SJOC Missions Update

Posted by Brooks Igo on


Greetings, St. Jude family. Ashley and I consider it a great privilege to be counted among you. Thank you for the love and kindness you have shown us, St. Jude and the community. Because of your generosity, St. Jude has been able to give more than $70,000 over the past year to organizations and ministries doing good work in Oak Cliff, Dallas and the world.

Nika and Mart asked me to highlight a number of these partners a few Sundays ago. With the help of Vonni Gant, Jim Epperson and Marc Redus, I want to provide a recap and also identify the other places we have given financially to. Plus, I will suggest ways you can support these efforts beyond giving financially and praying.

But first, a disclaimer and word of encouragement. Our goal is not to recruit you to be a super volunteer for these organizations. I understand “community service” and “missions” have been packaged in all sorts of ways, many of which are unhelpful, anxiety-inducing and, honestly, self-serving. Maybe it has been communicated to you that this kind of work is truly God’s work and a sign of “maturity.”

We have to get back to the heart of mission. It begins, is sustained by and ends with remembering whose we are. It’s why we begin every service with “If no one has told you today they love you, we do, but more importantly God does.” God calls us his beloved children, with whom he is well pleased in Christ. Our task is to grow up into this identity. It is from this foundation of love that we accept the invitation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and gladly participate in self-donating, loving relationships. We believe that being made in the image of God, we each have gifts that can give life to others. As Nika says, everyone is mission critical, so please know we – and the world – need your gifts so we can experience the full majesty of God. Indeed, all life-giving work is kingdom work. Nika wonderfully expands on all of this in her recent sermon, so please give that a listen if you missed it (but it would also be good to go back to time and time again).

As you reflect on the relationships and gifts God has given you, take heart in these words of C.S. Lewis: “If the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.” And when you stumble and fall on your face, remember Peter. Jesus did not leave Peter in his shame and failure after the disciple denied him three times. In John 21, we see the redemptive scene of Jesus appearing after his resurrection to several of the disciples and restoring Peter. Three times Jesus calls Peter by name and asks “Do you love me?” Peter answers each time, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Notice how Jesus replies: “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep…Follow me.” After restoring him and reminding him whose he is, Jesus invites Peter to get back to the work of giving his life away for others. How beautiful.

Of course, answering a call that demands our very lives can be a bit unsettling. So when you grow weary and tired, or become disappointed because you can’t see the fruits of your labor, or feel like God is putting a burden on you that you can’t bear, pray that God will carry you. Because at the end of our race, we will know that what St. Augustine said is true: that God carried us clear to the end, and even at the end, God carried us.

OK, TL;DR (too long, didn’t read). I don’t blame you. Here are the organizations we have made financial gifts to and how you can participate more in their work. Please reach out to me with other ideas you might have.

Men of Nehemiah/Cocaine Anonymous

The Men of Nehemiah helps to rebuild the lives of men and families that have been torn apart by poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, crime and violence. Several of the men attend St. Jude and participate in recovery meetings with Jim Epperson. Here are ways to support their work:

  • Befriend the men who are part of the St. Jude family, listen to their stories and encourage them in their recovery. We have much to learn from them.
  • Help with rides to church for the men. If you are interested in giving rides to a group of the men to and from church, please let Jim Epperson know. He is the point person.
  • Important note: If you or someone close to you is battling addiction, please get in touch with Jim Epperson and consider attending one of the Cocaine Anonymous meetings on Fridays and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. that he leads. You are not alone. St. Jude hosts CA meetings because they are open to people with any kind of addiction, not just alcoholism, for example.

The Salvation Army Oak Cliff Corps

You might know The Salvation Army for its social services, but did you know it is first and foremost a church? We partner with Lola and Mario Maldonado and the SA Oak Cliff Church. They graciously share their space with us for TAP, festive lunches, basketball and other gatherings. Here are a couple of upcoming needs:

  • After Thanksgiving, SA will begin their annual bell ringing campaign. Last year, a number of St. Jude families suited up and committed a couple of hours to ring (some with music, animals, costumes and candy!). SA would love people to join and ring again.
  • During the bell ringing campaign, SA Oak Cliff will need people to help count the money raised from the kettles.
  • The SA Oak Cliff Corps is looking for advisory board members. I’m happy to discuss more if you are interested and have questions.

