As The Calendar Turns … I’m Asking for an Increase!

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Since we align our annual calendar with schools, our ministry cycle runs July 1 to June 30 each year. I want to pass along highlights, since our year just ended.

1st Thing. Launched IVC Middle School Campus Life! Every other week wasn’t enough, this Fall? Weekly!

2nd Thing. Richwoods Campus Life foundational work was laid, and that ministry site will kick off this Fall!

3rd Thing. Jay Pearson continues to be described as cancer-free by the medical community!

4th Thing. Chris Genders is joining us to lead Metamora ministry and launch a brand-new teen center.

5th Thing. 3 of our Site Directors serve on YFC/USA leadership teams for Campus Life (Ryan Anderson), Juvenile Justice (CJ Fisher), and City Life (Jay Pearson). These teams set the tone for the country. Wow!

6th Thing. YFC/USA President Dan Wolgemuth, stayed in Peoria’s Juvenile Detention Center for a night. He gained insights about incarcerated teens, and obeyed the Bible to “visit the prisoner”. Dan was moved profoundly.

7th Thing. We planned, but haven’t started an office remodel to accommodate our growing team. Remember? we also launched 2 Bloomington/Normal ministries in recent months! We are sharing desks … 

8th Thing. Eli Beltran rejoined our team as Ambassador for Teens. He is visiting, thanking, visioning & mentoring!

9th (and final) Thing. My heading said “I’m asking for an Increase”. That has a 2-fold meaning:

  • Our team is praying and working to have the capacity to reach FAR MORE teens. Today we are in 300 ACSR’s (Authentic Christ-Sharing Relationships with lost local teens). We want to be in 2,500 ACSR’s with lost local teens. 8x growth! We’re trying to pursue that with minimal budget increase.

  • Money is my 2nd “final thing.” We are asking for an increase. These ministry initiatives, personnel addition’s, and overdue computer upgrades tally a 17% increase. Our 2019-2020 budget is $1,221,583.00. Sooooo much of our income arrives in gifts of $100 or less each month. When you increase by $5/month, that helps. When you give bigger, it helps more. Hundred’s of friends each giving as God leads them and we meet budget each year.

Hundred’s of Ministry Leaders who each have 4-5 ACSR’s means we walk with 2,500 lost teens. It won’t happen this year or next year …. but someday, we hope to announce to you that “we did it”. “You did it”. …. GOD DID IT!

Thanks for reading, considering, caring …

The Trifecta

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YFC Camp is my favorite week of the year, hands down, and I know I’m not alone in that statement. There is nothing like getting a group of teens away from the distractions of their everyday lives and spending intentional time hanging out, adventuring, and sharing Jesus with them. 

This summer we plan on taking 20 Limestone teens and 5 Ministry Leaders to YFC Camp in North Carolina. 3 of the 5 leaders are first time Cabin Leaders! That means we have 3 new adults who get to spend a week with teens doing wild, goofy things (maybe even getting a little messy), as they step into a special place in a student’s life. A place where they get to walk alongside them through their messes and be a loving, caring adult who will show them Jesus.

One of our leaders, Olivia, just graduated from college and is joining us as a Cabin Leader, but this isn’t her first YFC Camp. Olivia has been to Camp 8 times! She went four years as a camper and then invested her summers home from college, serving on the Project Serve Team at multiple camps.  She will be completing what we like to call the TRIFECTA. I know her experience of YFC Camp from different perspectives will make her a great leader for our girls this summer. Olivia said she is most looking forward to ‘getting to know the girls and their hearts and hopefully bring them closer to Jesus.’

Camp isn’t possible without people like YOU. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Please pray for us, especially the week of August 3rd-8th while we are at the YFC Camp.

Also, please continue or consider starting a monthly financial investment. We need and appreciate YOU!


Yes. Yes Again. Not Yet.

These are the answer options.  What’s the question?

Will you trust and follow Jesus?

