Cross Over Ministries is a Christ-Centered Community committed to cultivating mental health opportunities.
We promote individual recovery and wellness through hope, opportunity, mercy and encouragement.
Cross Over Ministries’ core values are Bible-based and provide the essence of who we are in Christ Jesus. He is our HOPE (confident expectation), and He gave us the OPPORTUNITY to live abundant lives through the MERCY He showed to us by dying on the cross for our sins. Our ENCOURAGEMENT through His Holy Spirit enables us to partner with Him in Kingdom purposes. Therefore as a Christ-Centered Community, we as members of Cross Over Ministries, will cultivate mental health opportunities by promoting individual recovery and wellness through:
Hope — Beginning the journey of recovery by accepting who you are and discovering who God created you to be.
May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope in the power of the Spirit. Romans 15:13
Opportunity — Fostering your optimal wellness by focusing on your spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational and educational need.
Be careful, then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity. Ephesians 5:15-16a
Mercy — Building your self-esteem and respect by providing a haven of honesty, trust and forgiveness.
When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. Titus 3:4-5a
Encouragement — Continuing to help you actively pursue your God-given gifts and abilities so that you can inspire others to live a life of purpose.
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11
Biblical Cities of Refuge
Cross Over Ministries believes that there is a correlation between the Old Testament Cities of Refuge which were ordained by God and what we see as a Christ Centered Mental Health Ministry. In order to understand this correlation, we have to understand the call of God to His people in the Old Testament to establish these Cities. We hope you will take the time to read about the Cities of Refuge to discover with us the biblical basis for Cross Over Ministries.
Overview of the Cities of Refuge
The first mention by God to Moses about a place to flee “that I will designate” is in Exodus. God is instructing Moses about the laws His people are to obey when they settle in the Promised Land. The Lord does not give any specifics about these designated places at this point, but He spoke about them at the same time He gave His people the Ten Commandments and other Covenant responsibilities. This proves that along with all of God’s commandments, these places to flee were of utmost importance to Him and should be of utmost importance to His people as well.
When God established the immense boundaries of the land of Canaan, He allowed His chosen leaders to assign the land to the tribes of Israel. Although God was very specific about the boundaries, He trusted His leaders to faithfully divide the land and give a fair inheritance to the chosen servants who had completed the long journey through the desert. God also allotted a specific number of towns to the Levites (48 in all), which would include the pasturelands around the towns for their cattle, flocks and other livestock. He gave vision, clarity and authority to His people as it related to their inheritance and the promise He had made to them 40 years earlier.
NUMBERS 35: 6-34
Before all of the tribes of Israel received their land allotments, the Lord spoke to Moses again about the places He would designate for people to flee. This time, God also gave specifics about these places. They were called Cities of Refuge. God initiated the Cities of Refuge. This was not an idea thought up by man, but an example of how God values each and every life.
The Cities of Refuge were towns where the Levites lived, the tribe of the Israelites who had specific religious duties and were responsible for knowing and teaching the laws of God. They were the priestly tribe. Their lives were dedicated and committed to doing the Lord’s work. To the Israelites, the Levites represented God and His Kingdom purposes on earth.
So, why did God command Cities of Refuge to be established? These specific cities were to be a place anyone who accidentally* killed someone could live. If a person who committed murder did not flee to a City of Refuge, then the “avenger of blood” could kill them to avenge the death of their relative. As soon as someone approached one of these cities, he had to declare his cause “in the ears of the elders of that city” (Joshua 20:4) before he could enter it. The avenger of blood could no longer seek revenge once the person was admitted to the City of Refuge. Justice and truth ruled in these cities and the laws of the Living God were obeyed. These towns were for everyone, not just the Israelites, but for all people living among them.
* #8705 from Kohlenberger’s Hebrew Dictionary: “Segagah” — An unintentional wrong
Our Lord assigned six Cities of Refuge and He was very detailed about where these cities should be placed. God wanted to make sure that any person who fled to one of these cities could get there quickly. There was never more than a day’s journey in Israel to any one of these cities. Time was of the essence when you were fleeing. Three of the cities were on the east side of the Jordan; the other three were to be in Canaan.
