Thursday, December 10, 2009

One Less

Recently Andrew and I were returning from a weekend out of town.  Tired and ready to be home we drove off Highway 70 toward our house.  Looking around I took in the brick buildings, the tall white water tower with paint peeling, and I was comforted by its familiarity.

However, it wasn't long before I saw a new landmark, a pile of teddy bears, a memorial marking the place where someone had died.  In the city this is a common way to honor lost family members who were killed through violence. 

I've seen many of these memorials, but something about this one seemed shocking to me.  I felt unsettled by it and profoundly sad.  We had only been gone from the city for a few days, and yet we came home to a community with one less person.  There was one less father or sister or son--one less loved one.  Did this person know the Lord?  I pray so, but there is now one less opportunity to share the love of Christ with one of His creation. 

I don't know how long that memorial will stay in place, but every time I drive by it I am reminded of the urgency of the Gospel and the brokenness of this world.  It makes me yearn for the Lord's return, and yet, there is so much work to be many who do not know Him. 

I am reminded of the quote by D.L. Moody in which he says, "Winners of souls must first be weepers of souls."  Working in the city can sometimes be heartbreaking, yet the victory of our Lord needs to be proclaimed here.  I pray for even just one more to be added to the Kingdom.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December Update

December 1, 2009

Has a full year of calendar pages already been turned? We pray that this letter finds you well and experiencing the love of our Savior in this Christmas season! A new year is upon us, and it seems as if this year, more than others, has flown by. We want to take a moment to reflect on all the marvelous things God has done this year.

Although we have shared with you the great challenges we have experienced, this year has also been one in which God has revealed Himself at work in our lives through His strength and grace. With much growth and awe, we have watched Him answer prayers, surprise us with unexpected blessings, and come through when we could not. Here are a few of the things that God did this year:

• God proved faithful in Laniecha and Patricia’s family. Patricia came to know the Lord and continues to pursue a better life for her family.
• God provided a group of local college students to run our spring-break program when our usual groups had to cancel a month before.
• We were blessed by a core group of youth involved in our summer program! Through the program great relationships were formed, and two young girls came to know the Lord!
• We witnessed one young man mature in his faith this summer. He is now meeting regularly with one of our missionaries to do Bible study and be mentored.
• We were encouraged when we reconnected with a young man whom Andrew has known for many years. He was part of the Bridge of Hope youth group and came from a very difficult family life. He was transient, and it was difficult to stay connected to him. He has worked hard to overcome these obstacles. We visited him on campus as he experiences his first year of college!
• God laid it on our staff’s hearts to focus on young adults this year and opened doors for four new outreaches: Monday Night Football, Chess Club, High School Basketball, and Sunday Night Bible Study in our home.
• We were able to move to another World Impact house a few blocks away that has more space and allows us to host people more often.
• We are continuing to see opportunities of growth in the men who faithfully come to our adult basketball outreach.
• God continues to provide for our staffing needs. We have gained five staff members this year.

These are a few of the ways that God has proved faithful to us and to this ministry this year. We pray that you are able to look back and see His hand at work in your life too, even in the midst of life’s challenges. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. Your faithfulness accomplishes much as we together serve our Lord and Savior!

Merry Christmas,
Andrew and Adria Medlen

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Family Fall Fest 09!

Our Family Fall Festival was a great success!  Saturday from 6pm to 8pm we had about 200 people in the ministry center.  The kids painted pumpkins, played games, went through a crazy maze we built out of refrigerator boxes in the gym, ate food and snacks, watched a Gospel Magic presentation, and had an all-around good time!

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Update

November 1, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

God says He provides for all our needs. I believe this, but usually I apply this truth to broad contexts such as food and shelter and safety and still obsess about all the details in between. This year God has been teaching me a lot about what a detailed God He is and how His provision is not just a generic blanket of goodwill, but a daily attention to each new situation we face.

Last Fall one of our missionary couples told us that they felt God had called them to another ministry position and would be leaving within a year. We had one other missionary couple that we knew was encroaching upon retirement and with no sight of new staff, Andrew and my meetings with our director came to feel like survival meetings as we prepared to hold down the St. Louis ministry indefinitely. We doubted a little. We set our resolve. We prayed.

Spring came, the departure date of the missionary couple was drawing near, and there were no signs of additional staff. Then one day, out of the blue, our director received an email from an interested couple. They came for a visit. They came back a week later for an interview. They moved into staff housing a few weeks later. Randy and Hannah Riggs arrived two and a half months before the other staff couple left—just in time to learn the ropes and help fill the gaps. Each day since then, Andrew and I have marveled together at the specificity of God’s provision. He could have sent a few people to get us through, and that would have fulfilled the immediate need, but instead he sent a couple whose desire is to be long-term missionary staff, who have a heart for church planting, and whose gifts and talents specifically fill areas of great need in our ministry. And all this happened when we considered things to be at their most unnervingly last minute.

