Thursday, December 16, 2010

December Update

December 1, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Days tick by like the second hand on a clock. Under scrutiny they mark their regular rhythm but as soon as you look away, caught up in life’s activities, the pace quickens until quite all of a sudden an hour has passed, or a week, or a month, or a year. Being fond of closure, in contemplative moments caught between barrages of activity I (Adria) like to think about closing out another year. I like to mentally tie up loose ends, finish outstanding projects, and feel like I saw progress in life and ministry that reflects a calendar year’s worth of time.

However, although God Himself created time, setting its internal workings to tick tock at just the right tempo, His eternal hand reaches all of time. He is not bound by time, nor is He concerned about finding closure in one year. His plan extends into eternity. This is both comforting and extremely frustrating for someone who likes to check things off a to-do list. So, what I would like to do—give you a nice and neat little summary of this year—I cannot. But what I can do is tell you the highs and the lows of this year and ask that you take a step back with me and put this year in the context of an eternal plan designed by our heavenly Father.

This year…

 God called us to pursue adoption. He began to teach us about our own spiritual adoption and to open our hearts to new ideas about family. We are still anxiously waiting to see how God will grow our family.

 As of June our staff now consists of 5 people. We are often over-extended and feel inadequate, yet God is teaching us to rely on Him and trust that He will bring more laborers.

 God provided 5 Summer Staff to run a wonderful program for 40 consistent kids!

 After four years of building relationships a family across the street finally brought their kids to participate in our Summer Program! God is working in their family. They have since married and are opening up to the idea of church in their lives.

 In October we were hit by three consecutive thefts that left us reeling with nearly $200,000 of damages. We are still working and waiting to see how God takes care of us.

It is easy to let each of the open-ended issues wave over me with anxiety, or to feel so tired that it is hard to focus on the goal. But, one of the comforts that the season of Advent brings to me is that we are in the hands of an eternal God, with an eternal plan, who knows first hand what it feels like to live inside the confines of the time He constructed. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6.

Andrew and I pray that this letter finds you all able to rest in the peace that we are offered through our Messiah, regardless of what our highs and lows were this year and what open-ended issues might linger into the new year. We are grateful to be walking this journey with each of you and your prayers and support are truly part of God’s provision to sustain us.

Rejoice, the Messiah is born!

Andrew and Adria Medlen

Monday, December 13, 2010


The last few weeks left me feeling like I got sucked into a wind turbine and spit out on the other side all akimbo.  As I arced through the air and landed in the middle of the busy street I'm left thinking, "What the heck just happened to me?!!"  Friday night was our Hearts for the City Benefit Concert and Silent Auction...the climax of a very harried, and short, story plot.  This weekend I had to close the book, take a deep breath (which looked like sleeping like the dead for hours at a time) before opening the pages tomorrow to find the resolution.  There is much yet to be done and of course, Christmas is upon us, which for all it's promises of wonder and cheer often adds to my stress rather than releases it.

But, God is teaching me things and I am resolved to try to be at peace with that.  I did manage to force myself not to open work emails this weekend and only rarely succumbed to the constant nagging list of follow-up tasks scrolling through my head.  If you know me, you would be shocked at how often I just sat and told myself to think of nothing.  And you know what?  It felt rather relaxing. 

In times of extreme insanity you are forced to prioritize.  Improvise, adapt, and it is said.    There is a strange sense of empowerment in the realization that there is so much I am powerless to force into being...when I've done all I could do and the rest is up to the Lord.  Now if I can take that knowledge into the less "life and death" moments I think there'd be a lot less stress in my life. 

With my personality it is hard for me not to internalize my performance in tasks and roles as my identity and my worth.  I wrestled at the concert feeling like everything was so perfect for an audience of hundreds, yet less than a hundred came.  It smacked of failure and shame.  But, at one point I paused my administrating and sat and listened to the song our performer, Mark Roach, was singing.  He sang the chorus of his song "You Are"--"You are my God and my King/You are the words that I sing/You are the reason I made this offering."

It hit me that rather than sitting there thinking about the lack of attendance or what that said about my identity and capability I needed to rest in the fact that I gave everything I had and it wasn't really for anyone else but the Lord.  I heard a quote once that "Duty is ours and results are the Lord's" and that's exactly what I felt the Lord spoke to me in that moment.  We put on a beautiful event, we did raise some money, and some great people came...the amount of people and money was completely up to the Lord. 