We will present this question to every teen who attends YFC Camp this summer (4,000 expected nation-wide). Before we pop the question, we deliver the Gospel bit by bit through our camp speaker, our story tellers, and through the cabin leaders. After the question is posed, the teens are given 30 minutes to be alone and consider their answer.  Then at the end of the time they are invited to speak - yell - whisper their answer. It’s an amazing moment to hear their responses.

At a recent YFC Camp, there were 38 YES’S, 126 YES AGAIN’S, and 58 NOT YET’S!  WOW - please pray.

We leave in a few days with 15-20 junior high teens & leaders and 155-160 high school teens & leaders.  Most of these are currently not followers of Jesus.  Will you pray that we will love these kids and communicate the Gospel in an effective way?  Thank you.

And, additional funding is needed to help cover the cost of YFC Camp.  Could you give an additional gift this month? More on this below.

Your partnership in prayer and giving makes all this happen.  We need you….and….you need us for this Kingdom work.  We LOVE our partnership.

One of those teens, Olivia, said YES at YFC Camp a few years ago. This year she is going as a cabin leader to be a part of God’s work helping other teens with their answer to the question.  Yea God - yea Olivia!


We’re not done yet!

We have spent the summer raising money to help send students to camp who can’t afford it. We still have gaps that need filled to fully fund this trip. Would you consider giving a special gift to help us fill in some of those gaps? Your gift could mean a lifetime of difference for a student who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend YFC Camp. Thanks!

Multiplication

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Funny thing about discipleship, it works! Studying and applying what Jesus did in His earthly ministry, Peoria City Life is headed toward a new season of ministry. From the beginning, Jesus took a small group of guys and trained them to change the world. By sharing the Gospel, they saw first hand others come to believe in Jesus and change their families, friends, and even enemies. With the model of the Great Commission, 12 men impacted millions of people, and expanded the Kingdom.

Doing the math, 12 times a few, times a few, times a few has created an army of disciples with marching orders and a mission for God. Jesus told His 12 they would do greater things than He did, and He was right with the multiplication. In the neighborhoods we serve, we want to do greater things too. We are partnering with Prince of Peace MB Church in the East Bluff. With a target area God has shown us, we want to instill love and value into the teens and families in this area. We have built great relationships in these neighborhoods. Half of our existing group lives in the area and Peoria High is nearby. That gives us a great start for impact

We plan on having female and male groups focused on Biblical Manhood and Female Empowerment. That will be our foundation, believing that when teens understand how much God loves them and how valuable they are, they will value others and make their neighborhood better.

We know that that 3-7pm is the time of day where youth need options to help them stay safe and out of trouble. 

We are asking for a lot of things for this next season. 

  • Please pray that committed people will serve as leaders.

  • Pray that funding for another full time City Life staff will be provided.

  • Pray that this neighborhood will be changed BY THE YOUNG PEOPLE for the glory of God.

  • Pray that we serve this neighborhood the way they need it and not the way we think.

  • Pray for awareness of the new site to anyone who lives in the neighborhood.

  • Please connect us with any people who love God and youth, who might be willing to join this mission.

  • Finally Ask God how you can be the person God wants you to be in this new season.

When disciples who make disciples, who make disciples are seen, multiplication happens in heaven and on earth. 

Thanks for reading, praying and funding. This summer finds us a little behind financially, so we sure appreciate your generosity! God is The Provider. But He seems to use generous people like YOU.

The Summer of Relationship

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It’s crazy that we are already halfway through our summer in ministry! I have loved seeing our leaders love our students through our time spent with them. We have had many trips and events, along with club times and small groups, and through all this time new relationships are being formed! 

During the Starved Rock trip, I observed students and leaders talking about life and enjoying God’s creation together. Students loved taking risks, getting a little wet and dirty, and our leaders sacrificed themselves and joined them in the mud and mess. This observation led me to realize something about our adult leaders. Although we enter into a physical mess with students now and then, our leaders continually enter into the mess that our students are experiencing at this stage of life.

