Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Timoteo in the news!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Word from the Commissioner Nes Espinosa

Ministry in the “hood” (what we call our urban context) is overwhelming, and at times it is really hard to gather pastors away from their demanding ministries. Our Timoteo leadership team is determined, though, to build relationships with all of the pastors of the churches that are involved in Timoteo.

Our very first Timoteo Pastors’ breakfast was in November at Nina’s Kitchen. In our first attempt to do this, we had eight pastors attend and it was a great time to fellowship. We discussed our plan for the 2011 year and gave the pastors our new Timoteo brochures. Nina herself served us at her recently opened local Spanish restaurant. She is also a Christian and we praise the Lord for her service to our community.

Some of the pastors had some stories to share about the effects of Timoteo on their ministry. One pastor said he was on his way to a school and a parent was able to make a connection with him. The connection was possible because we serve her son through Timoteo. Another pastor shared how disappointed he was when one of his players dropped out of basketball to play football because of Timoteo. But now he is proud to say this young man is receiving offers to play college football!

The stories kept coming. Another pastor shared that because of the bridge Timoteo builds to the youth in the community, they are now serving the moms. The church was able to start a women’s ministry! Yet another pastor shared how Timoteo actually started their youth ministry. They look forward to connecting with local high schools to recruit more players for Timoteo.

At the end of our gathering we asked the pastors to bless us by praying for us. We want to be sent out by the Lord’s anointed and chosen pastors to love youth through Timoteo and preach the gospel. Just like Jacob wrestled with an angel in Genesis 32 and wouldn’t let go of him till he got a blessing, we want to strive to gather with our spiritual leaders to bless us. At the end of our breakfast they circled around our Timoteo leadership team, laid hands on us and blessed us!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Support us!

Connecting, Supporting and Mobilizing Churches
to Effectively Reach their Communities


You can show your support of the ministry by giving monthly or increasing the amount you already give. Our personal support-raising goal has been $4500/month. During this year, we have averaged about 60% of our goal. Thank you for the many who have been so generous. We ask that you pray with us and consider your role in bringing us closer to our goal.

Common Grace is a nonprofit with 501C3 status. Here is the information you need to continue supporting us in this ministry:

Write Checks to Common Grace
Send them to: Common Grace, P.O. Box 46615, Philadelphia, PA 19160

Reflections by Dana

I am entering a new phase in my life now that both Alecia and Justis are in school. Justis started at a pre-school associated with Alecia’s dual language school. My goal this year is to be able volunteer some time at each school now that I don’t have a toddler attached to me!

Last week I attended a volunteer orientation with Aspira, the organization that runs both schools. We were required to watch a PBS documentary about Antonia Pantoja. Pantoja started the organization to empower Puerto Ricans who were moving into New York City in the 40’s and having trouble in school and suffering various forms of discrimination.

A woman shared her story of wanting to be a part of Aspira, but she noticed that the organization was made up of “the cream of the crop.” “I was not the cream of the crop; I lived in the projects,” she explained. It seemed that she was able to find her place in Aspira and become successful. However, I wondered about an organization that was meant to serve the oppressed which inadvertently began catering to the more fortunate. Many of the students in Alecia’s class live in more middle class neighborhoods, but commute to her school because of the dual language and Puerto Rican curriculum. Many of the more struggling Puerto Ricans cannot get into the school.

For my birthday, Nes and I went out to dinner in an up and coming neighborhood just two miles south of our neighborhood. The community used to be blighted, but has since been bought up and revamped. Poor have been pushed out and the neighborhood has been taken over by the privileged. On our drive home, we noticed the stark transition from privilege to poverty. It struck me hard when we I saw a man pushing a cart full of his belongings several blocks before we reached our home. I have often asked the question, “How can we revitalize a neighborhood without pushing out the poor, but rather serving them?”

Aspira recently took over an existing public school as a charter school just across the street from Bethel Temple. This neighborhood school has served kids from some of the most difficult of circumstances. Our prayer is that as Aspira strives to revitalize this struggling school, they would continue to serve the neediest. Aspira has no Christian roots, but we can still pray for God to use it!

