More mentors in schools
We prayed for more people to start mentoring students in schools. In April, seven people committed to mentoring at a Eugene Middle School. The school counselor was ecstatic at the answer to prayer, as it doubled the program!
funding for kids literacy
We pray for children to read at grade level by third grade, as currently more than half of school-aged children in Lane County do not. This spring, the City of Eugene devoted a one-time sum of $100,000 to help young people learn to read, which will be used in partnership with local school districts. This needed resource is an answer to prayer along the way to the long-term goal of childhood literacy.
business: a new perspective on godly wealth
A pastor had a meeting with a business leader on his church’s One Church – One Day prayer day. Their conversation turned to a discussion about wealth. Through the conversation, God gave the businessman a new perspective on godly wealth, and revealed some lies he believed. Later the pastor remembered the prayer request on the prayer guide, “Pray for a wise, positive and godly perspective on creating wealth: For local wealth to express Jesus’ love and be utilized for the greatest good.” The discussion was an answer to this prayer request in the businessman’s life. His renewed perspective on godly wealth is sure to influence how he leads his business.
Stepping toward a mental health crisis center
In May, Lane County committed the first one million dollars to a new Mental Health Crisis Center (an agreed upon necessity according to first responders, government, the justice system and nonprofits). We are praying specifically for the creation of a County Mental Health Crisis Center to provide experienced care for suffering individuals and alleviate pressure from hospitals, first responders and the jail.
A core member of a Eugene church could no longer participate in the outreaches she loved because of debilitating migraines. A few members of the church prayed for her healing. To this day, she has not suffered from another migraine!
Grants: Sharing the love
A Eugene pastor learned of a company’s grant opportunity that could benefit a local faith-based nonprofit. He called the nonprofit, and they suggested he share the opportunity with two other nonprofits as well. Last month, all three organizations received their grant requests! Plus, the pastor’s church also received funding for a school partnership project. It’s an answer to prayer for greater trust and collaboration between both churches and nonprofits!
church hosts parenting class for school
A church in Eugene stepped into a needed gap to serve families this spring. In partnership with CAFA, they hosted a 6-week parenting class for neighbors, DHS clients and parents from a nearby middle school. They offered holistic support, by offering a meal and childcare as well. The school offered enthusiastic support, and the church was free to invite the school’s families.
Their example is inspiring other churches to do the same with their school partnerships. It’s an answer to prayer for parents to be equipped and for church/school partnerships to grow and flourish.
Foster Parents Equipped
All Lane County Foster Parents were invited to attend a free 8-week parenting class, thanks to a dynamic partnership! The True Insight Parenting Classes are designed for parents who care for kids with trauma histories. CAFA provided the training and Every Child rallied volunteers. An Oregon Community Foundation grant made it possible. It was held live at First Baptist and simulcast to four rural locations (Veneta, Florence, Junction City and Creswell). What an answer to prayer for partners to support foster families!
In total, 45 volunteers served meals and provided free childcare. Over the 8-weeks, people engaged with the material 492 times online, and parents attended 440 times. Here are a few stories:
She stayed in the quiet room while her foster parents attended the classes. She sat by herself and didn't get along with other kids. While one of the volunteers sat with her, she confided that she hated her life. The volunteers gave her one-on-one attention every week. Soon the change was evident: She smiled, sang, made paper airplanes and played with other kids.
After the final class, a mom took a selfie with her TIPS completion certificate in front of an Every Child yard sign that challenged Oregonians to "show up for kids in foster care." She wasn't a foster parent, but rather a parent working to regain custody of her son. She was thankful because the class taught her how to be a better parent. She took a yard sign with her, determined to make the number of kids in foster care to “one less.”
We prayed for the process and selection of the next Springfield Superintendent for four months. Todd Hamilton was unanimously selected as the next leader for Springfield Public Schools!
Todd has a wealth of knowledge having served in numerous roles across the K-12 continuum, including most recently as the Creswell Superintendent. The Board confidently hired him, believing he is the “right person to continue the positive trajectory of recent years.”
Recently, a woman remembered how she often used to share her faith. She prayed earnestly, asking God for opportunities. Following the prayer, five days in a row she had the opportunity to share her faith with five different people. Each person initiated the Gospel conversation - she didn’t!
Each encounter had a similar theme: they were people who were beginning to follow Jesus, but not because a Christian shared the Gospel with them. In one way or another, each had sought Jesus on their own. God is drawing all people to Himself & answering our prayers for salvation!
