Showing posts from August, 2009

Food Banking Challenges Creating Employment Opportunities for Individuals Rebuilding Lives

New opportunities often follow new challenges. In today’s economy, food banks are facing new realities that make providing services more difficult. Increased efficiency at food production facilities and supermarkets is decreasing the supply of donated food from corporations to local food banks. At the same time, the current economy is increasing the demand for help from food banks. To further complicate this environment, the federal government is asking food banks to increase the nutritional quality of the food that they provide. These are significant challenges for the nonprofits that provide real help to families facing hunger. Yet, this very environment is creating an opportunity for a new faith venture to change the lives of individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness or prison…the very risk factors that lead to a need for food bank services. Starting later this year, an innovative new partnership between Compa Ministries , Providence Network and Belay Enterprises wil

How Honesty Leads to Healing

Matthew 5:33-37 A lack of honesty hinders our walk with Jesus. It’s hard to read the Gospels and miss the importance of being brutally truthful about our own motivations and actions. Jesus teaches that it is dangerous to put on false appearances in the interest of appearing holy or respectable. It’s a lesson we all need whether we are dealing with an addiction, rebuilding a life after prison, or living in suburban success and respectability. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he teaches in Matthew 5:37 that we should let our “Yes be yes, and our no be no.” This seems simple but yet is oh so hard. If we honestly analyze our own actions, how often do we appeals to an external factor to cover up the truth. We may increasingly live in a culture where we don’t swear to God to make a point unless it is a negative one. But we all have subtle methods we employ to hide what’s really going on. With the urban poor, addiction often lurks below the surface. One drink or one illicit smoke spirals uncont

Two Upcoming Business as Ministry Conferences

The 2009 Partners Worldwide Partnership Summit will take place October 8 - 10 in Grand Rapids, MI. The conference celebrates business as a calling and provides opportunities for business leaders to learn how to use their business skills to serve in a global context. Visit the conference web site for more information. Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) is holding its annual Business as a Calling 2009 Event on November 5-8 in San Jose, California, U.S.A at the San Jose Marriott. The conference features several interesting business leaders exploring green energy and creation care issues as well as how to live one's faith in a business setting. Learn more by visiting here . Or watch the following video:

God's Gentle Reminders: The Importance of Loving Others First

I have learned to love Eddie Askew’s prayers by reading the excellent blog of J.R. Woodward . I think the latest prayer bears republishing because it speaks so clearly to the importance of a proper relationship between loving others and our day-to-day activities in a faith venture. I have discovered over the years, even the most well-intentioned business as ministry can lose sight of its essential mission serving people. The urgent starts overwhelming the important. The good supersedes what is best. May we never lose our sensitivity to God’s gentle reminders of the importance of loving others first: Lord, life’s a whirlpool. So much to do. I rush around, faster and faster, intent on today, this moment. Never looking beyond the immediate. My good intentions, wet and waterlogged, slide down the plug hole, gone. From Facing the Storm By Eddie Askew Out there, on the blurred edge of vision, people stand, beckon, call. So indistinct I can pretend I don’t see them, except to myself. But I ru

Check Your Motives

Why do you do what you do? I think it's a good practice to ask that question. Frequently. We all have reasons...maybe it's money, significance, success, or service. Everyone has motivations and some are better than others. In a faith venture, where a business does ministry, one must be very careful with motivations. Business speaks the language of profits and efficiency while ministry seeks service and transformation. They are not mutually exclusive. Business is a great arena for ministry and ministry needs money to survive, but ministry sometimes can be harmed by decisions in the interest of efficiency. Check your motives. I've seen faith ventures lose their way because they were serving money and I've seen ministries close because they forgot about raising money. I've had ministry leaders tell me that they need a certain scale of success in order to effectively impact society. Please be careful and check your motives. If God took away success or significance but a

Reducing Recidivism: The Importance of Employment

If you were in charge of reducing the recidivism rate in your community, what factors would you point to as decreasing the odds of a former inmate returning to prison? Since drug addiction is a major contributing factor to felony convictions, some might urge that enrollment in drug and addiction programs would reduce the rates of return to prison. Others might suggest that adult education classes or family services programs would decrease recidivism. Some might recommend the provision of mental health services. In fact, a 1994 study of successful community corrections outcomes and 2 year recidivism rates for offenders leaving the Colorado penal system showed that all of these factors contributed to a decrease in return trips to prison. Individuals who successfully completed community corrections were older, educated, employed and participating in community programs. 75% of individuals who successfully completed community corrections remained crime free after two years. But one factor s

A Brief History of Belay Enterprises

I like to think that I am in control. I've always felt that the right business plan with strong execution will result in success. My experience at Belay Enterprises has taught me otherwise. God is in control and, in many ways, I am just along for the ride. In 1994, a group of Christian businessmen and urban pastors, all with a heart for urban Denver, began meeting under the leadership of Mile High Ministries . Out of these discussions grew Belay Enterprises, an innovative organization that desired to impact the employment side of poverty. Belay's first project was Bud's Warehouse , a home improvement thrift store that recycled leftover construction and home improvement materials. Bud's main goal was to provide job training and employment for individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, prison, and poverty. In addition, profits from the business would be reinvested in the community by providing loans and technical assistance for entrepreneurial business startups. As with