This is not a Farewell

Leading up to my sabbatical last summer, there was a stirring indication that my time as the leader for Pekin Campus Life might be coming to an end. Coupled with a dream Ky and I have had of retreating to the mountains of Colorado when we retire, opportunities began to arise.

I guess our ‘later’ dreams were challenged as we began to investigate whether ‘later’ was actually sooner. And encouragingly enough some pieces began to fit. Since March, Ky has accepted a job in Colorado, we purchased a piece of land there for a fraction of asking price and our home here in Pekin sold without listing. Whew, all of those things were such a relief!

It has been an honor to call Campus Life work and Pekin home for the past 10 years. Along with serving on the team prior to employment, it’s been an incredible 15 years of ministry. It feels almost selfish of me to not pass this on so someone else can share in the joy of how God works through relational ministry in Pekin. The word ‘work’ doesn’t really describe it. Calling Youth for Christ my vocation has allowed me to take my ordinary life and live an everyday mission of helping teens discover a relationship with Jesus. 

But as the title states, this is not a farewell…

Sure, Ky, Norton and I are moving, and won’t be physically here but we’re still ‘here’ because relationships are not tied to proximity. We hope to make a home there soon and we’d love to have you stay over as our guest as soon as possible.

Pekin Campus Life isn’t going anywhere. Your Youth for Christ leadership is still committed to ministry in Pekin. We’re not ready to announce the who, what, or when’s of the transition but a plan is in place. Also, my employment with Youth for Christ is not over. I will transition into a remote role, supporting the Peoria team in marketing, communication and technology.  

So there it is, my attempt to wrap up 15 years of ministry in 400 words or less. Ky and I would covet your prayers in this transition. Lives were and will continue to be changed by God through this ministry!

Body Builders Mission Trip

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Psalm 127:1 says,”Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” That’s how our newest City Life adventure (the above group plus two people not pictured) took us to the South Miami community of Homestead,FL. The trip was named for our efforts to serve with our YFC City Life family and The Movement Church. Corey and Robin Sanders have been connected with YFC Camp for more than a decade and planted a church four years ago. Praying and planning, we wanted to expose our teens to travel (a 5 a.m. bus from Bradley to O’Hare, security, boarding, not to mention the flight), as 9 of the 13 had never been on a plane. Experiencing the beauty and culture of places they have only seen on TV, and encouraging our teens to connect with the Body was our goal. This revealed who God created us to be when we are kingdom-minded in our efforts, as well as advancing the Gospel in word and deed by serving other communities and our YFC/Movement family.

Our team took on projects at West Homestead K-8, refreshing their raised planting beds to encourage class projects for their students. At the Police Athletic League  Center, we cleaned storage/laundry areas, rearranged table, chairs, and supplies for their after school program in the main gym, and outside the center we scraped and repainted backboards. We also served at “The Table,” a free meal in the park outside of the PAL center. During the event we watched 12-15 young people shooting baskets at the pole the backboards should have been on, so we knew that project would serve that neighborhood in a mighty way. Touching Miami With Love has an after school program that serves the neighborhood. We painted and created sound reducing panels in their building. At KIX, a YFC teen center, we spent a day promoting and setting up for a free community concert with Pastor Corey, Fro, and local Gospel rappers. The event was packed with different youth organizations and teens from the neighborhood, a powerful night of truth and music.  

After days of projects and events, creating and building relationships, we enjoyed a free day to take in the culture. We started the morning on South Beach, then experienced Cuban food and Caribbean music. We shopped at an outdoor mall in downtown Miami next to where the Miami Heat play, which was an awesome place to get all of that. 

Bodybuilders’ goal of impacting the future leaders of our community and allowing us to share God’s incredible love with everyone involved was a priority for us.

Thank you for your continuous love and support as we journey near or far to the places God shows us. Be assured that discipleship is happening in all we do!

Getting Locked Up AGAIN

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Yes, you read that correctly. I’m getting locked up in the Juvenile Detention Center AGAIN. JJM is hosting its SECOND  lock up fundraiser to raise funds for the mission, and I need your help! I am raising $1,000+ to be locked up for 24 hours in the Juvenile Detention Center. During this time, our team will eat our meals with the residents, perform our regular programming, and experience what the youth experience…even being locked up over night!

Why choose this fundraiser? Besides the fact that I know you’d love a chance to put me “behind bars,” it’s an awesome opportunity to empathize with these teens. We are implementing what God calls us to do in Hebrews 13:3, which says, “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” “…as if you were there yourself.”

