MAY 2008

Dear EAPE Partner,

Our latest EAPE affiliate is The Walnut Hills Fellowship, the faith community headed up by my son Bart. Almost three years ago, Bart and his family moved to Cincinnati to live and work with a few other Christian couples to impact a poor, worn-out inner-city neighborhood known for drugs, crime, prostitution, and a high rate of mental illness. Needless to say, Walnut Hills is an especially hard place for children to grow up.

Together, Bart and his friends have made great efforts to connect with their neighbors, many of whom are deeply troubled. As part of their ministry, each Monday evening they throw a big dinner party with twenty-five or more of their neighbors, in an old building that once housed a Baptist church. They share a meal, share their stories, they play some family games together, and Bart ends the evening with a little talk about the love of God.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife Peggy visited one of these Monday evening fellowship dinners, and she was “blown away” by the experience. She met an array of people, most of whom had incredibly hard lives and seemed hungry for hope. She met a single mom with five kids whose home had been recently condemned and who was looking to Bart to find them all a place to stay. She met a young girl who, a few days earlier, had been raped in the hallway of her dark and dingy apartment building, a former drug dealer who could no longer make it on the streets because of brain damage suffered in a car accident, and grandmother struggling to raise a teenaged boy on a half-time job just over the minimum wage. The list of needs evident among those gathered around the table was both long and desperate. As Peggy put it, when it comes to loving and serving those whom Jesus referred to as “the least of these,” Bart and his crew are in the thick of the action.

What makes this particular EAPE affiliate so special is that both we and they know that The Walnut Hills Fellowship is not likely to produce any conventionally awesome success stories. They probably won’t send any kids to Harvard, or find many permanent jobs for people who are practically unemployable, or see many homeless schizophrenics become safe and sound. Instead, these faithful followers of Jesus will consider themselves successful if they can just help some of these hurting people to survive in a better way. If they can keep some of the boys out of jail; keep some of the girls from getting messed up sexually; develop better housing for some of neediest families; create a social network for some broken women, and help some discouraged men to hold up their heads again—they will thank God.

Of course, in addition to his street-level work, Bart continues to speak to groups and gatherings around the country, and he continues to serve as the executive director of EAPE. In that capacity, he monitors the work being carried out by each of our affiliates, he keeps our office functioning at a high level of efficiency, he works closely with our board of directors, and he helps me out personally in a hundred-and-one ways.

Bart’s and my latest initiative with EAPE has been to develop a group of young speakers who are part of a much larger movement known as “Red Letter Christians”, which many of you read about in my latest book. Simply stated, Red Letter Christians are those of us committed to living out the radical teachings of Jesus, which are printed in red letters in many versions of the New Testament. These young speakers, whom both Bart and I have mentored informally for years, are now being brought together into a more formal fellowship wherein we can help them develop their skills, hone their messages, and become more effective in their altar calls to Christian service.

If the mission of EAPE is to be fulfilled, and if we are to impact this nation with the holistic Gospel of Jesus, then we must mentor and deploy a new generation of leaders who are committed to both evangelism and social justice. That is why, this past December, we gathered twenty-five of these young speakers – along with a handful of their older and more established heroes - for a three-day retreat, where we learned from and taught each other. Together we explored ways in which all of us could help recruit more young workers for Kingdom work around the world.

Some of those workers will be called into traditional ministries which produce the kinds of transformational results we in the Church have grown accustomed to using as the measures of our success. Others, however, will be called into service in places like Walnut Hills, where success is measured more in terms of love given and received.

Both kinds of ministry are part of our mission at EAPE, of course, and our vision is to keep growing both kinds for as long as there are people who need to be reached. Please, help us make this happen with your gifts and prayers! We need you with us!


Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo


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