I struggle to hang on to that perspective in life.  But, I want the Lord to continue to teach me to leave everything I have in what He's called me to do and take my pride and identity out of the results and put it in the faithfulness of my work to my King.

"You are my God and my King...You are the reason I made this offering." 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Calm Within the Storm

Police lights are flashing through my dining room window and the buzz of a helicopter crescendos and decrescendos as it circles our block.  When we drove up to our street an hour ago we saw police cars everywhere and the end of our block taped off and my heart sunk.  I prayed, "Please, Lord, don't let it be one of the kids."  I thought, after everything else going on, not this too.  But, on the heels of that thought came another...even if...the Lord is your peace and you will get through.

Praise God what remains outside is the search for someone who led the police on a high speed chase and parked their car in front of our house.  I am thankful that no one was injured.  But the twin thoughts I had just before we discovered the real reason for the police presence struck home a message God has been speaking to me the last two days in particular.

We are in a tough season of ministry.  The past few weeks have been overwhelming and it just doesn't seem to let up.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were not good days for me.  If you know my personality you know I spend a lot of time in my head, which helps me do my best work, but in times of distress it can also overwhelm me with the negative implications of situations.

But the last two days the Lord keeps reminding me that my peace is not in my circumstances.  If it was, I'm going to need a whole lot more chocolate in my life :).  Yesterday God reminded me that even if I don't feel like it, His mercies are new each day and His strength is more than enough to get me through whatever comes my way.  Then I heard a song on the radio.  "Sometimes He Calms the Storm" is one of those songs that I normally cringe at when it comes on the radio...but the words said just what I needed to hear.  Listen to it HERE.  This is what it says....

All who sail the sea of faith /Find out before too long /How quickly blue skies can grow dark /And gentle winds grow strong.

Suddenly fear is like white water /Pounding on the soul /Still we sail on knowing /That our Lord is in control.

Sometimes He calms the storm /With a whispered peace be still /He can settle any sea /But it doesn't mean He will.

Sometimes He holds us close /And lets the wind and waves go wild /Sometimes He calms the storm /And other times He calms His child.

He has a reason for each trial /That we pass through in life /And though we're shaken /We cannot be pulled apart from Christ.

No matter how the driving rain beats down /On those who hold to faith /A heart of trust will always /Be a quiet peaceful place.

What a beautiful truth.  We as Christians are offered a calm WITHIN the storm.  Life keeps rolling on with all its challenges, but I must train my heart to acknowledge the "peace that passes all understanding"-a peace that knows that God can create beauty out of ashes.  Tonight, in the chaos that was our street, we got a perfect opportunity to spend an hour with our neighbors, talking and building relationships.
Who knew sirens and police helicopters could bring thoughts of peace?  Only God and those introduced to His abundant mercy.  I'm glad I have been introduced, have you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Am Not in Control...and It Is Obvious

I (Adria) am a shameless control freak, which makes life a bit bumpy. 

It looks a little bit like this.
1) I make my plans.
2) I determine that I'm probably the only one I know that can accomplish my plans to perfection.
3) Life begins to do what life does--exactly what I don't want it to do.
4) I begin to freak out.
5) God points out the fact that I'm being a little egotistical.
6) I finally realize that I am not in control of the world.
7) I still freak out.
8) God has his own plans and accomplishes them perfectly.
9) I resolve to do better next time.
10) Repeat cycle.

Today I found myself covering steps 3, 4, and 5 in full force.  This week we decided that we were going to put on a benefit concert and silent auction to help raise funds for the recent copper thefts.  With $200,000 worth of damage and some recent media coverage we decided it would be best to start the process soon.  So, with basically only Andrew and I in the office this week we (well, basically me) started planning.  We have only until early next week to finalize the date, venue, and performers.  Let's just say this has not been a smooth process and I've felt increasingly overwhelmed...thus number 3 and 4.

In addition to feeling like everything went wrong today, we had another thief get up on our roof this afternoon and had the police here AGAIN.  Then the thief RETURNED about two hours later, and long story short, there were a few minutes involving him, Andrew and myself that were scary enough that I got a little perspective...about when number 5 kicked in. 