She shared the story with a friend, to learn her friend had a similar interaction. While at a downtown restaurant, a waiter heard her pray for her meal. He began to ask questions, sharing how he had recently come to faith. He said, “My family doesn’t even know I believe. Soon I need to come out and tell them.”
May these testimonies spur you on to share your faith, as the harvest is ripe!
health care answers
We’ve prayed for local emergency rooms, and there have been less people needing emergency care! This trend has alleviated some of the stress on hospital staff, as leadership continue to create systems to best support staff and patients.
During the February snowstorm, health professionals went above & beyond to care for people. Leadership made excellent decisions and staff worked extra hours, sleeping at the hospital and Serenity Lane to be available to care for people.
dove medical’s stop & think
Dove Medical’s STOP-AND-THINK (faith-based sexual risk avoidance presentation for public schools) faced scrutiny from some parents of the 4J School District.
The concerns went before the 4J School Board, and Dove Medical’s team feels the meeting was "60% positive." While some adults and 4J students spoke negatively about Dove and STOP-AND-THINK, those who spoke on behalf of STOP-AND-THINK carried themselves with humility, love and simply agreed with the School District's policy to "allow diverse sex education from a variety of perspectives." We’ve prayed for Christians to carry themselves with love and humility in all of public life and for STOP-AND-THINK.
The meeting ended on a positive note: A school board member/Planned Parenthood supporter spoke for the school board in favor of STOP-AND-THINK. The board member affirmed that any and all faith-based organizations may present in classes if the content is not religious and waivers are given to parents. She went on to say that even though she doesn't agree with everything Dove Medical is, the school board should not discriminate.
The meeting, along with an additional time with the superintendent, resulted in greater understanding on both sides. STOP-AND-THINK will continue to present at least through the end of the school year!
“The Opportunity to make a significant difference“
A local government leader attended a monthly One Hope Gathering to address the pastors. He listed the answers to prayer he sees from his perspective, and exhorted us to keep praying.
Since the start of One Church - One Day, trust and collaboration have grown between Lane County and the City of Eugene. The leader shared that they are working together better than they have in decades.
This paved the way for the TAC Report, a complete city/county strategic plan to house the unhoused; one of the greatest challenges facing our region. Here’s what he had to say about the role of prayer, hard work, and the faith community:
“This is the first time in decades where we have the opportunity to make a significant difference [by implementing the TAC Report]. Though, while we could actually make a significant impact, it is the faith community who has the miraculous gift."
The Power of Confession
A church committed a year to focusing on prayer. During the year, they realized how little we practice confession. They began to teach and give appropriate space to practice James 5. The emphasis changed a man’s life, along with his family.
The man came to his pastor, and it took nearly 20 minutes to bring his confession into the open. He’d struggled with uncontrollable rage for years, and his wife was the only one who’d witnessed it. By confessing, he broke free from his pride and came into the light. His pastor prayed with him, agreeing for his freedom. Since then, he hasn’t struggled with anger! It’s been a year of peace and freedom!
Atheist Youth to Sports Evangelist
A single mom finally convinced her self-professed atheist son to attend their church youth group. He felt so accepted and loved, he wanted to keep going. Soon after, he gave his life to Christ!
When he chose to go to church camp instead of a sporting event, his teammates criticized him. Instead of changing his plans, he took the opportunity to tell his team how much his life had changed because of Jesus!
“Unchurched” kids learn bible
An older congregation prayed for more kids to come to their church. They started a Bible Release Program through Child Evangelism where kids leave school for an hour every week to learn about the Bible. Now 43 kids attend the program! Primarily unchurched kids get to learn about the Bible every week, and the church is building relationship with them. Some of the ladies hosted a Valentine’s night for the girls, and a boy came in one afternoon saying, “I love Jesus!”
Mental Health Momentum
First Responders, along with other justice system and social service providers, meet monthly for a “Mental Health Summit” to discuss the crisis & collaborative solutions. First responders praise God for the growing momentum. Participation has grown, and so have relationships. The increased communication is leading participants to “say the same things” and see with greater perspective. There is growing consensus that there is need for a Mental Health Crisis Center that would care for individuals when a jail or hospital is not the best option.