Although I love the times we get to start relationships and build on them through shared experiences, I’m even more excited about the conversations I have heard about during small group and club times. Recently, a leader told about a conversation she had with a student about their fears. This conversation helped reveal why the student acts the way she does. Her heart was drawn to what this student was dealing with, and she continues to walk with her through 1-on-1 appointments. Conversations like these are why we do what we do. Although there are times we get discouraged, God continually reminds us that he has placed us in these relationships for a reason.

I am so grateful for the ministry and relationships God has given us. But our team seeks more opportunities to build relationships and walk with our students. One of our greatest seasons for this work is coming up soon, YFC Camp! Although we need a bit more financial support to get our teens there, I also long to see our leaders and students surrounded in prayer during camp, and as we prepare to leave!

Please pray with us and also please consider an extra gift. Summer financial giving seems to dip slightly and our margins are tight.


Thank You!


What happens at YFC Camp?

We say that YFC Camp is a year’s worth of ministry packed into 1 week (144 hours with students!). We do crazy activities, sing songs, eat great food, and through it all, we present the Gospel and go deep into relevant life topics. Throughout the week, we  pray, cry, and laugh together. It is truly a life-changing week.

Please pray for us and our students, especially August 3-8th! 

Quick Stories

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There are many words and emotions that could describe the picture. The one word I would use would be CHANGE.

When we met “B”, he was in a green suicide suit at JDC (a padded suit that cannot be cut or torn). Many people have been praying for “B” and working with “B” to share the love and hope of Jesus. I am pleased to report that “B” is no longer in the green suit but back in his normal clothes and doing well.


“When are we gonna fight?” Is a question I hear often. This is not the fighting you’re thinking … There is a card game called super fight  that our JJM team plays to build relationships with the JDC students. Students pick a few cards and then they are given a few more cards. They have to articulate why their hero would win. At some point we talk about making choices in life, some we can control and others we can’t control. We also talk about the importance of adapting to different situations and making further choices based on the decisions we have already made. In JJM we are very intentional about our programming, including our fun. Every moment can be a teaching moment and for many of them, they don’t have a parent teaching them important life lessons. 

Please pray: We will be doing origami with the residents. This is a first for us and could be a flop or a win. “Attention to details,” “taking your time,” “working on our faith even though it's hard” are some of lessons that go along with this activity.  We have tested it with a small group at our McLean County facility and it was pretty well-received. Please pray that God can be seen through this process. 


Thank you! Ministry cannot happen without prayer, the financial support of the community, and the hard work of ministry leaders.



YOU CAN HELP!

1. Please continue to cover the ministry in prayer.

2. We are in need of Ministry Leaders for the Youth Farm. Interested? Know someone?

3. We are seeking additional donors. If you know someone that could parter with us to help grow the ministry, please introduce us to them. 

…you’ll get run over if you just sit there!

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The full quote from the picture is “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” My tendency is to try and control life by being able to see far enough to make the right decisions.  Trains have the ability to see miles ahead. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do that in life and ministry? God has other plans of dependance on Him,  doesn’t He?  He wants us to rely on Him one step at a time……

Psalms 109:105  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” ESV

One of the points of celebration I shared in my May 2019 letter was that we found a home for Campus Life at Billy & Morgan Seiler’s house.  A LOT happened in the last 6 weeks.  Seiler family of 2 is growing. Little Baby Seiler is due at the end of the year.  We could not be more happy for them!  But they also shared they are moving to Michigan … and it will happen quickly.

Billy and Morgan have been incredible leaders for Campus Life in Chillicothe for many years.  They have hosted small groups, mentored, loved, supported and served faithfully.  They have had a positive impact on countless teens and adults while loving them toward Jesus.  We will miss them within the ministry as leaders and personally as friends. 

We continue to trust in God just as the Seiler’s are trusting in Him with their relocation.  It seems like chaos at times but the tension of change normally brings growth as we pursue God.


So, thank you, Seiler’s, for your time, resources, and love!  We won’t find this couple just sitting on the tracks waiting for God to move.  Will you pray with us for abundance of grace and favor in their life as they faithfully take the mission of the God’s Kingdom to Michigan! 


Billy and Morgan Seiler

Billy and Morgan Seiler

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!