community development

Heroes and Champions: Part of the Fabric

Heroes and Champions
"Every story needs a hero who overcomes, and every hero needs a champion who helps them succeed."
As a donor, you are a champion for the Lord's work in and through the lives of heroes from all places.

 Heroes and Champions: On Becoming Part of the Fabric of the Community

Dear Friends,

My first thoughts as I write to you all are thoughts of gratitude for the important role you play as donors (champions) to the cause of "making disciples with people from all places."  You are such an important part of the ministry the Lord has given us in this community.  We couldn't do this without you!  Lately, we've been processing what long-term impact looks like for a ministry like ours.  I wanted to share a few thoughts with you here that give you a glimpse into an important part of our ministry philosophy and values.

How can a ministry make a sustainable, long-term impact?  One if the keys is to become part of the fabric of a community.  Mission Adelante has been approaching ministry through this lens since our inception.  From our commitment to living in the community to the high value we place on partnership and developing community leaders, we believe that community transformation happens from within, in collaboration with partners from all over the city. 

Our very first community partnership was formed with M.E. Pearson Elementary School, in September 2005.  In the first month after the ministry was founded, we joined forces with M.E. Pearson to offer an English class for the parents of their students.  Partnership is paramount in the recipe for long-term community impact.  It fosters the development of a network of resources and entities that care about the community and seeks ways to support one another and work together collaboratively for the common good.  In our case, this network takes many shapes and includes individuals, churches, businesses, schools, local government entities, and non-profits, from our own community and across the city.  It's becoming part of the fabric of a community on every level.   

The launch of Adelante Thrift has accelerated and expanded our partnership capacity in ways we never imagined.  When Lena Chan, our Community Development Director, first shared that Adelante Thrift had partnered with over 75 organizations and entities over its first three years, I was surprised.  Some of these organizations include Kansas School for the Blind, Workforce Partnership, Laminate Works Inc., O-Ring Sales, Urban Scholastic Center, The Hope Center, Samaritan's Feet, SM East and Schlagle High Schools.  Urban schools such as Eugene Ware Elementary and private suburban schools like Whitfield Academy have found a common connecting point in Adelante Thrift.  And, church groups from across the city and from states like Tennessee, Iowa, and Arkansas have participated. Adelante Thrift is not only helping us become part of the fabric of the community, it is also creating fabric in places where none existed before. 

After 13 years in this community and having seen such an explosion of partner connections through Adelante Thrift, we have a sense that our ministry is truly becoming part of the fabric of our city.  As we look ahead to 2019 and beyond, we are excited to see how the Lord will lead us to press into our partnerships and maximize these important relationships for deeper Kingdom impact and community transformation.

Again, thank you for your very important part in this work.  You also form part of this fabric with us!

In His Grace,

Jarrett Meek, MDiv
Pastor/Executive Director, Founder

Donate Now

Year-End Funding Needs: $65,000
We're investing in emerging leaders from our community and mobilizing gifted immigrant leaders to serve on our staff.  This is all part of transforming our community from within.  This year we're praying the Lord would provide $65,000 to help support compensation for our staff and apprentices "from all places." Would you pray about making a special gift this year-end?  Our ministry needs champions like you who believe in what the Lord is doing in our community!

Giving by check or online is easy:
Mission Adelante, PO Box 172076, Kansas City, KS  66117
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Will Adelante Thrift Be Profitable in 2017?

Customers lined up outside on March 14, 2015, waiting for the doors to open on our first day at Adelante Thrift.

Customers lined up outside on March 14, 2015, waiting for the doors to open on our first day at Adelante Thrift.

Written by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director

Last year at this time I was worried. The dream of Adelante Thrift was on the ropes after two years of preparation and a year and a half in business. How much longer could we make it? There were amazing things happening at the store, but we were still losing a lot of money. As I made phone calls to raise more cash for the endeavor, I had to answer the brutal question: "How long do we support a business-as-mission endeavor that is losing money?" I remember processing that question out loud on the phone, "I won't be coming back to ask for more money again. If we haven't seen significant improvement by this time next year, we'll be making some hard decisions." That was 2016.  

What is perseverance? What does faith look like when the results you're longing for can't yet be seen? I have a favorite line from the movie Pearl Harbor, spoken by Alec Baldwin as Lt. Col Doolittle. "Victory belongs to those who believe in it the longest." This quote eloquently expresses the interaction between faith and perseverance. The journey of Adelante Thrift has developed both faith and perseverance in me in ways that I couldn't have predicted and wouldn't have signed up for if I had known they were part of the deal. And yet, looking back, I wouldn't trade those lessons for anything. I'm a different person, a more mature leader, a more faithful follow of Jesus. And, here we are, entering the fourth quarter of 2017, with a real shot at a profitable year. God is so faithful!

As we press into the final quarter of the year, I'm so thankful for the many volunteers who've served, the individuals, businesses, and churches who've given merchandise and money, the customers who've shopped, and the staff from all places who've created a unique environment at the store that exudes the love of Christ. Will Adelante Thrift be profitable in 2017? Will the store start to realize it's potential in terms of financial impact on the community in 2018? I invite you to be part of answering these questions! Is it time to donate more stuff? Does your small group, your family, or your business want to come down and serve? Your treasures can transform a community. I invite you to help Adelante Thrift finish 2017 strong and celebrate our first profitable year!



