Thursday, February 28, 2013

God is always speaking... we rarely listen...

     While prepping for small group, I spent nearly 4 hours in search of a Psalm that would help us continue on the trajectory of “Remembering: A Journey through Story.” God and I had words. It seemed He was keeping me stuck on a particular passage that didn’t seem applicable. I wasn’t listening. He HAD given me the words to share, but I wasn’t cooperating.

The teen girls group.
     Thursday evening, as we began our discussion, I told the girls, “It seems God just wants us to share with one another.” We reflected on how long we’ve been in community and the safety of sharing life with sisters who care. (The week prior we’d talked about the real meanings of love as found in 1 Corinthians 13). I was able to share what God laid on my heart and proceeded to open the floor to anything they felt they wanted to share.

     Conversation flowed quite naturally as the girls talked about different ideas and issues they’d been thinking about. Out of the blue, Deshownna interrupted saying, “What I want to know is has anyone ever looked at Psalm 13? 12 is my favorite number so I decided to check out Psalm 12, but THEN I read Psalm 13…Psalm 13 is like, EXACTLY what I was thinking! God does that with me, like, I’ll have a question in my head and He’ll just GIVE me the answer from a person, from the Bible for somewhere else.”

     God is always talking, we just need to slow down and listen.  He gives us exactly the words we need, exactly when needed. Deshownna’s testimony is powerful. That young lady listens. She’s always sharing new things God has whispered to her, thereby encouraging all around her to slow down and listen up.

 “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.”  Psalm 13:5-6

~ guest author - Heidi, staff

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Volunteering is a gift...

I believe that God desires each and every one of us to serve those less fortunate in whatever way, large or small, it is possible for us to do so. This is clear in 1 Peter 4:10 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (NLT)
Chris in action at Super Saturday!
I must admit that although I have volunteered on a regular basis for 30+ years, I am absolutely guilty of forgetting that my desire to volunteer my time and energy is a gift straight from my God. I forget how lost I was for so long in my prior sinful and rebellious existence, never giving God a second thought. Still, amazingly, God never gave up on me and blessed me with a willingness to serve others. Then, and what a bonus, he also surrounded me with the most incredible people - true servants of our Lord who give much more than I, always going above and beyond.
Isaiah 58:10 “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” (NLT). I thank you, fellow volunteers, not just for serving the wonderful children of UFM with your whole hearts and souls, but also for being shining examples for those of us struggling to be better servants of Christ.
Are you new to volunteering and thinking about committing some of your time? Don't wait, just do it and watch how much you gain in comparison to how little you give…
~ guest author, Chris, volunteer

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lessons from a 10 year old...

I like driving around with my kids, both long and short rides provide a captive audience.  They can’t escape your questions and “meddling” as you’re driving 80 down the highway.    Recently, the forecast warned of an incoming winter storm. Kerby, my 10 year old, and I were sitting in the van before he went to school.  Here is the discussion that ensued….

Kerby: “If this building gets blown over I will have to go to a different school.” 
Me: “A blizzard can't blow this building down.. a tornado could but not a blizzard.”
Kerby: “A blizzard and tornado together could blow it down.
Me: “Yes but you're not going to have a blizzard and a tornado together.
Kerby: “Yes you can.”
Me: “No you can't. The temperature needs to be warmer and then cold weather come blowing in or the other way around.”
Kerby: “Yes you can. The weather can be below 32 degrees and then air much warmer comes in and you have a tornado.”
Me (starting to get impatient): “Kerby... That's not possible.... It can't happen.”
Kerby: “Yes it can cuz God can do anything!”
Me: sigh... “You got me on that one Kerby..... You got me on that one.”

Childlike faith.  

How often do we adults totally lose that concept?  How often do we start to rationalize God’s power to do this or that?  How many times do we miss blessings and miracles because we put God in a box and then shut the lid?
We serve a very BIG GOD!  MY God CAN make a tornado and a hurricane at the same time (and I have someone who looked it up, linked the article to my facebook page just to show me it can happen!  This also gave Kerby a chance to say “I told you so!”)  If we don’t believe God can make a tornado and hurricane happen at the same time, how can we believe that same God will save us from our sins?  How can we believe that same God has the power to whisper to us when we need to hear his voice or yell at us when we are being disobedient?  How can we believe God can change people – change us? 

I have thanked God for the great example Kerby gave of child-like faith.  I know MY God is BIG and can do ANYTHING!!!!  

~guest author, Noelle, staff

Monday, February 18, 2013

I have more nieces and nephews...

Denise getting hugs at a Super Saturday.

