Written by David Coon
Teens Adelante had its first team effort towards serving together this past Saturday. I have to say that my expectations were not quite how it turned out to be, which is how I find being a part of God's plan typically goes. The objective was to help Marcia Merrick move the stored items for her ministry to a new storage location, and in the meantime bond with the kids while establishing authority: pretty simple. When asked to, "help move stuff," many of the kids immediately committed to going, which was shocking in itself. And Rachel and Andrew, two wonderful volunteers, were thrilled to spend their Saturday with the teens, along with my wife and I. Everything seemed to be falling perfectly into place. I figured we'd spend all Saturday afternoon moving the items, but I was wrong. I also figured getting the kids to help and be productive would be a lot like herding cats. Again, I was wrong. I was certainly underestimating God's plans in my estimation of the value of this activity.
So, Saturday after lunch I showed up to the loading point with a large borrowed box truck, teeth gritted and ready to go. I pulled up to the warehouse to see one of the girls whizzing by on a random office chair. Apparently, my arrival was just a few minutes too late to establish any sort of real authority. But, I saw something wonderful in the kids. They were having fun, and they were joyful in it! We proceeded to load what turned out to be only eight or ten large items that needed to be moved, and were off to the drop off locations in less than 30 minutes. Each of the stops proved to be a great opportunity for us to do just enough work together and then do something like throw snowballs at each other. Our final stop was the Coon house, so we decided it would be good to spend some time eating pizza and hanging out in the backyard together, as it was a gorgeous day. As we started to spend quality time together, playing soccer in the mud and making s'mores on an open fire, my wife Brooke whispered "hey they're being really good." And I noticed that they were getting along and respecting us, and that they had been all day! We were amazed at how our expectation to have to work at spending time with the kids was completely blown out of the water! It was a joy to simply be with them.
I'm sure we have no idea how much they really watch everything we do, but I do know that simply inviting them to come into our home and be our friends changed their attitudes toward us. The truly beautiful thing, however, was the breath of fresh air (literally) that our time together was. Daniel G. said multiple times that he "liked being there" and didn't want to go home. The truth is, they felt safe and cared for. This is the power of the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit living in us. Just one afternoon away from the bondage of gangs and the many other pressures of their age was like a starving family receiving Thanksgiving dinner. The victory of this day was that God planted a seed of hope in their hearts, that they are sons and daughters and the heirs of His Kingdom. The day was supposed to be a group exercise, and I wanted them to feel useful. God's desire was for them to feel loved and to feel welcomed by His Son for who they are. Brooke said " I've never seen Nayeli smile so big. It was joy." All four of us leaders were undoubtedly thinking the same thing as we spent that beautiful Saturday afternoon like a family with nothing to do. I love these kids!
In other news:
- The kids are studying Creation every Thursday this trimester in the Kids Adelante Outreach Bible Study, while the teens are exploring Jesus' different characteristics in the Teen Bible Study.
- About 30 people from Westside Family Church's Engage Community visited our KCK neighborhood on Saturday to prayer walk.
- Jarrett, Juan, and Antoine met again this week for their Trio meeting, as did several other Trios, for spiritual encouragement and study of the Proverbs. Two and a half months into this new discipleship strategy there are nine active Trios.
- Please pray for continued bonding among the teen girls and female Teen Bible Study leaders this Friday at a sleepover.
- Pray for David Stetler as he gets acquainted with four Bhutanese families that have just arrived in Kansas City. Pray for him to be received by them as a trustworthy new friend.
- Continue to pray for a strong finish to the year for our Leaders In Training, some of whom are presently enticed by outside activities and considering leaving the program early.
- Rice and summer clothes, both for distribution to families in need through the Resource Center.
- Gas grills in good condition. Four of ours were recently stolen, and we routinely use them for Trimester-end Parties and other community building events.
- Monday, March 15 - Thursday March 18: Spring break. No regularly scheduled Hispanic or Bhutanese ministry programs, with the exception of Spanish Class on Monday evening, which will meet at it's normal time.
- Saturday, March 27: Adelante Missions Institute presents Officer Jeff Brownlee of the KCKPD for a Saturday Seminar on Gang Awareness and Prevention. For those of you who are involved in working with Kids Adelante or the Bhutanese kids club, we highly recommend this seminar to help you better understand the pressures our kids are surrounded by each day. A continental breakfast will be served, and there will be a $15 fee for participation collected at the door. Please invite whomever you know that would be interested, and RSVP by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monday, April 12, 6:30: Volunteer Team Meeting. All current volunteers are strongly encouraged to attend this final meeting of the trimester.