This year we have gained two year-long interns and hired two new support staff in addition to Randy and Hannah. God has been faithful to provide for our needs. Although this has been one of the most dramatic examples of His provision, I have continued to witness, both large and small, God’s attention to our daily needs. It is an exciting time in ministry as we are seeing pieces, that once seemed disconnected and without direction, coming together and finding momentum in ministry. I believe God is moving mightily here in North St. Louis.

Through this all I have realized that my faith is small but my God is all-encompassing and completely faithful. After witnessing God’s perfect provision for our staffing needs it is impossible to go back to a place where I could worry that we will not have the right people at the right time to do what God wants us to do. However, I am ashamed to say that this confidence came not from faith but from sight. I pray for God to continue to teach me to live out a lifestyle of faith in every area of my worrying, controlling personality. I do not want Jesus to look at me and say, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29)." I want to be one of those who believes even when I do not see!

As the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us I am even more aware of how much we have to be grateful for in our service of such a great and loving and detailed God. I marvel at the way He has brought each of you along side us in this journey—how He uses you through prayer and finances and care packages and notes of encouragement to meet very specific needs in our ministry and personal lives. Thank you for serving with us. Your faithfulness has continually proven God’s faithfulness, even when Andrew and I have had short-sighted faith! Praise God for His goodness and mercy.
For His Kingdom, Andrew and Adria Medlen

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Winds of Change Seem Like Gale Force Winds

In a perfect world for me (Adria), the Winds of Change would be a light breeze, something gentle and pleasant...the kind of breeze that gently pushes back stale air and draws refreshingly cool and fragrant air across your skin as you lay under the sun on the beach. Rarely has this idyllic metaphor proven itself to be the way of life. These days the Winds of Change seem like gale force winds. Under the pressure of these winds old things are completely blown away and the new is suddenly and immediately dropped into your path. It's not my favorite part of life.

Life and ministry (can the two even really be considered separately in ministry?) have been a swirl with these kinds of change. Pieces of the known have been ripped up and thrown off in the distance and new things have been dropped into our path, like transplanted debris in a storm. It makes me feel a little unsettled, tired, frustrated, excited and sad.

I have always had a little difficulty saying goodbye to what is safe and comfortable. We recently had a staff couple leave, who are good friends and who came on at the same time I did, which was a hard loss. Andrew and I moved yet again and it all came about in a surge of activity that left me tired and frustrated - this is my 4th move in 4 years. Our move was to a bigger staff house only a few blocks away (a good move), but each block here is nearly like its own neighborhood and it feels further from our previous "home" than it really is. My ideas, vision, competancy, relationships, and personality have been challenged by new horizons.

The new things God is bringing to us are exciting: new staff, new programs, new contacts, new possibilities. It is so evident that God is providing and moving in special ways right now. I find joy in these things, yet, the very fact that these things are new and sudden things leaves me feeling a little unsettled. It takes extra energy for me to build new relationships and start up programs. It places a nervous excitement in my stomach as I see what can and will be, yet am overwhelmed with the process.

And so, I find myself in an unwarranted state of melancholy, presented with so many waves of great blessings and yet like a new sailor at sea, struggling to still feel grounded. Praise God that He does not rely on my delicate constitution to stir up good things, for He is doing great things here, and I pray that He will have patience with me until I get my sea legs!

October Update

October 1, 2009

Dear Team,

Taking youth and children to camp is one of the highlights during the summer, both for me and for the youth that we take. This summer we had the opportunity to take three youth and five kids to summer camp at Morning Star Ranch in Florence, KS. It is a World Impact camp that we go to every summer.

The last week of the summer program was the children’s week at camp. Three of the five kids who went were siblings. About an hour into the drive to camp, we were driving by a field full of cows and Darren, who is 10 years old, asked what we were driving by. It was at that moment that I realized that Darren had never before seen a cow in real life.

After talking with Darren a little more, he went on to tell me that he has never even been outside St. Louis city limits. So, to see a cow in person and not just on the television was a huge deal to him and his siblings. His reaction to every cow that we saw on our seven hour trip was “OOH, look at the cows”. I wish you could have seen the excitement on his face and in his voice. After we arrived at camp, which is also a ranch, he saw many different animals for the first time. I think the funniest reaction was when he saw a frog for the first time. The frog was jumping around and got real close to him—and I am sure you can imagine it was another priceless moment.

At the end of the week, we always stop on our way home for an evening meal at a McDonald’s. Each kid got a drink and as we were at the soda fountain to get our drinks, I noticed him struggling to figure out how to work the lever. I did not think too much of it and I showed him how to get a drink from the soda fountain. I then asked him if he had been to a McDonald’s before. His response floored me. In Darren’s 10 years of life, his family has not had the means to ever take him to a McDonald’s.

After we arrived back in St. Louis, Adria asked Darren what his favorite part of camp was. Darren’s classic response was “the WHOLE thing was my favorite part”. It was in that moment that God allowed me to see just what this trip had meant to Darren. I cannot put in to words what an honor it was to be a part of that experience for him.

