Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prairie Camp

Our month of August has been jammed full of one thing and that is....CAMP! We are extremely grateful to Prairie Camp for providing scholarships for our teens from Keller Park to come to camp. It was 7 days full of fun, challenges, games, services, "real talk," teachable moments, and ultimately showing kids God in all the ways we could find. Kory & I were blessed like crazy to have Brant Nine and Kalyn Lantz come help counsel the kids alongside us. We took 17 kids in all, 10 boys and 7 girls. There were 7 kids that had been to camp with us the previous year and 10 that experienced it for the first time. Camp is a great way to get to know new kids, the good things and the bad ;) We got to know a few special kids that we are hoping can join our ISI group this fall.

Although there were multiple times were we frustrated and tempted to pack up and go home early, God gave us his love, patience and strength so we could make it through. The kids were hard to handle at times and other times a blast to be around. Kory, Brant, Kalyn & I focused on the "little victories" we saw each day with kid's attitudes and decisions. We talked a lot about being what it means to be "others-centered" and not "me-centered." It was fun to see a couple of the kids really soak in truth from the services and to see their desire to live for God despite tough circumstances.

Here are some pictures of the fun we had our first couple days of camp. More pics to come soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Looking for Approval

Wednesday Night Tutoring is over and the Food Pantry isn't up and running yet. I'm going to blog about something that happened at the court yesterday:

I was at the KPC court yesterday playing futsal, and as we were getting close to finishing, a couple of kids from the neighborhood who frequent church and Wednesday Night Tutoring entered the court area. They stood off to the side respectfully watching. After a few minutes one of them said hi to David, our Children's Church Coordinator. David said hello and the game continued for a few more minutes before concluding. Following the game, I was standing around chatting and heard someone say hello to me, too. I recognized the voice but put my glasses back on to be sure I got it right before replying. It was then that I saw a few 3rd to 4th grade boys standing tall and at the ready trying to project a confidence that was betrayed by their furtive glances away from eye contact.

From the brief glimpses I have into the lives of these boys through church and tutoring, I know that they carry a lot of hurt. They easily get caught up in name calling and fist fights. They have both tested the disciplinary policies of I'm sure just about every program that they've been involved in and carry issues with them that I know at their age they don't fully grasp. Anyway, I felt honored to be on the other side of their search for affirmation, furtive though it may be, and I hope these boys stay in the neighborhood and grow into healthy young men who love and live for the Lord.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"It's not about what you have"-ISI/ Youth

Last week during our "real talk" time, Kory & I talked about a lie that many teenagers are believing today. This lie is that "it's all about what you have." Many of the kids are being faced with this lie daily. The culture today is screaming to them that their importance is connected to how much they have. If they have money, rims on their car, the latest technology, and designer clothes- then they are accepted. We tried to show them that this is not the truth. The Bible says in Matt. 6:19 that we are not to store up treasure on earth because rust destroys the cars we buy, moths eat away the clothes we wear, and robbers break in and steal our flat screen TVs. Our treasures are to be stored in heaven where these things can't take it away from us. What we treasure it where we can tell our hearts condition. We also talked about Matt 6:24 where it is clear that we cannot serve both God and money and 1 Timothy 6:10 that money is the root of all kinds of evil.

It was really good to talk through some of these verses and issues with the kids. Some of the verses seemed confusing because all their life they have been taught by this world and culture that money is something to pursue and something that will make you happy, but that's not the truth. They are being lied to. At the end we listened to the song "Cash or Christ" by Christian rapper, Trip Lee. Good song, good lyrics. All in all it was a great night. Will you join me in prayer that our kids will not believe the lies our culture throws at them? And that they would know that it really is NOT about what you have, it's about WHO you have- and that is Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Drawing to a Close - Wednesday Night Tutoring

This coming Wednesday will be our last regular tutoring night. On May 4th we'll have a cookout party. South Bend schools will still be going for awhile, but since so many of our tutors are Bethel students, we'll be ending our tutoring school year a little earlier than the SBCSC school year.

Truth be told, the last few weeks of tutoring have been quite troubling from a behavior standpoint. It's hard to know how to address this problem since acceptable behavior is our baseline for doing anything at Wednesday Night Tutoring. When behavior is as bad as it was last week, we can't really do anything with the kids. We dismissed half an hour early and struggled to keep fistfights from breaking out on the way home. It's disappointing how these recent troubles can overshadow some of the progress that we've noticed over the school year. I share this not in the spirit of complaining but in the spirit of reporting what's actually happening.

On the constructive side, we have plans next year to make firmer connection with our kids' families in the hopes that this will help out with some of these behavior issues. I hope with this firmer connection that we can better support and guide the KP kids who attend tutoring and that we can involve families in the educational, moral, and social development that takes place at Wednesday Night Tutoring. In short, I think we can do better next year by expanding our focus to include families, not just individual KP kiddos.

In the midst of trials and triumphs, the tutors we've had this year have been tremendous. They've given of their lives and their schedules to provide something that all kids need and crave, one-to-one attention from a loving adult. This is what makes Wednesday Night Tutoring work.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rollercoaster Weather

I am excited to say that the KPCourt has been open for almost 3 weeks now and it has definitely been used. Nearly every day after 3:00 in the afternoon kids are storming the court getting all their energy out. It has been a joy to see kids of all different ages, races, and family backgrounds play together on the court and enjoy some of the beautiful weather in the past couple of weeks. It is our prayer that this court continues to be a safe place where kids can exercise and play, rather than getting into trouble elsewhere. Hopefully the weather continues to get better and we can get over the cold weather hump soon (unlike we did today)! If you think about it be praying that these kids would learn to play together and relationships would be built between the kids and KP adults in the neighborhood!

If you enjoy kids and want to be a part of their life come to the court anytime after school to play with the neighborhood kids. They would love to shoot some hoops with you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rivers of Life

Last week we went on a River Prayer walk. It was a glorious thing. We brought a guitar and a Bible and walked to a place were we could sit, sing, and pray together. The warmth of the sun reminded us of the Son and how He is the giver of all life. It is so cool to see life come forth during the spring time. It is a reminder of how he brings forth life from what seems completely dead. To grow, the grass and trees and leaves need the sunshine. For us to grow, as a church and a body, we need the Son. Sitting before Him and asking Him to teach us, grows us together in unity and in love.
As summer gets nearer I would love to have more prayer walks through the neighborhood and along the river. If you like the idea, please contact me or talk to me so I can make sure it happens and so you know when and where this takes place. Also, If you sit outside this week just to soak up the sunshine (or even if you don't) I encourage you to sit before our Father and ask Him to penetrate you with His truth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is ready for spring! As the winter lingers on, our Thursday night meeting has seen its ups and downs. As with the nature of addiction, the roller coaster of supporting each other can wear on one’s heart and emotions. The core group continues to hold together in God’s strength and truth as newcomers come and go. There have been some difficult times, where I wish I could magically take away all the pain, bondage and hopelessness of those I come in contact with. As we pray together, we are humbled in realizing that only God can heal them His they seek Him. At times, it’s easy to lose our faith and hope for those whose circumstances seem too challenging. Yet, the power of God’s work in the lives of us who have experienced His redeeming grace reminds us that there is hope for them also! Thank God for the living testimonies of peoples’ lives and experiences of victory in Him. We shall press on together.