Will it really be the end of the world if my plans fall through?  Am I willing to trust that God has got things under control...even if that means breaking down my plans for His own?  So, I'm sitting here, exhausted from the adrenaline let down, listening to about 30 guys play basketball in the gym and two very energetic boys playing horse and cowboy around the lobby and I'm just grateful that God is God and I am not.  I think I'm going to go home tonight and try to rest in the knowledge of number 8 while I commit myself to number 9.  And maybe, just maybe, I can avoid number 10.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Update

November 1, 2010

Dear Team,

Greetings from St. Louis! Being a part of World Impact and serving in St. Louis is such a delight. Adria and I both feel very blessed to be doing something that we are called to do and that contributes to God’s plan for this city.

We do not take the fact lightly that you send us out with your prayers and faithful support. So, as we celebrate this season of Thanksgiving, this letter is written with each of you in mind. We look over our list of supporters, and it never ceases to humble us. We are so grateful to be partnered with such wonderful people as God has laid on your heart (as He has on ours) the unchurched urban poor of the inner-city.

On our ministry team are friends that have faithfully supported us for years, even when it has been a great financial sacrifice to do so. We have family members who have never missed even a month of support and who pray for us daily. What a loving and giving family we both have! We have people who have joined our ministry team after hearing us speak about World Impact at their church or who have come to serve with us for an event or program, all of whom are now joined with us as new friends and family through our now shared journey in Christ! We have several wonderful and generous church communities who are passionate about reaching the lost and who partner with us to do just that here in North St. Louis.

While in the city, God has taught Adria and me a great deal about community. The inner city is a place where it is necessary to depend on the support of those you love and trust and sometimes those whom God providentially sends your way in a time of need. Many of our neighbors and friends here have modeled this connectedness for us and given us a clearer picture of what living as the Body of Christ is supposed to be. Your partnership has also taught us this reality, in that we cannot separate our calling to serve from your calling to send! Praise God for His Church!

So, as you gather with friends and family this Thanksgiving, know that we are praising God for you and your faithful partnership with us and for the work God is doing. Also, know that you are always welcome to come and visit. You are an important part of our lives, and we would love to share it with you first hand. May God, in His great abundance and grace, continue to strengthen, guide, and bless you richly!

Grace and peace,

Andrew and Adria Medlen

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Week that Felt Like a Year

Since last Tuesday we were robbed three times, conducted five stake outs, dealt with police, became our own publicists, did four tv news interviews, set up and hosted a Fall Fest for over 200 people, continued networking to start raising funds for the thefts, and all of this on top of our usual weekly tasks!  We are all exhausted. 

The highlight of the week was Sunday evening's Fall Fest.

Everyone enjoyed the maze constructed out of refrigerator boxes in our gym and then chili dogs!

Andrew wore this wig...these kids have the same reaction we all did.


Well...maybe that falls in line second to sleeping at night.  Did I mention we're all exhausted?

IF that photo wasn't enough of Andrew's hair, check this out: WORLD IMPACT'S FALL FEST ON TV!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stake Out

So, if you haven't already heard, World Impact has been hit three, yes three, times by copper thieves!  This week ahs been quite a week.  Tuesday we discovered that someone had stripped copper out of the air conditioning units and other wiring on our roof.  Wednesday, when showing our contruction committee the damage we discovered that we had been hit again overnight!  We also discovered that along with completely demolished air conditioning units they had cut the major power line to our large multi-purpose room and kitchen.  We are trying to get this fixed ASAP because we are supposed to have a Fall Festival here on Sunday night for an estimated 200-250 people.

Estimates for the damage are approaching $200,000.   With most of the units destroyed and more damage being done we decided that we had to take action.  The guys on staff decided that they needed to stake out overnight to try and catch the guys in action.  Despite some ideas that involved paintballs, shotguns, ninjas, smoke bombs, among other things, they decided on installing several drivway sensors that sounded a remote alarm and Andrew took the first night's watch (on his birthday eve--Happy Birthday!).  With one of the sensors facing the alley he was up every hour as alley cats and random passersby, but at 5:20am the alarm sounded and this time 3 guys were here to do more damage.  Andrew called the police and called another staff member to come up.  The police arrived within a few minutes but the thieves had already gotten on the roof and started in on another unit.  When the cops arrived they were tipped off and ran off down the alley uncaught.

We were dissappointed but, at least they know that we are aware and that we have security...even if it is a staff member sleeping on a mat in the gym with a motion detecor :).  Randy's sleeping here tonight and Andrew the next night until we are sure they're not coming back or are caught.  Now comes the real work.  It has been a devastating financial blow for our ministry.  Sometimes it's hard not to feel like nothing goes our way!  It's hard to work and strive and watch things fall apart. 

