Here is a blog entry written by Amy Kimble, our CYAK youth leader, written from her blog in November 2011. It's a good testament to God's provision and the faith we can have in his goodness. Enjoy!
Last week I took a walk with my mother-in-law, Helen, on a beach in Rhode Island. This beach is her favorite spot to take us when we come home, and she's made a point to bring all three of us (Jordan, his brother Chris, and me) to this place this year.
Helen and I talked a lot on this beach, as well as took over 400 pictures. I should mention she loves to capture all of us on film, too :) She asked me about everything: our new life in Alaska, new friends, new job, and grad school. I shared with her how peaceful I feel about living up here and how much God has blessed Jordan and I since we moved. Although it has been such an emotional year, looking back, I definitely see God's provision through and through. I shared about how much my trust in God has grown this year as I've left a job, moved across the country, and started a new job that doesn't pay until I fund-raise. In every aspect, God has placed me in situations where I am left with no choice but to trust Him with the next step.
As we were walking back, I started opening up about how sometimes I feel pressure from outside sources to get a teaching job, to earn a retirement, to start "thinking about the future". I feel inward pressure that I'm not doing the right thing because I am not earning any money, and yet I want to go to grad school debt and loan free. I sometimes feel guilt in my gut that I am not contributing to our marriage financially, and I should be. I'm sure some of you have had these feelings before, as they are valid to the world we live in today.
But if I am truly going to claim I am a Christian and minister to people, I need to ignore all doubt and guilt in my life. They are not from God, they are from Satan. Point blank. So as we're walking I share with her how I am just trusting that God is going to provide for my future. That He is leading me to places that are good and fruitful, not harmful. He is opening my doors, as I ask Him to, and He walks beside me as I go through them. I have no reason to doubt that fundraising support will come in, that people are praying about CYAK right now and deciding whether or not they want to give, that tuition is going to be taken care of, and some day, so will my retirement. I just have. to. trust.
And then Helen and I look down in the sand... and there is a quarter. Not a shiny quarter. A quarter that has clearly been soaking in the salty ocean and washed ashore. I pick it up, thinking, "huh, that's unusual" but not really anything more. Until about 20 feet later we find another quarter.... and then a dime. "What is going on?!" we say to each other. Helen grabs my arm and tells me we have to stop and pray right now. That God is showing us something and we need to pray for God to open our eyes and hearts to whatever it is He has in store for us. She prayed for prosperity, that God would bless us, that we would be faithful and trust. After she finished praying we continued our walk and found two more quarters.
Friends, let me be so bold as to say that I do believe God was with us on that beach last Monday and He was listening to our hearts and showing us how much He loves us. I know that $1.10 we found that day will multiply beyond imagination in my lifetime. And I am so joyful that He is walking beside me today, tomorrow, and every day. And He can walk beside you, too. You just have to invite Him.
Project 51 is one if the results of the latest research coming out of Fuller seminary and PARENTEEN, a non-profit who seeks to address the issues of the family and to help young people mature into Christian adults who remain connected to their church communities into adulthood.
The basic premise behind it is this: In order to significantly raise the chances that we will help usher young people through adolescence and into Christian maturity within the church, we need to create a network of supporters for each student we have the opportunity to care for; that network requires a 5:1 ratio (adults to students) and can be coaches, teachers, youth pastors, elders, parents, grandparents - anyone willing to make an intentional, significant investment in the lives of young people and to let go of their inhibitions and use learn how to connect and spend time growing up together.
I think they're on to something. I think it's why mentoring is probably so important. Sure, we sometimes push programs in the church and we sometimes that is easier to draw people in with and it certainly makes it more easy to speak in generalizations instead of dealing with the specifics of our individual lives and circumstances... but for more of us, there's always someone or a few key people who didn't just barely get to know us - but they took an extra step - they invested in us in a way that most people wouldn't and those are the sorts of things that I believe we need to begin making happen for our kids.
"Mentoring" sounds so official and so formal though and I think sometimes that scares us off of something that really isn't all that hard that would make SUCH A DIFFERENCE.
When I think of mentoring, I don't think about Bible studies or book studies - time spent answering tough questions that we often don't know the answers to either or anything quite that in depth... I think it begins with a friendship... sure, it's different because one of you is an adult with lots of life experience and the other is a young person who is often a little socially awkward and doesn't know always what to talk about or how to carry out an adult conversation yet... So, it just means that one of you has more to share with the other... the tragic thing today its that youth culture (for all sorts of reasons) has become so separate our everyday adult lives and now it is increasingly rare that our the wisdom of the elders in our churches and communities actually gets passed on to the next generation...
For that reason, I hope we will do whatever it takes to start bridging that gap. There are SO MANY easy steps we can take to begin to address it. You don't have to think about running a program or following a curriculum... think of it like this:
All of us have things that we do as adults that so many of our youth have not yet learned to do... we pay bills; we go fishing or hunting; we build things; we go for hikes; we eat lunch and dinner, we spend time with friends and family... I would just suggest that the first step toward mentoring a young person is modeling - and to do that, it's as simple as inviting them into your life. If you're going to go hiking, invite them along... maybe along the way, as you are getting to know each other, you will be surprised by how you discover why God put you two together...
The real hurdle is just making the commitment - saying "Yes, I will regularly and consistently invite so and so into my routine and I will strive to my authentic self as they get to witness what my pursuit of God looks like in my day-to-day living."
Pray about it. If you feel like it's something you can do or feel God leading you to do, let's have a conversation and see what we can do together with Christ.
We hope we'll have many contributors from our congregation. I imagine we will have regular and occasional contributors. If you'd like to contribute a poem, a photo, a devotion or anything that you believe enhances our life together, please contact Pastor Criss to learn about posting.