How Do We Connect, Support and Mobilize?

Common Grace has begun a partnership with Palmer Seminary, CityNet Ministries and Word and Deed Network to develop a comprehensive directory of all the churches and ministries in Upper Darby, a suburb that borders West Philadelphia. We also hope to provide up to date demographic information on the community that will tell the story of the rapid changes taking place on the edge of Philadelphia. Church directory projects have been done in other cities and show excellent results in helping to connect the Body of Christ together as well as study trends within the church. We hope to expand this partnership into parts of Philadelphia to one day complete a full city directory. These directories are not just a listing of church names and addresses but include information that can be vital to understanding church growth or decline within a community.

Common Grace also works with church planters across the city, helping them understand where to strategically plant churches and then how to understand those communities. We believe everyone should have multiple opportunities to hear and respond to the Gospel and one role we play is to help churches identify just who lives in their communities. Whole groups of people can be overlooked in the rapidly changing city, so spending time out in the neighborhoods is a major part of our work.

Nes has also been working with Kingdom Builders Anabaptist Network of Greater Philadelphia that held an urban-suburban partnership discussion time on October 16. Nes was on the team to organize the event and also led a small group discussion to talk about perceptions that each group has of each other. Some urban church members admitted bitterness toward the privilege of suburban churches. Suburban members were able to reflect on their prejudices of city neighborhoods and how to connect effectively with their urban counterparts. Praise God for this open discussion!

One way Common Grace mobilizes churches to reach young men in our community is to facilitate the Timoteo Flag Football League. Through a grant from Esperanza USA, Timoteo is building infrastructure and is looking to expand partnerships with more churches, community organizations and ministries. Nes continues to serve as Commissioner of the league with a dedicated leadership team of five men. During the “offseason”, Timoteo runs a league for adult men which provides an opportunity to build relationships with men who are leaders with Timoteo or could be potential leaders.

Timoteo is currently looking for ways to raise funds for this exciting ministry. If you have any ideas or would like to support it, email or visit to donate.

Australia Trip

By David “Coz” Crosscombe, Common Grace Director (who is originally from Australia)

In August Common Grace sponsored a team of four to travel to Australia to connect and serve some friends over there. Nes, Carlos Borges (a teacher and church planter from Chicago) and Casey Dunn (Young Life’s Regional Director for the Mid-Atlantic) all joined me on the trip. These three men brought an amazing balance of expertise and humility as we visited various ministries to encourage and support their work.

Carlos had the opportunity to share his powerful testimony in a number of school classrooms. Casey was a great encouragement and teacher to a number of people serving youth in 2 different cities, and Nes facilitated a gathering of youth workers in my home city of Armidale as they discussed ways they could work together to reach every young person with the Gospel.

We were also able to be a part of a meeting where an Indigenous (Aboriginal) pastor came together with 2 white pastors. I think that having Nes and Carlos there opened the opportunity for the conversation to become real, as the indigenous pastor shared that this was the first time he had ever been asked for his input on something. Young Life has been reaching into the Indigenous community in Armidale for a number of years and so this meeting was a great opportunity for developing a real and lasting partnership, something that I have been praying about for a very long time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Common Grace Updates

So many exciting things are happening! Please pray with us!

Nes completed his first year as Commissioner of Timoteo Flag football. There is a solid group of five men who make up the leadership team for the league and opportunities are coming the league’s way. They were accepted into a program called the Hispanic Capacity Project. Through this, they will be given resources to further develop the structure of the league and be given a financial grant. A grant from the Huston foundation was also received to support a fall weekend retreat for all the players.

We are currently praying about an exciting opportunity to work with a neighborhood church. They are in a transition period and are looking to focus their vision to move forward. The church is just seven blocks from where we live and has a desire to be incarnational and to reach out to its community. As we pray for God to give us direction and wisdom, we ask that you join us in prayer. This will be an exciting step to take, but a challenging one. Our hope is that this church could become an example of how a church can learn to better reach its community and work with other churches to do that. Through Common Grace’s mission to connect, support and mobilize churches, Nes would work with the leadership team of the church to focus their vision, utilize their gifts and teach them how to work with others to reach the neighborhood for Christ.

