The Cross & Crown Ministry was founded in 2001 by Paul and Suzanne Whitmire, and since that time this ministry has assisted thousands of individuals and families with their physical and spiritual needs. Cross & Crown continues to provide for the needy in various ways, including food baskets, clothing closet, AA meetings, free medical clinic, after school programs, Sunday night church, transitional housing, job training, help with addictions, legal services, etc. Several Oakcrest members support this work by providing food baskets, assisting in the Rebuilding the Walls Program (house rehabs for needy families), medical assistance, etc., as well as mission funds budgeted for the food pantry.
In 2011, Luke and Mackenzie Whitmire became part of Oakcrest’s missionary families. Luke serves as an integral part of the work at Cross & Crown, serving as a youth minister/counselor/mentor, etc. to children and youth that come to the Mission, as well as being involved in all other aspects of this ministry. Luke is married to Mackenzie and they have two daughters, Landree and Quinn. In July 2014, Oakcrest began supporting Drew Whitmire at Cross & Crown. Oakcrest is partially funding his monthly support. Drew serves as the Donations Director, and his responsibilities include gathering donations, as well as working with the Oklahoma Food Bank, mentoring several young men and several adult men volunteers and working wherever needed to relieve some of the work load from Paul and Luke. Drew and his wife, Amanda, have two boys, Braylon and Jude.
When Rock Island first started in 2006 (and when we first started doing youth related activities in 2003) college attendance was absolutely, most definitely not something that was an objective of ours for the kids we were working with at the time. And, to be sure, “college” was a term that less than half our kids had even heard of or had the faintest idea what all it entailed. We were more concerned with immediate happenings and short-term related issues such as: attending school on a daily basis and why it was/is important to go to school to learn (which is still a struggle for many of our kids), listening/following instructions, respecting other students and/or adult leaders at Rock Island – a lot of behavioral related issues.
The beginning of the Fall semester in 2015 was an exciting time for me personally as it marked the first time in Cross & Crown’s history that God had allowed us to be a part in housing two boys in our transitional housing apartments as they began their freshman year in college. This time was especially exciting because these boys grew up in the neighborhood, attended Rock Island since the age of 8 years old and we have seen them grow from small, troublesome boys to young, responsible adults.
God continues to show us amazing amounts of grace at Cross & Crown and I pray that He will continue to be honored and receive recognition for the work done in this place.
As 2015 ends and 2016 begins, with lots of things changing, there is one thing that has stayed the same, God’s faithfulness. Trying to look back on 2015 as a year is tough to do, but a few things stick out to me that are tough not to remember. First is that God does not expect us to have every single detail of every single day planned out, according to what WE think needs to be done or accomplished. He simply asks us to show up and be available to His plan for that day. This has been something that I have tried to work on with Him because I naturally am a very organized and detail oriented person. This was and is a hard lesson for me to accept in regards to the ongoing and continuous attempt to raise a Godly man in Alex.
As many of you know, Alex is Alejandro Espinoza and is the kid we have known since he was 6 years old, the day his mother died of a drug overdose. For the following 14 years, Alex has grown up in the neighborhood 4 houses down from Cross & Crown. He has grown up in Rock Island and as a lot of kids from this demographic do, has ran into his fair share of problems. It was a daily struggle to get him to not only graduate H.S. but to show up everyday and complete his studies on a daily basis. Not only did he graduate H.S. but he was the first All-State Cross Country runner to ever attend Northwest Classen H.S. (God’s miracle) Never during the process of trying to raise this kid did college really cross our minds, nor Alex’s. With his track success, colleges began to inquire and offer some scholarships to attend their prospective university. This in itself was something Alex didn’t even comprehend because no one in his extended family had ever stepped foot on a college/university. Long story short, Alex isn’t just going to any college/university, he is attending York Christian College in Nebraska and has a FULL SCHOLARSHIP! This process has probably been God speaking to me directly as much as it has been a blessing to Alex….there is absolutely no way or reason that this kid should be in college much less, the school paying his entire board/tuition, but God doesn’t stop there, He provides a CHRISTIAN university!
When I look back on the year as a whole, I can’t help but say it was a success because of the miracles God showed me personally and the ways He continues to show me that nothing I do, or we do here at Cross & Crown will be a success unless He is at the head of it. God is so good and can provide so much more than we can ask or imagine!
As donations director, I am continuously amazed at how God places people, churches, organizations in our path that want to donate and assist in Cross & Crown being able to do what we do. The donations have been steady, I have been plenty busy with pickups/donations that allow our clothing/furniture store to succeed and provide a much needed monetary boost to the mission.