By Ben Patella
How many times have you come face-to-face with homelessness around Fort Collins’ grocery stores, bus stops, coffee shops and downtown? These encounters with poverty always stir feelings of sadness and compassion in me. But they also raise practical questions like “How can I help? What’s the best way to help? What could I possibly do to help change this person’s situation?” So, most of the time, I do nothing more than offer up a brief conversation or prayer. Yet, the prophetic description of the Q&A Jesus will have with his true followers on the day of his return (Matthew 25:31-46) convicts and propels me to do more:True followers: “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? Jesus: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’Clearly Jesus doesn’t see his beloved as “the least” but as people to be loved and encouraged to become “the most” he created and redeemed them to be. That’s why I’m so thankful our church partners in ministry with Serve 6.8, who gives us a way to do just that – and do it extremely well.My first experience with Serve 6.8 was on a field trip our Faith Church Lead Team took to the Serve 6.8 headquarters. As we walked past shelves of donated items, coolers of food and racks of clothing stored in Clearwater Church, it was clear that this ministry’s main focus is on serving in the name of Jesus and out of the abundance only he can provide. We made our way to a conference room where Serve 6.8’s executive director, Mike Walker, passionately told us about the ministry’s vision and strategy to partner with local churches to keep people in our community from falling into homelessness.
My next experience with 6.8 came in service with some of our college students as we loaded up a trailer with supplies and transported them to Faith Church. At Faith, we joined several church volunteers to fill bags with these donated goods for our Faith Church resource center, and later, I had the privilege to serve at our resource center. As I loaded up a foster mom’s car with grocery bags and got to pray for her on the spot, I gained a taste of Serve 6.8’s frontline vision -- and it was good.
Serve 6.8 not only meets needs in financial crises but also offers long-term assistance to help people stay out of poverty--assistance such as job placement, career counseling and even legal services. All of these are offered free through a network of volunteer professionals sourced from local churches. Like Jesus, Serve 6.8 doesn’t see the poor as the “least of these” but as people God loves dearly and has gifted with the capacity to use their talents to joyfully maintain employment and stay out of poverty. I love that our Faith Church family is partnered with Jesus and Serve 6.8 in doing this very thing. If you would like to know more about our ministry partner or want to refer people to Serve 6.8, you can find all you need on the Serve 6.8 website.If you are at all intrigued about serving with 6.8, I highly recommend you give it a try! Simply contact our Faith Church Serve 6.8 volunteer coordinator, Patricia Gudemann, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she’ll gladly help you get started!Some Serve 6.8 quick facts from 2020: • 7,371 volunteers served a total of 20,585 hours. • 41 Northern Colorado church partners • 133,000 pounds of food distributed to families impacted by COVID-19-related crisis • $168,000 in donations raised to aid families impacted by Colorado wildfires • 1,769 families received donated Christmas gifts at 22 local church events (including one right here at Faith!)
Ben has been attending Faith since 2014. Three years ago, he transitioned from a career in electrical engineering to full-time ministry as Faith’s College Ministry Director. Ben is passionate about teaching the Bible, developing young leaders and discipling college-aged young adults.Outside of ministry, Ben loves spending time with his wife, Sally, and their 3 boys. He enjoys all outdoor activities including running, camping, skiing and hiking.