketing. In 2014, the average cost to send a student to middle school with a backpack and the necessary school supplies would set someone back over $300.[1] Due to this, many families are unable to provide all the supplies needed for their kids. IGYB steps in the gap so that kids are able to have what they need to succeed in the classroom. This event also helps step in the gap for many teachers who are forced to pay for extra school supplies out of their own pocket in order to provide for kids who are unable to get all the supplies required.

Who benefits from IGYB?

Families in the Bonton community of South Dallas. Participants in BridgeBuilders’ programs. Local school teachers. And all those who get an opportunity to bless this community with what God has blessed them with.

How can you help?

* Volunteer to set up and pack school supply bags. * Serve at I Got Your Back on August 20. * Partner with us financially to cover the cost of backpacks and the back-to-school bash.

BridgeBuilders WORK, Community Staffing, and the VA

BBWork.png

Sarah Conner is the VP of Programs at BridgeBuilders, including the BridgeBuilders WORK life skill and vocational training.


Vocational training meets a specific need…just in time.

The main thing for us at the VA is we don’t want them sitting idle. If they sit idle, it’s a great potential for relapse.

Marlon (right) with another recent BridgeBuilders WORK graduate

Marlon Bradford, Veterans Affairs' Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, has recently become a good friend of ours here at BridgeBuilders, working for the VA office and frequently helping those he works with find much-needed life skills and vocational training through BridgeBuilders WORK.

One such client at the VA is Charles Moore. While dealing with the stress of being deployed in Afghanistan, Charles turned to substances, reaching the point of addiction.

“I got introduced to a lot of drugs and alcohol when I was in the Army,” says Charles. “I got addicted and I couldn’t hold a job for a long time. I was always drinking and drugging.”

“Charles came to the VA a couple months ago, and has participated in all the programs to maintain his sobriety,” said Marlon of Charles’ improvement. “After completion of those programs, we began the process of looking for employment.”

Marlon asked Charles three questions: What do you like to do? What do you want to do? What do you have the skill set to do?

“He said, ‘I love cooking.’ And that he has a passion and a desire to be in the kitchen. We tried to get him in through some temporary agencies, but we found out how unprepared he was.”

Marlon had an idea, what about working at a hotel?

After suggesting the idea and explaining the program and the possibility of working in a hotel kitchen, Charles agreed to head to BridgeBuilders.

Charles at graduation with one another friend from the VA

Upon completion of BridgeBuilders WORK, graduating just a few weeks ago, through our partnership with Community Staffing Services, he immediately went to work in the kitchen at the Omni Hotel in Dallas. Beginning as a steward, he has the opportunity to work his way up the ladder.

“The BridgeBuilders program has helped me be more confident. I was discouraged when I first came into the program,” Charles recalls. “I had a hard time finding a job, now I feel more encouraged, more confident in myself. I’ve learned how to be more successful, how to block out negative people, stay away from negative people, that aren’t looking out for my best interest.”

In addition to working in the Omni kitchen, Charles is also pursuing the next step in his journey, going to culinary school to pursue becoming a chef, and possibly working in hotel hospitality.

“I am very excited about his graduation, and the completion of the program,” says Marlon. “Everyone at the VA has noticed a change in his attitude, as well as his aptitude, and his willingness to be engaged.”

We're so thankful for partners like the VA and Community Staffing Services, which labor together with us to take individuals to the next level in their process of transformation.

What We're Reading - July

WWR.png

In light of this past week's tragedies, here are some helpful resources to help you process all that has happened with a gospel-centered worldview:

Overcoming Hate with the Love of Christ A statement from BridgeBuilders’ president, Michael Craven, on the recent violence and heightened racial tension in our country.

How the Gospel Ends Racial Hostility “The gospel reminds us that even when we deserved the wrath of God, through Christ’s death and resurrection, we received the love of God. It is impossible to be truly captured by the love of Christ and respond with hate to those who have wronged you. It is unjust to receive unmerited grace and demand others to earn your mercy.”

How to Pray for the Police A good reminder about how we should be praying for those who serve and protect.