I relay this letter to you because you are a part of this. Because you have sent Adria and I through your prayers and support you make it possible for us to love Darren and his family in a way that they have never experienced. You may not be right here with us, but you have sent us and we are representing you in our ministry together in St. Louis. Keep praying for Darren and his family. They are involved in a great local church and God has great plans for them. All glory to the King of Kings!

Grace and Peace,
Andrew & Adria Medlen

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm just a Christian Doing My Job

When the days start to blur together and I start wondering if I'm having any effect at all, it's stories like this that give me new vigor. This morning Andrew and I sat talking with a fellow staff member after our morning prayer meeting and the conversation turned to a young man who has been part of our programs for several years. This year he has shown huge steps in his desire to follow Christ and since he lives just down the street from Randy (our fellow staff member), Randy has been meeting with him on a regular basis.

This young man is 14--soon to be 15--and is one of those kids I loved from the moment I met his squirrelly self. He is so bright and funny and has blown us away with some of his wise comments in group discussions.

So, the story is this: Yesterday he was hanging out with Randy as Randy finished up his evening yard work. As they talked and joked, Randy walked to their back dumpster to pick up the trash that inevitably collects in the alley and this young man pitched in to help. Randy encouraged his participation by saying to him, "You are a gentleman and a scholar."

The young man, vigorously scooping up trash, responded, "Nope. I'm just a Christian doing my job."

Later he pondered aloud, "We're kind of like superheros. No, we're Super Christians, doing good that nobody knows about."

What a beautiful, hilarous connection. It is amazing to see this young man "getting" it. Please pray for him as he continues to grow and learn about what it means to walk with Christ. He has so much potential, has such an open spirit, is so bright...God is eqquiping a mighty man for Him, I think. Still, there are struggles in his home life; this young man takes care of a great deal at his home, and he struggles in his education...though very smart, his education has failed him and he has difficulty reading. Pray that he will continue to be a witness to his family and that he continues to teach us a thing or two about following Christ as well!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 1, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

My eyes were supposed to be closed, but I can never resist the temptation to look around when the speaker asks everyone to close their eyes and raise their hand, “If…. This time I justified my sneakiness by reasoning that our youth were the ones responding and we needed to know the answer to better help them.

It was the last night at Jr. High Camp where youth from several World Impact ministries spent the end of their summer learning about trusting in the firm foundation of Christ and allowing Him to build new things in their lives. The statement they were responding to this time was “Raise your hands if you have been told that you are worth nothing or that you wouldn’t amount to anything.” Hands went up all around the room.

Then the speaker asked those students to come to the front of the room and the camp counselors to come pray over them. The sound of metal chairs scratching on the concrete floor filled the room as broken and timid youth walked forward. There was a solemn pain in the air that seemed palpable as I stood up front, for the second night in a row, with a Jr. High girl holding tightly to me. This night the arms wrapped around my waist were those of a young girl from the World Impact Dallas ministry. The youngest of all brothers, she was scrappy and full of attitude. Tonight, however, I could see past the protective walls she had built and saw a little girl trying to survive the pain and lies that made up her experience with life.

As I looked around the room I saw another young man with a reputation for clowning around leaning against the wall, staring straight ahead as slow tears tracked his cheeks, a counselor adamantly speaking truth over him. Yet another boy, a sweet, tenderhearted boy, had his head buried in the speaker’s chest crying.

A deep river of pain had been tapped into and even as we finished our prayers and closed out the session, many of the kids continued to cry, needing someone to help share the burden of their heavy tears and to fill their ears with whispers of hope.

It was one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking moments I have experienced. Their weary and tear-stained faces spoke of the abuse, neglect, rejection, and lies these youth have known, but even as I saw brokenness I was taken by the beauty and purpose written on their faces. And I wished so much that somehow they could see their faces just as I saw them then, surely only an imperfect version of Christ’s view of them.

As long as Andrew and I have been here in St. Louis we have witnessed things for which we have no answer in and of ourselves: Why do so many of these kids have to experience abuse? Why are people’s family members senselessly killed? Why do some have to experience the hardships of poverty?

I was reminded that week at camp that no words I can say will make right what those kids have experienced, but a willingness to see people as Christ sees them and to simply hold them and speak new words to them, words of life and of hope, can be life-changing. It was not by accident one of their memory verses that week was Jeremiah 29:11, because our God is a God of healing and of new beginnings, and He is a God who lovingly looks on each of us saying, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Pray for these youth, and for our neighbors, that they would experience the healing of our heavenly Father and come to know their worth and purpose in His Kingdom.

