Transformation of Clifton, CO
By, Rennae MacFarlane
Feb 4, 2022
We are witnessing God’s transforming power in Clifton, Colorado.
The Background. Clifton is an unincorporated city which, in the past, was mostly neglected by Grand Junction and Mesa County. Mike and I have been living and pastoring a church in Clifton since 2012. When we moved here, the city had a very high crime rate reinforced by a poverty Spirit.
Our ministry has been focused on being a prayer center for the region. We have hosted 12 hours of prayer once a month for each of the 10 years we have lived here and we provided a Food Bank for over 9 of those years to feed people in need. We prayed over and shared the word of God with most of the people that came through the Food Bank. We also were engaged with the Ute Nation on their reservation in the northwest corner of the state. We believe that these ministries to Clifton set the stage for transformation. However, we were not the only ones serving the community.
Since 2013 and earlier, other Christian ministries have also been at work in prayer and action to see a shift in Clifton. The Vineyard Church periodically hosts church in the Clifton park which is in one of the worst crime areas of the community. They have led many other outreaches to serve the area. The Warriors at Heart men’s ministry has held several Prayer Walks throughout Clifton with over 50 men engaging in prayer for the city. The Clifton Christian Church has fed and clothed people in the area as well as holding regular prayer meetings for Clifton for many years.
Even local authorities have been engaged in seeking transformation. The Sheriffs Dept. sent one of their officers to speak at a prayer breakfast in Clifton. He is a spirit-filled believer. He told us that they were implementing a strategy where each officer is responsible for a defined territory in Clifton. As believers, the officers pray over their territory and then knock on doors to make their presence known and get to know the residents and drug dealers alike. He said the officer’s goal is to help the people but if they refuse help, the dealers tend to move out of the area because they know an officer is watching them and the neighbors are on alert about them too. The officer called us as Christians to meet our neighbors and prayer walk. Our ministry and other local churches and ministries have been doing this.
The Transformation. When we moved into Clifton 10 years ago, there weren’t many businesses left in the city. There were many empty buildings and the strip mall near our building was practically abandoned. As I mentioned before, crime as high and Clifton was not known as a safe community.
After many years of serving Clifton through our church and ministry, we noticed that our regulars began to get jobs and prosper in healed bodies, healed relationships and financial increase. The news started reporting the transformation of Clifton and community leaders stepped in financially support improvements across the city.
In 2020, there was a citywide trash cleanup that removed 10 tons of trash from the area and in 2021 another 340 tons of trash were removed. People in the city were interviewed during the clean up and said they felt like they finally had hope again and since then, residents are keeping up their properties in better shape.
As part of the transformation, we now have 2 Maverick gas stations, a Taco John’s, an Arby’s, a Popeye’s, a Mexican restaurant, Freddy’s Steak Burgers, A gym and many other businesses in the strip mall which is now fully occupied by businesses! We are also seeing people now buy and occupy houses that were vacant for years.
At the end of our street, there was a business that was struggling. I personally met with the owners, prayed with them and told them I would continue praying for their business. They now have a bigger building across from the church but instead of 2 guys working for them, they now have at least 5.
We are also seeing a shift in the Clifton schools. Most recently, we now have a conservative majority on the school board which is positively impacting improvements in the schools. The schools here in Clifton have invited local churches to do after school programs. The 970 Church does an after school program as well as a food program in the school.
Clifton parks had no bathrooms, picnic tables or trash cans, and hardly any trees or grass. We found after talking to the youth that there was nothing for them to do and they told us that the crime and graffiti is prevalent because of the lack of places to gather. Somehow, people from the Front Range heard about the issues with the Clifton Park. And is now bringing in grants to fix Clifton parks and build a walkway that connects from the school to the river front trail. Our youth and residents will now have a much improved park in which to gather and enjoy the outdoors.
More transformation continues. The school sold part of the school land to the county which will be breaking ground this summer (2022) on a Clifton Community center. In addition, sidewalks will be added to our main street to make it safer for people to walk in the business area of town.
The results of prayer and people stepping up to transform the city have been astounding. The following are crime statistics from the Mesa County Sheriff's Office for 2018 and it continues to get better in 2022.
1st Quarter 2017 compared to 1st Quarter 2018
Burglary, criminal mischief, property crimes down 41 %
Child Abuse, Child Abandonment down 33%
Sex Crimes down 50%
Drug related deaths were down 50%
Teen Suicides during school year 2016-2017 to 2017-2018, were down from 14 to 1
Believers across Clifton agree that God is answering prayers for our city. God is healing our land!