  • Help us finish 2017 strong! Volunteer with your family, small group, or business at Adelante Thrift. For more information or to sign up, go to .
  • Do you have a gently-used keyboard or acoustic guitar that you're not using? Adelante Arts Community needs it! We are in need of two keyboards and three acoustic guitars for our new program. Please email Gissell Vazquez at if you would like to donate an instrument.
  • Are you interested in combining your love of the arts and disciple-making? Mission Adelante is launching Adelante Arts Community in January 2018 and is looking for volunteers to help! Visit for more information.


  • You’re invited to the Mission Adelante Thanksgiving Open House November 11th from 2:30-6:30pm. Stop by and enjoy a relaxed afternoon at the Meeks’ home meeting members of the Mission Adelante staff and community, celebrating culture, and giving thanks for God’s faithfulness.  

From Tajikistan to Mission Adelante: Introducing Elena Mamadnazarova

It's common to hear "Buenos días" or "Namaste" at the Mission Adelante office in the mornings.  However, if you stop by now, you are likely to hear "Dobrea utra" as well.  That's Russian for "good morning," and it's been brought by our newest staff member who comes all the way from Tajikistan!  Elena Mamadnazarova joined the Mission Adelante team in January to lead our community development ministry and is already making an impact.

"Lena" brings with her a Master's degree in International Development from Brandeis University, as well as over 10 years of international community development experience in Central Asia.  Her most recent role was managing the Central Asian office of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Kazakhstan.  Her educational background, along with her depth of experience and cross-cultural competency have raised the level of excellence on our leadership team almost overnight.

Beyond her professional qualifications, Lena's faith journey is deep and inspiring.  She experienced being a refugee during Tajikistan's civil war, having to flee to Russia when her father's race and culture made their family the target of ethnic cleansing.  During this time she prayed fervently to a God she did not yet know for her father's safety.  God answered her prayers.  Later, when they returned to Tajikistan, Lena received Christ with a friend who invited her to attend a church that had been started by Korean missionaries in her town.  She grew and served and began to feel a calling to live out her faith in practical ways that would help communities.  

Of course, a relationship brought Lena from the East coast to Kansas City.  Her husband, Ray Chan is a pediatrician with Children's Mercy and they have a daughter, Samila who is three.  Together they are members of Christ Community Church where they attend the Downtown campus.  Lena has served at Christ Community as a member of their Global Leadership Team.  

Mission Adelante is delighted to have Lena on board and excited for her leadership as she helps our team turn individual transformation into community transformation!

Adelante Thrift's Grand Opening: A Celebration of Collaboration! April 11th, 9:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

by Jarrett Meek, Pastor, Executive Director, Mission Adelante, Inc.

Chuck Allen and youth from the Urban Scholastic Center pray before volunteering at Adelante Thrift.

Chuck Allen and youth from the Urban Scholastic Center pray before volunteering at Adelante Thrift.

What better way to celebrate the Grand Opening of Adelante Thrift than with 15 partner businesses and organizations that have impacted Mission Adelante and have been a part of our community's ongoing transformation!  The fact is, our KCK community has been, and is being transformed by many individuals, businesses, and organizations who have invested time, effort, and resources in making our neighborhood a better place to live.  Some organizations, like Community Housing of Wyandotte County (CHWC) have been focusing on quality, affordable housing.  Others, like Urban Scholastic Center and Bethel Neighborhood Center invest in children and youth to develop leaders from our own neighborhood.  Chas Ball Sunfresh made a huge leap a few years ago by moving from its location  at 18th and Central to become the anchor for the new shopping center that replaced an abandoned truck stop and a run down motel.  KCK RBI started by Cle Ross, a KCK native, is "reviving baseball in the inner city."  This list goes on friends!  God is doing a beautiful work in our neighborhood, and it's a joy to be a part of it!  

This Saturday, April 11, Adelante Thrift will hold a grand opening celebration to feature many of our neighborhood partners, expose our community to the new store, and to thank all of those who have helped the dream of a thrift store that transforms our community become a reality.  There will be a brief ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:45 a.m. before the store opens at 10:00 for business.  Partners will host tables in front of the store promoting their own products and programs until 1:00 p.m. and the celebration will continue throughout the day until the store closes at 6:00 p.m.  We invite you to come by the store that day join the fun!

To volunteer as an individual, group or family, visit

Current needs:

  • The Bhutanese Leaders In Training are looking forward to shopping at the "Mission Adelante Money Reward Store" on April 29th.  We are in need of small items that the kids can "purchase" as rewards for their extra work this trimester.  Candy, cosmetics, craft items and soccer stuff is extremely popular. If you are able to contribute, please email Kristen Maxwell at

A Great Serve Opportunity for Individuals, Groups, and Families at Adelante Thrift!

by Jarrett Meek, Pastor/Executive Director, Mission Adelante, Inc.