For His Kingdom, Andrew & Adria Medlen

Monday, August 31, 2009

August Update

August 1, 2009

Dear Team,

Greetings family and friends in the mighty name of our Lord! I (Andrew) hope this letter finds each of you well and giving your all for Christ. I wish each of you could come to St. Louis and experience one of my favorite things that we do each summer. Christian Family Day at the ball park is always a highlight for me. It is a day that World Impact receives a certain amount of free tickets to take our children and youth to a free baseball game at the St. Louis Cardinals stadium.
What a treat it is to partake in the activities of this day! This year we took 13 kids and youth to the game. The day started out with a carnival at a park downtown, where the kids played games and ate a free meal and ice cream. Then we went to the stadium where we enjoy watching baseball and eating a hot dog from the vendors.

If you had come to the game with us I would have introduced you to a nine-year-old girl named Jackie. Jackie is a girl that I met at the start of our summer program. She has been coming faithfully to our program and learning about Jesus and the love He has for us. Through her attendance and good behavior, she earned the reward to attend Christian Family Day with us. Jackie is like most of the kids that we bring to the game, in that this is the first professional baseball game that they have ever been too.

It is so neat to see the excitement on their faces as they finally reach their seats and just look around to see everything going on around them. They cheer for their team and just love being in the atmosphere of it all. I had the opportunity to sit next to Jackie that day. During the 3rd inning, I opened up my book bag and brought out some peanuts that Adria and I had brought for the kids that day. Again her eyes just lit up with joy. About five minutes into eating her peanuts, Jackie looked up at me and asked if I was having a good time. I told her I was having a great time and asked her if she was having a good time too.

Jackie looked at me with a huge smile. “I am having a good time,” she said. Then about 30 seconds later, she looks at me and said again, “I’m having a great time.” Then she sat back in her chair and said, “I’m just sitting here with Andrew eating peanuts and enjoying myself. Andrew and me are just sitting here eating our peanuts and enjoying ourselves”. In that moment, it all became clear to me how much this event had meant to Jackie.

I will never forget the day that I had the privilege to take Jackie and so many others to experience their first baseball game. Bringing joy and excitement to a kid seems to be more and more difficult these days. But that day, it was easy as a baseball game and some peanuts. Please keep praying for kids like Jackie. She has a rough home life and needs the love of Jesus Christ to come and complete her family. Pray for Adria and I as we continue to pour into these youth and children the joy that a relationship with our Lord can bring. Thank you for helping us and making this a priority for you. We value you so much and count it a joy to be on the same team as you.

All for our soon and coming King,
Andrew & Adria Medlen

Friday, July 17, 2009

Keep It R.E.A.L.

I love Keep It R.E.A.L.. It has forever changed our youth programs. It's the standard we teach, enforce, and have fun with! Below are the words to the Keep It R.E.A.L. rap (written by one of our staff) and a video of the kids singing it.

By Will Ward

(Keep it REAL)………..The “R” means respect each other……
(Keep it REAL)………..The “E” means encourage one another…….
(Keep it REAL)………..The “A” stands
for attitude adjustment……..
(Keep it REAL)………..And the letter “L” means listen up, and……

(Repeat 2x)

Love each other more than yourself,
That’s what the bible says in Romans, verse 10, chapter 12…
Ephesians 4:29,
Says always try to say the right thing at the right time………
Philippians 2, verses 3 through 5,
Says be unselfish……keep a humble mind……
And James 1:19 tells me,
That I should be….quick to listen, slow to speak !!

Monday, July 6, 2009

July Update

July 1, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

The more I come to know the Gospel the less I understand what it is that happens in that moment of realization of one’s powerlessness to make right all that has gone wrong, when a finite human being dons the very likeness of the infinite God and Savior. And the more I learn of the love of God the less my mind is able to wrap around the fact that a perfect, holy God calls each of us by name to a relationship with Him.

Though I may not understand God’s ways, I do know that I too often think of the Gospel as a static thing, something fixed in time. But the reality is that the Gospel—that is the truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ—is constantly in motion, drawing some, repelling others, and continually slaying any of our self-assured attempts to control our lives. The truth of the Gospel is no less at work in my life today than it was the day I first accepted it as truth.

My friend Patricia has allowed me to see this process more objectively than I can see it in myself. You all have been so faithful to pray and to encourage Patricia and her daughter Laniecha as I have continued to share their story with you. And as always, God has been faithfully working. If you have been following our blog you may already know some of the ways in which He has worked. God continued to deepen my relationship with Patricia and knowing that she has been unemployed for the last six months I encouraged her to attend a Christian job training program we partner with, and she agreed to go. At first she went to find a job, but very quickly our weekly meetings became so much more to her. And one night after class we sat in the car and talked about God’s plan for her life. Although she said she had never before been told the full truth of the Gospel, she then heard it clearly and was drawn to God’s faithful and personal call.

That moment she donned the likeness of our Savior. It is a miraculous and mysterious change; however, so much of the miracle of the Gospel happens after that moment. In the following weeks I have seen Patricia shed the daily hold depression had on her life, she graduated from the job training program and enrolled in G.E.D. classes. She has tirelessly been searching for a job, refusing to give up on her new goal to work towards retail management even in the face of disappointments. Patricia has begun to work on being a better mother. She is striving to be an example of success to her three daughters and is trying to repair damaged relationships through family counseling.

