I don't copy articles for my blog but Kristen Seidl wrote such a powerful piece about GAP ministries and AGO that I wanted to get this out to you in it's entirety in case you haven't had a chance to visit the LIFE Leadership.blog. God Bless, George Guzzardo
All Grace Outreach Partners with GAP Ministries (Part 2) – A Story of Love and Restoration
“There is a culture war here; not a GAP culture but a kingdom culture–that if I don’t go into darkness with it, the darkness will never change.” -Greg Ayers (Founder of GAP Ministries)
Just in case you missed Part 1 of this story, it’s important to remember that All Grace Outreach (AGO) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization whose purpose is to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world by supporting causes and ministries whose mission aligns with that purpose. Being that GAP Ministries is a benchmark and example for many charities, we felt it was necessary to go deeper into what they do, specifically to:
1. Spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. (Matt 28:18-20)
2. Help widows (1 Tim 5:3) and…
3. Financially support orphans in need. (James 1:27)
George and Jill Guzzardo, directors for AGO, have poured their hearts into supporting this ministry. Their experience in building communities and developing strong relationships with people has had a dramatic effect on their relationship with GAP Ministries–and they are just getting started.
There are a few fundamental practices that tend to separate the good organizations from the great ones, and it usually starts with speaking the truth and living the truth. In order to make an extraordinary impact for God’s kingdom, a “God-culture” needs to be established and that’s exactly what GAP Ministries is doing. Greg and Pam Ayers (Founders of GAP) and the Guzzardos recently discussed how All Grace Outreach, Life Leadership and organizations like GAP Ministries can impact communities around the world to break the cycle of poverty and improve literacy. Please take a moment to check out their short but powerful discussion:
As Greg Ayers stated, “How do we (as a community) break the cycle of poverty?”
Three areas of importance come to mind, and GAP Ministries is on the front lines of leading this change for the next generation. Here are some of the programs that have been extablished through GAP that are making a difference:
STEP: This is transitional housing for at-risk foster teens/young adults (18-25 yrs old) and is a new program to help young adults successfully transition into adulthood and “step” into their destiny with the support and encouragement of a team of mentors. These foster young adults already have strong independent living skills but need that last little boost into adulthood. GAP provides reduced-rent, furnished apartments and a manager-mentor to walk alongside them as needed.
OneLife Internship: This is a program that offers three tracks of development based on interests: Ministry School, Vocational Courses and Educational Courses. It’s designed to develop leaders who are passionately pursuing the transformation of lives.
Financial Fitness: Recently, GAP Ministries made the decision to purchase several (30+) of the Financial Fitness Program offered through Life Leadership, and they are looking to implement this with their office staff and in some of their current educational programs.
“Most group homes or foster homes are run like businesses–not like a real family and a home. Our house-parents are married and they strive to improve their marriage and make their home a family.” -Pam Ayers
SPLASH: GAP has fourteen residential family-style SPLASH homes where they provide 24-hour care to children 0-21 years of age who are placed with them through Child Protective Services (CPS). It is their mission to shelter children who have been abused and neglected, and to show them love and acceptance. They also specialize in keeping siblings together, so 80% of the placements are kids who come with brothers and sisters.
“We believe there is a mandate that requires us to defend the causes of the orphan, the widow, the hungry and naked, providing hope and healing.” -Greg Ayers
SPLASH Houses are staffed with full-time house parents who have a desire to share God’s unconditional love with the children in their care. The positive changes that these children experience have been noticed by caseworkers, judges and therapists. The establishment of a healthy family model serves in restoring the value of family and appropriate interaction between children and family members. The unconditional love that is given by each parent and staff member is vital to the healing process that each child walks through.
“Being a house-parent has made us better parents. GAP is very intentional about keeping our marriage and our relationship with the Lord a priority. They organize marriage classes and conferences for us to participate in together as well as other educational courses that we can choose from (parenting, financial, etc) so that we are constantly learning and growing spiritually. We also get one date-night out a week from 2-9pm and a 5-day vacation every month to a respite home to refresh and restore while respite-support-parents come in and stay with our kids.” –Shawna Mischne (house-mom for a Splash Home)
Sergio and Shawna with their daughter and some of their foster children pictured behind.
