We have much to be thankful for as we reflect on 2014 at Faith that Works (FTW). In 2014...
- FTW moved into a new office in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis.
- Staff and volunteers traveled to Ethiopia 3 times and established new leaders in the field.
- We opened our first SAFE home for persecuted Somali believers and welcomed in 3 women who have been victims of abuse and violence.
- Somali Christians gathered with us for a faith-based conference in Ethiopia, and we had a record attendance of eager believers, ready to grow together in faith and unity. For some of the men, women, and children in attendance, the conference was their first time openly worshipping in safety with other Somali Christians.
- Three of us on the FTW staff and board expanded our knowledge of missions and the global Church by taking an in-depth course called Perspectives.
- FTW received three grants for our local work with Hispanic immigrants, one providing two full-time VISTA employees through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, a national service program supporting community empowerment and organizational capacity building.
- In the summer we were sad when our executive assistant Blair Dobson moved on to a different job, but we were able to welcome a new staff member in her place. Before leaving, Blair helped us hire and train Courtney Taylor as our new executive assistant, a role Courtney began in July 2014. Blair was also instrumental in writing the VISTA grant for us.
- We purchased a third trailer in the Chesterfield Mobile Home Park to serve as an addition to our Hispanic Outreach. Volunteers helped us make some repairs and updates to the trailer, transforming it into a space suited for hosting our tutoring program and the adult ESL classes we offer in partnership with the Rockwood School District’s Community Education Adult Education & Literacy Department. A record number of children showed up for our after-school tutoring program, and we engaged more volunteers this year than ever before.
- We obtained key funding for our work among Somali immigrants in Ethiopia and established our work and presence there through our dedicated community leaders, working with them to write our first strategic plan for our Somali effort.
Visiting and praying with Somali Christians in Ethiopia
As you can see, so much has happened. Any effort of this magnitude takes an army of people. This is what we especially give thanks for as we reflect on 2014. The volunteers, staff, and board members at FTW give an incredible amount of time and effort to this ministry. They serve sacrificially and we know we could not do this without them. Each week as part of our local Hispanic Outreach, we work with up to 10 volunteers who run the after-school program, adult ESL classes, and ESL childcare activities. Our staff is continually commenting on the commitment of these volunteers and how so much is being accomplished through their service.
This past year has seen so much growth and progress, and in 2015 we adopt a new mission statement to reflect our growth. We understand that key leaders are the backbone of our efforts, both in Ethiopia and here at home. These key leaders step in the gap when volunteers are sick, not available, or felt called to move on to another effort. We know that now, more than ever, our leaders are crucial to our growth and development as an organization. Our new mission statement - “Mobilize leaders to share the gospel practically by holistically assisting communities in need
” - reflects our belief that to sustain the great work we do, we must train and equip key leaders. We must be careful to avoid dependency in the communities where we work and understand that helping others walk in their gifts has always been at the heart of what we do.
We look forward to working with key leaders to further develop our local and global outreach efforts. We will challenge our people to join us and go to hard places, reaching those without access to the gospel. We will equip our leaders to train others, while remaining focused on building relationships of trust and integrity.
Courtney, Terri and Cathy travel in a tuk-tuk (a motorized rickshaw) in Ethiopia
The story of our staff member Courtney Taylor highlights our work to develop leaders and encourage them to embrace God’s call in faith and use their personal gifts to spread the love of Christ. Courtney has a desire to work abroad. She was first interested in accepting the job at FTW because of our work in Africa. We are meeting with Courtney every week to listen to her, build up her strengths, and give her challenges that will help her live out the dream she has of being a missionary. Courtney’s clear goal gave us the exact information needed to walk alongside of her, assisting her as she moves toward that goal. We cheer for her success and feel privileged to be a part of it.
We will continue to build into our leaders who are sharing the gospel practically. We pray volunteers will come alongside this work and assist those who are doing hard things. We need you in 2015 to make an impact for the gospel. We believe 2015 will be our best year yet, and we thank you for your support!
May God richly bless you in this new year,
Founder, Faith that Works