A transformation is underway at 9605 and 9617 East Colfax Ave., and when it’s complete, Jesus on Colfax Ministries will have a permanent home from which to serve the vulnerable population of the poorest part of Aurora, Colo. It will be a dream come true for pastor Shawn Sikkema. “That dream was a vague notion in my mind when I spent my first day on Colfax,” he said. “I looked into the window of a building, saw mess strewn everywhere, and felt God calling me to pray.”
Sikkema and his wife, Diane, started Jesus on Colfax in 2016, moving into a room in one of the 25 old motels lining East Colfax Avenue and ministering in the name of Jesus to those they met there. In 2018, “in what can truly be called a miraculous event,” Sikkema wrote in a blog, “we were able to purchase a vacant 100-year-old, two-building complex on East Colfax.” It’s that complex, with the help of partner ministries and community investment, that’s now being transformed.
On July 29, a Bible study group of men from five different Christian Reformed congregations in the Denver area enjoyed a barbecue and tour. “So many of the people living along Colfax have experienced severe trauma in their lives, and the vision of providing a center for trauma recovery is exciting,” said Donn Hansum, director of deacon ministries for Classis Rocky Mountain (regional group of CRC churches) and who serves on the ministry’s board of directors.
“The name ‘Jesus on Colfax’ is the right name,” said Tom Draayer, a retired CRC pastor and part of the visiting group. “If we are the body of Christ, then truly Jesus is on Colfax through this ministry,” he said. Dominic Palacios, pastor at Hope Fellowship CRC, came to the tour that night and counts Sikkema as a mentor and friend. “Shawn's approach to gospel ministry is brave and bold. Rather than a myopic focus on individual salvation, Shawn seeks a holistic application of the gospel. One in which individuals, city blocks, neighborhoods, and cities are healed,” he said. Several members of Hope Fellowship “are core leaders, prayer partners, volunteers, and supporters of the ministry,” Palacios said.
Rehabilitating the first of the two buildings is about 80% complete, Sikkema said. They’ve been able to get this far with contributions of $100,000 from the Anschutz Foundation, $250,000 from the City of Aurora, $400,000 from Denver-area Christian Reformed churches, and more support from individual donors. The ministry’s campaign, “A Place To Come To,” is working on getting it the rest of the way. “We think we are about three months from opening, depending on how our campaign goes,” Sikkema said.
Calvary New City Church, led by Matt and Kayla Horne, will be the lead church partner. A Seat at the Table BBQ will offer “pay what you can” meals and provide job training to individuals returning from prison. World Coffee, with a focus of training immigrant and refugee youth in the coffee business, is another partner. The Family Room will be a safe and beautiful space where street and motel friends can hang out and connect with resources.
Sikkema is a mission network developer with the CRC’s Resonate Global Mission, and the agency has involvement “on a variety of levels,” Sikkema said. His ministry is also supported by Sikkema's calling church, Family in Christ Community Church, in Westminster, Colo., where pastor Paul Jorden serves on the Jesus on Colfax board.