Common Grace is also in the process of building a missional and relational partnership of leaders and churches in the greater Philadelphia area. Several have already been meeting for missional discussions over the last year, and have developed a vision for this partnership. The ultimate goal is that people in the greater Philadelphia area have repeated opportunities to hear, see, touch and respond to an incarnational, geographically close, culturally relevant presentation of the gospel.

Nes continues Seminary classes through the summer at Biblical Seminary. The program is called the Urban LEAD MDiv and is structured to be very practical for people currently working in an urban ministry setting.

Our urban garden is doing well. We are gardening half of it and our neighbor Ralph is growing on the other half. We have green beans, zucchini, white beans, corn, tomatoes and grapes!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Our 2010 Timoteo Eagles

With only five returning players from our repeat Timoteo championship team, our team is ready for a new season. The ten new players are excited to be a part of the legacy!! They are working hard and have a current record of 2 wins and 1 loss. Pray that our players would learn new skills beyond football, like conflict resolution, self-control and working as a team. Pray most of all for their growing knowledge of Christ.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Connecting, Supporting and Mobilizing Churches
to Effectively Reach their Communities (website under construction)

Common Grace assists ministries in their work to cooperate with each other and reach the urban community. In order for each part of the body to be effective, all parts need to work together, be equipped and value each other’s gifts. In order to accomplish this, Common Grace connects, supports and mobilizes church and community leaders as they seek to spread the gospel and address the needs of their communities.

Many exciting things are happening among Philadelphia churches. Nes, along with Coz Crosscombe (co-director) and Bill Krispin (research developer) are involved in a variety of activities that build on existing networks and encourage more of God’s people to be equipped for the kingdom!


“One,” the collaboration of several church youth ministries which Nes initiated several years ago, just celebrated its annual youth retreat at Camp Andrews October 23-25. Through Nes’ new role at Common Grace, he worked with other “One” youth pastors and leaders to bring together five neighborhood churches at the retreat. The speaker for the weekend, Carlos Borges, is a public school teacher and a church planter from Chicago. His message was titled: “Sheep in Da Hood: Hearing the Shepherd’s Voice.” These area youth groups will also come back together on December 11 for a youth rally. Youth rallies will be held in 2010 for these youth ministries to continue meeting together.


Another project Nes began working with before transitioning to Common Grace has continued. Reload, a training ministry of Urban Youth Worker Institute (UYWI), is a one-day conference to train, mentor and connect urban youth workers. The purpose is to encourage local ministries to network as they play a key role in organizing their own conference. Nes has facilitated the Philly Reload for several years and will continue to do this under Common Grace. The next Reload conference is March 20. It will be held at an exciting young church called Epiphany Fellowship. Epiphany is located just blocks from Temple University with a growing and ethnically diverse congregation including many college age folks.

Connection with pastoral networks

Common Grace also connects on a regular basis with a few pastoral networks in Philadelphia. Partners in Harvest is a network made up of African American pastors in Philadelphia. Kingdom Builders is a group of Anabapist urban leaders who pray, work at common concerns and fellowship together. A church called “In the Light Ministries” hosts a prayer time for a variety of area pastors. Common Grace regularly attends all of these groups to build relationships with existing networks in Philadelphia and seek ways to work together.


Through a contract with Esperanza USA, Common Grace has been able to complete demographic reports for nine Hispanic nonprofits. These reports give them a clearer picture of their communities and how to serve them.

Timoteo Flag Football League

Nes will be assisting the Timoteo Flag Football League in a transition next year. Bill Campbell, the founder of Timoteo, is preparing to move his family to France in a new ministry. Nes will be taking on the commissioner role for a year. During the year, new leadership will be developed by raising up young men from the neighborhood. Nes and Coz are also working with an organization called The Simple Way, a community of faith in the Kensington neighborhood, that will adopt Timoteo as their ministry.

-More monthly commitments.
-Extra end of the year gifts.
-A sturdy 10’x10’ tool shed for our urban garden.
-A tiller for our urban garden.
-Laptop for Nes.
-Desktop computer for Common Grace office.