The Well

The Well provides hope and healing to men and women, mostly from Oak Cliff, recovering from mental illness through healthy relationships, essential services and meaningful work. The Well was started in 2002 by Cliff Temple members. Here are ways to participate in The Well Community:

  • Every Thursday, The Well meets for worship and a meal from 5:30 to 7:00 where St. Jude meets at Cliff Temple on Sundays. They are always looking for musicians and teachers to help with worship and groups to provide the meals. This could be a way a home group or a few home groups could serve together.
  • A group of about eight men with mental illness live together in the neighborhood at Jacob’s House, a home supported by The Well. It looks like the men are interested in having a meeting to discuss improvements they would like to see made to their house. If you are a handy person or have design vision, please let me know if you are interested in being a part of these conversations with the men at Jacob’s House.

Our Calling

Our Calling is a faith-based organization that helps the homeless by building lasting relationships and making disciples on the streets. One of our own, Martha Thrash, is the director of women’s ministry there. She identified the following relational opportunities:

  • Attending Our Calling’s life skills classes, which occur every Tuesday-Thursday morning from 8:30-9:45. They need table discussion leaders to talk about whatever topic was discussed, listen to those at your table and talk about the transforming power of Christ.
  • Men's bible study every Friday morning. Our Calling doesn’t currently have many outside volunteers participate in this, but they would love to have more men come build relationships with the men at Our Calling and faithfully point them to Christ.
  • Please connect with Martha if you have any questions about Our Calling.

Advocates for Community Transformation (Act)

Act is a ministry that uses the justice system to empower inner-city residents to fight crime on their street, while sharing with them the hope of the gospel. Act partners with some of the top law firms in Dallas, the Dallas Police Department, the City of Dallas and neighborhood associations to do this work. St. Juder Sarah Turtletaub is on staff at Act. We supported a safety canvass and back-to-school community event that Act worked with The Way, The Truth and The Life – a church in Oak Cliff – on. We are working with Sarah to identify other upcoming needs. Please stay tuned.

Brian and Simpson Hogan’s ministry with For the Nations: Refugee Outreach

Brian, Simpson and their children attend St. Jude. Brian works at For the Nations: Refugee Outreach, which offers a wide variety of educational programs to help refugees living in Dallas continue in the long process of adapting to life in the United States. They also help families adjust to life in America by advocating for them in a variety of ways. Please connect with Brian for specific ways to participate in his team’s work.

James and Happy Madden and their ministry at Reformed University Fellowship at SMU

Our friends Happy and James Madden are regular, friendly faces at St. Jude. James has preached several Sundays when Nika or Mart is out of town. He is also the campus minister at RUF – SMU. He and Happy lead and facilitate weekly worship nights, bible studies and hang outs for college students. A number of them worship at St. Jude. Please connect with James or Happy if you are interested in the following:

  • Assisting with music at RUF’s weekly worship night
  • Developing relationships with college students

Rusty Coffee’s prison/jail ministry

Rusty Coffee and his wife Maribeth attend St. Jude. Rusty has been leading a ministry to the imprisoned in Dallas for 20+ years.

  • Please contact Rusty if you want to join him in this work or if you want to learn more.

Abide Women’s Health Services

Abide Women’s Health Services exists to improve birth outcomes in communities with the lowest quality of care by offering healthcare and complimentary services that are easily accessible, holistic, evidence based and free from judgment. Abide is led by a friend of St. Jude, Cessilye R. Smith. We are working with her to identify more specific ways we can support her work.Stay tuned.

Finally, Educators and Teachers

I know St. Jude has a number of teachers and educators in our body. Please let us know how we can support your classrooms and schools.


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