Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Giving Thanks for Jason's Partnership

My friendship with Jason Schoff began back in early 2005 when he and Megan came to our home for dinner to talk about a vision that was emerging in our hearts to launch an urban mission to Hispanic immigrants. We shared stories about each of our experiences as missionaries in Latin American countries, ours in Bolivia and Jason's in Uruguay. The evening ended with the four of us standing together praying for God's vision to be born in us and for His guidance as we walked in territory we had never before known. None of us knew how God would answer those prayers or what Mission Adelante would become four years later.

Since that first meeting Jason has proven himself to be both a faithful friend as well as a competent ministry partner. Beginning as a volunteer during his last year of seminary, Jason and Megan drove to our neighborhood multiple times each week to be part of the early stages of our ministry community. After graduation, Jason began the fundraising process and joined our staff as the Director of English Outreach, a role that focused on running our strategic "English as a Second Language" program, but included much more.

As I reflect upon Jason's impact in the Mission Adelante community over the past four years I think immediately of the breadth of scope and ownership that Jason has in Mission Adelante. He not only sees needs in his own focus area, but also engages across the scope of our ministry. From leading a home-based Bible study and discipling individual men, to overseeing our Resource Center and organizing outings for the men in our community, Jason's impact has been felt in the lives of volunteers, interns, apprentices and of course immigrants.

Of all the qualities that Jason possesses, the one that is likely the most important is his love and dependence on God through prayer. "Prayer walks" in the neighborhood, impromptu prayer sessions before challenging meetings, and a heart-felt sincerity in his prayer-life give evidence to Jason's belief that the critical work of ministry is indeed prayer, especially in an urban context where spiritual enemies are brazenly opposing every effort we make.

As I consider what I am thankful for this season, Jason Schoff's partnership in ministry is one of the most important things. Check our Jason's blog to read updates or to see his recent update video.

In other news:
  • Megan M. and LIT student Nayeli enjoyed their visit to the Teen Bible Study at The Hope Center last week and gleaned good ideas for our own Teen Bible Study, which Megan hopes to begin within the next year. Please join us in praying that God will arrange all the logistics for its launch.
  • The servant team from our faith community met on Sunday morning to plan for some changes and improvements next year.
  • Our four staff members residing in KCK are looking forward to the social time they'll get to share with friends and ministry supporters this Saturday at their Open Houses.
  • Painting Day at Mission Adelante-December 5th from 9am-1pm. We need volunteers! Let us know if you'd like to come!
Prayer needs:
  • Pray for calming of the escalating gang violence in our immediate neighborhood, and for the protection of staff and community members and their families.
  • Please pray for strength for a pregnant mother in our community who is coping with financial difficulty, marital strife, the imprisonment of a brother and serious illness of a sister. Please pray that she will truly receive the Holy Sprit's comfort.
Current needs:
  • Kids winter coats, new or gently used, for distribution through our Resource Center.
  • Brown paper grocery sacks for the resource center. Volunteers: next time you buy groceries, why not ask for "paper" at the checkout and then bring the sacks with you the next time you come to the Mission?
Upcoming dates:
  • Thursday, November 26: Midterm break. Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Monday, November 30, 6:30 p.m.: Volunteer Team Meeting

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thankful for Megan's Ministry

by Jarrett Meek

It didn't take long after meeting Megan McDermott to realize that she had unique gifts, abilities and passions for working with inner-city Latino kids. Her experience as a teacher gave her a good handle on managing kid-dynamics. Her love for Christ served as the source of her love for the kids. And, her study-abroad experiences in Costa Rica had instilled in her a passion for building cross-cultural relationships with Latino people. We soon learned also that another critical element was also present: God's calling.

It came as no surprise to me, as our missionary team went around the circle last weekend mentioning the most impacting things God has done this year in Mission Adelante, that Megan coming on board as the Director of Kids Adelante was at the top of the list. In a very short period of time she has assumed the leadership role in a thriving and dynamic ministry that includes about 60 kids in a weekly outreach Bible study, 12 in a three-day-a-week leadership training program, and employs over 25 volunteers on a weekly basis.

Megan's capacity as a leader has been proven quickly. Her ability to manage multiple programs, relate with kids and their parents, and coordinate the efforts of volunteer teams is very strong. But these abilities only scratch the surface of Megan's impact. Working with inner city kids who are often hard to love requires a special perseverance, patience, and vision; perseverance to stay encouraged in light of ongoing crises and disappointments, patience to wait for God to work in the lives of kids in His timing, and vision to see beyond current circumstances to what these kids could become. Megan possesses all of these qualities, and one more: love for the kids. Even as Megan diligently fulfills her leadership responsibilities, she continues to demonstrate a faithful love for each child as an individual, often taking them out for ice cream for their birthdays and finding other ways to spend special time with them.