To me the miracle is evident each day that I see the anger gone from her eyes and her smile revealing new hope. I pray that Patricia never gets over the Gospel. I pray that for myself. I pray that for you. Thank you for your faithful prayers—you see, God is working miracles because of them. Patricia recently told me something about her family’s journey that I believe is true for all of us under the influence of the Gospel: “How long you’re on the journey depends on how far you’ve got to go—and we’ve got a long way to go. We’ll get there, but until then we’ll be on our journey!”

Being Ever Changed by the Truth, Andrew & Adria Medlen

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Does God Rap?

Yesterday was one of those days where it's so hot you discover sweat glands in places you didn't think they should be, but, we had Bible Club and Kid's Club anyway! Our numbers were down a little but there were a faithful few kids who braved the excruciating heat to spend time with us crazy missionaries sitting under a canopy in an otherwise shadeless yard to lead Bible Club...and then came up to the Ministry Center for club as well.

One 15-year-old boy showed up that afternoon who hadn't come to club at all last week. Two summers ago, he accepted Christ at club, but the last two years have been a struggle for him to grow in that decision. He arrived yesterday just before our scheduled devotion time and I was a little worried about how his behavior would can often be, shall we say, disruptive.

Pride was the topic of our devotion that day and Jason, another staff member, was relating the concept of pride to the idea of having "swag" (being better at something than anyone else--for all those non-urban inclined folks). Ultimately he said that having pride or saying that we're the best at something means that we're not remembering that God is the best. At the beginning of the devo, this particular young man was messing around with his cell phone and not really listening. But, as Jason continued to talk, he started participating in the conversation and really focusing in on what was being said. By the time Jason ended with prayer, the boy's eyes were completely glued on him.

As we filed out of the room for our next activity he came up along side Jason and asked him, "So, if God is better than us at everything, does God rap?"

"Well there's a lot of poetry in the Bible," Jason said; "And who wrote the Bible?"

"God did," the young man answered.

Jason continued, "We don't do anything that God hasn't given us the ability to do, the only difference is whether we use it to honor God or not."

"Hmm, I never thought of that before" was the reply.

This summer our theme is "Don't Waste Your Life!" and we're talking about how to do everything we do in life for God. It was a theme that we kind of stumbled upon but I am more and more seeing God's hand in the choice.

My prayer is that this summer some of these kids might see life a little bit differently, that maybe this year the Gospel would be more real and applicable to their lives. There are a few of the boys in particular that I feel God may be working on this summer. Maybe this one particular young man is already thinking about God in a little different light...he never thought about the God of our Bible Club stories being the God of rap music too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

St. Louis' History of Racial Tension

One of the other missionaries on staff came across this article today (picture and link to article below). The racial riots it discusses happened right in our neighborhood. Fairgrounds Park is only 3 blocks north of World Impact, Old Sportsman's Park is directly across the street and St. Louis Avenue is four blocks south of World Impact and right where Andrew and I live.

While racial riots are not the norm, violence and racial tension are still major issues here in the city of St. Louis and our community has been at the center of the turmoil over the years.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Carnival

Earlier this week one nine-year-old boy yelled excitedly when handed a Carnival flyer: "YAAAAAY!!! SATURDAY FUN DAY!!! And he was right. From 2pm until 7:30pm this last Saturday over 200 neighbors from our community enjoyed games, inflatables, food, face painting, a concert and more! With all the recent rain, God provided a beautiful clear day for all our plans! 25+ volunteers from area churches helped us man the games and serve food and a local health clinic did free health screenings.

This was all done right outside our building to promote the beginning of our Summer Youth Programs and our Just for Mom's group which both kicked off today! Rain kept too many kids away today, but we are anticipating a full and exciting summer ahead of us. Thanks to everyone whose been praying for our programs. I'm continually convinced that God is a God of details and He is faithful in all things--no matter how big or small. Enjoy a few snapshots of our block-party fun....

June Update

June 1, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope each of you are doing so well! Living and serving in the city is such a neat experience and knowing that you all are praying for us gives us a peace that only comes from our soon and coming king!

A couple of months ago, I (Andrew) told you about a young man named James. He was one of the first guys that I met moving to St. Louis almost nine years ago. He finally made a recent decision to accept Christ as his Lord and Savior. It has been so neat to mentor him and see him grow. But this growth has not come without the hard times as well. He has grown in so many areas but still struggles with going back to his old way of life.

Last week was another life altering moment in the life of James. James was headed home after work one night, waiting for his second bus connection. It was dark outside and out of the blue, something potentially very dangerous happened. A guy with a gun put his weapon in the back of James' head and told him to give him everything he had in his pockets. Not wanting to test the limits of this robber, James gave him $75 of the cash he had and his cell phone. James gave the man his valuables thinking that this would satisfy the robber. But what happens next will blow your mind.