"We can feel the love of God in this place!"  What an amazing compliment for our brand new thrift store!  I believe that customers have been saying things like this because of volunteers who have gone the extra mile in serving!  It's exciting that the love of Christ can be expressed in so many ways, including through a retail store!  We invite you to be a part of loving and transforming a community by serving as a volunteer at Adelante Thrift!

Adelante Thrift opened it's doors to the public on March 14th, and now we're excited to offer fun, high-impact volunteer opportunities for individuals, groups and families!  With the doors open and all systems "go", volunteers helping with production (sorting, racking, steaming, pricing, and stocking) and department displays (organizing/decorating specific departments) will become one of our most important keys to success.  Keeping items on the shelves, priced low, and organized beautifully attracts customers AND provides the kind of pleasant shopping environment that makes people say, "Wow, somebody really cares!"  That somebody, of course, is Jesus , working through you!  

We invite you to come serve with us and transform community!  Serve once, serve occasionally, or serve on a regular basis!  Serve as an individual, a family, or serve with your group!  You make a difference!  

To sign up, please visit our volunteer page at!

n other news:

  • Thank you to many generous donors who have helped to stock our LIT snack bucket!

current needs:

  • Our Leaders in Training program has a “Mission Adelante Money Store” at the end of each trimester, where students spend “money” they have earned doing extra work and exhibiting behavior above and beyond what is expected of them to buy small prizes.  Our students have done an amazing job this year, and we need items for the store such as small toys and prizes of interest to 8-12 year old students by Tuesday, March 31st.  If you are interested in helping please contact Kristen Maxwell at or Megan McDermott at

Adelante Thrift to Accept Donations On-Site Beginning March 7, 2015!

Have you been saving up "treasures" in your basement or garage to donate to Adelante Thrift?  If so, you're a part of an exciting ground-swell of support for this new sustainable ministry project in KCK!  Soon, you and many others will have a few options for dropping off your donations and seeing your "treasures" become community transformation!


On January 15th we took possession of the thrift store space so we could begin transforming what has been a vacant and deteriorating commercial space into a thriving neighborhood business.  With permit in hand, our construction process has begun with demo work and is projected to be complete by February 20th; a pretty tight timeline, but within reach according to our physical space team!

Demo began on the Adelante Thrift site on January 15th.  We're on track for a March 14th opening day! 

Demo began on the Adelante Thrift site on January 15th.  We're on track for a March 14th opening day! 

As we prepare the store for a March 14th opening day, there are a few earlier options for those who are anxious to clear their basements of accumulating "treasures" and help provide the initial inventory for Adelante Thrift.

Church Donation Drives: A few partner churches are hosting donation drives at their churches before the store opens.  They have agreed to receive donations, during specific hours, on specific dates, for Adelante Thrift.  If you attend or live near one of these churches, you may contact the point person for those donation drives to find out more about dropping off donations at their sites. 

  • Westbrooke Church- Friday, February 20 from 5pm-9pm AND Saturday, February 21 from 8am to Noon.  Contact the church office for more details: 913.888.4750.
  • Mill Creek Community Church- Saturdays, February 21 and 28 from 10am-4pm.  Contact Carrol Moore:
  • Heartland Community Church- Sunday, February 22nd.  Contact Ben Morrill:

Adelante Thrift Drop-Off: Beginning Saturday, March 7th, Adelante Thrift will be set up to receive donations at the store (3720 State Avenue, Kansas City, KS  66102).  Contact Matt Totsch for more information at  We will be able to receive donations during the following hours:

  • Saturdays (beginning March 7)- 10am-4pm
  • Monday-Friday- 10am-4pm

No Home Pick-ups Yet: We have not yet set a date to begin doing home pick-ups.    

Announcing Adelante Thrift!

Adelante Thrift will be located at 3720 State Ave in our KCK neighborhood. And it's really close to I-635!

written by Kristen Allen and Jarrett Meek

After many months of planning and site searching, we are thrilled to introduce you to Adelante Thrift, a sustainable community development project of Mission Adelante.  We're excited to announce that we've signed a lease for an 18,000 sq. ft. space at 3720 State Avenue, and with that key milestone under our belt, we can begin the countdown to opening the doors to this new endeavor in the first quarter of 2015!  

Adelante Thrift is more than a thrift store, it is an opportunity to transform our community in a sustainable way.  Our job readiness program through Adelante Thrift  will  provide job opportunities and equip people with the skills they need to obtain employment and be successful in the workplace. Volunteers from our neighborhood and across the city will have an opportunity to serve in a variety of ways as a part of a dynamic team.  And, proceeds from the store will go to help fund ministry in our neighborhood.  We are excited to see how generosity will help transform a community! 

Now that we have secured a space, there is a lot of work to be done, including raising startup capital, building out the space, securing donated inventory, developing systems, recruiting volunteers, and hiring staff.  Here a three ways you can get involved:

Donate Items:  

Start saving up your clothing, furniture, electronics, and other housewares.  We’ll start accepting donations in early 2015 (not long after Christmas!).  We’ll let you know when we’re ready!


