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DECEMBER 2018 NEWSLETTER A Pro Deo Foundation Publication

In September of 2018, we launched a new ministry called the Pro Deo Foundation. We began this journey with some funding for the foreseeable future, a couple employees, and a vision to see more children and youth in high-risk situations find pathways to flourish in life where there seem to be none. This is both an exciting and daunting task for us. We began this work with a few commitments.

COMMITMENT ONE

The first commitment was to be contextual in whatever work we would seek to do in a community. This means that we would seek not to enter a community with a preconceived idea of what that particular community needed, but instead, we would research – a phrase we used called landscape analysis – to understand what challenges are already being met in various ways, and what are the gaps and opportunities where we could step in and actually be a valuable and welcomed resource to make a positive difference. In the past four months, we have focused our research in Carpinteria, CA, a multi-ethnic community (predominately Caucasian and Latino) with an interesting mixed history of rural agrarian workers from Latin America along with Hollywood stars escaping the craze of Los Angeles. We have met with the principals of the public schools, executive directors from every major non-profit in town, pastors, youth leaders, public servants, and community leaders to learn where are the gaps for kids who seem to be falling through the cracks in society. We have been blessed with the joy of offering a financial gift to Carpinteria Children's Project for their summer program as part of this local research. We also recognize the need for us to learn Spanish.

COMMITMENT TWO

The second commitment was that we would seek to be collaborative. This means that we are not interested in competing with other nonprofits doing meaningful and effective work, but instead, our desire is come alongside and support work that is already being done and figure out how we can collaborate with organizations that resonate and are open to relationships with us as we serve the common good together. This has led to emerging partner relationships with Hope Refuge, Better Together Ministries, St. Joseph Catholic Church, the Henri Nouwen Society, and other overseas partners with whom we love and feel called to partner in the gospel for the sake of children at home and around the world.

In November, we had the joy of hosting Rosemary Mbogo along with three graduates and kids who were rescued from one of the slums of Nairobi and were raised at ByGrace Children’s Home (one of our family’s long-time mission partners), for a “friend-raising” gathering in Carpinteria. We shared food and stories of God’s transformation of lives across the world. To sit in a living room together as friends in Christ from Kenya to the United States is an overwhelming feeling of how big our God is, and no matter how far from one another we may live and experience life, each of us who knows the power of the Holy Spirit shares in the experience of spiritual renewal, redemption, and the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

Commitment Three

The third commitment was that we would go slow as we seek to discern the guiding voice of the Spirit who is leading us into uncharted territories. For me, personally, there is angst that causes me to want to jump into every interesting idea and opportunity that comes my way. This is very dangerous when setting out on a journey of building an organization from the ground, up. Many different opportunities come our way, nearly every day, and the challenge of filtering out opportunities in order to build a ministry that is sustainable and transformative is a very real challenge, especially to the ego which wants to see programs, people and success all the time at vastly increasing numbers. This past fall we have been reading together, “An Unhurried Life” by AIan Fadling, which has helped us to keep the long view in mind for this work and our approach to it in our first year.

That said, we do have a few things in the cooker that we are excited to share in due time, as the plans develop, and the relationships emerge. One is a vocational development program for adolescents who do not seem to be on a trajectory to graduate from high school. We expect this to be a local program that can be contextualized in other communities around the world. Through mentoring and team-building, kids will have the opportunity to learn a craft, a trade, and business skills to assume a sense of real value and purpose in society. Another program we are developing is an online program that fosters a culture of fathering which prioritizes primary relationships over tasks. This is an online program that will offer resources and a platform for relationships that equip dads to keep their primary responsibilities, first and foremost.

Dave Roberts finished our website, which just launched. We invite you to visit our website frequently as it will contain regularly updated information on what we’re up to, as well as resources that may serve you well in your journey.

In addition to this work that we are doing together as families, for now, I am continuing to serve as a "community chaplain" offering spiritual direction and discipleship to men in the area; serving on the board of the Henri Nouwen Society as we seek to make Henri's work more accessible on the West Coast; focusing my doctor of ministry work through Portland Seminary on the work we are doing as a foundation; and beginning as a “parish associate” at Summerland Presbyterian Church where I can preach regularly and continue a small pastoral ministry within a community of faith. Though God has called us to a kind of space for which I am unfamiliar (it’s not a church!), I find deep joy and gratitude whenever I can use my pastoral gifts of leadership, preaching, care, and guidance, whether in a pulpit or at Lucky Lama Coffeehouse.

It has been a year of transition for my immediate family, the Roberts’ family, and for my parents who are the founders of Pro Deo Foundation. We have walked through the hardship of loss that comes with any significant life transition, and we have encountered the very real presence of God every step of the way, affirming and providing for us every single day. Though we loved the Seattle area so much, and dearly miss the ones with whom we lived and served, our knowledge of God continues to expand as we fall in love with this new place – a place that is easy to love – here in Santa Barbara County. God’s beauty has surrounded us in every place we’ve been (even New Jersey), and because of the continued provision of God in our lives, we are grateful. And because we are grateful, we are motivated, driven, and called to give ourselves away for the sake of a better world for others and ourselves.

We do not know exactly what God has in store for 2019, but we do expect God to surprise us. And when God does, we will be excited to share it with you!

Pro Deo Foundation | Executive Director

Credits:

Created with images by frank mckenna - "Sunrise above a sandy beach"

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