Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Party Paradoxes

Mission Adelante's annual Christmas party is one of my favorite events of the year. Last weekend did not disappoint as over 250 people converged on the Bethany Community Center and shared an evening of fun, food, and festivities. It is such an energizing and unique event on so many levels that it is fun to try to describe it in a paragraph or two.

English and Spanish mix to share life and "Convivir". There aren't many places in the world where distinct cultures come together like this for fellowship. The food gives us another paradox: Latin American immigrants forming long lines to fill their plates with Chinese food from a bountiful buffet. Christian unity shines as volunteers from nearly 15 different churches in the city come to play a part in the production or just to be together. Kids who struggle to survive in the dog-eat-dog social context of the urban core sing "Lord I Lift your Name on High" and receive accolades for memorizing Bible verses and demonstrating characteristics like "Servant Heart". And, to add a strange and beautiful twist to the paradoxical event, live Jazz music of the caliber you might expect to hear at an upscale wedding rings through the crowd of poverty-level and below immigrants. And in all of this, the name of Jesus and the miracle of His incarnation is preached.

A special thank you to all who played a part in this beautiful event! What a fitting end to a great ministry trimester!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Morgan Ham: A Faithful Team-Player

written by Jarrett Meek

Morgan and Felipe were looking for a bilingual Pastor to help in their wedding ceremony. By God's providence I had recently arrived from Bolivia and met Felipe who was studying through Heartland's Ministry Apprenticeship Program. So God brought us together in this unlikely way and the Hams became part of the team of volunteers who founded Mission Adelante in 2005.

Morgan began her volunteer tenure with Mission Adelante as our primary level one ESL instructor. Her clear spoken manner of teaching made it easy for students to understand her, and her heart for Hispanic people shone through just as clearly. As Morgan taught that first ESL class around our dining room table, her husband Felipe was in the basement hanging out with a handful of kids who would become the first kids of Kids Adelante.

These days Morgan works in our office 12 hours/week as our Executive Assistant. Her objective way of thinking, her commitment to excellence and her diligent faithfulness make her a highly effective assistant. But her positive attitude, her ownership of our ministry vision and her long-term dedication make her an invaluable member of our staff team. We love Morgan and Felipe and are very thankful for their ministry and friendship as a part of Mission Adelante.

In other news:
  • We're in the early planning stage of a Mission Trip for volunteers to Costa Rica in May 2010. If you're interested, please contact Jarrett.
  • About 30 volunteers from Mill Creek Church, Christ Community Church, and Church of the Resurrection had fun slinging paint at the walls in the Kids Adelante room and the second floor of our building on Saturday. They were a great help and the building keeps looking better and better each step of the way of the renovation.
  • The women of the Mission Adelante community enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship at our Women's Christmas Tea on Saturday afternoon. Jarrett and Jason graciously entertained the kids while the women enjoyed conversation, finger foods, an encouraging message, and a Christmas craft.
  • The two in-home Bible studies both concluded their season of meeting together as small groups with well-attended dinners on Sunday evening. Beginning this Sunday we're transitioning to weekly worship services.
Prayer needs:
  • Pray for a smooth transition to weekly worship services to be held every Sunday evening at the Mission, and that our faith community would become even more tightly-bound through the increased frequency of meeting together.
  • Pray for God to bear fruit through Jarrett and Jason's pursuit of several families that are on the verge of becoming committed members of our community.
  • Please continue to pray for the pregnant mother in our community that is presently facing a myriad of trials. She has become a single mother through events of the past couple of weeks, and desperately needs the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Current needs:
  • ESL volunteers for morning and evening classes to begin in January. For more information, please contact Jason.
  • L.I.T. volunteers for weekday afternoons beginning in January. For more information, please contact Megan.
Important upcoming dates:
  • Thursday, December 10: Last day of ESL and Kids Adelante. Activities resume Thursday, January 21.
  • Saturday, December 12, 6:00 p.m. @ Bethany Community Center: Christmas Party. Please come and help us celebrate the accomplishments of our ESL, Kids Adelante, and L.I.T. students this trimester and honor volunteers with sustained service. Bethany Community Center is located on Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas (66102) between 11th and 12th Streets, behind the fire station.

Weather Cancellation Policy

Mission Adelante activities HAVE NOT BEEN cancelled for today. Our policy is to follow the decision of Kansas City Kansas Community College, because they also have evening classes. In case of a cancellation, we will post information here and email all volunteers.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Reflections on Gang Violence in Our Neighborhood

Last Monday I attended my first funeral in our neighborhood; a 27 year old victim of gang violence. As I listened to the Latino pastor speak words of hope to the family, as I listened to the members of that evangelical congregation consoling the young man's mother, as I caught an uncomfortable glimpse of the lifeless shell of a person left in the casket, I shuddered to think that one day I might be called upon to perform a ceremony in such a painful situation for one of the members of the Mission Adelante community. Lord may it never be!

This kind of situation is not a frequent occurence in our area, but any frequency is too often to accept. And, this time it hit too close to home. The victim's family is very close with a Mission Adelante family whom I accompanied to the funeral.

Gang "tags" or graffiti have been on the rise in our area over the last several months; a sign that the activity is increasing. When the former principle of ME Pearson elementary school came to speak to our staff, he shocked us when he said that recruiting to junior gangs begins as early as third grade and that serious pressure begins in fifth grade as middle school gang members return to their old grade schools to recruit kids they knew the year before.

We're in a battle for the hearts and souls of these kiddos, and it's a high stakes endeavor. I am more aware than ever that we must reach these kids when they're still reachable, before they go to middle school. The volunteers who've been serving in our Kids Adelante and Leaders-in-training ministries are on the front lines of this battle, ministering to kids while they're still "kids". Their efforts are made in the safe context of an established program with kids who will soon be facing the wolves. God, please use us in the lives of these young ones. Draw and call them to yourself now before they are drawn away by violent forces. Protect their hearts and keep them in you for eternity!

In other news:
  • One L.I.T. student that doesn't have a home computer will be chosen to receive a computer that was recently donated to the Mission. It will be a valuable tool for that student while completing homework.
  • The women of our faith community are looking forward a Christmas Tea this Saturday afternoon. While the women enjoy fellowship with one another, the men will be caring for the children!
  • More than half of the 12 L.I.T. students have earned the privilege of a pizza and movie party at Megan McDermott's house this Saturday. The party is a reward for diligently using an agenda to keep track of school assignments during the semester.
Prayer needs:
  • Please continue to pray for strength for the pregnant mother in our community that we described last week. She continues to cope with financial difficulty, the imprisonment of a brother and the serious illness of a sister, and her husband has now become absent from their home as well. Please pray that she will truly receive the Holy Spirit's comfort.
  • Pray for Juan, whom we've known for several years, and who seems to be getting closer and closer to entering into a relationship with Christ.
  • Pray for an ESL student that will soon return to Mexico to complete the required paperwork with the U.S. Consulate there for American residency. Pray for safety while she's away and that the process will be completed as quickly as possible.
Current needs:
  • Diapers, all sizes and any size package, for distribution through our Resource Center.
Upcoming dates:
  • Thursday, December 10: Last day of ESL and Kids Adelante. Activities resume Thursday, January 21.
  • Saturday, December 12, 6:00 p.m. @ Bethany Community Center: Christmas Party. Please come and help us celebrate the accomplishments of our ESL, Kids Adelante, and L.I.T. students this trimester and honor volunteers with sustained service.