Opportunities From Ashes
During the summer of 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire swept through the city of Colorado Springs, devouring real estate and devastating the lives of thousands. For days, members of Front Range Alliance Church (FRAC) watched news coverage showing the flames approaching their building and wondered if it would still be standing when the fire died down. But God spared their building and left a visual mark of His hand of protection. The burn line showed that the fire had crept right up to the parking lot — and stopped. He had work for them to do.
Because of their strategic location in the center of this broken community, FRAC became the headquarters for several relief ministries in the coming weeks and months. Safe Harbor, based in California, set up shop in the parking lot and provided hot meals to residents. The disaster relief arm of Samaritan’s Purse arrived a couple of weeks later to provide emergency aid to families that had lost their homes, sifting through the ashes for treasures hidden among the rubble.
There were countless ways for the FRAC family to dig in and participate with these ministries. “However, the greatest opportunity came after those ministries left,” shares Pastor Doug Goodin, “because once the initial needs were met, we were the ones left behind to love the people.” Addressing physical concerns opened the door to conversations about spiritual concerns and the gospel.
That November, FRAC hosted a free garage sale and a holiday giveaway for families who had lost everything in the fire, including their Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. Members and community organizations donated goods and household items, and fire victims came to “shop” and begin replacing what they’d lost. FRAC also provided Christmas gift wrapping to their neighbors that December. Local businesses donated the supplies, and members wrapped hundreds of gifts and sometimes provided a much-needed listening ear, offering to pray for those in need.
This new community connection has since built relationships with other local ministries. FRAC now partners with Life Network, the city’s pregnancy center, by housing the LifeSteps program for young parents. Trained counselors, many from the FRAC family, teach parenting skills, develop long-term relationships, and have opportunities for sharing the gospel and discipleship.
Hosting VBS, Eagle Lake On Location (a Christ-centered summer youth program) and the annual FRAC Fall Festival gives opportunities to reach the younger members of the community. And through outreach events like the Christmas Tea, FRAC Women’s Ministry strives to make connections with women by meeting their unique needs and pointing them to Christ.
Much like FRAC partners with their community, ADF has partnered with FRAC. ADF supported the church for years as it conducted a capital campaign, battled the city over road issues, and even switched plans and builders. “We certainly had some challenges during our building project, but in God’s perfect timing it all came together,” comments Pastor Doug. “Now we want to use this long-awaited building to fill the city of Colorado Springs with the good news of Jesus.”
FRAC was active in the community before the Waldo Canyon Fire, but it became a part of the community afterward. “Our desire is to exalt Christ in all that we do,” explains Pastor Doug. “What does that look like? Loving Him and loving people, especially when tragedy strikes.”