Feature

Broadway Commons

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Show and tell. What used to be an elementary classroom activity to teach public speaking skills to children has become a philosophy of outreach and evangelism ministry at Salem (Ore.) Alliance Church.

Show and tell is commonly known as showing people something and then telling them about it. In Salem, showing who Jesus is (demonstration) and telling people who Jesus is (proclamation) has been an enduring ethic that was recently enlarged by the construction of a four-story, 47,000-square-foot building called Broadway Commons—a place where church, community and commerce come together for the common good.

Tim France, director of Operations, reports that in 2013, 7,035 events were held at Broadway Commons; of those, nearly half were scheduled by the community. The University of Oregon, Willamette University, the Salem Police Department, 15 local schools, State-of-Oregon agencies and multiple nonprofits are using the building. Local businesses lease more than 10,000 square feet.

While people in the community make their way to Broadway Commons for first-class meeting space, they often stop at Broadway Coffeehouse, also run by Salem Alliance. The coffeehouse, recently described in the local newspaper as “Salem’s living room,” has routinely been voted a community favorite for a cup of Joe that is a cut above. It handles more than 500 transactions a day and tithes 10 percent of its profits to local and global charities.

Others come to Broadway Commons for different reasons. The building is also the home of Salem Free Clinics (SFC), a faith-based medical, dental and mental health clinic offering quality, compassionate care without charge to the uninsured and under-insured in the community. Barbara Fletcher, SFC board president, reports that medical personnel at the clinics saw 6,000 patients in 2013. Volunteers from 73 churches in the region, including well over 75 from Salem Alliance, serve at SFC. Last year, 30,694 volunteer hours were recorded, which is the equivalent of nearly 15 full-time employees. It is truly a Kingdom work.

Most SFC patients are the working poor. Cindy* had no idea how sick she really was. She was treated at a local emergency room several times for a sinus infection and breathing issues before a friend recommended that she go to SFC for help.

“My husband and I had recently lost our insurance due to the economy, and I was not able to find access to care,” states Cindy. “I came to the clinic and saw a doctor. He listened to my heart and then had another doctor come to listen as well.” They told Cindy she had a pronounced heart murmur and possibly an issue with one of her valves. As a result of further testing, Cindy was scheduled for open-heart surgery one month later. “I had a double bypass, a valve replacement and dual pacemakers put in— she says. “The only reason I’m able to share this story is because of the amazing efforts of the doctors at Salem Free Clinics.”

At each clinic, patients are offered prayer before their appointments. In 2013, 1,239 patients requested prayer and 153 people made first-time decisions for Jesus Christ. Show and tell.

Jennifer, a nurse in the dental clinic, asked her 62-year-old patient how she could pray for him since he had earlier indicated a desire for prayer. “I have no idea,” the man replied.

“But you requested prayer, so you must have had some idea of how you’d like to be prayed for,” Jennifer responded.

“In my 62 years of living, I have never had anyone offer to pray for me,” the man said. “I have no idea what to ask for. I was just curious.”

Jennifer gladly prayed for him, surprised that someone could live that long and never have anyone offer to pray for him until that day at SFC.

While SFC thrives through the interaction of dozens of local churches, the Broadway Life Center (BLC) was inspired partly by the ministry we observed through a strategic partnership with an Alliance creative-access field. Stephen Custer, director of BLC, says, “BLC offers hope and health in Jesus through transformational education in learning communities that address pressing human needs. It’s a place for people from all backgrounds, beliefs and cultures to come and learn skills.”

The current learning communities at BLC are English Language Learning, Life Spanish, American Sign Language for Families, Employment Network and Marriage Preparation. While participants enjoy the communities, their children are learning skill development and appropriate activities at the same time.

Rafaela* is married to an American and attends Salem Alliance. In preparation for a citizenship interview, the officials said she would have to hire an interpreter. She and her husband knew they couldn’t afford such an expense. She was quite nervous, but trusting her skills after a couple of years at BLC, she went to the interview alone and passed. Karla, her conversation tutor by night and a Salem Alliance receptionist by day, congratulated Rafaela, noting that her hard work was paying off.

Our Employment Network, designed by Gordon Bergman, pastor of pastoral care, is geared to assist the unemployed by focusing on job readiness and instruction on how to prepare a résumé and interview well. They are then networked with potential employers all over Salem. Since its inception four years ago, this ministry has seen 140 of its students gain employment.

The Upper Room, located on the fourth floor of Broadway Commons, is a place for private prayer. People from all over the city come here to pray and find some time alone with God. The large prayer room with floor-to-ceiling glass provides a stunning view of the city. There are also three prayer closets available for use. A large mural offers a place to write out prayers, and a masonry wall was placed in the room so people could write personal prayers and place them in the gaps between the bricks. The 60 prayer hosts from Salem Alliance who keep the Upper Room open seven days a week log the prayer requests and pray for each one.

Good deeds build good will, which opens the door for sharing the good news. Steve Dangaran, associate pastor of Outreach, says, “Some see the demonstration of the gospel as opposed to the proclamation of the gospel. Show and tell are not competing truths. They are complementary truths.”

As a child in elementary school comprehends after seeing and hearing, many today in the most unchurched regions of our nation are curious about what they see and are listening to what we tell them.

*Names changed

Past Alliance Life Issues

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