Some of those we work with and have a history with understand our walk that began when we returned to Burlington in 1999. Some realize that our real walk began when we established ourselves as teachers early in the 80’s. Wow, that sounds like a long time ago, because it has been a long time. But we built relationships with families – some stretching back to Jenny’s childhood and some beginning when I settled down to teach in Stratton in 1981.
Those relationships have built a bond and a trust that we hold dear. Many of those friendships and connections have come full circle to us working with kids and grandkids through our ministry.
To the new person, there is a sense of excitement about all the growth that is going on. We never anticipated In Christ Ministries would outgrow our ability to meet the needs of everyone who walked through our doors. But God has been faithful in allowing us to grow as a staff in proportion to the physical, soulical and spiritual needs of this ministry.
Those who have been with us from the beginning know that our outreach to teens has never met in a church building. Why – because in a small town, opening the doors to a church, meant closing the doors to any teen who attended a different church, even if that church had no youth group.
We established a trust with parents of every denomination and even those with no declared faith, that we would take care of their kids in an honest thoughtful way, while sharing the strength we have as a faith community. That continues today as David and Mackenzie Nunez (on staff with In Christ Ministries) and Barrett and BreeAnn Duell ( a couple that has a history connected to every facet of our professional and ministerial lives) have taken the reins of leading Youth In Christ youth group after our 20 year run.
Lost in translation to those who only attend our Flatirons Outreach on Sunday mornings at the Midway Theater is the foundation we laid with teen, pre-teen and kids ministry for the last twenty years. Unclear is the training we went through with Exchanged Life Ministries to teach the Exchanged Life message, a message few churches embrace or focus on. Absent is the knowledge of the time and effort we made to raise support, so that we could establish In Christ Ministries as a viable, financially-sufficient ministry. Our supporters, many who joined with us from the beginning, have helped us financially, so that our full attention could be turned toward our call and vision of being missionaries to eastern Colorado and western Kansas.
Six years ago, we became our own non-profit ministry. We moved out from under the umbrella of Exchanged Life Ministries of Denver, with their blessing, to meet the fulltime needs of our community. In faith, we walked away from teaching in local schools to do that, despite our battle with multiple cancers and health challenges. God was faithful in sustaining and supporting us.
During that same time, areas of our ministry have achieved considerable growth. We developed a relationship with Flatirons Community Church from Lafayette Colorado. As they grew, we grew. We partner with them to offer a ministry to families now that was difficult to provide when the two of us could barely manage the needs of the hundred kids we were working with.
The buildings that meet our current needs have been a Godsend as well. Having facilities like our building supported by Health Essentials paired with the extraordinary remodel of The Midway Theater touches hundreds of lives from all over the region, extending into the foothills and mountains for those who travel to receive training every week.
Today we are an outreach ministry that has roots in this community and its families, receives support from many churches, individuals and participants in our ministry. We are financially stable as a ministry that is able to provide for full and part-time staff. And, we show signs of being able to extend our reach beyond Jon and Jenny’s working/serving lifetime.
Our hope is that the message of the Exchanged Life can be appropriated by generations to come through those who are trained in the Exchanged Life and that the Life of Jesus Christ be anchored in our community, expressed in our region and extend beyond these miles to all who seek the fullness of abundant Life In Christ Jesus.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”