Our Ministries at Bridge of Hope
Bridge of Hope Ministries: Connecting people by breaking down barriers of age, race, culture, economics, and education. We cultivate practical faith by meeting basic needs, providing service opportunities, and discovering Jesus' heart for urban communities together.
Our Ministry To This Point
Much of our ministry is focused on meeting the basic needs of our community— which some would call the social Gospel. We see this as practicing the Great Commandment—loving neighbors as ourselves. This uniquely positions us to share Christ's answers—practicing the Great Commission. As we are providing access to showers and laundry facilities, we utilize the wait times to develop relationships. Very quickly the discussion turns to our need for Jesus and His strength. Many have been ostracized by traditional churches, feeling fearful of sharing their weaknesses at first. However, soon after a shower, a load of laundry and a conversation over a cup of coffee, their defenses come down. They recognize that Bridge of Hope is different. They feel genuinely loved. They keep coming back to Bridge of Hope as a place of respite from the shame and fear they have experienced in the past.
Bridge of Hope provides excellent connections to tangible resources to the people of the Ville and Greater Ville neighborhoods of St. Louis. Through our approach of listening to our neighbors' needs, we connect to over 600 residents per year. As we listen, we act. Our homeless asked for a shower; we installed one. Our families asked for a washer and a dryer; we have one available for their use. Our moms asked for clothing; we provided a store-like free boutique where they can find needed clothing. Our kids asked for help with bicycle repair; we have a bike repair ministry. Our friends asked for help learning to read; we conduct literacy classes. Our adults asked for help getting their GED; we offer those classes. Parents asked for help in understanding their kids' homework; we offer suggestions and provide support for parents at schools.
Our community asked for food; we offer weekly breakfasts, partner with area churches to provide lunches four times per week, and five a chance to grow food in over 200 raised beds in 4 community gardens. Our neighbors asked to have a voice in the community; we take their ideas to people who are seeking to better serve our neighborhood. Several have asked for community service opportunities to meet requirements for parole; we give them a place to serve. Our elderly asked for a chicken coop; we recruited volunteers to build one. Many asked for a cool space in the summer and a warm place in the winter to hang out, enjoy some conversation, and get a cup of coffee. We added a coffee-shop like room.
Our gardeners asked for ways to preserve their food; we built solar food dehydrators and taught canning workshops. Our guys asked for tools to complete odd jobs for neighbors; we provided a tool library. Our community asked for the reason for the hope that is within us; we not only gave them the Words of Christ, but the actions of Christ as well.
In our community, housing is an enormous need—both immediate and long-term. One of the obstacles to consistent home rental or ownership is general life skills training—literacy, healthy eating, job readiness, transportation, and community engagement. Through Bridge of Hope and Hope Education, Ville neighbors are learning to read, learning to eat healthy food, learning how to maintain a home, learning how to use a budget and gaining access to money-saving ideas. We assist people to live in the same place for a length of time rather than living crisis to crisis by giving them effective tools.
Hope Education focuses on basic academic skills training—reading, math, and writing. While many students come seeking their GED, their real need is to learn how to read. According to National Literacy Council, 85% of incarcerated juveniles and 75% of incarcerated adults are illiterate, and we see a high correlation to joblessness, homelessness and criminal activity. Many of our students are working through the most basic of skills.
The more we address these problems, the more we will have working homeowners in our community. If we remove desperation, and replace it with the true hope of the Gospel, we address the deeper need driving the negative elements of a broken community. Bridge of Hope is working to build a family-like community among those most ostracized by society—ex-felons, recovering drug addicts, homeless, and those struggling with literacy.
- Training in sound doctrine & true mission of Christ
- One on one (1:1) discipleship
- Prayer—personal and corporate
- Bible studies
- Access to Sunday church (dEstiny Family Church meets at Bridge of Hope)
- Health — community gardens, food preservation, self-care, chiropractic care, nursing care, access to health insurance, etc.
- Basic Needs—shower, washer & dryer, clothing, cooling / warming center, food, simple food preparation
- Transportation—bike repair, bike ownership, mechanical maintenance
- Home Repair & Maintenance
- Financial Literacy—evaluating how money is spent, discussing ways to extend the money we do have - make your own laundry detergent, etc.
- Literacy [Hope Education]—adult education, high school equivalency, private tutoring, after school program, ACT prep, study skills, dyslexia screening
- Construction Training—tool library, construction projects, building maintenance, maintaining lawn care equipment
- Job Development Principles —time, consistency, reliability, hands-on maintenance, tool lending, networking, resume assistance
- Referrals to other specific job training programs
- Understanding Motivations
- Conflict Resolution
- Community Engagement—hang out room, meals, gardening, projects, participation in Ville Collaborative and other community meetings
- RESET Recovery Meetings — 3 x/week Christian 12 step group