     I became familiar with UFM while attending Calvary Church several years ago.   One day I asked Jim, a former UFM employee and Kitchen Crew leader, if he needed "backup" staff for the kitchen crew in case anyone called in sick or was on vacation. Jim said that would be a good idea and he would call me when needed. Sure enough, he asked me to help out one Saturday and I really enjoyed it.In the following weeks he asked me to fill in for someone on a regular basis, eventually I was asked me to come every week! I've been a part of the UFM Super Saturday kitchen for 8-10 years. I love the people I work with and I think I'm the youngest one in the kitchen! I love to say "hi" to the kids who attend Super Saturday and mingle with them when I get a chance. I really enjoy getting to know some of the kids, asking them about their lives, and showing that I care about them. I even get hugs from those that know me! I see the Super Saturday kids as an extension of my family, like my nieces and nephews. On Saturdays, there are just more nieces and nephews for me to love! I enjoy being able to spend time with 100+ great kids and still go home to my quiet condo! Even though I'm now a member of another church, I still feel very much a part of UFM.

~guest author, Denise, volunteer and Board Member

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We didn't know anything was missing...

     I just love how God works, don’t you?  There is a saying “if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans”.   Well, I can tell you that our family of 6, like many,  is a very busy family with hardly a moment to spare it seems.  So when my 19 year old daughter Celine told me that she was going to mentor a (1) child through Urban Family Ministries I thought “That is great!  She will be good at that and can probably squeeze that into her schedule.  And maybe our family can meet this child sometime.”   I think that’s where God probably had his first chuckle. 

     One year later, we now consider our family of 6, a family of 9.  And, we’re connected to an even larger family of 4 more.  You see, what God had planned was something we couldn’t have even imagined.  We didn’t know anything or anyone was missing!    But Celine was obedient to a call to serve.  She met with Noelle at Urban Family Ministries who kindly asked her if she felt she could mentor 3 boys who all live in the same home.  Celine had some doubts, but she is a woman of great courage and incredible faith.  “You lead, I’ll follow” as the song says.  And follow, she did. 
The boys and Kerri's daughters doing a craft together.
I vividly remember meeting Zaonta, Mark, and Kayveon for the first time.  Celine had already spent some time with them and wanted them to meet her family.  They were such polite and precious boys and we had a wonderful time together in our home, eating pancakes.  They came back again and again and each time we got to know each other a little better.  I started to see signs that they were beginning to trust us.  They started opening up more and bringing us into their day to day lives.  We laughed, we played games, we talked about God, about life, about hardships, fights at school, and so much more.  

     I could not imagine life without them.  It now seems that they have been a part of us forever.  We look forward to always sharing life with them, God willing.  They understand we love them.  They understand we enjoy spending time with them.  They understand that we have great respect for their Auntie who loves and cares for them on a daily basis.  And I think they are beginning to understand what unconditional love feels like. 
I’m so thankful that Celine was obedient.  And I’m totally appreciating God’s sense of humor. 

~guest author, Kerri, volunteer

Monday, February 11, 2013

What are you DOing for God?

Jen teaching at Super Saturday
Let me ask you a question... How much time do you spend furthering-growing God's Kingdom? I mean more than praying, donating money, or encouraging someone in the ministry? Don't get me wrong, we need your prayers, lets bombard heaven’s gates with our requests for those who desperately need salvation! We need money, the ministry work is not free. We need encouragement, some days more than others! But when you sit and look at your life, day to day, how much time do you spend building your life? With work, rest, fun...and how much time do you actually give back to God? This is more than prayer, more than devotions- time in the word. This is get your hands in, reach out, get out, and DO kind of time.  

This thought hit me many years ago. I have been a believer most of my life. God has always been around. I always have prayed, learned, and tried to grow as a child of God but do-ing....what was I DOing for God?

Being a good person, a good wife, a good mom, a good daughter and sister...well, yeah. But really living a "good" life for ME on my standards according to Christian opinion. I realized giving back a few hours a week to God, to thank Him for all He has given me is a drop in the bucket. The time I spend to volunteer is a fraction of a fraction of the time I spend doing what I want.

Seriously, spending the few hours every week volunteering may make me miss some fun things, may make me miss some quiet time, some family time but really....what are we doing the other hours of the week? Don't we expect God to always be available to us? Can we give just a bit of our time for Him? God can do so much with our time budget! HE can change lives, give hope, share joy, save souls, give someone a future with the little bit of time we open up to serve.

He needs not just our hands and feet but our willingness to go and DO for Him. God CAN use you! You just need to try, go, be, and do!!!

“God’s people cannot be shamed into serving God; they need to be challenged.” ~ Jack Hyles
So I challenge you. Find a place, try a place to serve and just see what God can grow with your investment!

Galatians 5:13 "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

~guest author, Jen S., volunteer

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February 2013 E-news...

Ever wonder what is going on at Urban Family Ministries?

Did you know we send out an E-news letter 4-6 times a year?

We have linked our latest Enews, just published yesterday, to our blog for you to be able to catch up!  If you are interested in having this sent directly to your email, please go to the UFM website Enews sign up and fill in the form.  This will automatically keep you updated on news related to Urban Family Ministries!

