Caring, Compassion and Charity


Brad Sargent tagged me for the Caring, Compassion, and Charity meme-game where I write about the top 1 or 2 causes that simply make my palms sweat, my heart bleed, and send tears rolling down your cheeks.

CityTeam Ministries

CityTeam Ministries is something that has engaged my passion for about twelve years. It is a residence treatment center for men wanting to address their addictions to drugs and alcohol. My relationship with CityTeam began when I started serving as pastor of a North Portland congregation in 1995. Many within this congregation volunteered their services in this ministry and I was asked to serve as well. I my first responsibility was to teach a Bible study for the men in the recovery program; something I did with a bit of fear and trepidation.

Currently, I teach a Tuesday morning Bible class, serve as a spiritual coach and mentor to a number of men in the program, a member of the Advisory Board, and the Church Relations Coordinator. There is nothing that charges my spiritual batteries more than seeing up close and personal someone getting their lives back on track and doing so in partnership with Jesus Christ.

What feeds my passion is being involved at a personal level, while investing in people serious about change (growing spiritually, processing through their recovery). Most of those entering residence program are without hope, at the end of their robe; life for them could not become any worse. They are not quite sure they are able to function without their drug of choice. The first two or three weeks are difficult for them. It is during this time that they are most likely to leave and go back to using. If they stick it out and stay the possibility of graduating the program and total recovery is greatly increased. It is so great to watch them enter the recovery program not quite sure yet if they really want to be there. After about two or three weeks in residence and away from their addictions, their lives begin to change. Many but not all discover the importance of making Christ first as they begin working through their own 12 Step Program. Personally, it is extremely rewarding engaged in the lives of men and women who are serious concerning their spiritual walk with Christ. I continue to tell those in the program that CityTeam is the best and most authentic church I know and any pastor would be privileged to call it theirs.

When I first came to CityTeam I taught a morning Bible study, one the new guys in the program was Mike born and raised in Portland, OR. He had spent the last 20 years on the streets homeless using and dealing drugs and living under bridges. To say the least he was scary, one of the hardest looking and roughest men I had ever seen. My immediate thought was to find another ministry to volunteer for; something that would feel much safer and definitely more comfortable.

Many times Mike wanted to leave the program, but ended staying. In time he turned his life over to Christ and worked through his recovery graduating the program in stellar fashion. So impressive was his spiritual transformation that CityTeam Ministries offered him employment. In time we became friends. Later he became the Director of the Men’s Recovery Program. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we traveled there together with CityTeam to operate a shelter for those affected by the storm. Two years ago, I officiated at Mike’s marriage to Liz an old high-school sweetheart who had also given her life to Christ. It has been my privilege and pleasure to observe up close the spiritual transformation this man, and many others. Today, Mike is my good friend, one of my most trusted brothers in Christ. It just doesn’t get any better. As write, I find my passion for CityTeam Ministries enlarging.

Some other passions are my wife and family, the answer to Christ’s prayer in John 17, incarnational/missional lifestyles, coaching and mentoring younger generations, and sometime in the future hearing the Lord say, “well done Rob!” But all for another time.

Now who to tag. I tag Rick Meigs and Len Hjalmarsen





4 Responses

  1. thanks for this post about your passions in ministry, Rob.

    i’m struck that the responses from Seabeckers on Caring Compassion and Charity (as well as 10-20-30) embody the element of risk, or at least engaging past our own level of uncomfortability by being involved in our passion-driven ministry. i appreciate that there is much about moving past self and embracing the ‘other.’

  2. Exactly, Brad…and so in line with Rick’s recent post, too!

    Thanks, Rob, for hanging in there with the “scary” factor so high so that you could witness this amazing transformation. I bet there was a part of your willingness to stay that spoke to Mike’s heart in times when he wanted to bail.

    It is so good to hear each other’s stories….

  3. Sounds like a FANTASTIC ministry!! I love Mike’s story – and yours as you’ve learned from and through those you had set out to help in their walk. Good for you! 🙂

    Visiting from Jared’s blog. Blog On!

  4. Nikalas

    Thanks for your comments, very much appreciated

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