We will need an army of volunteers to help us get our space ready, and then to help sort, price, and stock items.  There are perfect volunteer opportunities for families, church groups, or businesses!

Contribute Financially:  

Our year-end fundraising campaign this year is focused on raising money to launch Adelante Thrift!  Our launch need is $250,000, and the Lord has already provided commitments for $138,300.  We invite you to be part of this innovative community development initiative!  This is an “invest once” opportunity.  Once this project is up and going, it will be self-sustaining and will provide income for other ministry projects.  That’s return on investment!  Please visit our give page at to learn how to contribute.


We can’t wait to welcome you into our store, help you find a bargain, and change your treasures into community transformation!.  Learn more about donating items and volunteering at

Community Driven Program Launched by Chin Refugee Leaders

By Kristen Allen, Community Development Director

Pastor Run Tho of Myanmar Christian Church

delivers a message on the first day

One of my greatest joys in working cross-culturally is seeing amazing leaders rise up to address needs within their community. As the Director of Community Development, it is my privilege to work alongside men and women who are dedicated to using their God given abilities to transform their communities. My focus in the Adelante Empowerment Network, one of our community development initiatives, is empowering leaders to achieve their vision. There are beautiful stories of how vision is becoming reality and the Galilee Learning Center is just one example of the incredible capacity of the men and women who have immigrated to KCK.

My friend Lal is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. She is always praying into how God can use her and her family and I enjoy how we share our dreams, encourage each other, and build upon our ideas together. Last year, Lal shared how God was laying on her heart to do something for the youth in her community and she started planning for a children's program to launch the summer of 2014.

Teacher Mawi Te leads the kids in a song

The vision of a children's program that focused on the Bible and provided Burmese and Chin language instruction couldn't be fulfilled without additional men and women who saw the need within the Chin

community and were willing to be a part of making it a reality. Leaders stepped forward and became the teachers needed to make the program run. One man volunteered his skills in leading worship, another decided to move his Burmese language program to Galilee Learning Center so he could help additional kids, and several Sunday school teachers from various Chin churches volunteered to develop the program, curriculum, and schedule.

GLC participants enjoy lunch at the end of the program day

I wish you all could spend a morning at Galilee Learning Center and see the hope that comes from a community focused on developing their youth. The sound of children's voices and laughter fills the air. Our space is full of praise songs as the group comes together to worship Jesus. It is beautiful and just a small glimpse of the blessings that God pours out when we work together.

The vision for Christian community development in our KCK community is being realized through Galilee Learning Center. It is community born, developed, and driven. We pray for more leaders to rise up and can't wait to see what issue God calls His people to address next. 

In other news:

  • The Bhutanese summer interns are reading with the Bhutanese LIT students every Thursday at the library. It's a fun way for the interns to invest in their community, practice leadership, and help make sure that the LIT kids don't lose any of the skills they worked so hard to gain during the school year.
  • Many of our English students have enjoyed seeing more clearly with the reading glasses provided by donors last month. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when they are learning to read and write. Thank you!
  • One of our English students passed the Citizenship test! We are excited to interview her in our class to give the other students hope of becoming a citizen one day in the near future!
  • Our thanks go out to Bright Ideas Signs & More for providing our eye-catching new sign in front of our building.

Current needs:

  • Leaders In Training, our after-school leadership development and tutoring program, is getting excited about technology! We are looking for tablets that are new or in very good condition to use for learning activities during the 2014-2015 school year.  If you have one you would like to donate, please contact Kristen Maxwell at or Megan McDermott at

Important dates:

  • Summer break: July 1-5 No programs.
  • Observation Days: Tuesdays, July 8 & 15 (Bhutanese)/Thursdays, July 10 & 17 (Latino) 6:30-8:30  Have you wondered what all goes on around here on a typical evening of programming?  Here's your opportunity to come and see for yourself!  Come on up to 22 S. 18th Street, Kansas City, KS 66102.

Business, Ministry, and a Burmese Grocery Store!

Written by Kristen Allen, Director of Community Development

One of the most exciting things about living in the community is seeing how God is using different people to accomplish His purpose. I love hearing stories from our Bhutanese and Latino ministries and also learning from my friends first hand what it means to follow God and trust in His provision.

I’ve been blessed by a friendship with a local Burmese shop owner. I originally connected with her when I visited the Falam Chin church down the street from my house where another friend serves as the pastor. Our friendship blossomed over the next few months as we shared about our lives and dreams.

My friend had lived in the United States for several years before following God’s call to move her family to Kansas City and open an Asian grocery store. She and her husband borrowed a few thousand dollars from a relative, opened their store in July of 2012, and prayed into the vision God had for them.

There is something special when you visit the store. If you are like me and don’t speak Burmese or Falam Chin, you would still perceive the high level of customer service. Everyone is greeted, everyone receives a smile, and everyone is valued when they are shopping in the store. My friend and her husband see their store as an opportunity to reach the community for Jesus and as business grew, they knew that God was calling them to further expand their ministry.

My friend prayed, she fasted, and she asked God for a store just down the street that had parking, retail space, and the ability to expand to include a children’s outreach program so she could hire teachers to help children in the community improve in school and retain their native language. And God said no to that space. Undeterred, she continued to believe and pray for the dream that God gave their family.

