Faith family, we are so encouraged by your faithfulness through the past year in so many ways, including in your generosity. As Pastor Matt shared last Sunday, when we combine what was given to the Global Offering with the “Reach” portion of our Roots & Reach Initiative, we all gave over $840,000 to spread the gospel through missions in our city and around the world. And that total doesn’t even include other giving like our Love Oliver initiative and the portions of our general budget set aside for City Ministries and Global Mission.
With our special emphasis on our Global Offering throughout the month of December, you might have missed that as of December 8, we reached our second giving goal in our Roots & Reach Initiative, meaning at that point we fully funded our second special mission project: Building Healthy Churches in East Asia.
In fact, we’ve already released the funds for that project so that the printing of those 36,000 books in Mandarin from our friends at 9 Marks can begin and get freely distributed to pastors throughout East Asia. Please continue to pray for those pastors and for the spread of the gospel and the growth of God’s church throughout that region, and ask God to use those resources to call the church to reach out to their neighbors in East Asia, especially the Hui people.
With the completion of this second special mission project, we now have the exciting opportunity to begin a new one we are calling “Deeping Oak Tree’s Roots.” In fact, we’ve actually been giving toward this project since we met that second goal.
Deepening Oak Tree’s Roots is going to allow us to fund the completion of the purchase of the current Oak Tree Ministries Building to help them establish a more secure and long-term presence in the community of Marks Village.
The federal poverty line for a family of four in the United States is $24,257. This means the national average is that 14% of the population lives in poverty. However, within the Birmingham city limits, the poverty rate is 28.1%, and 44% of elementary-age children live in poverty. Within the public housing community of Marks Village in Gate City, those rates are even higher. There are 500 public housing units in Marks Village, with an average income of about $6,500 per year. Almost 90% of the adults living in Marks Village have never married, and during one three-month period this past year, there were 28 documented shootings. For 10 years, Brook Hills has been focusing ministry resources in Marks Village. Our strategy has been to equip our people to engage the most vulnerable and in need, and those most isolated from the gospel, so we can relationally make disciples, release people from all types of poverty, and empower those in need to enjoy God’s good design for their lives.
Throughout this time, one of our strategic partners has been Oak Tree Ministries. They are reaching out to the children, teenagers, and families of Marks Village with the gospel, through racial reconciliation, education programs, weekly Bible clubs and studies, trauma informed care, and resources for crisis relief. They have been renting their current facilities, but have been offered the opportunity to purchase their building and the land located within the fence surrounding the building. Through funds raised for the building and from additional grants, Oak Tree Ministries is close to raising the total purchase price needed. Through our Roots & Reach Initiative, we have the opportunity to complete the funding of this project so Oak Tree can deepen their roots in Marks Village by permanently establishing themselves within the community, and use their resources previously set aside for rent to provide for staffing and programming purposes.
The total cost of this project is $50,000. To ensure it’s funding, we’ll need to give an additional $250,000 to the Roots & Reach Initiative. If you add this amount to our initial two goals of $800,000 for our Bible for the Baloch and Building Healthy Churches in East Asia projects, we as a faith family will fully fund this third special mission project once we hit a total of $1,050,000 given to Roots & Reach. However, because of your faithful generosity, we are already over 45% of the way toward this third goal.
So, what can you do? First of all, pray. Pray for the families in Marks Village. Pray for the staff and volunteers who serve with Oak Tree Ministries as they demonstrate the love of Christ and share His gospel in so many ways. Pray for us and our involvement and representation of Christ here in our city, for us to make the most of the opportunities we have, and to consider how we might serve some of those most in need in our city. You may even want to prayerfully consider serving with Oak Tree.
Then, give. Give to the Roots & Reach Initiative, and together, let’s help Oak Tree Ministries deepen their roots in Mark Village in order to better serve all those who live there.
For more information on the Roots & Reach Initiative, along with ways to give, visit brookhills.org/rootsandreach.