More than a few times during our ministry here in Colorado Springs, we have encountered those who like the idea of our ministry, but are looking for some solid evidence of the impact we are having here before they actually give support to what we are doing. Normally, what they are looking for is some kind of metric or measure of how much impact we are having on the community. Traditionally, ministries keep track of conversions, or decisions for Christ, or baptisms, or any number of things that can show the direct impact of their work.
If you are looking for this kind of information before deciding to support a ministry, you may want to move on. We have made the decision not to provide a list of how many meals we have served or how many people we have given clothes to. We do not track the number of people that make a decision for Christ through our ministry, or how many people we baptize. We do not even keep a tally of how many people we have helped get off the streets into jobs or housing.
These are just not the things we have chosen to focus on. You see, when the numbers are good, we are tempted to take credit and become prideful, and when the numbers are not so great we are tempted to become discouraged. In either case, we can loose focus on God and His calling that has brought us here.
What we have chosen to focus on is stories; stories of individual lives, people who are struggling in some way with addiction, or poverty, or mental illness or physical disability, or sometimes just with life itself. Stories of people who through our ministry have an encounter with God and are changed in some way by that encounter. Each story is so unique that to categorize them would be nearly impossible.
Some are stories of struggle, an addict gets clean, even gets baptized, then falls back into the addiction. Some are stories of great tragedy, where the addiction of illness seems to have one and claimed the life of yet another victim. Still others are stories of victory, of a life permanently changed and now serving God with unbelievable fervency.
Each story is unique, but one thread runs through them all, God's "Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." When the addict or the homeless person comes to be fed, God is there, when they leave God is still there. When the addict relapses, or the thief steals, God is there. When they lay dying of an overdose under a highway overpass, God is there, always standing with His arms of love outstretched. This is what it means to be His presence, it means being there WITH them, good or bad, always ready to demonstrate God's love, never asking anything in return, and never keeping a record.