One day I received a text from my friend asking me to come to the store. “Please hurry” it said and I wondered what was going on. When I arrived, I learned she had received a lease for an even better space. We both celebrated and thanked God for moving in amazing ways to make the expansion  of their business possible.

At the end of January 2014, their community pitched in and helped move their grocery store to the new location God provided them. This is where their dreams continue. Later this year they will open a restaurant to serve delicious Burmese dishes. Profit from grocery store and restaurant will help fund outreach programs to children in their community. The journey of following God continues and I can’t wait to see where it will take them next.

In other news:
  • A group of teens, kids, and volunteers braved the cold last Friday to attend Winter Jam! We had a blast and an amazing time worshiping God together!
  • The Bhutanese teens are really stepping up their leadership and have planned an "American Idol" formatted teens club this trimester. It’s going to be very fun, but also a lot for them to pull off. It’s fun to see them learning as they go, and growing in their creativity and vision for their own community.

Prayer requests:

  • Please pray for Bhutanese teenagers as they navigate how to honor their Hindu families while discovering their own personal faith in Jesus.
  • Please continue to pray for stable employment for our refugee friends.

Current needs:
  • The LIT (Leaders in Training) kids come straight from school each day so we try to have a healthy snack for them. We are looking for a few individuals or a small group to purchase (in bulk) some granola bars, goldfish, nutri-grain bars, or any other healthy snacks to bless the kids.  Please contact Megan if interested:
Important dates:
  • Child Protection Meeting--Saturday, February 22 at 9:00 a.m. All volunteers that serve the kids and youth of Mission Adelante should attend.

Partner in Prayer for Adelante Thrift

Written by Kristen Allen, Director of Community Development

Mission Adelante’s Community Development Initiatives are about partnerships. We’ve shared little pieces of the big picture for community development over the past few months and now we invite you into a supporting role for Adelante Thrift and ask for you to partner with us and pray for this new ministry.

Prayer is a core value at Mission Adelante. We believe that prayer is the most important work in ministry and that our mission depends upon the power and work of the Holy Spirit in individual lives, in our community, and in all of our circumstances. For several months we have investigated multiple spaces in our target area as we search for the ideal location that meets the needs for Adelante Thrift. We seek a space large enough to contain retail, job training, and processing operations in a location convenient to our friends and neighbors that allows a shopping experience full of hospitality and exceptional service. As they saying goes, “location is everything”, but we have yet to find the ideal space. The right location for Adelante Thrift is the crucial first step for moving forward with the thrift store and all other community development initiatives.

We continue to go before God and ask for His guidance and ask you to join us in prayer. Please pray for the Adelante Thrift board and for God to open up the right opportunity before us. Partner with us in prayer as we look to build a strong starting point for Adelante Thrift in the location that God has ordained. We look forward to the day when He answers our prayers and we give thanks as He continues to transform our community.

In other news:

  • This week, Mission Adelante Teens Club mentors will be visiting students in their homes to get to know them and their families in a more personal way. We are excited to watch the friendships between Bhutanese teens and adult mentors grow in the coming months!
  • The community survey effort for the new medical clinic is winding down. We are thankful that many community partners opened up their churches and organizations in a spirit of collaboration and allowed us to ask their participants about their healthcare needs. This information will help us build a health center that is sensitive to the needs of our multicultural community.
  • We will host a wedding at Mission Adelante this Saturday! We are excited to celebrate with our friends, Alejandro and Elena, as they take this exciting step!
  • Blue Valley Baptist Church will host a critical issues forum on October 24th from 7-9pm.  The topic will be the Christians response to the Immigration problems in America and Jason Schoff will be one of the panelists.  Please consider attending this event. 8925 W. 151st St, Overland Park, KS. E-mail with childcare needs no later than October 20.

Prayer needs:
  • The Hindu holiday season is upon us. Please pray for our Hindu friends in Kansas City to experience Jesus’ love and grace in special ways during this season.
  • Pray4Reform--join us in praying for immigration reform. There are two corporate gatherings this week hosted by our partners.   Click on the tab to learn where we will be praying tonight and tomorrow morning.
Current needs:
  • If you're out and about and notice swimsuits on clearance, would you think about picking some up for kids at Mission Adelante?  We go swimming many times a year, even in the winter, and sometimes we find out on the way to the pool that some of our friends don’t have swimsuits that fit.  We specifically need suits that fit Elementary and Middle School boys, and one-piece suits that fit later Elementary and Middle School girls.  If you have questions, or would like to help, contact Kristen Maxwell at
  • Our Leaders in Training after-school tutoring program is looking for a small group or a few individuals to purchase healthy, pre-packaged snacks for the kids.  If you are interested, please contact Megan at
Important dates:
  • Observation Days: Tuesdays, November 5 & 12 (Bhutanese)/Thursdays, November 7 & 14 (Latino) 6:30-8:30  Have you wondered what all goes on around here on a typical evening of programming?  Here's your opportunity to come and see for yourself!