However, we are convinced that God is in complete control and He WILL provide all our needs.  We don't yet know how but He will make a way for us to raise the money.  We read a passage in church today about Paul that encouraged me. 

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We are praying for those men that they will encounter God's saving grace.  We are praying in confidence that God will provide for our needs for He stands by our sides and give us strength.

If you want to help by supporting financially you can donate here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Worry We're Certified

Saturday we had to attend a First Aid and CPR training course as soon-to-be foster/adoptive parents.  Only one of us had to be certified but neither of us wanted to offer to go solo to practice bandaging open wounds and kissing CPR dummies.  So we went and crossed off another to-do item on our licensing list. 

It's hard to believe that we started on this process 8 months ago.  Since then we've had 11 weeks of classes, multiple home-studies, pages and pages of written applications, multiple background checks, and now First Aid and CPR training.  All the while it's seemed like the end date is way off in the future but we're one Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect screening away from a license and the reality is setting in that we are about to be parents.  We're about to put all these certifications and licenses to the test and somehow they feel as thin as a tissue paper shield between us and what's to come.

The waiting has gone from an active wait, in which we were able to check things off our to-do list, to waiting that is filled with helpless...waiting.  That's frustrating for someone like me who wants to set a goal and accomplish it.  But, I am trying to trust that God's timing is perfect.  I read a quote somewhere that "God is never late, but He passes up a few good opportunities to be early."  It's in the waiting that our faith is built and in the exactness of His timing that it is affirmed. Yet during the waiting is when the worries hit.  I worry about whether we will know which placement to take, I worry that we can't have our kids' room completed because we don't know any specifics about a child, I worry about school if we get a school-aged child. 

But even more than the worry, I am anxious to get going.  I tend to put off making a decision until I absolutely have to, but once I make a decision I want it to happen immediately...I'm not super patient.  In the mean time I've tried to embrace every opportunity and resource that we've been offered (or forced into) to make us Certified Parents!  Or is that certifiable?  I guess we'll soon find out!  But whatever happens you can rest assured that we are now endorsed by The Red Cross to be valuable in a crisis!  We're anxiously awaiting the impact this is sure to have on our social life.

I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. 1 Samuel 1:27

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October Update

In case you hadn't heard...

I (Adria) both love and hate the way that God often works so unexpectedly in our lives. The result is always beautiful but the process, especially for a planner like myself, can be excruciatingly uncomfortable. I suppose that is because at the heart of the matter I think that my plans are better than God’s, but they never are.

God has been writing many unexpected plot twists into our story this year, which has been thrilling and exhausting and often life-changing. Probably the most life-changing plot twist involves God leading us into the world of foster care and adoption. Adoption is not a new desire for us but the timing has most certainly been unexpected. To be honest, we always planned to look into adoption after having started a family; however, early this year God made it very clear to us that He wanted us to start a family through adoption.

In February of this year we attended an event where we were shocked by a statistic shared by a local ministry that recruits families to participate in foster care and adoption. In St. Louis, they said, there are about 800 children waiting to be adopted and there are over 800 Baptist churches alone. If one family from each church adopted a child there would be a waiting list to adopt children rather than a waiting list full of children. We felt a call to be a small part of the solution to this problem. In June we started our foster and adoption training and home studies, concluding the licensing process in September.
God has blown us away with the process this year. Not only did He bless us with wonderful, Godly trainers and a great Licensing Worker, He stretched us far outside our comfort zones and began to redefine our understanding of family in light of His family. Part of that process came through reading Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. This book examines our own adoption into the Kingdom of God and what should be true about the church as a result. This is not a book only for people interested in adoption, but it has also been a remarkable resource for us as we begin to see adoption in our family as a manifestation of our adoption into God’s family.

God also opened our hearts to the foster care process, as well as the concept of a more “open” family. Because we feel the best fit for our family right now would be a child under the age of six we have had to open ourselves to the process of foster care as a route by which God might bring about an adoption (many of the younger children have yet to have their parental rights terminated). God has also used our current ministry as confirmation of this pursuit, as we feel that He has already tuned our hearts to see and understand many of the challenges children in foster care face as we have served here in the city.

