Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Effective Compassion Means Spending Yourself

Surrounded by a sea of human needs and buffeted by endless waves of challenging situations that arise in an urban context, I often find myself returning to the question, “what makes compassion effective?” It is easy to see how some have arrived at institutional compassion as a means of efficiently addressing the multitudes. However, while efficient systems are clearly important for any organization, Mission Adelante believes that ministry is primarily a relational endeavor, and that genuine compassion requires relationship. Marvin Olasky, chief editor of World Magazine and author of the book Renewing American Compassion writes, “Effective compassion recognizes that one size does not fit all—only a personalized, face-to-face approach tailored to the individual (or sometimes the family) offers any hope for turning lives around.” This kind of compassion is not clean and easy. It requires long-term involvement. It is harder to measure than simply asking “how many people were served?” Relational compassion requires people who will get their hands dirty in the messy lives of broken people. However, despite its personal costs, relational compassion is the best way to transmit the message of the gospel; the message of God who lived among us as a man and died for our sins.

As Mission Adelante serves immigrants in our community we have taken Olasky’s words to heart. Volunteers in our ESL program work with one or two adult students. Several of our ESL classes meet in homes in the community, providing an environment of hospitality and friendship. Birthdays are celebrated. Kids are taken out for ice cream. Volunteers and students take field trips together doing things like bowling or going to the Nelson Art Gallery. And when financial help is provided it always happens through a relational process.

I realize that the swelling waves of human needs will not subside until Christ returns. So, while it is tempting to abandon effectiveness for efficiency, Mission Adelante will always remember that “relationship” is one of the most important ingredients in the kind of compassion that changes lives for eternity. Please pray with us for volunteers and staff who are willing to spend themselves on behalf of the broken and vulnerable.

In other news:
  • We're grateful for Valerie Kalny, who has served as Mission Adelante's volunteer bookkeeper from the very beginning! The Mission has benefited greatly by her dedication to this role and her accuracy in her work, which have been especially evident during the last few weeks as she has worked on year-end tasks. Thank you, Valerie!
  • We had a strong launch for our spring trimester last Thursday! Five levels of adult English classes got up and running in the neighborhood and 63 excited, energetic kids ages 5 through 12 filled the building for Kids Adelante!
  • Seven pairs/groups of three began the discipleship study together last Sunday evening. The study includes 13 lessons on the basics of following Christ.

Prayer needs:

  • Join us in praying that the initial enthusiasm for the discipleship study will be maintained during the next few months while the pairs work to complete it, and that those people who missed the first week will be able to get started this Sunday.
  • Pray for Molly Merrick and Megan McDermott's continued fundraising. Molly joined the Mission Adelante staff at 10 hours/week at the beginning of January and Megan is planning to join full-time in June.
  • Pray for God's provision for the families in our community that are suffering financially because of lack of work in the winter season and in this economic climate.

Current needs:

  • A volunteer to fill in as Administrative Assistant at least one afternoon a week during March and April while Morgan is on maternity leave. If you're available and interested, please contact Jarrett at or 913-909-0627.
  • Individuals to organize food drives at their churches to stock our Resource Center. If this is something you could do, please contact Jason at or 913-281-6274.
  • Diapers to stock the Resource Center: all sizes; any quantity

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have watched a few space shuttle launches in my life and am always amazed to imagine all of the YEARS of preparation that go into those few moments. Thousands of details and millions (billions?) of dollars are spent on equipment, training, supplies, and so much more. And it all comes together at one focal moment as the countdown reaches zero.

It’s really a ridiculous comparison, but three times each year Mission Adelante has its own version of a launch night as we begin a new trimester. Volunteers recruited and trained, a million photocopies of curriculum made, English students recruited, called, oriented, evaluated, and reminded, meetings completed, and emails sent out.

And it all comes together at 6:30 on a Thursday night: English classes in 5 different sites in our neighborhood, 50-60 kids converging on our facility, volunteers meeting new students, and a million details to coordinate. As chaotic as launch night can be, there is always a great sense of excitement and anticipation in the air as our ministry witnesses God's faithfulness in drawing so many people to a place where they can see Him more clearly through acts of compassion and His word spoken.

Tonight is that night, and we are less than 5 hours from lift-off as I write this reflection. Please pray with us tonight for students to arrive, for volunteers to make great connections with kids and adults alike, and for all the other details to come together.

In other news:
  • Twenty-six new adults registered last Thursday for our spring trimester of English classes.
  • More than 50 individuals from the Christ Community Church youth group came to Mission Adelante on Saturday. They brought enough staple food items to distribute among about 12 families and did some work around our facility. Thanks to all those involved!
  • Our second semester of L.I.T. (Leaders In Training) began yesterday. L.I.T. is a three-afternoon-a-week intensive tutoring and character development program for 13 kids who show potential to become leaders among their peers. Three new volunteers have come on board to tutor the group weekly. Please pray that each of the 13 kids would be able to continue coming and complete the school year in spite of other activities that threaten to pull them away.

Prayer needs:

  • Isabel, the woman we requested prayer for last week, remains in the hospital without a diagnosis. Please continue to pray for a diagnosis to be made in order for her to receive proper treatment and recover.
  • Five English classes and five sub-groups of Kids Adelante will launch our spring trimester this Thursday evening. We're grateful for the many volunteers who will serve in various ways, including new volunteers from at least 4 churches not previously represented! Please pray for momentum for a strong start!
  • Our discipleship pairs will begin the 13-part study on the basics of following Christ this Sunday evening. Please pray for wisdom for all the disciplers, especially those in the position for the first time, and for all involved to make a strong commitment to finishing the study.

