Each staff member at Denver Rescue Mission has a special blend of ingredients that make them uniquely capable of serving our community – personal experience, passions, tribulations, God-given wisdom. In an effort to recognize each other more often, we have decided to start spotlighting a team member we think our supporters will love as much as we do. This month’s spotlight is on Dan Dilley, chaplain at The Crossing.
Dan Dilley was a bit out of his element when he first arrived in downtown Denver, coming from Blanca Colorado, a rural town outside Alamosa with a population of just over 400. First positioned as Volunteer Coordinator at the Lawrence Street Shelter, Dan was greeted by the downtown buzz of the infamous Triangle Park. His new job: a far cry from his former as a pastor at a small church.
While he said pastoring a small church “was a wonderful experience,” one that taught him to wear many hats, Dan was “stimulated to minister more.”
He found those ministering opportunities “by the truck load” at The Lawrence Street Shelter and was surprised that he really “enjoyed the energy of downtown.” Moving put him closer to his family (2 kids and 6 grandkids) and being in the heart of the city was eye-opening.
“Going into the fire and the gunsmoke downtown was really good for me,” he said. “I was really able to learn some of the foundation of who the homeless are — where they come from. I was able to rub shoulders with them.”
Proximity, however, didn’t automatically equal discipleship: Dan said it was a process to work his way into the lives of those he encountered.
“Most of them wouldn’t give me the time of day,” he said. “I think they were asking, who is this guy and does he really care about us at all? There weren’t many opportunities to sit down in the Word at first. But these opportunities started to arise after I loved them and served them and made friends with them. I saw opportunities arise that would have never happened had I not done that first. That was a big lesson for me.”
Dan pursued the role of chaplain at The Crossing in 2012 where he got even more opportunities to disciple in a more consistent role.
“Now I’m really getting to do what God has stirred in my heart for years and years,” he said. “My favorite part is literally pastoring these guys, face to face, so that we can fellowship around the Word of God.”
Yet Dan admits the rule he learned at Lawrence Street still applies: One needs to truly embody the love of Jesus before they’ll be effective teaching the Word.
“I can beat you over the head with the Word of God as good as anyone can, but to just live our lives in front of people with a true compassion and a love of Christ…it goes so far to show that Jesus is real — that he’s not just some dead religion.” He said. “I have discovered that relationship evangelism is bigger than I ever knew it was.”
It’s that old adage: People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Dan clearly tries to live by this principle. The Mission is lucky to have him. And Dan feels lucky to have the Mission.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Mission team,” said Dan. “I love the camaraderie of our team — a team where every person is as important and critical as the other – a team that loves the Lord and shares the love of Christ.”