Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's going on in the Women's Ministry....

The Women's Ministry (plus their driver).  Marie is in the bright green jacket in the front.

Recently, our women’s Bible study lesson came from the story of the woman at the well. As facilitator, I hoped to use the story to share tools of effective study.

-          Observation: What does it say?
-          Interpretation: What does it mean?
-          Application: What does it mean to me?
-          Main Morsel: What was the main lesson I learned from this story?

The outcome was awesome. Many of us cried as we began to share what God was doing in our lives. At the end of our study, I asked what each woman took as their main morsel. Each woman, shared what they took away from the lesson. One admitted that she is “at the well” right now. She lives with her boyfriend and knows God know everything that is going on. Another woman realized she has a thirst only God can fill and others received confirmatio
n about changes that need to be made.

I, myself, feel I am “the woman at the well” because God is using me to teach this class. Remember how she ran back to the city to tell everyone about the prophet?  He used her to bring others into the kingdom.

Yes. Thank you God, for your living water!

~guest author, Marie, volunteer staff

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Experiencing something new...

Alden with one of the young Super Saturday attendees

     Two years ago when I was in 5th grade, I had an awesome experience on a 3 day mission trip in downtown Grand Rapids. We were told we would stay downtown in a church and would serve with 3 different ministries in the inner-city of Grand Rapids. One such ministry was Urban Family Ministries. I thought it would be scary to do ministry with a bunch of urban city kids. I applied to go on the trip and was excited to see what God had in store for me and the ways I would see him work.

     The first day of the mission trip the guys on our team passed out fliers for a community cookout and the ladies went to Alpha Women’s Center. While passing out fliers we met some members of the community and were blessed to invited them to the cookout. That night was a great night for a cookout. We had about 2 hours of prep time and 1 hour of service. The menu consisted of hot dogs, watermelon, baked beans, and chips. We had 3 positions: serving, plating, and talking to members of the community.  I noticed when I was asking what people wanted to eat many said “we would like hot sauce on our chips.” I found that interesting.  We had a powerful moment during the cookout when a member of our team got to pray for/with one of our guests. God was moving.  The next day we spend the full day at UFM helping with projects around the office. My group was responsible for cleaning up the landscape. That was a hard but rewarding task.
     During our time at Urban Family Ministries I was thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe what God is doing here. This is a ministry that is helping to transform one urban kid at a time.”

     Time passed, school began, and God called me into this field of ministry. I went to the UFM website and printed out a volunteer application, had a meeting with Alf Clark, and got to know more about UFM and what it was like serving in the urban setting. I now serve at Super Saturday and help out in other areas when needed. Volunteering with this ministry is very rewarding for me. God has worked tremendously in me and through this ministry.

Praise God for all He has done!

~guest author, Alden, volunteer

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Dad's Thoughts about Urban Family Ministries...

The Hamstra Family

     I’m convinced that while the 21st century family structure continues to evolve, the IMPORTANCE of family stays the same. My wife and I both came to Grand Rapids from other parts of the country. As a result we have no grandparents or family in the area. I think God’s purpose in this was to realize the joy of being embraced by Urban Family Ministries.
     Our story in some ways is similar to others but also a bit different. Living on Prospect Street we were introduced to UFM and specifically ‘Super Saturday’ by the Figueroa family. While we heard about all the great activities for the kids, I’ll be honest here; the item that caught our attention was the possibility of a Saturday night date night – with no kids (smile).
     Dan drove up that first night and I remember the kids jumping on the van with smiles and then the silence as they moved down the street. When they returned that evening they were filled with stories and excitement about going back. This started our weekly habit the kids attended Super Saturday and my wife and I went on a weekly date. As a father I’m grateful for the volunteers that embraced my kids and showed them God’s love. My daughter Mackensie was challenged in her Bible memorization. My son Micah was encouraged in his servant heart by some wonderful volunteers. My toddler son Noah was patiently fed the basics of God’s love each and every week. These are habits and an important foundation that was strengthened through our involvement with Urban Family Ministries.
     I know that Urban Family Ministries is involved in so much around the community. While we have moved away from the specific neighborhood, UFM is still close to our hearts. Driving by the old house the other day my youngest son said that he wanted to stop by and say ‘Hello’ to his teachers, my daughter wondered when she could volunteer. I learned through this time that while our involvement with Super Saturday and Wild Wednesday seemed to be just for the kids, as parents we were encouraged and strengthened as well. We saw the glory of God and the IMPORTANCE of belonging to his family.

~guest author, Chris H., parent

Thursday, March 7, 2013

How UFM helped this young man become a man...