Currently we are waiting. The planner in me likes to point out all the uncertainties ahead. We do not know whether we will be fostering or adopting or both, whether we will get a two-year-old or a six-year-old, a boy or a girl, or even if we will have one or two children! But, God has continued to be faithful and give us peace as we wait. We would ask that you join us in praying for this process: for our child or children, for us as first-time parents, and for the many beautiful challenges ahead for our family. We are so excited to continue to share with each of you the journey God has us on, and we thank Him for each one of you!
For His Glory, Andrew & Adria Medlen

September Update

September 1, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings in the mighty name of Jesus Christ! I (Andrew) am writing this letter to you with much excitement as I share this great camp story with you. A few weeks ago one of our summer staff named Rob and I took three junior high guys to camp in Florence, Kansas. The camp at World Impact’s Morning Star Ranch is a yearly highlight for our kids, as many have never been out of the city of St. Louis.

Throughout all of the activities and chapel times, God was working in these young men’s lives. Being around other Christians and away from your daily pressures can really help someone start to let their guard down. One of the guys that I have been working to get to know all summer long is a guy by the name of Darren. He is athletic and handsome, and quite popular with the kids in our program. Early in the summer I doubted whether or not he would come all summer because he tended to give the impression that he was “too cool.”

But, the week of Junior High camp came and Darren had actually earned his way! Camp is a reward trip that the youth are able to earn by attendance, good behavior, and by saying a weekly memory verse. Darren, to my surprise, did these three things and he earned a spot to
go to camp. While at camp, I witnessed Darren’s whole demeanor change. He started hanging out with youth from other cities and was developing friends very quickly. In chapel times, he would sometimes sing and I could tell he was listening to the Pastor. After one of the chapel times, I asked Darren if he was a Christian. He said that he was really thinking about it and he seemed very interested. I told him to pray about this very important decision and I told him that I would be praying for him too.

At the end of the week I asked him this same question again. He said he was interested but still was not ready to give his life to Christ just yet. Yes, I was disappointed but knowing Darren’s reserved nature, made me impressed with his honesty. He was not just taking this decision lightly and was not going to say yes just to impress me.

Camp wore the three boys out and the slept most of the seven hours home, but after we stopped for dinner they were wide awake and I put on some worship music in the car. About ten minutes before we got home, a song came on that they learned during the week of camp. The song is called “Inside Out.” You may have sung this song at Church at some point, but I guarantee you have never heard it like I did that day in our car. These three young, inner-city youth were singing these words at the top of their lungs: “Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades, Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame, and the cry of my heart is to bring You praise, from the inside out, O my soul cries out!”

Those five minutes during that song were the highlight of my entire camp trip. These three guys singing this amazing song encouraged and reminded me that God is at work in a mighty way in our youth. Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support! Please keep praying for Darren and the other families that we work with. Truly His light will shine when all else fades and His glory goes beyond all fame!

Grace & Peace, Andrew & Adria Medlen

August Update

August 1, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

Sometimes in ministry it feels like we can go days and weeks, even months, without anyone we have invested in showing signs of growth. Too often we have to watch with tears and prayers as people we love repeatedly make decisions that can only end in disaster. But then, occasionally, God allows us a glimpse of the work He is doing on the inside of that person and there is great hope in those moments.

Andrew has known James for a long time and has shared some of his story in previous letters. Having been involved with World Impact since he was a young teen, James, now 24, accepted Christ over a year ago. As Andrew’s wife it has been great to be able to participate in their relationship. Many days he will walk up to the Ministry Center and make his first stop at Andrew’s office and then head downstairs to sit in my office and talk about life and writing. We connected over our love of writing and he occasionally brings in pieces he is working on for my feedback. He knows that along with my literary feedback come my opinions about his relationships and life decisions.

Since James accepted Christ he has struggled with giving his life fully to the Lord. Despite our attempts to draw him in to a Christian body, he has spent much of the last year tentatively stepping back and forth between his old life and a life in pursuit of God. Lately, Jason Watson, a Christian rapper who grew up here in North St. Louis and our fellow staff member, has also taken James under his wing. James’ poor opinion of Christian rap began to change when he got to be an extra in one of Jason’s newest music videos and seeing godly men who share his passion for words and music has seemed to spark a deeper interest in James.

