Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sovereign Grace in the Lives of Immigrants

The "perseverance of the saints" is the phrase Theologians use to describe the sovereign power of God to preserve the faith of those who belong to Him, thus keeping their eternal salvation secure despite the many struggles and temptations they may experience in their lives. Many of us find great comfort in the truth that we are both drawn to God by His grace and kept in him by that same sovereign power. John 10: 27-29 affirm this truth.

27"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

At times over the past few years I have been tempted to doubt God's preserving power in the lives of immigrants who we've seen stumble and fall and fade away after having received Christ. Their volatile lives, their difficulties, and their transient situation present significant barriers to consistency in the pursuit of Christ. But, time and time again my belief in the sovereignty of God's grace has been renewed as we've seen God bring them back around.

Mario and Veronica are a great example of this. Nearly three years ago now they received Christ during one of our home-based Bible studies, but difficulties of every kind have frequently caused them to disappear for long periods of time from their involvement in Mission Adelante. This week I am thinking back over the past four months and am in awe at the way God has been working in their lives. Their consistent participation and pursuit of Christ has been at an unprecedented level despite a host of challenges they have faced during this time. Just when I had written them off, God brought them back around with a renewed authenticity and commitment to following Him.

If you are wondering what to pray for Mission Adelante this week, please pray for the sovereign keeping power of God to reign in the lives of the immigrants we're reaching.

In other news:
  • An average of 60 kids have come to the first two Thursday evening Kids Adelante outreach Bible studies of the fall trimester, which makes for a very strong start.
  • Thirteen adult students have already memorized a short version of the story of Adam and Eve in English during the first two weeks of the level 2 ESL class. Bible stories are great material for language learning!
  • About 110 mostly brand new pairs of soccer cleats and other athletic shoes were donated to Mission Adelante after being collected at a youth soccer league drive led by Shawn Alexander. We'll distribute them to neighborhood kids who participate in our annual soccer camp next summer.
Prayer needs:
  • We're concerned about two families in our faith community that have become involved in a business operated by a pyramid model. Please join us in praying that the demands of the business won't draw them away from fellowship with our community.
  • Please pray for Megan McDermott to carve out the time to continue cultivating relationships with several kids that have become disconnected from Kids Adelante.
  • The men in our faith community and ESL program have been invited to a fishing event this Saturday. This is the first time for an outreach event specifically targeted to attract men to our community. Please pray for God to allow them to connect well with one another and desire to plug into our faith community.
Current needs:
  • Two flat screen computer monitors. One is for Megan, Kids Adelante Director, because her current monitor flickers off and back on every few seconds. The other is for use by the Leaders In Training students.
  • Skillets, diapers sizes 3-5, and baby wipes for distribution through our Resource Center.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leaders In Training Lift-off!

A new class of "Leaders In Training" began the ministry year last Monday at Mission Adelante in our much anticipated LIT launch. Several returning students along with a handful of new ones will be joining us three days a week for tutoring, spiritual mentoring, and character development. This intensive leadership development group is designed to invest heavily in the students who demonstrate the most diligence and character as potential leaders among their peers.

We have observed that immigrant kids in our urban neighborhood are playing against the odds. By the time they reach middle school most of them have been recruited by gangs or have friends who are in them. Our goal is the raise up a group of kids from an early age who love God, have strong Christian character, and who can influence their peers for good rather than succumb the peer pressure that's all around them. It's a tall order, but we know that God is all powerful and can use our investment to change their lives and help them beat the odds.

Please pray with us for the new class of LIT students. Pray for a strong start and a solid commitment. You are sure to hear more about them individually and as a group over the next several months.

In other news:
  • Dave Stetler and three volunteers hosted five Bhutanese refugees for their first English class in our facility this afternoon. We're excited to watch their first steps toward becoming a holistic ministry to the Bhutanese population in Kansas City! (For more on the topic, see the following post!)
  • Last week was Launch Week for our fall trimester! Twenty-four adults enrolled for the ESL Level 1 class, and we have high hopes for all the summer ESL students to return for upper level classes this fall.
  • Kids Adelante had a huge group-59 kids on Thursday night for the trimester launch.
  • Saturday morning, September 12, about 25 kids and a few parents marched with Megan McDermott and other staff and volunteers in the Central Avenue parade. It turned out to be a great way to reconnect with many past students and acquaintances who were spectators along the parade route.
  • Sam Masters, a missionary in Cordoba, Argentina and our summer intern, Becky Masters', dad preached at our worship celebration on Sunday, September 13. Our community really enjoyed having him and his wife as guests and hearing Sam's message.
Prayer needs:
  • Please pray for all the new folks who are becoming involved in our programs for the first time this fall to come with an openness to God.
  • Pray for relational unity among the members of our faith community.
  • Please pray for God to provide a few more Kids Adelante volunteers to kick-off the trimester fully staffed.
  • Pray for Dave & Holly Stetler as they focus on building their volunteer team and raising funds for the Bhutanese Outreach Project.
Current needs:
  • Two flat screen computer monitors

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A New Opportunity for Mission Adelante

Dear Friends,

I’m excited to fill you in on a new opportunity that God has opened up for Mission Adelante. Our Board of Overseers has approved a 16 month pilot outreach project to another ethnic group in our neighborhood: Bhutanese refugees. While we had not envisioned attempting to reach immigrant groups beyond Hispanics, the circumstances and timing of this opportunity made it seem like a God-given opening to test the transferability of our ministry model and to serve another group of people who need the compassion of Christ and His gospel of grace.

Several factors have come together over the past three months to convince us that we should move forward with this pilot project. At the heart of these factors is a called leader/couple (David and Holly Stetler-pictured here) with a compatible ministry vision, a commitment to moving to the neighborhood, support from a sending church, the need and desire for coaching and infrastructure, and a handful of volunteers who are already engaged in ministry to the Bhutanese. We believe that Mission Adelante can offer a lot to Dave and Holly and to their heart to reach Bhutanese immigrants by providing proven ministry models, infrastructure, a relational support network in the neighborhood, and ongoing coaching. They will become full members of our missionary team.

For Mission Adelante this represents an opportunity to test the reproducibility of our ministry vision and core strategies. This fall Dave and his emerging team will focus on fundraising, team building, contact work, observing, learning, and planning, with an aim to launch pilot programs in January (God-willing). As they prepare to launch this project, the goal is to reproduce, but also to contextualize the best of Mission Adelante in order to reach a new people group.

The very nature of a pilot is experimental. In other words, we don’t know what parts of this project will succeed, or if the idea of reaching other people groups beyond Hispanics will eventually become an ongoing part of our ministry vision or not. However, we are excited to discover the answers to these questions and believe that God has given us the right context in which to explore them. I invite you to enter into this process with us through prayer this fall and over the next 16 months. I am certain that wherever God leads us will be exciting.

In His Grace,

Jarrett Meek

Executive Director, Mission Adelante, Inc.