All Aboard

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During Christmas Break, Kankaukee City Life came down to visit Peoria and Bloomington City Life on what they call, a mini tour. As they showed up and started unloading, my mouth was watering. They rolled off a beautiful people mover with our proud branding on the side. Jealousy was the first emotion, then the pride of being a part of YFC and City Life as a movement, defeated it.    

 In the midst of the season of giving and one of our two Peoria YFC vans being down, this vehicle was a very encouraging sight. Both of our vans are passed 200,000 miles and we have put a distance limit on them. If our vans could talk, the stories of conversations, trips, prayer time, confessions of Christ, and life long relationships that have been built in route, would take you on a emotional joy ride! These vans are so vital to the mission God has us on. We have been blessed with donations towards this effort but we are a long way from updated, dependable vehicles. 

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” With that scale City Life qualifies, and God works encouragement from jealousy, works commitment into relationships, and works prayer into life change.  Please know that we celebrate all the miles accumulated and the generations changed in the process, but I am asking you for your help. 

ALL ABOARD is what I am yelling now so we can yell it for years to come. ALL ABOARD to all who love the Lord and wants all who are called to be saved. ALL ABOARD to all the saints that are connected to YFC and City Life. ALL ABOARD to all who are concerned about our youth and their future. ALL ABOARD to all called by God to serve others and share the love of Jesus Christ! We believe God will provide so we are asking you to join in. Contact me or call our office to build for the future. $1 to $100,000 will help us get ALL ABOARD, and I thank you!

 

Breakthrough

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There was so much to celebrate in 2017- camps, clubs, growing relationships between students and leaders, and ultimately many students growing in their understanding of God’s love and what it means in their life. Last year was a great year! It’s overwhelming to think about all that happened, but it’s clear that God’s hand was in it. 

As great as 2017 was, I’m convinced 2018 will be a year of breakthrough. With each day that passes in 2018, I am seeing more and more affirmation this will be the case.

In Luke, Jesus tells a parable to the people to the effect of “always pray and do not lose heart.” If there is anything that can stop this year from being a year of breakthrough - it’s if we stop praying for the ministry or we lose heart. I’m asking for your help in praying and for your help in ensuring we keep pursuing teens for the sake of the Gospel. Will you join me in praying?

I’m praying for more leaders to step up and commit to loving students where they are… in the midst of the mess that adolescence brings. 

I’m praying for deeper relationships between students and leaders. Our prayer is for authentic, Christ-sharing relationships that point lost teens to Jesus. 

I’m praying for sustainable funding for Limestone Campus Life and YFC Peoria as a whole. Limestone’s funding is growing, but still significantly short of where it needs to be. 

I’m praying for students to come to know Jesus. There are over 1,700 kids (11-19 year olds) in the Bartonville area- many of whom don’t know the redeeming love of Jesus. They need hope. They need love. They need Jesus. 

Will you join me in praying and being a part of breakthrough in this community?

Grandmas & Grandpas

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Three guesses why those students in the picture are standing? Those are students who accepted Christ at YFC Camp last summer! I’d like to tell you about 2 of those students in the photo…and their grandparents…

First up is Grandpa Tom and Grandma Midge. They’ve been around YFC as long as I can remember. They wanted their soon-to-be freshman grandson, Matt, to get involved too. The plan was to get Matt to YFC Camp and the rest would just take care of itself, right? Sort of… Matt had a great time at camp, grew close to his leader Phil and committed his life to Christ. However, when school started we didn’t see as much of Matt as we hoped.


Every week I’d get a text from Tom asking if Matt was there. Unfortunately the answer was no most of the time. Grandpa, Grandma and Phil continued to be persistent with Matt. One day Grandma said to Grandpa Tom, “You know we can pick Matt up, feed him and drop him off at Campus Life every week.” So that’s exactly what they’ve been doing and Matt is loving the extra time with his grandparents. Now Matt is fully engaged with Campus Life, and his leader Phil and is working to understand his new faith. 

Next is Grandma Jane who we met at her granddaughter Abby’s graduation party. With teary eyes she thanked us for being involved in Abby’s life and told us fond memories of taking Abby to church with her every week as a kid. But as Abby grew up, so did the distance between her and church. Last summer at YFC Camp Abby accepted Christ! She soon asked how she could continue her involvement with Youth for Christ as a leader. 

This presented the opportunity to talk about the decision she made to follow Jesus and what happens next. One of the steps we encouraged her take was to become a part of a local church. We offered two options: Join us at church or to attend church once again with Grandma Jane. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Abby isn’t at our church. She’s now back at church with her Grandma. She signed up to be an usher and is beginning the process of becoming a leader in Campus Life!

 

In the Mess of it All

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I came across a phrase I believe exemplifies everything God has been doing in our ministry lately. “Find meaning in the mess”. Recently we’ve taken that quote literally, but it also applies figuratively! Between YFC Camp and our Campus Life Color War Kick-Off, we have literally been in the mess! It has been an incredible chance to connect with students and see God work in mysterious ways!

Last time I wrote you, we were headed to YFC Camp. I was excited about the week, but also had no clue what God might do! The first few days we really dove into the mess. Although we did dive into the mess of crud war (a giant food fight) and a mud obstacle course, I do not mean the literal mess. We dove into the mess of students’ lives. Almost every night, I would see the girls group up tears because of how God was moving in their lives. I found out that each night they had been diving into the hard things going on in their lives. That is what I call “the mess”. This was not only happening in the girls, but also with the guys! The guys may not have gone as the girls, but many of the guys also opened up about struggles in their lives.

