Discovering Mission Denver

Grant Street Church in Denver

 

In a perfect world Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, with a plan. True Queen Isabel made sure that he had a fleet to find that shorter route to the West Indies but something happened along the way. Recent years have been tough on the memory of Columbus and in some studies we find that his popularity polls have been lower than George W. Bush in 2008 but that’s okay, Columbus never paid much attention to polls. Columbus was hard pressed to discover anything beyond San Salvador Island, a beautiful island where the American Coast Guard has been stationed since it began.

Mission was to lead and follow

While Columbus tried to sort out exactly where he landed, he would have been amazed that such a happy accident of discovering a continent would fit so well into his real mission, that of an evangelist. In fact Columbus was the first evangelist whose first order of business, “That there shall be a church, and parish priests or friars to administer the sacraments, to perform divine worship, and for the conversion of the Indians.”  Little did Columbus know that there would be Western expansion and cities built, great colleges and universities of theology. Columbus never saw the Rocky Mountains, but explorers and voyagers who came after to settle the West had visions like Columbus, to see the church reach more people and give them the hope of eternal life.”

Gold in hills and priests

Evangelism did not come to Denver for almost 400 years after Columbus landed on San Salvador. The sketchy background of broken hear-ted and reluctant missionaries from Spain early on in the western expansion led to slave conditions deep into the mountains in La Garita.

“An exploratory party had reached the mouth of the Rio Grande. Father Francisco Torres, a missionary from the Pueblos, looked on to the majestic valley and called it, El Valle de San Luis, after the patron saint of Seville, Spain. As was the custom, the Spanish brought with them natives who were essentially slaves. Weary of their treatment, they rebelled and in the process wounded the dreamer, Father Torres. Wounded though he was, he and the Spanish party fled down the mountain through the great sand dunes and onto the lake, which is today San Luis Lake” writes historian Virginia Simmons in her book about the San Luis Valley. “The party quickly produced a makeshift raft and sailed onto the lake for safety, but it was too late for Padre Torres. His wounds were too deep, and he lay dying on the raft. In his last hours, the sun was setting on the beautiful mountain range. He, no doubt, saw Mt. Blanca and the other peaks that towered over the giant sand dunes. The setting sun hit the snowcapped mountains creating a burst of red – as so often happens to this day. With his dying breath, the Padre soulfully exclaimed, “Sangre de Cristo, Sangre de Cristo” – that is, “the blood of Christ, the blood of Christ.”

Evangelism and Mission work today

Since Columbus there have been well documented stories of evangelists and missionaries who had let greed and agenda pollute a portion of their voyages and missions to the New World. “This is the exact problem with the human condition,” a evangelical missionary to the inner city of Denver told DEE. “It is important that we don’t confuse discovering Jesus Christ with the motives and desires of men and women.” Money, sex and greed are still top distortions and obstacles for men and women even in the name of Jesus Christ. Look at the Roman Catholic Church with the abuse scandals, look at some of the men and women who have fallen in Evangelical circles, look at the erosion of Biblical values in so many mainline churches and even in mega churches.” Bill Hybels the founder and senior pastor of The Willow Creek Association says, “When we hold ourselves and each other accountable, when the power that we are after is from the Holy Spirit and when we continue to put Christ first in our lives, in our work and in our cities, than the church is the hope of the world.”

If you would like to find out more about the mission of Ancient Paths House Church e-mail ancientpathsdenver@juno.com. For more of the mission to people with intellectual disabilities, their caregivers and families,  e-mail Pastor Rich at friendshipfellowship@juno.com.