One afternoon recently James made his way down to my office to talk. He shared about a possible job opportunity several hours away. This led to a discussion about his future, and about his past, and about the fact that he was tired of the aimless pattern of his life. I asked him what he would like to see himself doing. “Become a lawyer” was his answer; “but no one takes me seriously when I say that.” We talked about what it would take to pursue a degree in law, but mostly I talked to him about a life wasted when it is not in pursuit of the plan God has for us. Two days later he returned for my edits on his latest poem and told us that he had just signed up for Fall classes at a local college (I tried to act proud in a cool and reserved way instead of gushing with excitement like I wanted to do).

We are encouraging him to begin walking out on faith and to prayerfully consider the direction God has for him. My hope is that with each step James will gain confidence in the gifts and talents God has given him and that he will become more and more burdened to use them for God’s Kingdom. Please pray for James. Because of his life experiences it is difficult for him to trust people and to push through the hardest times. Pray that James finds excitement about what his future may hold and that God would give him the wisdom and strength to make each decision along the way. Pray for the financial resources and the educational support that will be needed for him to pursue his education. And most importantly, pray that James will fully commit to living in the encouragement and accountability of Christian community. As always, thank you for your continued support and prayers!

For His Kingdom,
Andrew and Adria Medlen

Monday, July 5, 2010

July Update

July 1, 2010

Dear Team,

Hello from St. Louis! This has been a busy time for Adria and me. Summer is always a time where many great things happen. The warmer weather brings some wonderful opportunities but can also bring extra challenges.

Currently we are right in the middle of our Children’s Summer Program. We have five summer staff who have chosen to serve with us at World Impact and are assisting us in running our six-week program with the first-through-eighth-grade students. Their service has been an answer to prayer during a time when our full-time staff is limited. Our Summer Program is full of opportunities to build relationships and present the Gospel. Please continue to pray that we represent Christ in a way that is pure and attractive. We have had many good conversations with children and youth in the program, and we are continuing to develop stronger relationships with our neighbors. Times when we have had them over for a meal or to hang out on our porch to talk have really given us a sense of belonging in our neighborhood. More and more we are no longer considered guests that might leave--we are neighbors!

However, I (Andrew) was recently reminded that it is still important that we live our commitment to these neighbors on a daily basis. During a recent Adult Basketball Outreach, one of our interns made the announcement that his time with us was coming to an end and that he would be leaving. Right away the guy sitting next to me said, “What is the deal? Does everyone leave?” He looked at me to hear my response, waiting to see if I was to be the next to leave. I reassured him that we did not have plans to leave.

One thing that Adria and I feel very sure of is the calling that God has given us. We always say that we are here in St. Louis until and unless God calls us elsewhere. It is difficult to see the amount of staff and interns who have come and gone during our time here, and I know that takes its toll on our neighbors; but we also know that God is sovereign. It is pretty amazing to think that I am starting my tenth year with World Impact, and Adria her fourth. It is even more amazing to think that some of you have been partnering with me since the very beginning. You have sent Adria and me to be the hands and feet of Jesus right here in North St. Louis.

Please pray for us. We need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our community. We want the call of salvation to be fleshed out. Please pray for God to send us long-term missionaries. Thank you for your love, your prayers, and your financial support. May the Lord richly encourage you and bless you!

Grace and Peace to you,  Andrew and Adria Medlen

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Little Way You Can Make a Difference...

I'm excited to announce that we have launched a NEW online store at Cafe Press in an effort to help raise funds for our ministry! We now carry World Impact St. Louis t-shirts, mugs, stickers, buttons, and more with really unique urban designs!

A portion of the purchase price is donated to our ministry! So, in a very real way, when you order "A Heart For The City" t-shirt for you and a friend you are helping us share the love of Christ with people like James, who recently came to know Jesus and is steadily learning to turn away from the drugs and violence that dominated his life and cling to the future that God has for him!

Thank you for impacting our city by visiting our online store at!

June Update

Dear Family and Friends,

With each year that goes by I (Adria) find myself squinting a little bit more, trying to make the dancing blur of letters sit down on the page. The fine lines around my eyes are becoming not so fine in my strain to make street signs be forthright with their names. It might be time for glasses.

Physically, age makes it more difficult to see things. I am finding, however, that the opposite is true spiritually. And, I am also finding how vital this is to our lives as missionaries. Pastor Rob Bell said that “being a good missionary means having really good eyesight. You see God where others don’t and then you point him out.” Now, before you go thinking that we have super-spiritual missionary eyes I will tell you that often we have to spend time pointing God out to ourselves too! It is not always easy in such a fallen world to see the gentle workings of God—the large and miraculous ones, yeah, but the subtle weaving of the larger tapestry is a lot more difficult to see. Yet each thread purposefully weaved is a stunning victory. It is these victories that carry us through and that draw hearts to God!