Building Community at Christian Community Development Association Conference

Written by Drew Hammond, Bhutanese Ministry Intern

Two weeks ago, a team of 12 from Mission Adelante traveled to New Orleans to attend the 2013 Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) National Conference. There were 5 staff members, 2 members from our Bhutanese community, 2 from our Latino community, and 3 volunteers. The trip was an incredible time for us to build friendships, worship together, and come together to collaborate on how we can transform  Kansas City, Kansas together.

Ram Rai is a friend of mine who traveled to the CCDA conference with us. Ram is a Bhutanese refugee who has resettled in Kansas City and now owns RG Asian Store, a neighborhood grocery store that caters to the needs of Asians.  The following is an interview with about his experience at the conference.

Question: What was your favorite New Orleans experience?

Answer: The city of New Orleans itself was very interesting to me, I had never been there before so experiencing that culture was really great. Also, the French Quarter reminded me of cities in Nepal, we even met some people from Nepal which made me feel very welcome in New Orleans.

Question: What is best thing you learned from CCDA Conference?

Answer: The best thing I learned from the CCDA Conference was being on mission together. Specifically to incarnate the love of Jesus so our neighbors can come to follow Him with us.

Question: What was the most meaningful part of the trip to CCDA?

Answer: Being a brother in a large community of Jesus followers. Also, learning how to encourage and train children and students in the ways of Jesus.

Question: Is there anything from the conference that you are excited to implement in Kansas City, KS?

Answer: I received a lot of knowledge and training on how to give a workshop about the negative effects of drugs, alcohol, and negative thinking. As a matter of fact, I am planning a workshop right now.

Question: Do you have any prayer requests for our readers?

Answer: My biggest prayer request after CCDA is that I will continue to be encouraged and blessed as I reach out to my neighbors.

In other news:

  • The Latino Leaders in Training (LIT) program launched last Wednesday with 14 kids! We are excited to begin growing together as a family in our pursuit of Christ!
  • All of the volunteers who will be serving in our programs this fall met together at Mission Adelante on Monday night for fellowship and to plan for the trimester. One of the highlights of the evening was the level of ownership our community took is sponsoring the night. There was a multicultural worship band, and desserts were provided by lots of our community members. It was great to welcome our volunteers together as a community.
  • The Bhutanese Outreach had a great fall trimester launch on Tuesday. We're eager for the fall launch of the Latino Outreach tomorrow. We are excited for a new season with new friends at Mission Adelante.

Current needs:
  • A refrigerator. Please contact Jason at if you have one to give.

Working Together: The First Bhutanese Store in KCK

by Kristen Allen, Director of Community Development

At Mission Adelante we began talking and praying seriously about how individual transformation could become community transformation in the fall of 2011. As we explored how Mission Adelante can help make a community impact through empowering our immigrant friends and working in partnership to address the needs of our community, others were dreaming too. Two Bhutanese refugees dreamed of opening a store to meet the cultural needs of their community and approached Mission Adelante to share their vision and ask for guidance.

We looked through our network and found volunteers willing to collaborate on this business venture.  A successful business owner saw the potential for individual and community transformation and came forward to provide technical assistance to the two entrepreneurs. Another Mission Adelante volunteer encouraged the entrepreneurs and assisted with various activities including using a box truck to go and pick-up store fixtures the entrepreneurs found through their own network. The Bhutanese community pooled money together to help make a down payment on the building. A long-time supporter of Mission Adelante used his business to finish furnishing fixtures in the store. And on December 9, 2012, R.G. Asian store opened at 101 S. 18th Street in Kansas City, Kansas. When God’s people work together it can be a powerful, transformative thing.

Click the image above to register now for Ignite 2013!

Thanks to R.G. Asian Store, our Bhutanese friends now have access to culturally appropriate and familiar food, clothing, and other products. Customer service is a high priority, and when Bhutanese refugees ask for a new item the owners work through their network in the US and Nepal until the item is on the shelves of their store.

The store owners’ contributions to the Bhutanese community go deeper than providing cultural items -- they also focus on the needs of the Bhutanese teens. R.G. Asian store supports the KC (BEST) Bhutanese Ekata Soccer Team and encourages the young men to be responsible and hard-working. Recognizing that the Bhutanese teens face the challenges of every teen (high school, fitting in, becoming independent, etc.) and the additional struggles faced by newcomers trying to integrate into a new culture, R.G. Asian created a space in the building behind the store where teens can hang out and play games like ping-pong so the teens have a positive outlet and are less likely to get mixed up in less desirable activities like gangs. Our friends at R.G. Asian Store remind us that business can make a community impact.

We hope to build on this experience and further develop a model of for equipping and coaching entrepreneurs through our emerging Adelante Business Coaching ministry. We envision those passionate about business sharing their skills with immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs and a coaching environment where individuals on both side of the mentoring relationship are contributing, learning, and growing. This is not an effort to “do for” - it is an effort of partnership to “do with” in a spirit of collaboration and dedication to the community.  

Do you want to dive deeper into how businesses can make a Kingdom impact? Learn more about Business as Mission at Ignite 2013: A Workshop for Developing Business for Kingdom Impact on July 20th. Read more about the workshop here:


and register for this event that coincides with the formation of Adelante Business Coaching.

