Our work is made possible only through a supportive community and funded completely by donations and grants. Donations are tax deductible.
Abba’s Family was founded in 2007 by seven Tulsans committed to responding to the needs of the poor and, in so doing, the transformation of the church. Its mission was defined by a deep sense that “the faithful” have walked away from their responsibility and capacity to offer core life change for those who live with the many faces of poverty. More recently, Abba’s Family has directed much of its attention to the needs of mentally ill. It works to build bridges of connectivity between the faith community and formerly homeless mentally ill men and women. The faith community is being transformed and mentally ill men and women are being more fully included in the life of their neighborhoods and finding unprecedented levels of recovery as a result.
A Core Value
The church needs the poor more than the poor need the church. A spiritual poverty has visited the church and the larger faith community because it does not have a relevant presence among the poor and marginalized in their own neighborhoods and community. We believe that God is bringing the poor and marginalized to the church for its own salvation. Transformation and spiritual renewal will replace this poverty when a serious relational effort emerges to live life with the disenfranchised. When those who are marginalized, especially the mentally ill, join with the church and the larger faith community in “relationships of service” to others in poverty, this inclusion brings about transformation and recovery.
Oaks of Righteousness
Who are the oaks of righteousness? Abba’s Family often presents a part of Isaiah 61:3 as a scripture that describes the values we most embrace. It reads, “…they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” This biblical narrative refers to the nation of Israel upon their return from Babylonian captivity. Living in spiritual poverty and being disenfranchised are both kinds of captivity. In scripture, the word “righteousness” embodies all that God expects of his people. When the faith community responds in earnest to the mentally ill and others who are disenfranchised, they become oaks of righteousness. When the poor join the faith community in service to others, they also become oaks of righteousness.
What is Poverty?
The Mission Statement of Abba’s Family is: Transformation of the faith community through relationships of service with the poor. But who are the poor? What is poverty? There are a number of kinds of “poverty” but only one refers to money. Poverty and great lack can be found in many areas of a person’s life. We have mentioned spiritual poverty as a condition that can be in a community of faith and in the life of an individual. Emotional, relational, cultural poverty also exist – regardless of one’s bank account. Individuals, the church, the larger faith community and the disenfranchised all come up against their kind of poverty when they participate in the work of Abba’s Family. When we wrestle in earnest with our personal poverties in service to others before God, we are transformed. Provision will come from God to replace our personal pockets of poverty.
We believe transformation can be measured for others to see and be duplicated. The efforts of Abba’s Family yield outcomes in the form of new behaviors and a change in the condition of life for those who participate. They mirror to others as opposites of the “poverties” which participants experience in their lives. The outcomes, generally speaking, are in the areas of social connectivity, recovery from mental illness, spiritual, emotional and relational wellbeing, and a sense that one can make a difference so that their neighborhood and community can be a better place to live. Most people in our society long for the meaning in life these outcomes bring.
Abba's Family Clients
Who are the clients of Abba’s Family? We are not a “service organization” organized around a “helper/helpee” paradigm. Although we target the faith community as the epicenter of greatest transformation and we have identified the “poor”, mentally ill and others to help make this happen, these are not the only participants in the outcomes of our work. In many ways, we are responding to the growing trends of injustice, isolation, crime and meaninglessness experienced by many in our American society. When faith communities, and formerly homeless mentally ill men and women who live in the same neighborhood embrace one another to perform “acts of kindness in the neighborhood” everyone in the neighborhood is enriched. The community is developed. Good will becomes infectious. Undefeatable good will and unconquerable, benevolent kindness to others in need (without the expectation of anything in return) is righteousness. Everyone who participates is both a “client” and recipient of the righteousness of others. Those who passively observe or even those who are unaware also receive.