Wednesday, December 31, 2008

January Update

January 1, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

One afternoon at World Impact the doorbell rang and Andrew and I saw two unexpected, smiling faces through the glass door. I was so excited to see Amanda and Tonya as I ran out to meet them. These two girls had regularly attended World Impact’s Children’s Program two years ago, then we were told that their family would soon be moving but they did not know when, and then one day they were just gone. No one had heard from them since they left—not an uncommon occurrence with the families we work with.

It can be a grueling aspect of the ministry—building relationships, emotionally investing, and then people are gone. Our neighborhood is filled with the memories of these people, and there are some days that the weight of their lives and the unknown breaks my heart. We pray that the words and love we shared with them will have a lasting impact, even if we do not get to see the results.

It was with these thoughts that I rushed out to meet Amanda and Tonya and hugged them tight. They were back in the neighborhood, and they had run up to the World Impact to see if we were still here. They were so excited to stay for our Jr. High Program that day and they have come regularly ever since.

Tuesdays they come with the other youth for games and a Bible Lesson. We recently finished a series on what it really means to follow Christ. Then on Thursdays, Amanda and Tonya come to join in our tutoring program, where I have created lessons for our youth that encourage learning and expose them to concepts and skills they do not receive in class. You would be shocked by the poor reading comprehension of our Jr. High youth and by their limited knowledge base.

Occasionally we host fun activities for the youth and on a recent Friday night we held a Movie Night. Despite the cold, wet night Amanda and six other youth came for the event (pictured to the right). Afterwards, Andrew and I drove the students home so they would not have to walk home in the dark.

Amanda gave directions to her home and when the van finally reached her house, we were shocked at how far this young girl had walked to participate in the program. Amanda and Tonya’s house stood eight blocks away from the ministry center, through a long stretch of the neighborhood that is mostly abandoned—certainly not a place for two young seventh grade girls to walk alone.

Andrew and I looked at each other as we pulled up to their rundown house feeling at once joy and heartache. They had been so affected by the love and commitment of our staff that they did not think twice about the distance, the rain, or the night. Instead, they come each week to be embraced by us and to hear the never-changing message of the love of Christ. We rejoice that God has given us this second opportunity to build relationships with these youth and we cherish it as a rare and special gift. Please pray for these youth. Jr. High is such a difficult period made even more difficult for our youth because of instability, broken families and inadequate education. We greatly appreciate each one of you and pray that God blesses you richly this year!

For His Kingdom, Andrew & Adria Medlen

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Fun

Andrew and Jason passed out over 300 flyers but on Saturday morning we were looking out at the cold gray sky and staring out the glass doors trying to will kids to show up. one. Our Christmas Party was scheduled to start at 10am and we had 10 volunteers prepped and ready to send the next few hours with kids. The nature of programs here in the city is full of the unknown. We just never know if we'll have 1 or 50! We were biting our nails that it wouldn't be 1!

And then a mother and her 4 children rang the bell and then 4 more kids showed up. And then the bell started ringing for the next 3 hours! We had almost 40 kids attend and about 10 adults accompany them! It was our best attended Christmas party since I've (Adria) been here! They played games, decorated cookies, made Christmas cards, heard the Christmas story, and each opened a gift. It was a good day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

December Update

December 1, 2008

Dear Team,

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).

Eight years ago I (Andrew) moved to St. Louis to do ministry with World Impact. One of the first people I met when I came to St. Louis was a teenager named James who attended a youth group run by World Impact. I was instantly drawn to James because I could see that this young man carried a heavy load of hurt and pain. I was soon informed by someone on staff that James had lost his mother to illness. He was the eldest of two boys, did not have a father figure in his life, and he lived with his grandmother. After I heard about his home life, my heart instantly broke for James.

I tried to build a relationship with James, but he was a very closed-off young man. After many difficult attempts to talk to him, he finally said a few words. Over time he began to open up to me, and we started to develop a more open relationship. James consistently attended youth group, and when he got into high school, he started to volunteer during the summer in our kids’ program. James went on to graduate from high school, and I have been meeting with him over the last couple of years in a mentoring relationship. Adria and I have had him over to our house, and he even has come to view Adria as an older sister from whom he can ask advice.

Even though he was involved with church and open to talking with me, James struggled with accepting Christ as the answer to so many of the questions in his life. He has struggled with relationships with girls and with finding a steady job. He has tried alcohol and drugs to find an answer to his problems. He struggles with depression, and recently he drank a six-pack of beer and a gallon of vodka. James passed out and woke up in the emergency room as he went in and out of consciousness. He was experiencing alcohol poisoning, and the doctor said that if he would have consumed any more alcohol, he would have died.

Shortly after that, I asked James when we could get together to talk. The next day he walked into my office and said he was ready. I asked him just exactly what he was ready for, and he said that he was tired of doing things his way and was ready to accept Christ into his life. At first I was a little skeptical given his history, but after a few more questions to make sure he was ready, James prayed and asked Christ into his heart.

I will admit that at times I have lost heart and wondered if James would ever see his need for a Savior. I have met with him for years, but he had not made the choice to follow Christ until now. I am thankful for Galatians 6:9 and how God shows this verse to be very true in our lives. Thank you for praying for Adria and me as we continue to look for the James’s here in St. Louis.
We hope that you have a very merry Christmas. It is a joy for us to celebrate the birth of Christ this year knowing that there is one more person who now knows life in our Savior.

All for our Risen Savior,

Andrew & Adria Medlen