“It was joyful“
a smooth transition for dawn to dawn
“It was joyful. It was joyful, and it was peaceful.” That’s how the supervisor of the new Dawn to Dawn homeless camp described the move from “Camp 99” to the new site (a city, county & Saint Vincent de Paul partnership). There were no arrests or citations, and everyone made quality decisions to make the transition smooth. Transitions like this have been volatile in the past, but we prayed for wisdom, peace and protection in and around Camp 99!
The repurposed army tents provided warm, dry places to sleep for 80 new guests. One man even called his first night, “The best night’s rest I’ve had in two months.”
student suicide prevention
We pray for schools to have increased and coordinated services to care for students struggling with mental health issues. The Bethel School District just launched a new evidence-based suicide prevention program! It’s called “Sources of Strength.” This year 80 high schoolers, and more middle school students will be trained as peer leaders with the help of adult advisors. It’s certainly an answer to prayer that God would empower teachers and friends to intervene and bring rescue. Plus, the program’s slogan is “Hope, help and strength” - specific things we ask God to bring to those dealing with suicide.
rising above in education
We prayed for Christian educators to have discernment and power to effectively rise above spiritual battles. One teacher had two opportunities to “rise above” and lead her coworkers to do the same.
She served on the staff holiday party planning team. At the last minute, the musical entertainment canceled. The teacher invited her church worship leader as a replacement. They prayed before the event. The atmosphere was filled with joy and connectivity! The same teacher had an opportunity to pray with her principal who’d lost their keys. They prayed, and shortly after the keys surfaced!
Springfield economic growth
Wayfair announced they’ll be moving into the Symantec building this Spring, employing 600 people! Mayor Lundberg also recognized the growth of Franz Bakery, Umpqua Dairy, the Swanson Group Mill & PacificSource as signs of the growing economy. Additionally, a third hotel is in the works for Glenwood and 20+ restaurants & businesses opened in Downtown Springfield in 2018!
Protection at Cascade
and a continued prayer
A parent brought a gun into an altercation with police outside of Cascade Middle School on January 11th. More details are forthcoming, but we praise the Lord that no children, staff members or first responders were injured. However, we grieve along with the parent’s family, as he was killed in the incident.
At the same time, we sense the urgency to continue to pray for our community’s peace, protection & the wellbeing and mental health of all of our neighbors. Please pray for the students, staff & the grieving family.
An Instant miracle
About 80 pastors & ministry leaders gathered together in December. They laughed, reconnected, and prayed. The meeting came to a close, but one leader still had a personal need. Before she left, she pulled a friend aside to ask for prayer. She was scheduled for a surgery mid-January 2019. Her insurance would change the first of the year, and she’d have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. If the surgery was moved to a date in 2018, insurance would cover it entirely.
They prayed for God to move the surgery to December.
Five minutes after the “Amen,” the doctor’s office called because there was an opening in six days!
In tears, they rejoiced for God’s provision and instant response. Miracles like this happen as brothers & sisters carry one another’s burdens & contend for the other’s best; something that networking events don’t provide.
We pray for the health, provision and unity of spiritual leaders - what a great example!
A CHRISTMAS MEMORY:
dhs CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR 265 KIDS
For kids in foster care, Christmas used to look like this: One hour in a small visitation room with their biological parents. Presents... if their parents could bring them.
Ever since churches banded together in Every Child, an effort to collaboratively care for vulnerable children and come alongside DHS, things have changed.
For three years now, eleven churches have partnered to throw a DHS Christmas party. Now, Christmas for children in foster care and their bio families looks like this:
Four hours at a massive Christmas party. Families share meals together, play games, bounce on inflatables, decorate Christmas cookies, and take pictures together with Santa – a lasting memory caught on camera. They hear stories from Mrs. Claus, and every child opens a present, provided by churches & businesses, but given by their parents!
This year, 265 kids & their parents roamed the Christmas festivities. Plus 65 DHS workers & 80 volunteers enjoyed the party too!
Every year we pray that as Jesus-followers host the celebration, families experience healing, parents are empowered to love their kids well, and reconciliation momentum builds.
In the collision of brokenness, trauma, reconciliation, love and hope, God went above & beyond in answering our prayers:
A Heartfelt Connection: A mother lay on the couch with her 15 month old on her lap. They laughed & laughed, connecting eye-to-eye; a loving interaction, surely bringing healing to the trauma of their separation.
God Drawing a Parent | A bio parent in his early twenties reflected, “Wow, it’s been years since I’ve been in this church. The last time I was here, I was in the middle school group.” An Every Child volunteer said she could see the Lord reminding him of those days, and inviting him back.