One other interesting fact about these Cities of Refuge was that God instructed His people to prepare a way to these cities (Deuteronomy 19:3). Most roads in ancient Palestine at that time were in deplorable condition, but the roads leading to these cities were kept pristine. Jewish writers also state that guideposts were placed at every crossroad on the journey to one of these cities with the word, “Refuge”, “miqlat” in Hebrew, (#4733 in Strong’s Concordance) on it.
God gave instructions on what crimes were considered accidental murder and what crimes were not. The Lord realized, and wanted His people to realize, that people fleeing to Cities of Refuge were not criminals. An accidental murder was something that happened TO the person, not something the person MADE happen.
It was the duty and responsibility of the chosen Assembly of God to protect the one accused of murder from the avenger of blood until a verdict had been reached. If it was found that the person who fled to the city had committed an accidental murder, then they were allowed to stay in the city. They became a part of their “new” community and were able to begin again, though not without hurt and pain.
Can you imagine how a person who accidentally killed someone must have felt? I am sure there was relief that the avenger of blood could not kill him, but the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual toll must have been overwhelming. And, the loss of family, friends, and his known way of life added to his despair.
Yet, our God is mighty, forgiving and just! He made a way even for those who lives were shattered and broken to be able to stInart over. The provision that Yahweh made for someone found guilty of involuntary manslaughter to return to his family and his friends points directly to our Refuge, Jesus Christ. The person could go home only after the death of the High Priest. The High Priest was the only one who could go before God and atone for the sins of the people. He represented all who sought refuge. When he died, he bore the iniquity of spilled blood to his own grave. With the death of the High Priest, it was thought that no matter what sin the person had committed, he could now leave the City of Refuge and return to his home. Their guilt has been absolved. They could begin again.
Moses did exactly what God had instructed and named the Cities of Refuge on the east side of the Jordan. The cities were Bezer (“fortification”), Ramoth (“exalted”) and Golan (“joy”). In implicit obedience to God and realizing the importance of and need for these cities, Moses proceeded to establish them as soon as God revealed His plan and purpose. Perhaps Moses realized what God already knew — that too many innocent people were dying, that there was a great need for people to have a place to flee, a place of Refuge and an opportunity to be reconciled to God and God’s people. Perhaps, too, these places offered hope and healing and restoration not only for those who had accidentally committed murder, but also to those who may have avenged the death of another prematurely and thus been guilty of murder themselves.
Joshua is a book where promise and fulfillment meet, where courage and strength take shape and form, and where victory is exciting and compelling. It displays the remarkable life of a chosen servant whose deep trust in God allowed him to follow God’s purposes in leadership and covenant commitment. It is also a book where our Lord reiterates the designation of the Cities of Refuge to Joshua as He had instructed Moses.
In Joshua 20, three more cities are established. They are Kedesh (“holy”), Shechem (“shoulder”) and Hebron (“fellowship”). Again, God states His purpose in having Cities of Refuge. The leaders and people realized that the Lord placed extreme importance on these cities because He told two chosen leaders to establish them.
One more fascinating Scripture regarding the Cities of Refuge was recently brought to my attention. Although I had read these verses before, they took on new meaning. Moses speaking as a Prophet of the Lord:
”If the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as He promised on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land He promised them, because you carefully follow all the laws I command you today — to love the Lord your God and walk always in obedience to Him — then you are to set aside three more cities. Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land which the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.”
Unfortunately, the Israelites never established more Cities of Refuge because they did not take full possession of the Promised Land.
The Vision for Cross Over Ministries
I believe that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Cities of Refuge. In Hebrews 6:17-18, it states that God confirmed His promise with an oath, to make the “unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” The readers of Peter’s letter to the Hebrews would have had an immediate image of a City of Refuge when they read this because of the similar language used.
Our Lord was divinely appointed to be a safe haven for the guilty and oppressed, accessible to all no matter their background or past, the Only Hope for us. He was clearly revealed in Scriptures as the Messiah and King, the Sacrifice and the Way. Only by the death of our High Priest are we set free, and only by His life are we made whole. No longer can the avenger of blood pursue us, for we have been bought with a price, the price of the willing death of our Messiah, our Kinsmen Redeemer. He is the Lord of the Jubilee!