To send me to JDC, please help me reach the goal of raising $1,000+, for the ministry above and beyond regular giving. Out of the $1,000+ our JJM team hopes to receive $200+ in new or increased monthly gifts. You can contribute through any of the following: become a new donor, increase your monthly giving, submit an additional yearly gift or an extra one time gift (NO amount is too small- even $30/month goes a long way in advancing this ministry!). Thank you for being faithful to this ministry.


If you would like to lock me up! 

Please visit www.yfcpeoria.org/give. Select JJM and under the comment section type JJM Lock-Up Fundraiser.  You can also fill out the information below and send in your donation. 

SAVE THE DATE: MAY 4th @ 5pm-8pm so you can come and hear about my experience and tour the Juvenile Detention Center. RSVP is required so please let me know if you plan to attend. Thank you so much for your support of Juvenile Justice Ministry.

A FOUNDATION

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AFTER SEPTEMBER 11TH, the City of New York decided to rebuild the twin towers. Instead of immediately building back up, they initially dug down. They spend three years building below the street level. That’s three years of work before people from the street could even tell a new building was going up. They did this because they wanted this new building, Freedom Tower, to be the strongest building ever built. They knew the importance of having a strong foundation. 

Since October, I feel like we’ve been digging down at Richwoods Campus Life. Five months of laying a foundation - five months of raising funds, five months of putting together a leadership team, five months of building community support, five months of building awareness… 

Now we build up. Now we have a solid base of financial support (a good start anyway.) Now we have a leadership team that is trained and empowered to dive into the messy lives of teenagers at Richwoods High School. Now we have the structure in place that we need to ensure that Campus Life at Richwoods isn’t just a one or two year thing. We want Richwoods Campus Life to leave an impact far beyond the students who are just here now. 

We want years and years worth of Richwoods students to be impacted by the gospel. 

On March 17th, we had our first Richwoods Campus Life event… Richwoods students met their ministry leaders for the first time. The students have no idea now, but the truth is that many of these leaders will have a lasting, eternal impact on those students’ lives. Some of these leaders will be invited to students’ graduation parties. Some of these leaders will be invited to students future weddings. Some will stay in touch decades after high school because of the impact they’ve made. Each one  will love kids where they are at, in the midst of their mess - and in the process, point them to the hope that is found in Jesus.



YFC Camp - Carolina Point

This summer we are taking around 175 students and leaders to YFC Camp in North Carolina. Every year, this is life-changing trip for any kid that comes. I’m hoping to take one cabin of guys and one cabin of girls from Richwoods for our inaugural trip to YFC Camp. We will have fundraisers and scholarships available for students, but even then we often have kids who can’t come to camp because of financial reasons. Would you be willing to sponsor a Richwoods student’s trip to camp for $525? Send me an email if you’d like to help!

Complacency

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We all like our conveniences and comforts. High school students aren’t any different. It’s easy for them to come to the same place every week, hang out with the same people and be generally comfortable. But Campus Life is most successful when people from different backgrounds get together and find community with people they normally wouldn’t spend time with. 

Over this long winter complacency set in. New faces became rarer and it’s something we needed to talk about. We did something we’d hadn’t done before. We pulled back the curtain to share with students the fundamentals of Campus Life. That our hope was to go where students are, build a rapport with them, earn the right to speak into their life, show them The Gospel in a real and tangible way pointing them both to Jesus and the local church. We explained the kind of students we want to see at Campus Life, often don’t quite fit in anywhere else.

The challenge was accepted and there was even more dialogue as the night was ending. 

The next week Evan shows up at the invitation of a fellow student. It didn’t take long to introduce him around. Evan was enthusiastic to make new friends and sit down for a snack. A couple of leaders made a really good connection and he returned the next week!

It’s a big win to have Evan be a part Campus Life with us as well as the others that friends are inviting. It’s also a win for students to hear a message and act on it for the benefit of their friends.

Please take a moment right now and pray for Evan and those like him and the leaders working to bring them a hope and life in Jesus.


Just a few spots left for meals!

Most of our dinners are provided by friends in the community. If you’d like to bring us a meal or send dinner to us, we’d love to eat whatever you send our way. We’re not picky and it would be great if you stayed to eat with us too. To bring us a meal pekincl.com/meal or call Jarrod!

LIGHT BULBS IN THE DARK

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One night as I was walking half asleep, I kicked a bag full of lightbulbs that a family member left in the hallway. After a discreet whimper of pain, and resting my foot for a few minutes, my thought was, “Lightbulbs don’t work well if they aren’t connected.” The very thing they were created for, and were needed for, failed to happen, because they weren’t connected to the power source. Dealing with today’s youth, their idea of connection is having their phone charger with them at all times. As soon as they get anywhere they are searching for an outlet and asking for the WiFi password,  which makes me think they get the idea of connection but most don’t know the true power source.