After James gave the robber his cash and his phone, the robber pulled the trigger of the gun still at the back of James' head. James heard the "click" but nothing happened--the gun jammed. This blew my mind when I first heard about it. I immediately thought that God has something big planned for this youn man's life. The gun jammed--his life was spared.

James is a brother in Christ who is growing and learning how to have a relationship with Christ. He is moving to his first apartment, working two jobs, and saving up money for his first car. James is making huge life choices. The robber that pulled the trigger that night was looking to destroy James, but the Lord stepped in and saved his life. Pray with us that James continues to see God working in his life and is strengthened in his walk with God.

Adria and I are grateful that your prayers and support are allowing us to live and serve in this great city. God has done so many things here and it seems like He has only begun to be about His business in our community. Please do not stop praying. Praying for us is the most important thing you could ever do for us. We cherish each of you prayers. God is at work in this great city and we are humbled and amazed that God allows us to be a part of learning and serving here.

All for Our Coming King!

Adria & Andrew Medlen

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Update

May 1, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Spring came to St. Louis this year with indecision. Wintry gusts and glorious warm sunshine battled each other against temperance, taking us on a rollercoaster ride of hope on the short-sleeve and flip-flop days and gloom when we again donned our winter coats. For this particular Southern California girl, the hope brought by the warmer days was ruined with the knowledge that tomorrow would bring back the torture of below 30 degree weather and that the only window of good weather before the hot and slimy summer begins was being wasted!

Spring also brought our annual Spring Break program for youth, grades 1st-9th, in our neighborhood. We went on a collective “Truth Trek” as we dug for the treasure of God’s truth in His Word. Each day we covered some of the Ten Commandments and applied them to our lives and by the end of the week the youth had memorized all ten and knew to apply them to respecting God and family and friends. It was a good week. We had wonderful help from partnering college students, regular attendance from the youth, and three young boys accepted Christ on the last day of the program.

Then we started back into our regular after-school program and no one showed on the first Tuesday back. Wednesday we were hopeful when six arrived. Thursday we were a little confused when only three were present. We let a little gloom nudge out the hope we had felt the week before and I began thinking about the pace of ministry here in the city. One week I thrill with expectation when someone comes to know the Lord, the next I have to confront my ignorance in the fact that a young girl I am deeply invested in has been making some very poor decisions and I feel crushed.

Sometimes I begin to think that hope is the enemy; it only sets us up to despair when the northern winds blow. Life in the city wages war on temperance and the families we work with see little consistency in their lives. Crises arise on a daily basis; youth attend our programs, have a blast and learn a lot, and then get swallowed up by the issues at home. So often ministry here imitates the environment and we seem to see many warm rays of sunshine blown away by a wintry gust.

However, I am coming to believe that hope has more depth and stillness than a top-of-the-rollercoaster sensation. Real hope, that is the hope we have in Jesus Christ, is a grounded walk that brings us straight to a victorious eternity in Him. That kind of hope cannot be shoved aside by any disappointment or crisis. I am reminded of Martin Luther’s quote: “Here I stand and I will not be moved.” Come wintry wind and pleasant sunshine, hope cannot be moved.

Pray with us for a community so in need of the peace and foundation of hope in Jesus Christ. Pray for our staff, as we sometimes fail to establish our hope on The Rock. Hope with us, in the knowledge that Christ is ultimately victorious and, come what may, His plans will stand firm in this city. Thank you all for your faithful prayers and support. You are a great encouragement to us.

For His Kingdom, Andrew & Adria Medlen

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Graduate!

Last night Andrew and I attended the Job Alliance Graduation, in which Patricia was one of the five graduates! It was a beautiful time dedicated to the hard work and life-changes the five women have accomplished over the past two months. There was joy and hope reflected in Patricia's face, as she now sees a clearer path in front of her and a hope for her family in Christ.

Job Alliance (Jobs For Life) was originally sponsored here in St. Louis by World Impact's first church plant and is now a rapidly growing program here in North city. This program doesn't only teach job skills, it provides an opportunity for people who have found themselves in difficult circumstances to learn strategies that will help them overcome life's obstacles, to find support in like-minded people, and to see the hope they can have in Jesus Christ.
God is doing a mighty work in Patricia. Continue to pray for her as she has started her GED classes this week and would like to have her GED completed in the coming months.

Monday, April 6, 2009

One Body

There are plenty of guys in our neighborhood, they have children, they are in relationships and they hang out on the block most of the day, but there are very few men here. Most of the households in our community are female-headed. If you visit a neighboring church you will often find women's names listed in the church bulletins as the primary leaders in the services. If you talk to the kids in our neighborhood, very few of them have a father who is active in their lives.