New Shoes | One boy has a disability that requires him to have specially-tailored shoes. He put the shoes on his gift wish list, though they exceeded the $25 limit. When he opened his present, his shoes were inside, and he put them on immediately! The smile didn’t leave his face or his case worker’s all day, thanks to the generosity of an unnamed present purchaser.
Encouraged DHS worker | A DHS employee volunteered for the whole party, refusing to take a break because he didn’t want to miss a thing. Seeing families connect
together was a joy for him, compared to his job which requires him to terminate parental rights.
Santa | Kids visited Santa over and over, some more than eight times. One boy even decorated a cookie for Santa!
Here’s our favorite story that illustrates what we’re believing for long-term:
A high-level DHS employee pulled the Every Child Director aside, in shock and awe. She pointed out a 10-year-old, as he & his bio dad prepared to say goodbye. They had two wonderful hours together, and she couldn’t believe it. Ever since the boy entered care, his weekly visitation has ended in such significant meltdowns that DHS has to call an intervention service to calm him down. She said, “I was keeping an eye on him, waiting for that happen. I can’t believe it, but they just had two quality hours together with no meltdown!” The Every Child Director then shared that we prayed for peaceful, healing interactions like that one!
Our long-term prayer: Peace in the presence of God, fostered by caring Jesus-followers, as fragile, separated families come back together.
the mission’s new director
We asked God to lead the process & selection of the Eugene Mission’s next Executive Director, and Sheryl Balthrop was selected! She’s a long-time resident of Eugene with a wide-variety of experience as a lawyer and president of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce. She is also an active member of First Baptist Church. She has a heart for Lane County, the unhoused population, and a collaborative vision for the future!
A BRand new wheelchair
Here is a pastor’s testimony about a praying church family, a man named Hoover & his new wheelchair!
“Hoover is a vibrant part of our community and hands out Bibles wherever he goes. Due to MS, Hoover is also a quadriplegic who depends on a specialized wheelchair. The motors broke down, as Hoover waited on insurance. His repair requests were denied three times, and he wasn’t due for a new chair for months.
During that time, Hoover was hospitalized and then entered a care facility. Doctors were unwilling to send him home because of his broken wheelchair. As weeks went by, Hoover worried he would have to be moved to long-term care. If that happened, the insurance company would not approve a new chair. A new chair would cost more than $16,000.
Hoover said it would take a miracle for the insurance company to approve a chair so he could return home. We sent his need out on the church’s prayer list
The next morning, Hoover called me sounding like a new man. The insurance company called with the news: they approved a new chair, and it would arrive within two weeks!”
Teachers Pray for Principal
A group of Christian teachers pray at a Springfield school weekly. Last year, they learned their principal resigned and they began to pray for their next principal. This year, they were overjoyed to learn the new principal is a Jesus-follower!
OVERDOSES + GOD’S MERCY
This Fall, Lane County saw 23 fentanyl overdoses in four days. Doctors consider it a miracle that no one died due to overdose. We thank God for His mercy, and the publicity warnings of opiate risks. We prayed for God to expose drug abuse & intervene in the area of opiate addiction.
a miracle of growing trust | DHS, Foster Parents + The Church
In January, Every Child and CAFA will launch an 8-week TIPS class for foster parents in Lane County. It’s training to care for children impacted by trauma. Foster parents will attend free-of-cost, along with dinner and childcare! The training will be held at First Baptist in Eugene, and it will also be simulcast to five rural towns. Teams of churches in Florence, Veneta, Junction City, Creswell & Cottage Grove will host the satellite sites.
Here’s the miracle: DHS is inviting all Lane County foster parents! They’re thrilled about the material & presenter.
One pastor, and longtime foster parent, held back tears as he expressed the tremendous trust that’s developed between DHS & churches through Every Child. When he became a foster parent, he never thought he’d see something like this happen between churches and the foster care system.
An Every Child volunteer reflected on the change she’s seen in DHS staff since God’s people started serving through Every Child.“ From providing breakfast for DHS workers & organizing unmanaged clothing closets, to recruiting more foster parents & babysitters, the impact on staff is visible: They know we are Christians. They believe we don’t have a secret agenda. They trust us. They say ‘Thank you.’ They expect to see us again. What hasn’t changed is their shock and gratitude to know they’re appreciated, and that we do it together.”