Greetings from Oklahoma and greetings from Surrey Hills! You may have opened this letter thinking, “I hope this isn’t another generic fundraising letter from a religious organization” and if that is the case, then I have good news! While I am fundraising, I think you will find this letter to be anything but generic and it’s certainly not from a “religious organization”. I can assure you; “fundraising” has nothing to do with the heart and sincerity behind the words I’m about to share with you. With that being said, I would like to share a little story with you.
This story starts with a girl, who was born and raised in a very “religious” upbringing. I was hurt and burned by the church and watched it hurt my family. As soon as I was old enough, I ran and never looked back. Luckily, there’s no escaping the love of God. His plan for me has been one that the most brilliant writer in the world could never come close to imagining. After over a decade of running from “religion”, my husband and I found ourselves with a baby boy and a longing to connect with one another on a much deeper level. Long story short, we found ourselves in a wonderful little church near our home, that God used to change the course of our lives.
The next few years, God had some serious work to do on me, friends! It took so much to erase all that junk that I had in my head that was consumed in guilt and led to all my preconceived (and incorrect) notions of who God was. I quickly learned the difference between “religion” and “relationship”. I quickly learned that I shouldn’t stop loving God because of people who claimed to represent God, misrepresenting Him. I quickly learned that “church” had little to do with a building and a checklist of “do’s and don’ts” and everything to do with community, authentic relationships, and loving and serving people. Most importantly, I learned that it wasn’t about the good things that I do or the mistakes that I make, but it’s about what our God has done and continues to do, and how we get to join Him in this adventure we call “life”.
The freedom, joy, and peace I have within my heart is like nothing I can describe. It has filled me up so much, that I could not help myself, but to start dreaming. I dreamed about my neighborhood, and planting a church here, but not just any church. No, I dreamed of a place of inclusion, to love and serve all people in our community. A place for community plays, girl scout meetings, summer camps for kids, a place to hang out and make memories, or to do school supply drives, or local fundraisers. A place for families in our neighborhood to come and enjoy time with one another, as they fish, picnic, go on a walk, etc. A place that would be intentional about meeting young people where they are and pouring into their future by offering programs that will help train them in both ministry and life skills.
Guys, this was a HUGE dream. Our church is currently in a double-wide trailer house and we are by no means a wealthy church, at least not monetarily. While our pocketbooks and building were small, our heart was mighty. I started cold calling every empty property owner I knew. Over 3 years, I either called or wrote a personal letter to everyone who owned a lot or building within a mile of my neighborhood to tell them about my dream and asked for a miracle. It seemed like closed door, after closed door, after closed door. However, the dream was not going away. In fact, the vision was becoming brighter and even more clear. So, while we waited on the location, we started living the dream without the building. I got out and got to know my neighborhood, with no ulterior motives other than to be a good neighbor. We started serving our neighborhood elementary school and did fundraisers to pay off the past-due lunch accounts so that all the kiddos could get a hot lunch. We started sponsoring neighborhood celebrations in almost every season including a neighborhood trunk or treat, a neighborhood Christmas parade, and a friendly annual water balloon battle. We started a neighborhood summer camp and hosted it at the local school. That camp has grown beyond our wildest dreams and is filled with neighborhood kiddos who are learning all about the love of God, the beauty of community, and having a total blast in a summer camp setting. We did all this, with no building in the community, little funds, and few people.
Well, here we are 5 years later, and my dream is coming true. We were blessed by a generous property owner in our community as well as a denomination that believed in what we were doing. We purchased land on the community pond and will be building a beautiful church and ministry training center this year. The whole building will also be able to serve as a “community center” just like we had hoped. We will even be offering internships and residencies to college students to be able to experience what “community church” is all about as well as some amazing life skills like budgeting, graphic design, fundraising, diversity and inclusion training, and so much more. I am so excited to tell you that I have been chosen to be the Ministry Training Center Coordinator for this new program and church plant.
Well folks, that brings us to the “fundraising” part of this letter. *DUN DUN DUNNNN*! While we were blessed with funding for the building, we still have a long way to go. I cannot help train young people about fundraising, unless I am out there fundraising myself. Being offered this job is a huge blessing, and I genuinely believe that we can make a difference in the life of our community and the young people within it, but we need help. I know it is a difficult time right now for many, but if you feel moved in your heart and are able to donate, I would be so incredibly grateful. Right now, I’m only working 15 hours a week, but my heart is to go full-time and let’s face it, this is going to be (heck, it already is) a full-time job. My dream is to be able to raise the funds so that I can put all my effort into this dream come true and into the life of my community so we can make a real impact on people. Helping them, serving them, and loving them, no matter who or where they are in life. Your donations will not only support me, but support these programs that will enrich the lives of all kinds of people. Whether your donation is $5 or $500k, every penny and every thought and prayer you can offer, is more appreciated than you could ever know.
I will include all the information for giving below. I just want to thank you so much for the time you have put in to reading this letter. Thank you for the impact you have made in my life that I would think of you to send a letter to. You are all so loved and appreciated.
All my love and gratitude,
Ceeja Lowber Malmkar
MTC Coordinator/ GC Surrey Hill
If you wish to not donate online, you can make checks out to: “GC Surrey Hills” and mail to:
11101 NW 111th Street
Yukon, OK 73099