Click here for the UFM February 2013 E-news.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Superbowl Sunday... connecting Urban and Suburban

UFM and Georgetown Bible paired up to host a fabulous Superbowl Extravaganza. 

Samantha and Deshowne celebrating with their new iPods.
Glen Wilson, youth pastor at Georgetown Bible, collaborated with UFM and Tabernacle Community Church youth group to throw a hype party at UFM’s office on the corner of Eastern and Baxter.  The game was broadcast on 4 different televisions and a large projector screen. Middle and high school students and volunteers filled the rec center with laughter and conversation. Over 60 people joined in cheering on different students as they participated in a variety of “minute-to-win-it” games. Winners went home with a variety of prizes from candy bars, buckets of gumballs, all the way to $25 to iTunes or Best Buy, and two lucky winners took home iPods! 

It was a great blessing to see this facility used so well, packed with students and volunteers having a blast, sharing in community, and creating memories.  We ate, we danced, we cheered!! It was a Superbowl Party to remember.

Executive Director, Alf Clark responded to the night with these words: 
And the game gets serious....

Minute-to-win-it game

“I had a dream right after starting here in March of 2012.  I dreamed at some point, we could be part of bridging the urban community with the suburban community.  My dream included urban and suburban youth filling the main room in our office building, breaking out of their cultural shells and experiencing what Heaven will look like.  This dream, in which we as a staff continue to cultivate, is called in the office “God with US” (Urban Suburban).  This dream became a reality for the first time on Sunday night as Georgetown Bible Church, Tabernacle Community Church youth group and UFM high and middle school students merged together to watch the Superbowl game.  We had door prizes, pizza, games, pool table, foosball table, Superbowl game playing on 4 flat screen T.V’s and music bouncing in the building.  

As I sat there and looked around, it was hard to not allow a smile to break across my face.  I saw teens from the suburban area breaking bread with an urban teen.  I saw an urban teen engage in a conversation with a youth group member from a suburban setting.  As I thought through the evening of what God was doing right there in that room, he reminded me of how one of our teen boys, Dearis, arrived and immediately broke down barriers.  A group of suburban teens were sitting in the cafe’ getting ready to play cards.   They were sitting around a small round table which created more of a “huddle” look where the group is shoulder to shoulder facing each other.  This was not intentional by any means.  Dearis, walked into the cafe’ and right up to the group, placed his chin almost on the shoulders of two people sitting at the table peering into the circle.  He looked right, then left and asked “What are you guys doing?”  Someone from the group spoke up saying “We’re getting ready to play cards.”  Dearis not skipping a beat questioned, “Can I join you?”  The response was a welcoming yes and as the two people who he was peering over the shoulder of separated, he pulled up another chair and began playing.  For the rest of the night, Dearis and that group of young men and women were connected, talking and the barriers were non-existent.  

What an awesome experience watching again God, first hand, break down barriers we all know can be there, but rarely speak of.” 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Service Project Required...

Heidi and Manuel at camp in 2012.

That’s what was expected of Cornerstone University students who chose to enroll in Leadership Journey (LJ) before 2007. Leadership Journey was a two week program featuring a week long leadership camp at Grace Adventures, a week-long intensive worldview course at Cornerstone, and a required weekly service project that spanned the entire school-year. In 2005, when Heidi began her college experience she was thrust into the ‘must do’ community service project following camp experience and worldview class. Her Leadership Journey Group chose to serve at Urban Family Ministries’ Super Saturday (SS) program.

Now this meant that EVERY Saturday evening a group of college freshmen would go to Calvary Church and help out with this inner-city ministry. Yes, these students gave up EVERY Saturday night of their first semester to volunteer with Urban Family Ministries (UFM). They hosted a group of 6-8 years old kiddos, on campus, each week second semester.

This is where Heidi fell in love. Now, don’t let your mind wander, she fell head over heels in love with ALL of these children! When Heidi would call home, as her Mom I wanted to know how school was going and of course, wanted to know her grades! However, Heidi ALWAYS wanted to talk about Super Saturday!!!!(The ‘required’ service project that she wasn't getting graded on….at least not by Cornerstone….).

Fast forward to sophomore year, Heidi served as a mentor for a Leadership Journey group. Heidi’s LJ group wanted to do something different this year, but nothing was working out, so they “ended” serving with UFM again, bringing kiddos to campus for a weekly visit! Hmmmm….I think God was in control, don’t you???

To make a 7 year story short, Heidi volunteered at SS all 4 yrs of college. Yep, she gave up her Saturday evenings to bless and mostly be blessed by these children and other volunteers. What we as her parents, and she being an English Education Major, didn't know, was that God was prepping her for what is now, her full-time ‘job’!!! “Job” is in quotes, because this is truly her God given gift and calling. She is a missionary right in her home town, Grand Rapids!!!

Submitted by a very thankful mother of a child who followed God’s will!! 

~guest author, Darla Chinn