Ignite 2013: A Workshop on Developing Businesses for Kingdom Impact- July 20@8:30am

Adelante Missions Institute Presents...


Join us for a workshop on how fostering entrepreneurship can transform lives and communities in under-resourced areas.  Rudy Carrasco of Partners Worldwide will lead us on the exploration of a philosophy for job creation that includes business as mission, collaboration, business training, business mentorship, and advocacy.  Learn working models for ending poverty through job creation in the United States and the potential for community transformation right here in Kansas City, Kansas.  This event coincides with formation of a team for our new “Adelante Business Coaching” ministry.

The event will be held at Mission Adelante, Inc.

22 South 18th Street

Kansas City, KS 66012

Please contact Kristen Allen for more information:

Introducing Kristen Allen: Director of Community Development!

by Jarrett Meek, Founder, Executive Director/Pastor

I’m pleased to introduce you to Mission Adelante’s newest staff member!  For nearly a year and a half we have been dreaming, praying and planning for the launch of our new “Community Development Initiatives”, a new ministry division that will address some of the broader needs of our community including health-care, jobs and job skills training, and small business coaching for immigrants and refugees.  Because we believe that ministry begins with a called leader, many of our prayers have been for God to provide just the right person to lead this new effort.  We’ve prayed for someone who is an experienced organizational leader, someone who has passion for and cultural competence in working with immigrants and refugees, a person who is excited about living in our neighborhood, a leader whose competence and character will inspire the health-care professionals and business people who will be our partners, someone whose love for God and neighbor are deep and proven, and a person who is able to build strong and effective partnerships within our community to accomplish community development goals in a collaborative way.  Those qualifications seem like a tall order, but we believe God has provided just the right person!

So, with great enthusiasm, I present to you Kristen Allen, our new Director of Community Development!  Kristen, her husband Josh, and their three year old daughter, Samorn, moved to our KCK neighborhood in December, and have spent the last several months getting personally involved in the Mission Adelante family and helping to lay the foundations for some of the new initiatives we hope to launch in the coming months.  Although Kristen is a recent addition to our neighborhood, her experience working with refugees in our area and her knowledge of the unique needs of our community are extensive. Having worked as the Director of Refugee and Migrant Services at Catholic Charities in KCK from January 2008 to May 2012, Kristen’s leadership in developing programs, leading staff, and her cultural competence are well-proven.  During her tenure at Catholic Charities, Mission Adelante staff had frequent interactions with Kristen and experienced her collaborative spirit first hand as we coordinated services together for our Bhutanese friends.  Kristen brings with her many significant relationships with community leaders within other refugee groups in KCK, including the Chin, Karen and Karenni groups, opening up possibilities for Mission Adelante to serve new ethnic communities in our area.  The Mission Adelante community and the larger community of KCK is very blessed to have her as a part of the team!

In other news:

  • Welcome, Jude Elden Stetler!  Jude was born to David & Holly and siblings Anna and Isaac on Friday, April 26.  Everyone is doing well!
  • Jarrett & Kristen Meek and family were greeted by a lively welcome party at the airport upon their arrival back to Kansas City on Monday evening.  They say they were ready to conclude their four-month sabbatical to Costa Rica and come back to Mission Adelante.  We're very happy to have them back!
  • We've known Iris, now a high-school senior, for around six years while she participated in Kids Adelante, Leaders In Training, and Teens Adelante.  Megan McDermott dedicated many hours last fall and this spring walking Iris through college admission and scholarship applications.  Iris has decided to attend K.U. and aspires to become a doctor.  We're enormously proud of her!

Current needs:

  • Sets of 5-7 toddler-friendly board books (baby animals, counting, body parts, etc) for a Mommy & Me English workshop this summer. If you are able to provide one or more books, please contact Lauren at

Important Dates:

  • Bhutanese ESL Volunteer Snacks and Training: Saturday, May 4, 2:00,at Lauren Timberlake’s house. Please consider joining us for fun, prayer and some cultural training as we keep learning how to love the Bhutanese well. Please contact Jenny Dunn at for more details.
  • Volunteer Orientation & Training: Saturday, May 18, 9:00-12:30All volunteers should attend this training once at the beginning of serving with Mission Adelante.  It's also a great way for someone to become familiar with Mission Adelante's ministry.  If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about what we do, and about our volunteer opportunities, please plan to attend/encourage him or her to attend this informative training.
  • All Volunteer Huddle & Dessert: Monday, May 20, 6:30 p.m.  We encourage everyone that will be volunteering with us during our summer trimester to attend so we can prepare for a great launch.
  • Summer trimester programs launch: Week of May 27

A New Ministry Beginning at Mission Adelante!

