I never once imagined that I would end working with kids. I played teacher as a kid but I also played doctor, super hero and WWII spy. ( In a way it’s understandable to see why I enjoy writing fiction so much!). But working with kids as a career? NOPE. Or at least that was what I believed. Until I met my friend Mary Ann who works with Greater Miami Youth For Christ in a program called KIX ( Kids in Christ). It is an afterschool program (among several ) that reaches into a few neighborhoods throughout Miami. Through my friendship with Mary Ann, I started to volunteer off and on over the years. Helping out with homework or being there for the teen program on Friday nights.
Last year though, I was offered a position as staff. It was an answer to a prayer, a second source of income and feeling the God moment in it. Have you ever had a moment where there was no hesitation to say yes because it just felt right? This was one of those moments for me. I knew I was going to say yes to this and I began work with the second and third graders three days a week.
Let me tell you something, it has been the hardest job I have ever had but by far the most rewarding. These kids they just get into the heart. One in particular reminds me of myself. She has a bit of imagination and I see the story teller emerging in her. I get her, I was her at her age. I lacked confidence in my abilities with Math homework ( and I’ve only just begun to encounter this Core Math stuff too). Working each day with my girl is one of the highlights of the day. Seeing that moment when she gets it, especially after fighting hard for the answer is a victory. Her victory.
I have been told that God qualifies us for the work He needs us to do. This is why this time in my life could not have been planned by myself. I did not feel confident in being able to do something like this in my life. But God is greater than my doubts. This is where my trust in Him comes in for my life. Trusting Him in this place has been a huge lesson for me. I’m still learning and I’m not the greatest every day but there is grace in this work. As I learned a few years ago, work is worship and worship is work.
The desire and heart of Greater Miami YFC ( and YFC nationwide and international) is to reach the youth. Kids and teens in communites of all kinds bringing the love of Christ into their lives. The neighborhood that we minister in is one of the largest Habitat communites in the country. It is a tight knit community that often has dealt with crime and violence. A few weeks ago a young lady was shot in the face by her ex boyfriend waiting for the school bus. She survived but she may lose her right eye.
This is the reality of what these kids deal with day in and day out. But by being able to come to KIX afterschool or for teen events gives them a respite. It gives them a place to point to and say there is safety and love inside that building. I am grateful to get to be part of it. To plant seeds of hope in Christ and loving on these kids. I look forward to the next victory my girl has this coming week.
I would love it if you could dear reader take a moment to click on the link for Greater Miami Youth For Christ to learn more about what we do in our vast city. Perhaps you would like to get involved with your local chapter or even donate to KIX ( just look for my name under the donate tab). Most of all I would like your prayers for this neighborhood and many like it through out our country. For these kids to find a place of hope and love in the name of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15: 58
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast,immovable,always abounding in the work of the Lord,knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Recently I learned that I have a lot to learn. It was during a during a breakout session while attending a conference for Youth For Christ. We were discussing what works in doing ministry in the city. I am new to working with a ministry serving in my city. I work for Miami Youth For Christ as a tutor for elementary school kids in the KIX program ( Kids in Christ).I have served at church leading small groups, organizing the young adults and helping lead setting up each Sunday. But this is a different kind of work. While I have volunteered over the years with this organization. Last fall I was offered a position as staff. All of it is work for the glory of God.
I struggle with not feeling qualified to do this work. That somehow I need to do have done more to be here. To help kids with their homework while showing them the love of Christ. That I don’t know enough to do this work. But then I remember that God qualifies me. He is the one who created me to do this kind of work. In the talents and abilities. In creating a patience within me that I have doubted was there. Most of all recognizing that I have a lot to learn is a good place to be at. It means I am open to learning more, being able to forgive mistakes I
may WILL make during this school year.
I look forward to what this year will bring. Hanging out with these kids during the week. Helping them play, learn and understand who they are in Christ. Getting to be a part of this is a huge blessing. God is at work in this place, in the community we serve. He is there during the games, laughter and learning. He has provided this safe place for the kids to come and us to love on them. The scripture at the top of the post is an encouragement from our staff training. To see the bigger picture of what God is doing in this place as we do this work in this mission field.
If you would like to learn more about this ministry, visit the Miami website of Miami Youth for Christ.
Would you pray for this school year? This community in Miami and this ministry to serve God well. For His love and truth to shine through their lives. I would appreciate such prayers!
Last month I wrote about praying for the singles in church. You can read about this here. Today I want talk about to serve singles. Recent polls have indicated that there are more singles in the church today than ever before. This means the idea of how to minister to us changes.
We are getting married later in life or not at all. We are living in a different age where marriage, at least in this part of our 1% privileged world, is not a necessity for survival. We no longer live in the world of Jane Austen, where marriage was for the Bennett girl’s very survival.
So often, in American churches marriage itself it lauded as the epitome of the Christian life. In reality, while marriage is A good thing, it is not the thing. In the Bible we are constantly reminded that things of this world shall fall away. This also includes marriage.
Idolizing either state single or married can be dangerous.
So many singles feel left out or marginalized as the emphasis is often placed on the marriages in the church. As I stated in my previous post, marriage is a good thing, however there are times where their can be a mentality that one group needs more attention over another.
Whether this is an oversight or simply the culture of a church needs to be evaluated. It is often as simple as changing the phrase of a sentence. Or acknowledging that singleness is not easy without the usual platitudes. Perhaps too just checking in with someone to see how they are doing, with our lives, seeking a mate or not seeking a mate.
I am no expert and I do not believe there is a one size fits all ministry. Is there ever? What follows is what I have experienced. First we are a diverse group of people. We vary in age, life experience and walk with Christ. Lumping all singles into one ministry just won’t work.
For example, when I checked out a Young Adult group for a few months the dynamic just did not work for me. Many of those who were attending were rather new to the faith and as a consequence I did not get much out of the small group time. Not to mention the always underlying tension of people checking out the other sex. This made me uncomfortable and I felt as if I had to perform somehow.
That particular ministry is helping a lot of people grow in their faith and build strong relationships but in the end it just wasn’t for me.
What I realized is that I do not like being designated into a certain group because of my (or lack of) marital status. I don’t think we need several small ministries to address the growing number of singles in the church.
As we are supposed to be one family, essentially creating another congregation for singles just isn’t the answer . There is a reason for kids ministry, students ministry and even college ministry. Those are times of life in which people grow out of or graduate.
Singleness is not something one grows out of or graduates. As some may not get married and because they haven’t and by default feel less than. Or are excluded from serving in certain ways because somehow not being married excludes them doing so. This has not been my personal experience but it is a complaint I have heard from others.
This is one way to not serve the singles in the church. Excluding them from serving the church because they are not married. When something is set out as for the marrieds only you are sending the message that the singles are not as holy or qualified. That in fact Jesus isn’t enough. This is a lie that can cause more hardship for us than is perhaps realized.
I would say that while there may be times for certain aspects of singles ministry to be separate, it does not need to be an utter and complete disconnect from the rest of the congregation.Every church is different and the needs of each congregation vary.
In my experience as a single in church I have been cared for, never told I could not do this or that due to my marital status. However, a lot of my fellow singles have not been as cared for, or been told they could not serve because of their martial status.
By investing in singles as whole people who are lost and in need of Jesus is what matters most than any program or event.