-Nes will begin seminary in February with Biblical Seminary. Please pray for discipline and balance.
-For March Reload—for helpful speakers and hungry participants.
-We are still looking for the right missions organization to oversee our ministry with Common Grace.

Monday, October 05, 2009

COMMON GRACE: Connecting Supporting & Mobilizing Churches to Effectively Reach their Communities

September 2009 Newsletter

The next five posts make up our current newsletter. Please read them all!

-Common Grace Update

-Neighborhood Ministry

-Guatemala Vision Trip

-Prayer Requests

-How to Support Us

(Our little gardners, Alecia and Justis are shown above!)


From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)

Common Grace assists ministries in their work to cooperate with each other and reach the urban community. In order for each part of the body to be effective, all parts need to work together, be equipped and value each other’s gifts.

In order to accomplish this, Common Grace connects, supports and mobilizes church and community leaders as they seek to spread the gospel and address the needs of their communities.

Here are a few activities being carried out by Common Grace:

-Esperanza USA has contracted CG to assist 10 nonprofits in their Hispanic Capacity Program. CG will use their demographics program to help each nonprofit understand their community better.

-CG is leading a missional discussion with seven local ministry leaders who are learning how to reach the least, last and lost and how to be more relevant in their communities.

-Nes continues to work with other youth ministry leaders to facilitate ONE youth rallies leading up to the fall retreat at Camp Andrews in October.

-Nes is presenting CG’s work to ministries and preaching in various churches when invited.

-Through CG, Nes will assist the Timoteo Flag Football League in its restructuring throughout the next year.

-Reload youth leader training through Urban Youth Workers Institute will be facilitated in 2010, possibly partnering with Eastern University.

-The Free Church of St. John in West Kensington has contracted Nes to assist in youth ministry development.

Neighborhood Ministry

Nes is the new block captain! We are excited about partnering with our neighbor, Dessia, who is working with Nes as co-captain. Nes grew up with Dessia on the block. She has come a long way from her past of struggling with addiction. She went back to school, got a security job and is supporting her three children under the age of 6. We praise God for what He has done in her life and pray that she will recognize that He did it. At this point, she has not given her life to Christ, but we continue to pray for her.

We had our first block meeting this summer and sponsored a couple of block parties. We are educating folks on resources that are available and encouraging people to keep the sidewalks clean and recycle.

Raul, Matt and Damon are shown in the picture at our Labor Day party.

We praise God for the blessings on our block: three gardens cared for by various block members, friends for our children, more interest in keeping our block clean and Dessia’s excitement about serving her community.

We hope to do more with our garden next year by expanding it into a neighbor’s lot. We also hope to get more people involved in its care. In addition, we are looking for a way to re-cement the entire block’s sidewalk and curb which is badly cracked and crumbling. We are looking for anyone who would have the ability to help us make this happen. The city will not do it because they say it is the property owners' responsibility.

Like Nehemiah, we seek to rebuild and restore our neighborhood which has long been in a state of disrepair. Pray that our witness to Christ would be strengthened by the tangible love we show our neighborhood.

Guatemala Vision Trip

Thank you to all who prayed or contributed money for our trip. The Lord provided just what we needed and we were able to share resources with ministries down there as well.

The best part about our trip was developing a relationship with a church called Nueva Jerusalen (New Jerusalem). It is exciting to be able to see God at work in a different place and in a different culture. We spent a lot of time with William and his wife Karen who are the youth pastor and the director of their Christian school. William is shown with Dana, Anna and Bell (two young adults from Bethel Temple).

Nueva Jerusalen’s neighborhood reminded us of ours in many ways. Kids often played soccer in the alleyway by our house. Soccer is a staple, but they were excited about trying our football!

While we were there, we also participated in building a house for a church family and teaching the teens flag football.

Prayer Requests

-For a decision on how to funnel our support and receive accountability.

-For a local church facing closure. Nes was set to help them build up their youth ministry, but now the church struggling to stay open.

-Nes will begin seminary in February with Biblical Seminary.