by Jarrett Meek, Founder, Executive Director

Marking Milestones

There are important milestones in the life of every person, organization, and ministry; moments that mark movement forward, new growth, or the beginning of a new season.  These moments do a lot to define our lives and our development.  For Mission Adelante I can look back over our eight years and see many of these moments, but three events rise to the top of our list of milestones.  The launch of the ministry, and specifically the beginning of our first "house church", the acquisition of our building, and the launch of our Bhutanese ministries.  The initial launch of our ministry qualifies as a major milestone for obvious reasons, but the beginning of our first "house church" in that same season specifically represented the spiritual first-fruits of our ministry and evidence that what we began could really work. What was a dream had become a reality as we saw the first immigrant family receive Christ and join our fellowship.  The acquisition of a building was another major milestone in that it was truly a game changer.  Heartland Community Church provided the funding for the purchase and remodel in a amazing show of support that vaulted us years forward in our development.  And the launch of our Bhutanese ministries represented the proving of our ministry vision/model with a cultural group other than Latinos, something that has caused us to grow dramatically and open our eyes even wider to what the Lord may want to do with us in the future.  And now, I'm excited to share with you that Mission Adelante is at the beginning of what I believe will be another major milestone in our ministry's development: the launch of a new ministry division called "Community Development Initiatives."

Community Development: Individual and Community Transformation

While much of what we've done up to this point could be considered community development, we are now poised to build on the relational network and the emphasis on individual transformation that we've worked so hard to establish and begin addressing some of the larger issues and needs we have seen in our community.  Being very passionate about our identity and vision as a disciple-making mission, we are intent on holding on to this core calling even as we begin engaging in broader community development initiatives.  We believe that community transformation can spring forth from individual transformation, and that those who at one time were recipients of care and service can become owners and stakeholders in initiatives that improve our entire neighborhood.  Our community development ministry will involve emerging leaders from our neighborhood in developing new initiatives that make a community-wide impact in areas such as entrepreneurialism, job-skills training, and health care that is accessible to people who come from other places.

The Impact of Business: Empowerment, Jobs, Economic Sustainability

At the nexus of business and ministry there is a powerful synergy that moves beyond charity and betterment to development.  Equipping people with marketplace skills and entrepreneurial tools, and helping them start small businesses is empowering, promotes community ownership, improves the financial outlook for their families, and contributes to the economy of our entire community.  In a conversation with Pastor Rick Behrens he shared his perspective on the impact of immigrant entrepreneurs on our neighborhood; "Twenty years ago an economic study was done on the Central Avenue area in KCK, and based on that study they predicted that by the year 2000 our area would be a ghost town.  But, they didn't know who was coming and what God had in mind."  Today immigrant-owned businesses are fueling an amazing comeback in our area.  A study done by the

Hamilton Project

states, "Today's immigrants possess a strong entrepreneurial spirit.  In fact, immigrants are 30% more likely to form new businesses than U.S.-born citizens."  Imagine the impact training, coaching, and start-up capital could have on immigrant entrepreneurs and on the economic development of our community!

The Need for Accessible Health Care

For those of us who were born in the U.S., navigating our health-care system can be an intimidating and confusing experience.  Now, imagine trying to make your way through this gauntlet of paperwork, long sterile halls, and sky-high bills as a new refugee coming directly from a camp in Nepal with very little English.  A 2013 study done by the

Population Health Institute

ranks Wyandotte County 99th out of 102 counties in Kansas for health outcomes (mortality and morbidity), while neighboring Johnson County is ranked #1.  In addition to other factors, our community is clearly under-served in terms of health-care.  Our immigrant friends often hesitate to visit the doctor because cultural and language barriers create a sense of fear and distrust that are very difficult to overcome.  High health-care costs and lack of insurance make preventative or primary care seem like an un-affordable luxury, and the emergency room often becomes the first stop for patients who could have prevented a crisis by seeing the doctor sooner.  As we explore ways to address some of the most glaring needs in our community, making health-care accessible both culturally and financially to immigrants has emerged as one of our highest priorities.

What's Happening Now?

Over the past several months Mission Adelante has begun preparations to launch three new initiatives:

  • Adelante Thrift: We have formed a board of directors and are working on a launch plan for a neighborhood thrift store that will provide jobs and job-skills training, and will serve as an incubator for small immigrant-owned businesses.  Income generated by Adelante Thrift will provide another source of sustainable funding for other Mission Adelante ministries.
  • Micro-lending/Small business start-up ministry: Last fall we piloted our first business as ministry project as we helped the RG Asian store (ethnic groceries) start-up in our neighborhood.  This summer, as we form our team for this new ministry program, we will be hosting Rudy Carrasco from Partners Worldwide for a training seminar on business as ministry.  Stay tuned for more details!
  • Medical Clinic: A team of people from our neighborhood has been hard at work doing surveys and focus groups within the Mission Adelante community to assess the real health-care needs of the people we serve.  We are hoping to finish these surveys in the next couple of months.

Funding Needs

One of the biggest challenges and most important aspects of our plan to launch these new initiatives will be to raise the funds necessary to move forward.  During the second half of 2013 we will praying earnestly and  making a significant effort to both increase funding for our General Ministry Fund, as well as secure funding for our new Community Development Initiatives.  We will be approaching current donors to suggest an increase in giving for those who are able, and inviting new people to partner with us financially as well.  Though our "campaign" has not yet begun, if you would like to begin contributing or increase your giving you may do so online by visiting