Yesterday Andrew and I took Patricia and Ja'Marion to World Impact's first church plant, Jubilee Community Church. There were men there. There were plenty of strong women there too, but the men were showing leadership and sitting beside their wives in the service. During the church's prayer time, in which they take prayer requests, a single mother asked prayer for her young son, who looked to be about eight. She asked that the church pray for him, since his father was mostly absent and even at his young age he was feeling the pressure to take on the responsibility of being the man of the house. A pastor in the church was asked to lay hands on the boy and pray for him, but immediately men from around the sanctuary stood and came to lay hands on the boy as well.

It was moving to see the men in the congregation rush to uphold this little one, to stand in the gap his absent father had left. The pastor challenged the men standing around the boy to take it upon themselves to be there for this young man and to take him under their care and guidance. I pray those men follow through, for that child will make it through the trying years to come if he has those men to stand beside him.

I was once again struck with the beauty of the family of God. We are the Body of Christ, none of us seperate from another. It has been my time here in the city that has shown me the importance of the Church. Not, Sunday services, but being the church to one another. Only in the Body of Christ can this young boy have a ten-fold return on the one father who has opted out of his life.

I am as guilty as any for going to church and seeing faces that I think have nothing to do with my own. Or even thinking of church as a building and a service. I am the church and you are the church. Those men and that young boy are the church. One body, united in Christ. Our unity is bound in Christ; it is not confined by anything less: no four walls, no worship service, no distant miles, no denomination, no broken life experiences, no cultural barrier. We have only to acknowledge this unity and walk in it to see the fatherless brought up, the broken healed, and the seemingly put-together and independent Christians at last find their needs.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5: 10)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossions 3:14-16)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Break 2009!

We went on a Truth Trek with the kids to discover the treasures of God's truth in His Word! Our journey to dig up these treasures took us through the Ten Commandments and how they apply to our lives. It was so fun to see the kids connect the commandments to their actions towards God, family, and friends.

College students from Greenville Christian College in Illinois and Clemson University in South Carolina helped us run the week-long program, which included Bible Lessons, games, and electives like art, magic, sports, cooking, drama, and newspaper!

The week of fun ended with a Friday Night Family Night where we had 40 people for food, fellowship and a showcase of what the kids did that week.

April Update

April 1, 2009

Dear Team,

Greetings friends and family! Adria and I hope this letter finds you all doing very well. Many people ask us what things we are involved with here at World Impact St. Louis. Quite simply, one of the many things we have the privilege to do is to be professional neighbors.

In the time that Adria and I have been here, we have been very blessed to have such great neighbors. We have had meals together, trips to the store together, and have prayed together—pretty normal things that good neighbors do. But this last month has been a trying time for me. Unknowingly to me, I quite simply offended one of my neighbors. Through a series of misunderstandings, I upset my neighbor to the point that she very heatedly let me know of her anger.

After about 30 minutes of listening to my neighbor vent and praying the entire time, I had a chance to try to clear up the situation. It took her quite a while to calm down, but she finally started to listen and we got the situation back on better terms.

For the first time in almost nine years of living in St. Louis, I had a conflict with one of my neighbors. This really bothered me for a few days as I tried to process the situation and what I could have done better to not offend my neighbor. Then I started to think about this situation in other terms. What was going on deep in my neighbor’s life to cause her to handle this situation the way she did? I started to see a person who has been deeply hurt in life, who has had a life of people doing her wrong, and she had placed me in that same category.

I have continued to be friendly and work to show her love and slowly the walls are coming back down. As hard as I try, I will never be able see my neighbors exactly as Christ does. But, as a follower of Christ and a professional neighbor, I must do my best to see them as Christ sees them and treat them in a Godly and loving way.

Please pray for Adria and I as we do our best to live loving and lasting relationships with our neighbors. Pray that we are sensitive to the past that many of our neighbors have gone through. It is our desire that through us our neighbors will see a visible and understandable reflection of Christ. Also pray that our neighbors would see Christ in a new way and be so attracted to Him that they accept Jesus as their perfect and loving Father. Thank you for your steadfast prayers and faithful giving.

All for our Mighty King

Andrew & Adria Medlen

Friday, March 6, 2009

God Moves When We Pray!

As I just posted the last blog with our March Prayer Letter I read it and was amazed at how God works. God is most certainly moving in this family that has become so dear to my heart. God has seen fit to draw Patricia to Himself and she has responded! I am so excited to call my dear friend Patricia, my sister in Christ!

Even as many of you are just now receiving this letter and beginning to pray for Patricia, there are many of you who have already invested much prayer into this family and have followed the ups and the downs in their lives with Andrew and I. I am so grateful to you. God has proven faithful and has answered the prayer that Patricia would come to know Him!

There are still struggles and obstacles that tempt discouragement in my heart, and could deter this family from making forward progress, but I am praising God for this beautiful victory and I am anticipating even greater works for them!

Thank you for your prayers--they are vital to what God is doing here. Continue to pray for this family. And pray that God will use Patricia and her girls in the future to bring the rest of their family to the Lord!