Breaking the cycle of poverty

summer-1.jpg

By now you have hopefully seen a letter in the mail from me, outlining all that we are doing at BridgeBuilders to end the cycle of poverty, including a few specifics about this summer. (To see a full version of the letter, click here.) BridgeBuilders is addressing the root causes of poverty, which are relational rather than material. With your support, we are working to solve the plaguing problem of modern poverty, rooted in the broken relationships with God, self, others, and creation.

HisBridgebuilders-067BridgeBuilders maintains missionaries in South Dallas that work to reconcile people to God through Christ, thereby giving them a new nature, followed by an array of redemptive programs and services in our West Dallas location that teach the poor how to live in right relationship with themselves, others and creation—what the Bible calls shalom.

Please consider making a donation today so we can continue to press God’s kingdom into the impoverished areas of our city, building His church, and demonstrating to a watching world that Jesus is the King of Kings who has promised to make all things new!

Donate 2

Overcoming Evil with the Love of Christ

city_dallas.png

Dear friends, In the last week, we have witnessed multiple tragedies in which sinful racial distinctions have once again been employed in the service of evil to kill and divide human beings made in the image of God. We grieve and pray for the families of those police officers killed and wounded here in Dallas as well as those of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.

In the wake of these tragedies, we call upon Christians everywhere to bear witness to the life-giving power of the gospel in which these sinful divisions of the human race are being nullified in Christ Jesus. We further confess that we are all subject to the temptations of racial division and plead for God’s grace and mercy to deliver us from sin, which seeks to divide us from one another.

This moment demands that the church of Jesus Christ displays to a watching world what life looks like under the rule and reign of God in which “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). It is our Adversary who seeks to divide and destroy humanity and we call upon the grace of God to empower His church to overcome this evil with the love of Christ.

In Christ, S. Michael Craven

Current Job Openings at BridgeBuilders

jobopenings.png

Have a passion for the poor in Dallas? Want to join a team of people committing to curing poverty? We have two current openings and are looking for great candidates to be part of our team! See the job descriptions below, and email resume and salary requirements to Sarah Conner at sconner@hisbridgebuilders.org. Executive Assistant - immediate start Click here to view the job description

Director of Development - September 1 Click here to view the job description

Independence Day

July2.png

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 It is the Fourth of July, our American Independence Day. It is a day we celebrate our freedom. We honor those who have given their lives for us to be free, and celebrate the citizenship in our amazing country.

I have some really good news: we're free. But you know what? Our freedom is two-fold. Yes we live in the most free nation in the history of the world, but we have a far greater freedom in Christ: the freedom from sin.

For freedom Christ has set us free. Has this verse every puzzled you? Does it seem redundant? Another way you could say it is, God values freedom so much that He came to set us free. This is our great joy, and our great witness, that through Christ we are no longer subject to the yoke of slavery to sin and the law.

If you are acquainted with BridgeBuilders, you know that we believe that poverty is the result of four fractured relationships: with God, self, others, and creation, which were broken when sin entered the world (Genesis 3). The good news we are working to share with those in poverty is that there is freedom, not just from the material symptoms of poverty, but from the broken relationships caused by sin.

God cares so much about this freedom that He sent His Son, and this is why we do what we do: that those living in poverty would experience the freedom from sin that is available to every one of us through Jesus. So go tell someone about your freedom today, it is a wonderful day to be free!

Clifton joining the team

Clifton.png

We are excited today to announce the addition of Clifton Reese, BridgeBuilders’ newest Urban Missionary.

Many of you know Clifton as a long-time Bonton resident and member of the BridgeBuilders family. Several months ago Clifton expressed his desire and calling to serve as a missionary to his community, and we are thrilled the Lord has brought this dream to life.

As an urban missionary organization, we recognize the tremendous importance of raising local leadership. This is why we are especially excited about Clifton, who has already begun ministering in his home community... this is a monumental event in our history!

For a short message from Clifton about his ministry in Bonton, click on the video above. To partner with Clifton click here to visit hisbridgebuilders.org/clifton.