As it was in the lives of Moses and Joshua, so it is now. It takes God’s people to hear, listen and obey the word of the Lord. It takes places of Refuge to allow those that are accused, oppressed and forsaken to be given the opportunity to seek a better way of life. And, it takes obedient and dedicated Christians to establish these safe havens so that those who need refuge can discover freedom and acceptance in an environment of Hope, Opportunity, Mercy, and Encouragement.
I believe that for far too long the Church as a whole has chosen to either ignore or to hand over the responsibility of recovery for those impacted by mental health conditions and substance use disorders to government entities. We, as a Christian Community, have ignored the Word of the Lord to reach out to people in need of knowing that they are valued in God’s kingdom. We have not been a resource of hope. We have not been intimately involved in the daily lives of people and their families who suffer silently from the stigma, financial oppression, and ignorance of others that contribute to a cycle of despair. Families have been torn apart. Innocent blood has been shed. Precious lives have been lost.
Knowing this, we as a Church, can no longer ignore the Word of the Lord and the cry of His people. Now is the time to work together as a Christian community to be what God has always called us to be — a “City of Refuge”. We can, by God’s grace, establish Cross-Over Ministries, a ministry that provides the much needed spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, social and educational support to people and their families impacted by mental health conditions and substance use disorders.
The essence of a Christ-Centered Mental Health Ministry is embodied in giving hope to everyone who recognizes their need to “flee” from what is destroying their life and run to a place of refuge. That place, a HOME, would offer an opportunity for recovery and wellness in an environment of Christian values centered on God’s Word.
So, why the name, “Cross Over Ministries”? One of the reasons for the name may be quite evident: The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is our only Refuge. His Cross over us makes Him our Kinsmen-Redeemer. Our hope and our freedom can only be found in the Cross.
And yet, God has given us another reason for the name, “Cross Over Ministries”. It is affiliated with our Heritage, our Hebrew brothers and sisters who crossed over to the Promised Land. The Hebrew word for “Hebrews” is “Ivrim”, and the translation for “Ivrim” is “the people of the cross-over”. God’s chosen people were defined by crossing-over. Our Lord has chosen to define a Christ Centered Mental Health Ministry in the same way.
There is a New Testament Scripture that shares a cross-over experience of Jesus. In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus and His disciples went across the Lake of Galilee to the region of Gerasenes. They were met by a man who was an outcast. He was feared by all and lived among the tombs by himself. This man was spiritually, mentally, emotionally and socially depleted and his isolation made him worse. Chains on his hands and irons on his feet could not hold him. He was violent and cut himself with rocks. Yet, when He experienced the freeing power of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, this very same man was found, “dressed and in his right mind”.
His life so completely changed that after his conversion, he wanted to be a follower of the Man who saved him. Jesus, however, had other plans for him. He told this man to “go HOME to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”
He did just that. He went to a group of highly cultured Greek cities (the Decapolis) and gave his testimony. “And the people were amazed”.
In other words, Jesus gave this man a commission to testify to the Gentiles of his recovery and wellness through the power of the Holy Spirit. He became the first missionary!
We, too, have been called to testify of the power and mercy of God in our own lives. He wants us to cross-over and meet people right where they are and allow Him the opportunity to take their brokenness and shattered lives and restore them to who He created them to be — His Chosen People!
We have a long road ahead of us, but it is a road that leads to new life. Join us, please, as we Cross-Over into the Promised Land, take back the stolen ground and partner with our Lord to bring Hope, Opportunity, Mercy and Encouragement to His precious children.
What Did Cities of Refuge Offer to Encourage Recovery and Wellness?
- God’s people who know of His life-giving grace
- Easy access
- A place to live, not hide
- Good food
- Others who know what you are going through
- Opportunity to deal with the past
- Time to re-discover your God-given talents and gifts
- Knowing you are valued and have purpose
- Opportunity to “return” and share your testimony