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.

Out with the Old...

The night we told kids the Easter bunny wasn't real…

The night we told kids the Easter bunny wasn't real…

… And in with the new. At Campus Life that means seniors are graduating and 8th graders are moving up into high school. We wish we could get rid of the “out with the old” part and just keep the “in with the new”. But unfortunately it doesn't work that way. 

The Old

It is scary watching our seniors take this next big step in their lives. Our prayer is for them to continue their journey with Jesus. Whether they are exploring what it means to follow Him, or are faithfully following Him, pray for them to grow. Please pray with us, that the new world ahead of them wouldn't distract them from the most important thing, and that they would seek Jesus in a world that wants nothing to do with Him. Pray they will be quick to repent and quick to forgive. And that they would live in freedom through Christ and live by faith through grace. That they would be His.

The New

It is also scary watching the mass of hyper-active 8th graders storming the castle of adolescence. The hope is that they will engage in Campus Life and make it their safe haven for the next 4 years. Pray these students would consciously decide that learning more about Jesus and walking with leaders that love them is a big priority for them in high school. Pray they would bring their insecurities, hopes, fears, and hearts to CL and in the process find Jesus.


YFC Camp

We would love for you to help us send students to camp to continue their journey with Jesus. It costs $650 to send a student to camp. Most students cannot afford that much. We need you. Will you help send a student to YFC Camp? You can send a check with Metamora Camp in the memo or you can go to yfcpeoria.org/camp

Seeking Help / Help Wanted / Help Needed / HELP…

Help … We were hungry and friends bought us lunch!

Help … We were hungry and friends bought us lunch!

Have you ever been desperate for help?  I’m talking car wreck, tornado, lost kid, cancer? … Bad stuff.I pray shallow prayers when my kids are healthy, wallet is full, my wife thinks I’m “the man”, and all is well.

I pray earnest prayers when I’m in the Emergency Room, when finances are crushing, or when life’s struggles are more than I can bear or I lack hope to get through.

This fiscal year (YFC runs July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016), we’ve had remarkable things to celebrate. We know 1,110 teens. We’re in close relationship with 464 who are lost. Many of them are wrestling with Jesus. In fact 64 of them received Jesus Christ this year!!!

We’ve also had some low moments lately. YFC budget got really tight, such that we were struggling to choose from among paying staff, their healthcare, or our rent. I went into my “desperate prayer” posture. “Lord I need You. Oh. So. Badly. Oh Lord Jesus, we are asking for your people to be generous in helping us take the Great News of Jesus to 100’s of local teens.”

I sometimes wonder if God chuckles at the times when we don’t pray desperately. Truth is … I’m always desperate for the Grace of God thru Jesus. But I’m only aware of my desperation when life’s circumstances bump me around. I hate admitting how weak I am.

With your partnership, we walk with struggling teens. Suicidal thoughts, abusive homes, neglectful homes, imprisoned parents, addictions, more. Jesus’ love is needed. Desperately. 140+ local YFC adults are in the messes with teens. We point them to Jesus. As you Pray & Fund, you are there with us. 

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.


For the Kingdom

Family

Family

In all we do, we press on joyfully as we get a firsthand glimpse of watching the Kingdom of God unfold on earth. This has to be the greatest joy we have as we follow Jesus together; witnessing the Kingdom influence our family & friends directly is an incredible sight. 

The past couple of months, Sarah and I have considered the call of God on our lives as we continue to serve the Kingdom. We realized through the process, God was calling us away from Youth for Christ to serve in our local faith family.

We are excited and sad to share with you that we will be leaving YFC June 1, to join the staff at Crosspoint Community Church in Eureka, IL, where I will be serving the church as their student pastor. This is completely unexpected for me and it’s a direction we did not think we would be heading in, but we are excited to begin this journey together. 

Thank you. We are so grateful for all you have done with us in the ministry. Your prayers, encouragement, financial partnership, and wisdom helped make serving with JJM a possibility for us. I have learned so much about the faithfulness of God at YFC.

As we transition to Crosspoint for the Kingdom, we hope you will continue your role in JJM.

Thank you for your labor. 


As JJM continues…

God has and will continue to do much in the lives of incarcerated teens through JJM. Would you consider continuing your partnership? If this is something of interest to you, please meet our JJM Director CJ Fisher. He can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 847.302.8632. Thank you for being a part of this mission with me. For any changes to your EFT giving, you can email [email protected] or 309-688-6685 and ask for Cindy or Jeff.