“I love being a GAP Ministries house-parent. Once you are a part of my life, you are a part of my life forever. These are my kids and I love them.” –Sergio Mischne (house-dad for a Splash Home)
MERGE: This is a program geared towards teens (16-21) within the SPLASH houses to develop independent living skills. They have Life Coaches who encourage and educate the teens to gain responsibility to finish college, build careers, and become independent good citizens.
Our car got stuck, so the kids came to help!
BOOST: This is a community resource pantry – Through both outreach and partnering with over 80 other nonprofits and churches serving the ill, needy and youth, BOOST provides food and other necessities to struggling individuals in Southern Arizona. Over 1 million pounds of food are distributed annually throughout the community by GAP’s partnering non-profits and churches. GAP also provides partners with over $1,000,000 worth of household items and products such as hygiene items, paper goods and cleaning supplies.
ROOT 52: This kitchen reclaims highly perishable donated food to make meals for foster care group homes, children in low-income schools, and community outreaches. The Kitchen reclaims people by serving as a training kitchen for individuals in vulnerable populations. Young adults aging out of foster care or beginning a career search, and the unemployed or underemployed lacking advancement opportunities can participate in a 12-week culinary arts certification program.
THRIVE (A Splash Home in Thailand): Jeremy and Jennifer Kraus (missionaries in Thailand) came on board with GAP Ministries to open a Splash/Rescue Home for young children who were trapped in the sex-trafficking culture.
“As we walked the streets of Pattaya, we knew we must do something–no matter the cost. After all, these children are NOT for sale, they are PRICELESS.” –Jeremy and Jennifer Kraus (Missionaries)
THRIVE Rescue Homes specialize in restoration of boys and girls who are trapped in this “invisible cage” of sex-trafficking. The children receive medical care, counseling, schooling and–most importantly–are cared for and loved. This epidemic is very real and in Thailand, foster homes are not run like families. In fact, it is not uncommon to have 60 children in one facility with limited resources and caregivers.
“The sex-trade to them is cultural…it’s normal there. Sin is invading their culture and Jeremy and Jennifer are working hard to create change. They saw our SPLASH Home model and raised money and went to work. Within 6 months they opened their first home in Thailand. They were brought under the umbrella of GAP Ministries by being employed by GAP even though they have their own 501(c)3 where they raise funds as missionaries. It’s a partnership. All of their needs are being taken care of through GAP (home, insurance, money) so now they are able to use their ministry funds to open a 2nd rescue home.” –Greg Ayers
“Several other 3rd world country missionaries are looking to duplicate our model because of the leadership of Jeremy and Jennifer. We want to impact the world and rescue and restore these children’s lives. We feel Thailand is a root that is spreading this sex-trafficking epidemic all throughout the world–even the United States, and right here in Tucson. If we can destroy the root, we feel we can change the culture.” -Pam Ayers
It is obvious that GAP Ministries is making a difference both locally and globally. The importance in the work that they are doing is invaluable and George and Jill Guzzardo, along with all of the All Grace Outreach directors and leaders, are proud and honored to support them in their mission.
If you are interested in supporting ministries such as GAP, please consider subscribing to the AGO subscription offered through Life Leadership–where 100% of the corporate profits are distributed to organizations that align with the All Grace Outreach mission and vision: “To impact and improve the lives of children both locally and globally, and to fund Christian outreach efforts throughout the world.”
On behalf of All Grace Outreach, we want to thank Greg and Pam Ayers for sharing their story and glorifying God through their actions as a model and example for other ministries and followers of Jesus Christ.
Please give us your feedback on how this All Grace Outreach featured story has impacted you in the comments section below.
Filed Under: All Grace Outreach (AGO)