Sunday, July 7, 2013

Testing Limits; Launching Out into the Deep

This year is CitySquare's 25th anniversary. The growth that we've experienced has been phenomenal, almost frightening. More than I could have imagined when I came aboard almost 9 years ago.

From a small food pantry 25 years ago, we've become a $15 million poverty fighting agency, with 14 different programs, 120 employees and a rapidly growing reputation as one of the most effective organizations in partnering with our neighbors as they overcome the impact of poverty in their lives and in their communities. What a ride!

And now, this fall we will enter into a $16 million facility housing on the outskirts of South Dallas, which will house most of our direct service programming, along with new offices for Workforce Solutions Dallas County and Operation L.I.F.T. (Literacy Instruction for Texas), that, along with 20 kiosks for other non-profits to help us serve our neighbors.

Our President and CEO, Larry James in front of our new Opportunity Center
It seems fitting that I repost this blog from October 13, 2010, written when we were still Central Dallas Ministries and when the Opportunity Center was just a gleam in our eye. Hope you find it inspiration for wherever you need to see God's Wonders in the Deep!

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It seems I've always been attracted to work that has taken me beyond the boundaries of tradition. As a pastor, very few of my local colleagues took advantage of opportunities that would lead to ministries that included housing, or after school programs, or job training. The opportunity was there - so was the opportunity to join hands with many talented, passionately committed white, Hispanic, as well as African-American men and women of faith (and some who professed no faith) in attempts to make their communities better.

At Central Dallas Ministries, this work often stretches the boundaries of the 'ordinary' non-profit. It challenges many of us to think seriously about what it means to be 'faith-based'. The most dangerous question to ask in this organization is 'What if...?'

That question led to CityWalk@Akard; jobs-driven job training; permanent supportive housing programs; Food on the Move; the Opportunity Center in South Dallas and myriad other programs that have helped address issues of housing, employment, education and hunger.

It admittedly takes us to the very edge of security. And, without exception, whenever we've reached that brink, we find out how God responds to those who have faith enough to test the limits. We find out what the old members of the church my grandfather served meant when they would say, 'God makes a way out of no way'.



Several years ago, I found a passage of scripture that helped me find security when I tested boundaries - as a matter of fact, it has encouraged me to look for boundaries to cross...

"They that go down to the sea in ship, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." (Psalm 107:23, 24).

I've found out over the years, that no matter how great we think the works of God are on shore, He's doing greater things in the deep! It's not always safe...some even question whether its sane.

But it's never dull!
Central Dallas Ministries is a great place where wonderful leaders and neighbors regularly cross boundaries and launch out into the deep. We're always looking for partners. Hope there are those of you out there who will join those of us who just can't resist testing limits in service...

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