We came home from YFC Camp and had a few weeks of relationship building times before our kick-off! Although we simply spent time getting messy with colored water, shaving cream, and flour, I was given a glimpse of what God has planned for this year! Please pray for this school year of Campus Life as we continue to dive into “The Mess” of life!

Please also consider your role financially, Metamora Campus Life received $59,303 last year, versus actual expenses of $72,000.

 

CHANGE IS FUN...

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….says hardly anyone!  Our team is getting ready to start a new season of Monday Night Campus Life club and there is buzz around IVC High about it.  This season brought a couple of changes our way though.  We are changing locations from Matt & Bridgette Lynch’s house, who have been extremely generous temporary hosts for the last year and half.  I say temporary, because for 3 years, we have been looking for a permanent home.  We may have appeared to be trying to lose the students in the shuffle of location changes, but God kept them hungry to continue to find us, invite others, and be excited to share the experience with their friends!  

Our new temporary location is actually our former permanent location, Scott & Stephanie Farris’s house.  It is currently for sale, but they very graciously offered to host as long as they can!

The senior students remember this as Campus Life club home from their freshman year and can’t wait.

Along with the location change, we are also excited to welcome new faces on our leader team.  Season of life changes have called a few leaders away to pursue new job duties and school, but God has brought us 4 new leaders who are all former IVC Campus Life students.  How cool is that?  

Even though most of us aren’t huge fans of change, I have grown to love change.  In most instances, when I’m uncomfortable about what God is doing, growth follows.  Join me in prayer for this upcoming season of Campus Life ministry and for the 600+ students of IVC High School who God has called all of us to love toward Jesus.  Who knows, by year end, it could include the 500+ junior higher’s too!

 

SO WORTH IT…

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This week has been crazy…in fact, finding time to sit down and write a letter is a challenge in the midst of all that is happening right now. September is always busy, but this week has been especially packed.

Monday was our high school Campus Life kickoff. Tuesday was our middle school kickoff. Wednesday was staff meeting and transformational leadership training. Thursday we had a fundraiser for Thomas Svymbersky, our Limestone Campus Life yearlong intern (I thank God for him!). And we haven’t even made it to Friday! The weekend ahead doesn’t show signs of relief. Oh yeah, and we have a 10-month-old at home and are trying to run a full-time wedding photography business. Needless to say, our days are packed.

I pride myself on time management and being able to balance life, work, and family- but this week has had me feeling a little overwhelmed. There are very few times in my life that I question whether or not the chaos of being in full-time ministry is worth it - but this week I’ve wondered.

That is, until today… today God gave me the exact reminder I needed in the form of a text from a former Campus Life student who is a junior in college. This out-of-the-blue text read…

 

“I just want to take a moment to thank both of you. If I would've never gone to Campus Life, I would not be where I am today in my relationship with Jesus. Without you guys reaching out to me for four years, I’d be so lost right now. I’ve started leader training with YoungLife at school here and I am just constantly reminded how much you guys did for me, that allowed me to end up here. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you have done for me and are doing for other kids. I am forever grateful for you both.” 

 

It’s things like this that remind me… it’s WORTH IT.

Grounded

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Research shows 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. We find this to be true when it comes to high school ministry as well. When a new student shows up to Campus Life for the first time it’s typically because a friend gives a recommendation or extends an invitation.

Things were different for Sam, a sophomore at PCHS. He came to Campus Life because his mom made him. She told Sam he would be grounded if he didn’t at least try it. Sam’s a great student and a generally trouble free kid so his parents never really had a reason to ground him. However, he obliged his orders and showed up at Campus Life one week.

At first Sam appeared to be shy and introverted as he kept his interactions to a minimum. But over the course of his first semester he began to participate more and more. And by summertime Sam was ‘all in’ and went to YFC Camp with a group of his newfound friends.

Through YFC Camp his eyes were opened to faith in a different way than he ever experienced. The way he lived and acted began to change. He started to invite his friends to Campus Life so they could experience the same life change he did. The next summer he brought one of those friends along to YFC Camp and now their life is starting to change too!

It’s Sam’s senior year and Campus Life is still a big part of his life. Every week he and a ministry leader work out at the gym and then work through a Bible study together. 

As the only time I can recall a student being so strongly urged to try out Campus Life. I wouldn’t recommend it for most but in the case Sam’s life is forever marked by God because of it.

 

Woah

Whoa, << Test First Name >>

stole

cutting

jealously

unhappy

screwed

mistreated

pregnancy

unsure

worthless

empty

violence

drugs

loneliness

inadequacy 

broken

failure

depressed

crash

self-hatred

sadness

lost

anxiety

rejection

smoking

numb

death

lies

careless

hiding

abuse

drowning

overdose

hatred

anger

family

cutter

lonely

uneasy

lust

alcohol

confused

sex

hurtful

unloveable

deceit

mess

self-doubt

emotionless

dead

faker

pride

idolatry

suicide

bipolar

parents

darkness

pornhub

pills

unnoticed

liar

hypocritical

rape

sad

stuck

inconsistent

uncertainty

confused

shame

alone

unpredictable

fear

controlled

 

 

Woah, it’s right there in black and white. We gave students the chance to anonymously share their secrets in just one word. I also have some secrets up there. Maybe there are some words up there that could apply to you.  Can I go as far to say “our secrets”? Because haven't we all had secrets? Secrets and sins so big it felt like we couldn't bring them to God?

Here's the beautiful message we shared with these brave teens from Ephesians 2:4&5. But God… 

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead."

Understood in the context of God's gift of grace, those words can lose their powerful hold of guilt and shame.

So these are the very real secrets and painful issues students are facing on a daily basis. And because of you, we get to continue to lead them towards God, who is bigger than their secrets.

 

Thanks for your part in sharing Hope and Truth with young people.