March Update

March 1, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis and the The Chronicles of Narnia as I (Adria) am, you will recall that in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe the creatures of Narnia are in great anticipation of Aslan’s rumored return. The return of Aslan meant the return of their long-awaited king and freedom from the tyranny of the White Witch. The children who stumbled upon this land at first do not understand the excitement, for they do not know Aslan. When they express their confusion the creatures tell them with hushed and reverent anticipation, “Aslan is on the move.”

Recently I have felt as if I have told myself the very same thing, “God is on the move.” Granted, God is always on the move and usually I am just too self-absorbed and stressed-out to see Him moving, but sometimes He is gracious enough to draw me in and let my heart feel the excitement of serving such a mighty God.

Those moments of hushed and reverent anticipation come often in the face of great adversity. I think this is in part what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4:7 when he writes, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is the hope and peace we have in Christ that guards our hearts in times of difficulty, and sometimes, God uses those times of trial to open our eyes to His working hand.

My relationship with Laniecha, her son, and her family has been full of ups and downs, times of certain growth, and times when I do not even know what it is I am doing in their lives. Recently, however, God opened a door for me to step into a deeper relationship with Laniecha’s mother, Patricia, something I have been praying about for some time. As I shared a meal of French fries and hamburgers with her one day, her burdens spilled out onto a semi-clean McDonald’s table and she was real and vulnerable and looking for a solid foundation for her hopes. She shared her mistakes and her hopes for the future and I listened. She is beginning to take tentative steps to feel out a more certain path and I pray that it leads straight to Jesus, but in the mean time there are a great deal of obstacles ahead for her and her family.

Yet, I am certain that God is at work in this family. I do not know how it will look or what timing it will follow, but I can rest in the fact that God is moving and, amazingly, He has included me in the process. Your prayers are so appreciated for this family and for the ministry. We have some difficult challenges ahead of us, and yet we are certain that God is working and moving. The knowledge that we are in your continued prayers only strengthens our peace which transcends all understanding, for our surroundings are bleak and the battle is daunting but, “God is on the move.”

For His Kingdom,

Andrew & Adria Medlen

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What are you doing here?

Last night one of our ministry vans was broken into. Thanks to a neighbor's awareness the damage done was fairly minimal before the two young guys were scared off. So much for the security of a club, because she spotted them walking down the block with the van club in-hand. Then as she returned from the corner market she saw them back in the van and scared them off. They managed to take the club, jack the driver's side key lock and completely remove the key lock in the steering column.

This would seem like the interesting story, but car break-ins really aren't that unusual around here. What was interesting to me was the encounter with the Crime Lab Technician who came to dust for fingerprints (none were found, however).

Andrew, myself, and another staff member, Gil, were waiting outside with the police officer handling the case when the Crime Lab van pulled up in front of World Impact. As the technician stepped out onto the street and looked up to see three white faces looking back at him, he exclaimed, "What are YOU doing here?!"

This is a question we've heard many times from police officers in the area, but maybe none have asked it with such force. We made small conversation with him while he dusted the door and steering wheel for finger prints. We told him we lived close by and worked at World Impact. He didn't seem too taken by our explanations and still had a look on his face that reinforced his previous insinuations.

It was what he said next that was most impacting from the whole evening. As he dusted the door with flashlight in hand he started in with, "There's a million different ways they could've gotten the club off. They've got 24 hours a day to think of ways. They couldn't spell CAT if you spotted them the 'C' and the 'T'. If they would only use their ingenuity towards something positive..." He continued with his stereotyping and oversimplifying and I found myself getting a little tense and feeling defensive.

Granted, figuring out ways to get a club off a car is not a positive use of one's time. However, I wanted to say, "If they can't spell CAT it's probably because our screwed up, non-accredited school system didn't teach them anything!" Or, "Maybe they are just like people everywhere in the world, who when faced with decisions to do the hard thing or the easy thing, just do the easy thing because it's what they know."

No doubt this officer is a nice man with good intentions, who has been jaded by his years of work on the streets, but his obvious ignorance to some of the real issues in our community and the blatant stereotyping saddened me. And I know that there are many in our neighborhood who would throw back stereotypes with equal force about crooked cops. I was struck with the depth of the chasm between this day and age of political correctness. There is so much misunderstanding and so much lack of effort to cross the seemingly stone-carved barriers on both sides.

All day today that incident has left it's heavy trail throughout my thoughts. Last night, as I watched him back up his van, flip on the police lights and head off to a murder scene in another section of town I was left with the feeling that society (including all sides) as a whole is OK with just doing damage control and it burdens my heart with how far we have yet to go to bridge the gaps, to have justice for all, to see all men as equal.

We continue to pray peace, renewal, and revival over our city for all its inhabitants.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ja'Marion's First Birthday!

It's hard to believe that one year ago today, I (Adria) stood in the delivery room as little Ja'Marion made his entrance! What a year this has been. There have been so many challenges and so many joys as we have walked with this family over the past year. We pray that God blesses Ja'Marion and directs him in a path that brings God glory. Keep praying for this family because God is working in their lives!!

Here are some photos from our little party...