He asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Luke 13: 20-21)
At Safe Haven, we place a priority on partnership and connection. Like the yeast in Jesus’ parable, we believe that peace can spread. But we need to prioritize partnership. Above, you’ll see a first draft of Safe Haven’s partnership eco-map. We are hoping to capture who we are connected to as well as the quality of our relationships as a tool to strengthen our work.
Our eco-map isn’t simply there to prove in a middle school way how many friends Safe Haven has. Rather, it is a violence prevention strategy. Connecting the Dots (2014) identifies an elegantly simple method for preventing violence. Build Community Connectedness. This could look like coordination of resources and services among community agencies, rather than chaotic silos. It could be as simple as a consistent connection to a caring adult. It could be as powerful as an association with positive peers. It could be as subtle as developing skills in solving problems non-violently. Consider the short film Moving Forward for a compelling visual of how community connectedness could work.
Safe Haven Ministries aspires to be a convener of connections as we offer servant leadership to the violence prevention movement, locally and nationally. As written about last month(see Extra), we take a posture of welcome and radical hospitality in order to facilitate these types of connections.
We are looking to work through the yeast of peace in multiple directions. Our work with the Grow Engage Read Imagine Initiative, a.k.a. GERI, leads us to provide books with healthy relationships, skills such as boundaries as well as consent, and illustrations of how each individual’s gifts are valued and honored. And GERI leads us to connections with a wide range of organizations from the Grand Rapids Public Library to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church to Lowell Pride. Gathering under big tents like GERI is a marker for the connection work of Safe Haven Ministries.
Our ecomap documents cross-state partnerships such as the Michigan State School of Social Work where we are looking to prevent violence with a collective focus on childhood sexual abuse. One of our most ambitious initiatives to build community connectedness is found in our proposal for the Kent County Domestic Violence Action Network. Here we are bringing together law enforcement, Friend of the Court, the Kent County Prosecutor’s office, Child Welfare, direct service advocates, prevention specialists and Victim advocates to coordinate and construct a Domestic Violence Court. With collaboration, trauma-informed practice and accountability, these connections, if the proposal is accepted, can make a significant impact on domestic violence in Kent County.
Shifting from this macro-level initiative, we’d like to invite you personally to become connected to us through our Home for the Holidays campaign. Join with us in blessing families that will be moving in, stabilizing and taking another step toward flourishing. Here is the campaign link to connect with us in this exciting endeavor.
Safe Haven is committed to building community connectedness. It’s our calling card in the effort to prevent and end relationship abuse. Let’s work this yeast all through the flour that God has put around each of us. Join us in connection.