The kids, the staff, and the volunteer team of Mission Adelante are very proud of Megan and extremely blessed by her ministry in our community. To read stories and updates from Megan or to check out her recent video update, visit her blog.

In other news:
  • Our annual Missionary Team retreat last weekend was a fruitful time of reflection, evaluation, and brainstorming, especially on the topics of developing close relationships and discipleship within our church community.
  • Jarrett visited the K-State chapter of Ichthus student ministry last Thursday to recruit for our 2010 summer internship.
  • Thanks to generous donations from Christ Community Churches in Leawood and Olathe we have a majority of the winter coats, hats and gloves to meet the needs of neighborhood families this winter.
  • Megan McDermott and 13-year-old Nayeli, an LIT student, will visit the Hope Center tomorrow on the East Side of KC, MO to observe their Teen Bible Study as we consider how to expand Kids Adelante to continue to meet the needs of our growing kids.
Prayer needs:
  • Everardo and Laura are ESL students that visited our Worship Celebration for the first time on Sunday evening. Please pray that the connections they made there will give them a desire to return this week.
  • Join with us in praying that God will stir the hearts of people to engage in the spring trimester as new volunteers, both in the Hispanic and Bhutanese outreaches.
  • Pray for God's direction for David Stetler and his team's strategic planning for the Bhutanese ministry. They will launch their pilot ESL classes and kids ministry in January.
Current needs:
  • Volunteers to spend a couple of hours this week or next week sorting clothes in our Resource Center. Please call Molly Merrick at 913-961-2984 to line up your time.
  • Brown paper grocery bags for resource distribution.
Important upcoming dates:
  • Thursday, November 26: Midterm break. Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Monday, November 30 at 6:30 p.m.: All Volunteer Team Meeting

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Halloween in Our Urban Neighborhood

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. But, it is one of my favorite things about living in Kansas City, Kansas. Our neighbors (not our Hispanic ones), go over the top with houses decorated, spooky music blaring into the street, and even live performances in their front yards. Kids come from all over our area and converge to trick-or-treat on 17th Street. It is a unique urban experience that you have to see to believe.

This year all the excitement produced some interesting opportunities among our Mission Adelante families. After meeting as a group at our home, parents and kids took to the streets together to enjoy a beautiful fall evening. Kids ran, asked for candy, sometimes remembered to say thank you, shook in their boots before sinister looking old homes, and had an overall great time being kids. Parents did their best to keep track of their black-clad, sugar-loaded offspring as they ran in and out of crowds of people (we even lost little Felipe Leyva for a while). After about an hour of chaos and over stimulus, the group returned to our home to count their booty and enjoy some dessert together.

Beyond all the hoopla, the highlight of the evening for me came when our group of Hispanic adults and kids stopped for a time at the Stetler home on 17th Street, where a clan of bewildered Bhutanese refugees had gathered to absorb this bizarre cultural experience. We were invited in and got to witness our Hispanic friends trying to interact for the first time with the Bhutanese refugees our ministry is beginning to befriend. As I observed Leticia making a great effort to converse with a Bhutanese lady, I noticed how similar they seemed. Their experience as immigrants unites them. And, I was struck by the fact that their only common language was English. Neither one could speak the native tongue of the other, so they were forced to communicate in English. From this first encounter I couldn't help but think down the road a ways and wonder if someday they would be worshiping Jesus together too.

In other news:
  • Our Resource Center continues to be open each Saturday morning so that neighborhood families in need can choose the donated items that would be useful to them. Molly Merrick is among the various people that staff this avenue of outreach, and one of her favorite aspects of the ministry is blessing each family that comes through by praying for them individually.
  • ESL volunteers are making a huge impact in students' lives this trimester by finding ways to spend time with them outside of class. One attended a birthday party while others have gone out to lunch or dinner together.
Prayer needs:
  • We're taking advantage of the opportunity to talk to the LIT students about sexual purity in a two-part conversation. Please pray for God to grant discernment and wisdom to the adults as they educate and advise the pre-teens.
  • The Missionary team will have a planning retreat this weekend to strategize and prepare for 2010. Please pray for God's guidance for the process.
  • We'll have our November Worship Celebration this Sunday evening. Please pray for current students and their families to have the courage to come for the first time.
Current needs:
  • Brown paper grocery sacks for the resource center. Volunteers: next time you buy groceries, why not ask for "paper" at the checkout and then bring the sacks with you the next time you come to the Mission?
  • Diapers sizes 4 and 5. Even small packages and generic brands are appreciated!
  • Two twin-size matresses to accompany bed frames that have already been donated.
Important upcoming dates:
  • Thursday, November 26: Midterm break. Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Monday, November 30 @ 6:30 p.m.: All Volunteer Meeting