Several weeks ago a tall, broad-shouldered young man walked through the doors during our adult basketball program to use the restroom. His face looked more like a man’s than a boy’s but still reassuringly familiar. I could hardly suppress my joy as I asked him, “Is that you, Jamond?”

For several years I have thought of him and prayed for him and worried that he might be in a juvenile detention center or worse. Much like many of the people we work with, Jamond used to live in our neighborhood and occasionally participated in our programs and then one day he was gone. He had moved, but we did not know to where. His story has troubled me for years. Even at thirteen he was mostly on his own, hardened to the world and submitting himself to the company of men who would not mentor him in godly activities. Destructive behavior was chief among his known attributes. Even still, all I could ever see when I looked at him was a scared and scarred boy beating back the terrifying world that threatened to snuff him out. He had held us at arms length and then he was gone.

Yet here he was, standing in the lobby of World Impact! Since that night I have only seen him twice, but he is in the area and had remembered World Impact as a place he could enter and he now knows that we remember him by name. His reappearance is seemingly insignificant, but for those of us who know the loving hand of God weaving together His plans and purposes, there is joy and hope in it. Recently God has sent us several of these reuniting moments with youth and young adults we thought had slipped away from us. I see the Lord reminding me that not all doors I think are closed and bolted shut will remain that way. I think He must lovingly shake His head and say to me, “Do you think that you are the only one who remembers them by name?” And so, I will fervently pray that the Lord give us these young souls and ask the Spirit to sharpen my eyesight so that I may be ready to see God work and to point it out to others!

Prayerfully, with hope and vigilance,

Andrew and Adria Medlen

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May Update...

May 1, 2010
Dear Team,

Greetings! I hope this letter finds you each doing very well! During our spring break program, we had the opportunity to work with 40 1st-8th grade children and youth. Yes, there is a reason I am getting a head of gray hair rather quickly these days!

We had a great time. 23 college students from Denton Texas partnered with us to run the program that week. They were such a blessing, as our small staff could not have run the excellent program we did without their help. A big shout out and thanks to you if you helped us out that week!

One of the highlights of that week for me was that each day we learned more about the life of Peter from the Bible. Many times I think Christians look at Peter and only remember the time that he denied Christ. It was really good to look at him as the man of God that he was through Christ—the first church planter who helped win thousands to Christ.

Last year we averaged 25 youth during our spring break program. This year we averaged about 40 youth and had a high of 45 one day! Many old families and some new joined us and were already asking when our summer program would be starting. This year we have six summer staff coming for the entire summer; we usually have one or two. I believe that we may have more families than usual involved in our program and we are excited to see what God will do as a result of the extra help this summer. God always gives us exactly what we need.

Please be praying for Adria and I as we help lead the summer staff and the summer program. Since the spring break program, we have been building so many good and new relationships with our neighbors. There is hardly a day that goes by when we do not hang out on our porch with kids from our block. We are requesting you to intercede daily for us this summer. We ask that you would pray for His strength to keep us going strong. Pray that our neighbors would see the reflection of Christ in us. Pray that salvation would be accepted by the youth and their families during our program. Pray for safety in all that we do. And last, pray for our marriage that we would strive to keep Him first and continue to grow as a Godly couple.

We would love to hear from you. If you are ever in town, please let us know as we would love to show you around and catch a bite to eat. If you have not been to our blog lately, check it out at Thank you for partnering with us and may Christ be glorified in a mighty way!

Grace & Peace,
Andrew & Adria Medlen

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yet, Hope Remains

Sometimes the weight of it presses down on me and I seem not able to move. I want to cry, to rage, to beat back the hands that have wrapped deceiving fingers around vulnerable necks. Anger, sadness, and confusion tie knots in my mind as I watch what would seem to be another’s demise. Slipping, ever tripping, they do not see the one hard after them, haunting their souls and bloodying their knees.

No matter how hard I run I cannot take hold of them or drag them back to safety. I feel helpless, standing here ringing my hands, wide-eyed and heavy-hearted. I open my mouth to persuade their return but the words are swallowed in the clamor around me.

“O, God. Do something. DO something.”

I cannot reason with this kind of deception. They have embraced a hideous, snarling thing but stroke it with a smile that sees a charming face.