The Urban Ministry Institute at BridgeBuilders

tumi.png

We are excited to announce that BridgeBuilders has become the 239th satellite campus of The Urban Ministry Institute! The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) is a program developed by World Impact, an urban church planting organization with decades of experience in impoverished communities. TUMI was designed to equip urban church leaders, who might not qualify for tradition Bible college and seminary education, with high-quality biblical and theological training. The scope of the curriculum covers Biblical Studies (OT and NT), Theology & Ethics, Christian Ministry, and Urban Missions.

Each of these course areas has 4 modules that are divided into 4 lessons. Being a modular program, there is no need to start from the beginning. Students can jump in and out or transfer freely from one satellite campus to another. After completing the 16-modules, including exegetical papers and ministry projects, the graduate of the program will receive a Certificate in Christian Leadership from The Urban Ministry Institute.

Our current plan is to begin offering TUMI classes in the Fall to our urban missions team through our new Urban Missions Training Center. Classes are also open to anyone who is currently a leader in any orthodox, evangelical church in our area. Schedules and costs are forthcoming.

If you’d like to learn more about TUMI or if you are interested in joining us for class this fall, email Josh Conner. We would also love anyone with a passion for theological education to join us in prayer for our teachers, mentors, students, and all of the administrative and resource costs that go into running a training center for the Church.

What We're Reading - June

WWR.png

Poverty Inc. on NetflixActon Institute has recently released their newest documentary, Poverty Inc., onto Netflix. This provocative film explores the dangers of Western paternalism and the demoralizing and tragic effects it has on the world’s poor. If you have access to Netflix, this is a must watch. Here is a link to a short review of the film.

Underutilized Resources “The focus of the global church should be partnerships that support local church’s autonomy, responsibility and resourcefulness in caring for the poor within their community.”

Local churches in impoverished areas are uniquely gifted to proclaim and demonstrate the good news of the kingdom of God to the poor in their communities. Affluent churches, parachurches, and non-profits must take the time to develop relationships with local churches in order to discern how best to aid them as THEY bring the gospel and alleviate poverty in their communities.

Lessons on Work as Service from a Hotel Housekeeper Learn how keeping the main thing the main thing of work from a 57-year-old hotel housekeeper honors God and brings flourishing to life.

Eddie and Carla

Meet-the-BridgeBuilder-1.png

Today is the first installment of Meet the BridgeBuilder, an opportunity to get to know some of the members of the team. Meet the BridgeBuilder will feature staff, volunteers, clients, and more. Usually responsible for helping clients graduate, Eddie and Carla are both celebrating graduations of their own.

eddieEddie King has worked at BridgeBuilders for five years as our Database Administrator. A member of the Bridges of Hope team, Eddie and company help recruit and assist students working their way through our life skills and employment training.

After two years at Le Cordon Bleu, Eddie will graduate this summer with his culinary degree.

“I started cooking about five years ago,” Eddie says. “People just told me they liked my cooking, so I thought I would pursue it. Ultimately I’d like to be a personal chef or caterer. It’s a fun, fast-paced environment. And it’s hot, I can touch a hotter pan than probably the average person.

“It’s also really rewarding when people are pleased and happy with their dining experience, and when you did that for them. No matter what is on the plate, it’s always your vision. Imagination can take you a long way.”

carlaCarla Robinson, also a member of the Bridges of Hope team, has worked at BridgeBuilders for eight years as Income Support Specialist. Carla will also be graduating this summer, with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from the University of Phoenix.

Carla hopes eventually to work with young men in the community, looking to reach them before they enter destructive lifestyles, and is currently interning with the Dallas County Probation Office.

“I’m learning the probation side of things, the process and programs available to redirect them to become law abiding citizens,” says Carla.

“This has been a long road for me, going to school and working, but they say only the strong survive, so I guess I can say I’m strong.”

Restoration Saturday Recap

A big thank you to those that braved the heat (and 900% humidity!) to come work at Bonton Farms on Saturday. It was a great day to see the baby goats, to work at the farm and the extension, and fellowship with other workers and the community. Check out a few photos below!