Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A "Lost Cause"

His eyes were no longer a shield to his soul and I could see him. He’s a short kid but he seemed almost tiny as he stood in front of me with eyes that spoke more of fear and uncertainty than gritty bravado. His face, which was usually set with rectangular force, appeared as full as a toddler’s, as he uncharacteristically and politely pleaded entrance into the barbeque. My first inclination was to turn him away; this wasn’t a barbeque for all the local kids, and besides, he had seemed through with us for quite some time. But as I talked to him on the steps of World Impact about summer and paintballing, my eyes stung and my chest ached at what a child he is. This kid wears the label “Lost Cause” around his neck every day like a weight—his circumstances having thrust him into very adult things; his choices having given him a bad reputation in the neighborhood. A heavy burden for a young boy to bear.

Not wanting to miss a moment of his childhood, I invited him in for a plate of food. Walking down the street his minus five foot frame glares large confidence, but here, walking beside me down the hall, was a timid boy. I tried my best to do with my words what I could not do with my arms and envelop him in a strong and loving embrace. This kid has a history with World Impact, but I wanted him to know he was still welcome here. When we reached the line of food I expected him to grab his food and leave, but Andrew and I almost had to coax him down the line, adding cookies and chicken wings to his unassuming claim of one hot dog and a tiny puddle of pork and beans.

He didn’t respond to the words that kept tumbling out of our mouths. All the while he continued to look lost and timid but we didn’t stop. We loaded his plate and filled his ears and when there seemed nothing else we could get for him Andrew accompanied him on his way outside.

I am almost certain that the next time I see him in the neighborhood he will feign ignorance of me. He will probably be frustratingly brash and be in the company of other “tough” young men. But whether or not he knows it, I see him, because we shared a moment of his childhood, and I pray that even as he stuffs that experience so that he can survive in a man’s world, his heart will remember a safe place and loving words. I pray that he will have for a moment experienced something akin to freedom before he walked back out under the bondage of his label. I pray that this child’s heart comes to know that in Christ he is neither lost, nor a lost cause.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Meet Ja'Marion

Isn't he cute?
I'm (Adria) only a little partial, seeing as I was there when he first made his entrance into this world. I like to believe we have a special connection now; although, in reality, the connection is all on my end of the relationship at this point. But I sure do like to believe that his 2 1/2 month old self is especially fond of me, innately knowing I have a special connection with him :).

I've been so proud of Laniecha. For a 15-year-old in 9th grade she has found a new level of determination as a mother. This doesn't mean it isn't hard. It's very hard and she's already had moments where she feels like giving up. Graduating the 9th grade is a challenge when you are up all night with a baby and have no one to watch him when you need to study. But, she also has a desire to work towards a better life for her and her baby. We've got to get through 9th grad first! Please continue to pray for Laniecha and Ja'Marion as they have a long and difficult road ahead of them!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


There have been 10 fires in our neighborhood since Thursday night! Last night was the first night that there was not a fire, but the police still do not know who/what is responsible for the other 10 fires. Every fire has occured during the night in vacant houses in the community...a little disconcerting because our house is 3 feet from an abandoned house! Authorities believe it is the work of an arson, possibly several.

We hope that the absense of an incident last night means there are no more fires to come and that the authorities can get to the bottom of who's involved. Please pray for our neighborhood and for the safety of our missionary staff and our neighbors!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Backyard Fun

The weather is warmer and the kids are aplenty in our neighborhood! So, this week we took Bible Club to our backyards in preparation for the summer. World Impact has 3 staff houses, all within 6 blocks of the Ministry Center, but in opposite directions. Having Backyard Bible Clubs has been a very succesful way for us to continue to be known on our block and to specifically draw out kids from each area of our community.

Kameka and Ariel goofing off before Bible Club.

This week we told the story of David and Goliath, a story that is so familiar to most of us. We don't have anything fancy in our elaborate flannel graphs or exciting videos...but you should've seen the faces of the kids as our staff took turns telling the story at their particular houses with nothing but a Goliath paper-bag puppet. I love to watch their faces when you know that they are tuned into the narrative and following every twist and turn with such anticipation of a new and exciting story.

Making Israelite soldier puppets during craft time.

Yesterday, we had club at the house that I (Adria) used to live in. I've missed the kids on that block and was excited to see them. One little girl, Kameka, who is quite the character, has a particular liking for Andrew. She calls him "Grandpa" because he has gray patches in his hair and so he calls her "Grandma" just for fun. It always makes me smile when we drive up and hear "Hey, Grandpa!" yelled from across the street.

"Grandma" and "Grandpa"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Update

May 1, 2008

Dear Team,

“Dear God, thank you for World Impact and thank you for letting us come up here today,” prayed a seven-year-old girl on the first day of our annual Spring Break Program, a girl that is the youngest of a very devout Jehovah’s Witness family. What a simple yet beautiful prayer.
Every year we offer a Spring Break Program for the children and junior high youth in our community. This year they were taught about prayer through different aspects of the Lord’s Prayer. For eight hours a day, youth in our community participated in Bible lessons, games and electives, which were led by our staff and college students from Denton, Texas. The college students were a huge blessing, as we could not run as extensive a program without their partnering with us to serve these youth.

My (Andrew) “project” for the week was an eleven-year-old boy named Darius. He is one of three brothers to the seven-year-old girl from the Jehovah’s Witness family. He has ADHD and is full of energy. Darius is the type of kid that will wait until he has everyone’s attention and then will ask the most outrageous question just to shock everyone in the room. He loves to push people’s buttons—especially his brothers’ and sister’s. On the second day of the program, Darius was having a more difficult day than usual and finally made enough poor decisions that we had to send him home (which meant he could not come back the following day either). At the end of the day, he and his father were ringing our doorbell at World Impact. I have a good relationship with his father and this was not the first time we have had to discuss discipline issues.

Darius’ father asked what was going on. I informed him about the choices Darius made during the program that day. He told me that he was going to punish him by not letting him come back that week. I told him that I respected his choice and the final decision was up to him, but I made sure to tell him that we would love to have Darius back on Thursday. Darius was standing right by us and heard the entire conversation. I know that Darius heard the unconditional love that Christ has given each of us through our desire to have him return, and the next day, Darius came up to the program just to say hello. I made sure to let him know that we missed him and that we hoped to see him the following day. Sadly, redemptive discipline is often lacking in our community. In its place, youth often receive punishment that never gives them the opportunity to make the situation better by redeeming their actions and learning correct behavior. Our discipline system is meant to be redemptive and to point them to Christ!

The next day Darius came back but soon started back at his old ways. I knew he needed a little extra attention. Every day Darius was in the basketball elective where he learned basketball techniques. He has shot the ball incorrectly many years and the leaders and I were focusing on helping him correct his old habits. After 30 straight minutes of Darius and I working on his technique, he looked at me and said, “there is no coach that would even spend this much time with me.” And, as Darius’ basketball techniques slowly improved with careful guidance, his behavior also showed small signs of improvement.

At the closing program at the end of the week, Darius’ father came up to me and said thanks for all that we do for his family. Spending time with people and showing Christ’s redemptive grace to people who might have never experienced it are two of the reasons Adria and I are here. Thank you for praying for us and partnering with us financially to make a difference in our community.

All for our King, Andrew & Adria Medlen