Other needs:

  • A volunteer to fill in as Administrative Assistant at least one afternoon a week during March and April while Morgan is on maternity leave. If you're available and interested, please contact Jarrett at or 913-909-0627.
  • Individuals to organize food drives at their churches to stock our Resource Center. If this is something you could do, please contact Jason at or 913-281-6274.

Upcoming dates:

  • Thursday, January 22: Launch of spring trimester ESL and Kids Adelante programs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Place Where the Church Serves Together

Mission Adelante would not be what it is if we didn’t have the enthusiastic support and participation of so many volunteers and churches. This past Saturday we held our first of three volunteer orientation seminars for 2009. As is always the case at these training events, as well as at our volunteer meetings, I looked around the room to see volunteers from a wide range of churches. Some of these included Leawood Presbyterian Church, Heartland Community Church, Christ Community Church, Blue Valley Baptist Church, and Jacob’s Well. A quick look at our volunteer database yields an interesting statistic:ongoing volunteers from 15 area churches participate in Mission Adelante’s ministry.

One of the fruits of this hodge-podge of participation and partnership from different places is that it gets people from various churches and denominations in the city serving together around a common Kingdom purpose. In this world of denominational divisions and territorialism, this seems like a work of God. In John 17 Jesus prayed that his disciples would be “one” so that the world would know that the Father had sent him. Our unity as believers is a sign to the world of the validity of Jesus’ claim to be the son of God! As we look around us here at what God is doing through Mission Adelante, we see that Jesus’ prayer is being answered in our little corner of the world; the incoming Latin American mission field in our own city is witnessing not only a display of practical compassion, but also a display of Christian unity. Thank you to all of you who have committed yourselves to serving together. Your service and participation are bearing the kind of fruit that is pleasing to our Lord!

In other news:

  • Registration for the spring trimester of English classes and Kids Adelante is tonight.
  • We continue to work on the improvement of our facility. If you or a group from your church is interested in spending a work day at our building, please contact Jarrett at 913-909-0627 or
  • We're thankful for two tall bookshelves that were donated by Shoal Creek Community Church for our Leaders In Training library.

Prayer needs:

  • Isabel, the matriarch of a large family belonging to our faith community, is in the hospital but her illness hasn't been diagnosed. Please pray for a diagnosis to be made in order for her to receive proper treatment and recover.
  • Please pray for an eager new group of adult English students and kids to engage in English classes and Kids Adelante this trimester.
  • This Sunday we will match those who attend our Bible studies and worship services into discipleship pairs. During the upcoming months, the pairs will work their way through a 13-part study on the basics of following Christ. Please pray for participants to be committed to completing the study as an important step in their spiritual growth.

Current needs:

  • Beds, all sizes
  • Diapers: all sizes
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby formula, to stock the resource center

Important upcoming dates:

  • Monday, January 19: LIT resumes
  • Monday, January 19, 6:30-8:30 at the facility: All-Volunteer Team Meeting
  • Thursday, January 22, 6:30: Spring trimester English classes and Kids Adelante begin

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Signs of Life

Mission Adelante began with a vision to be both a “mission” and a “church”. On the mission side of our ministry we offer things like English classes, tutoring, and tangible resources, and bible studies and events for kids. On the church side of things we started with a small group of volunteers, hoping to share our faith and grow relationally and organically, adding the necessary components of a genuine worshipping community according to God’s timing. Multiplying home-based Bible studies, one-on-one discipling relationships and periodic worship celebrations formed the essence of our church-planting strategy. Without a doubt the church-plant side of our ministry has proven to be the most difficult and often painful part of the endeavor. To be sure, God has been faithful, and fruit has been evident every step of the way. Each trimester we look back and we see small steps of growth: a new conversion, a new ministry team launched, a children’s ministry started, a new family involved. Yet the volatility of immigrants’ lives and the painful unpredictability of their commitment has accelerated my (Jarrett) hair loss by years (at least that’s the explanation I give myself).

God has proven to us in this process that the glory will be His! Time after time when we least expect it He brings families back who we thought were lost or connects families that we had given up on. God will work in His timing and in His way. Our job is to trust and be diligent. The first Sunday night of 2009 was a celebration of this very kind of fruit. The room was filled with excitement as we had a record turn-out for our worship service: 37 adults and as many kids. In that group were Pedro and Sara, there for the third week in a row after having been missing-in-action for months. Mario and Veronica and their kids have the same story; three weeks in a row of attendance after a long absence. Mayra, a single mom, who has come very consistently since she began attending, invited her neighbors for the first time. These are precious small victories that cause us to celebrate, praise God, and forget prior discouragements.

We are still a small community, but God is causing us to grow little by little, both in number and in faith. As this year begins we are praying that God will strengthen our young ministry teams, under-gird our efforts at disciple-making, and use us to draw more immigrants into a relationship with Jesus. Please pray with us for these objectives.

In other news:
  • Our community celebrated Christmas Eve together for the first time with an evening worship service. About 20 adults including some new faces enjoyed the fellowship.
  • Molly Merrick joined Mission Adelante's staff this week as a Ministry Aide, working 10 hours per week.

Prayer needs:

  • Pray that our current three-part worship service series on becoming disciples will help more members of our faith community follow the pattern set by Jesus' first disciples.
  • Pray that our emphasis on individual discipleship will build momentum among participants and bear fruit.

Current needs:

  • Diapers: all sizes
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby formula, to stock the resource center
  • 2 tall bookshelves, for the Leaders In Training library

Important upcoming dates:

  • Saturday, January 10: 9:00-12:00 New Volunteer Orientation & Training
  • Monday, January 19: 6:30-8:15 All Volunteer Team Meeting
  • Thursday, January 22: 6:30 Spring English classes and Kids Adelante begin