Adrian about 10 years ago

     “Before I was involved with Urban Family Ministries, I was an ordinary boy living in a low income neighborhood, surrounded by people that weren’t quite "godly."  I'd heard of God before, which was a good
start at a young age, but I didn’t involve Him in my everyday routine just yet. My everyday routine consisted of activities: playing outside with friends, going to school 5 days out of the week, playing video games, and so forth. One day while playing outside, we noticed a church van going from house to house talking to the neighborhood parents about picking up their children every Saturday night, to teach them about the Lord. Of course most, if not, every parent took the offer, because that was one day out of the week they could have to themselves. The program is called Super Saturday, and it helped me tremendously with my relationship with God. We sang, danced, praised, and learned about the Lord in a fun way; it was not boring at all. In fact, I still know some of the songs and verses that we made into songs to be easily remembered.

     The volunteers and employees at Urban Family Ministries were, and are like family to the children and families involved in Super Saturday as well as other programs. Not only did they teach us about God, they taught us how to better ourselves as well. They were and still are there for us through our spiritual life and our personal life. Those involved with Urban Family Ministries are godly people you can trust, and God has blessed them with the ability to plant seeds of change people lives for the good. I honestly believe it was a blessing to learn my first lessons about God at UFM. I also believe that if Urban Family Ministries hadn't taken that extra step to reach out to kids in low income neighborhoods, many of my friends and I, wouldn't have the strong relationship with God that we have now. I highly encourage parents to allow their children to attend programs that Urban Family Ministries offers because it can make a big impact on their lives. Thank You Urban Family Ministries and Thank You God. God Bless.”
~Guest Author, Adrian, former participant
Adrian today

     Adrian was 6 years old when he first came to Super Saturday. He’s now 21, living in the Chicago area working part-time at UPS and attending Moraine Valley Community College. He aspires to earn his Bachelors of Science in Computer Science.  He dreams of getting married, owning his own house and car, and opening a community center to support young kids and teens.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A lesson about honesty at Super Saturday from a teen...

Deshownna in 2004

Deshownna is 13 years old and an 8th grader.  This summer, she was asked to join our Teen Leadership group because of this type of example she is.  She's been involved with Urban Family Ministries since Kindergarten.  Read in Deshownna's own words what she learned and how she was tested on Saturday night.

     What I learned this week at Super Saturday was honesty.  Mr. Alf put me and some other teenagers in a skit about honesty. [There were 3 groups of us pretending to be in conversation. He walked by and dropped some money in front of each group.] Only 1 group of kids was honest enough to give his money back.

Later on that Saturday, I think I got tested a little because Ms. Heidi dropped a 20 dollar bill [and I saw it lying on the floor.] Now, it was very tempting [to pocket the money], but I decided to do the right thing and turn the money in to Mr. Alf.

Deshownna today, with her mentor, Ms. Heidi
That same night I found a pair of glasses and 
gave them to Mr. Alf as well. It’s funny how we JUST got done talking about honesty, and doing a skit specifically about returning money someone’s dropped and there just HAPPENED to be a 20 dollar bill right in front of me!


Praise God with us as we rejoice in this type of growth and for the willingness to share.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A highlight of just one of our awesome teens...

Shamar (L) and Trevon (R) at Teen Leadership camp.

"I'm so happy Miss Katie had me sit next to Christopher that one time" Trevon said out of the blue on our drive home one night.

Trevon is a teenager who is on my Super Saturday van route, and part of UFM's teen leadership group.  Christopher is in elementary school and he used to have a huge problem focusing and being respectful during Super Saturday.  One week, Miss Katie (who had Christopher on her pickup route and got to know him pretty well) asked Trevon to sit with Christopher during the lesson so that he could help him pay attention.

I wasn't there when she asked him, but knowing Trevon he did it willingly.  He's got a great attitude, and is incredibly helpful.  This is one of the things I love about our teens: they are so willing to help.  They come with such an eager spirit, and it really shows what Super Saturday means to them.

He told me later that he feels like he can help Chris because he used to be kind of restless like him.  Trevon found it amazing how much they could connect, and how he can stay patient with him because he knows how he feels.

Trevon beams when he talks about Christopher.  They find each other immediately at Super Saturday, and now they are on the same van so have even more time to hang out.  I've also seen a huge shift in Christopher.  He respects Trevon and knows he can ask him questions rather than seek attention elsewhere.

This is just one example of the amazing teens involved at UFM.  It has been wonderful to see them grow up (literally).  I've known some of them for 5+ years and it's really incredible to see the change.  In a time where some rebel, fall into the wrong crowd, or start making bad decisions, this group has made a different choice.  They're still learning, but aren't we all?

I'm so thankful that UFM has a place for these teens, and I'm thankful that they are investing as well.  They're investing in themselves, they're investing in an organization that they belong to, and they're investing in the next generation of kids.

"I just love Chris,” Trevon often says.  It makes me happy every time.

~guest author, Melissa K, volunteer