Alumnus heads up community center to reach Hispanics in Texas

by Andy Stewart staff writer

Could you cut your community’s crime rate in half with two rooms and a computer lab? Since Colby Mowery, international ministries graduate of 2012, became the community outreach coordinator of the Grapevine Police Department in Grapevine, Texas, his community has seen a 40% decrease in crime in one year, while the rest of Grapevine has seen a 20% increase.

During his junior year, Mowery heard about a small community center that the police department had started in Grapevine with the mission to increase communication and cooperation with the residents in a densely populated, predominantly Hispanic area of the city.

During Thanksgiving break of his senior year, Mowery went and talked to the chief of police about the center. “I went in because I was interested by the project; I was intrigued by it,” he said. “I just wanted to learn more and thought I would be able to offer some interesting tips that I had learned in Mexico and Chicago.”

The police chief offered him a job on the spot. Mowery explained, “He said, ‘I want you to do this,’ and he said, ‘If you don’t do this, I don’t know when anyone else will do it.’”

When Mowery moved to Grapevine, little was known about the demographics of the community — so he began researching. He said, “I had to put those down to statistics at some point, because numbers are what talk.”

The results, he said, were staggering. The population density within a half-mile radius of the center was higher than the rest of Grapevine, with 5,200 residents: the equivalent of 10% of the city. Of the 5,200 people in the community, 40% of the residents had a combined household income of less than 40k annually and 27% had no high school diploma or GED certificate. In contrast, among the population directly outside that radius, only 4% did not have a diploma or GED.

In response to the statistics, Mowery worked with a nearby college to open up a free GED program for residents as well as the option to pursue continuing education. Mowery said, “Just this weekend, we turned seven more to go test for their GED.”

More important than the program’s success in decreasing crime is the affect his work is having for the kingdom of God, said Mowery. Though he occasionally has the opportunity to share the gospel in homes, he said his biggest ministry is building a platform for others to minister in the programs he starts and events he organizes.

The center’s afterschool program, for instance, has a thirty-minute Bible lesson three times a week presented by a long-time missionary; Christian parenting classes offered once a month; and free Christian counseling is available. Also, from eight churches in the area, Mowery has enlisted Christians to teach English classes and be a part of their community events.

These community events have also brought people to faith in Christ. At one particular event, after a Christian clowning company performed, Mowery said thirty people prayed to receive Christ. Mowery said he and his new wife, MJ, look forward to the possibility of future ministry in France or Spain. Wherever he lives, he always wants to minister cross-culturally.

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