John, the beloved disciple, in John 15:5 explains the true source with “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  Jesus was very clear and City Life is devoted to the mission of connecting the next generation to the ONLY power source that will guide, protect, and light the path God has planned for them.   The word of God calls us the children of the light. As we shine in the presence of teens, and stress how important this connection is through the teaching of the Gospel, we believe there will be brighter days ahead. 

Lightbulbs, like people, can’t fulfill their purpose if they are not connected to the right power source and we can’t light the way as God is commanding us. The old joke,”How many people does it take to screw in a lightbulb,” well my answer is all of us! Thank you for teaming with us as we help teens shine brighter than ever. John continues in 15:6 with, ”If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” True connection not only changes but saves lives! With God’s power, passion, and purpose, lets light the path to the source for others to get connected. 

Live Romans 1:16


Support our Bodybuilders Mission Trip

April 15th-20th in Homestead, FL

We hope to bring 21 teens & leaders to help The Movement church relocate & minister to the homeless population of their community, connecting with our YFC/City Life family in Homestead. Price per person is $578, but Teen’s cost is $300. Please pray about investing an extra $25, $50, or $100 to this life changing adventure.

God Is On The Move

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Lives changed, relationships built, growth seen. Through all we’ve seen this semester, the one thing I have realized is that God is on the move. We have continually seen him at work through all we have done.  At club, during events, in appointments, through small groups, and even during our partnered events such as Ice Camp, our team has seen God change lives. I have been amazed at how many unexpected deep conversations we have had. We know it is all because of God’s work!

The most amazing moment I observed in the past few months was God moving in students’ lives at Ice Camp. Partnering with Great Oaks, 67 leaders and students went to Miracle Camp and Retreat Center, excited for what God could do. Of course we had a blast with fun games and time together, and God was preparing hearts. Students began opening up about difficult things right when we arrived. It came to a culmination Saturday night, when students began to come forward, sharing joy they had been given, sin they were convicted of, and even deep pain in their lives. We watched students come together to encourage and support one another. The crazy thing was that it had very little to do with our plans! God was changing hearts! 

Since then, our team has continued to see God in many conversations. Whether we talked about the hope, joy, and peace we have in Christ, or the deep pain we experience, I am noticing that God is preparing us for something. I am so excited to see what he has planned! Please join us in prayer for the rest of this semester. Pray that we would follow Christ’s lead and speak what he is calling us to speak. After all, He is the one who changes hearts and lives!


YFC Camp - Carolina Point

This summer we are taking around 175 students and leaders to YFC Camp in North Carolina. This is a life-changing trip for every kid that comes. There are many new students who want to attend this year! We will have fundraisers and scholarships available, because the biggest obstacle for many students is the price-tag. It costs $525 for a student to attend for the week. Would you be willing to help sponsor a Metamora student to camp? Please contact me if you would like to help! Email. Phone. Text. Papermail. Any method works great!

DREAM TEAM

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Some of the first words I remember hearing when I started at YFC was…”We exist to mobilize leaders.”

After a more in-depth conversation and almost a full school year as a Campus Life Director, I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. Ministry leaders are the bread and butter of YFC, they invest countless hours of their time loving lost teens and sharing Jesus with them.

The  four teenagers with me in the picture above are the Limestone Middle School Campus Life Leader team.  I call them my Dream Team. They were Campus Life students themselves and understand the importance of developing authentic Christ sharing relationships with adults. 

Halle (bottom right) says, "Campus life has surrounded me with great people to push me towards Jesus. Also, leading has been an inspiration because I get to see the kids learning about God and growing in their faith.” 

 Katie (bottom left) says: “What I enjoy most about being a leader for Campus Life Middle School is how I have the ability to be a light to middle schoolers. Growing up, I looked up to people older than me and it’s so cool that now I can do that and show them Christ as well. I love being able to do small groups with the kids and hear what’s happening in their lives. I love that they can trust me enough to share their emotions and stories with me.” 

Eric (top right), has been a leader since January and I have loved watching him interact with the students and lead them in small group discussions. 

Brody (top left), is my right hand man, as he has stepped into a role of authority being the second oldest on the team. He leads by example and has a passion for sharing Jesus with others.


Thanks for investing in YFC. Your financial gifts and your prayers are critical to reaching local teens!


WE NEED YOUR HELP

In the Fall Katie and Halle will be leaving for college! We are excited for them and this next season of their lives, but that means are in need of leaders for both Limestone High School and Middle School Campus Life teams. Will you be praying with us for adults to join our team? Maybe it’s you … let’s talk.