“O, God; O, God. Do something.”

And yet I know something has already been done. THE something has been accomplished so that truth might bring freedom and love might reconcile the lost. And with that thought I become angry—angry at the deceiver, angry at the deceived, angry at the Healer. Why must this cycle repeat? Why must I stand and watch as these beloved come in thirst to the Living Water and drink, only to be lured away by the hand that binds them?

“O, God, where are You?”

My anger is merely a diverting flare meant to absorb the impact of this missile instead of my hurt and wondering heart. I feel rejection like Samuel when the Israelites refused his prophesies and demanded their own king. The Lord whispers in my ear the same response, “It is not you they are rejecting. It is me they refuse.”

The anger recedes and is replaced with a solemn burden. My heart feels broken. Again I hear the Lord, “How much more does their Father care for them than you?” In this is my only solace.

I am at the end of myself and I do not understand, yet the promises of God remain. He has begun the good work of redeeming their wounded hearts and He will carry it on to glorious completion. He will. I must believe that He will. In this is my only hope.

Tempted to pick myself up and endlessly run back into the fray, I think it best that I sit awhile under His grace and find rest in place of weariness and hope rather than despair. Earnestly I will lay this worrisome battle at the feet of our Rescuer, for in Him and not in myself there is certain hope for healing, redemption, love.

O, Heart, victory is coming!

by the David Crowder Band
Here we are/ Here we are/ The broken and used/ Mistreated, abused/ Here we are

Here You are/ Here You are / The beautiful one/ Who came like a Son/ Here You are

So we lift up our voices/ We open our hands/ To cling to the love/ That we can’t comprehend

Oh, lift up your voices/ And lift up your heads/ To sing of the love/ That has freed us from sin

He is the one/ Who has saved us/ He is the one/ Who embraced us/ He is the one who has come / And is coming again/ He’s the remedy

Here we are/ Here we are/ Bandaged and bruised/ Awaiting a cure/ Here we are

Here You are / Here You are/ Our beautiful King/ Bringing relief/ Here You are with us

So we lift up our voices/ And open our hands/ Let go of the things/ That have kept us from Him

He is the one/ Who has saved us/ He is the one/ Who forgave us/ He is the one who has come/ And is coming again/ He’s the remedy

Oh, I can’t comprehend/ I can’t take it all in/ Never understand/ Such perfect love come For the broken and beat/ For the wounded and weak/ Oh, come fall at His feet/ He’s the remedy/ He’s the remedy

He is the one who has saved us/ He is the one who forgave us/ He is the one who has come/ and is coming again

He's the remedy/ he's the remedy/ He's the remedy/ He's the remedy/ So sing, sing

You are the one/ Who has saved us/ You are the one/ Who forgave us/ You are the one who has come/ And is coming again/ To make it alright/ Oh, to make it alright/ You’re the remedy/ Oh, in us/ You’re the remedy/ Oh, You're in us/ Your the remedy

Let us be the remedy/ Let us be the remedy/ Let us bring the remedy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's Been Awhile

I always have great intentions to blog regularly and then two months goes by.  We have been swept up in a whirlwind of activity these past few months, but some great things have been happening.  The weather is getting warmer and our neighborhood looks alive again.  With so many people back out on thier porches we are loving the opportunities to build relationships on our block (which still feels new even though we've been here since October). 

We had our annual Spring Break Program March 15-19 and it exceeded our expectations.  I (Adria) was coordinating the week and had bought only 50 t-shirts for the kids attending, because we rarely get over 30 kdis on average.  I was a little nervous come Thursday when we did our group picture because we had averaged over 40 each day!  On picture day we had 45 students and 23 volunteers!!  Here are a few photos from the week.
Then, right after Spring Break Mom and I (Adria) took off for Indiana to see Amber and my little 2 week old "nephew" Blake!  He is a cutie, but by the time we got home late the following Wednesday I needed a 24hr nap!

But the activities were far from over...I found out that Laniecha was getting baptized and so Andrew and I got to go see Laniecha make this important step in her walk with Christ.  I pray that it is something she is serious about pursuing.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Crab Fishing Has To Do With Inner-City Missions Part I

It’s a funny show to get hooked on, but Andrew and I can’t get enough of the “Deadliest Catch.” Usually aired on the Discovery Channel (we don’t have cable) we get to watch old seasons through our Netflix subscription (thanks Mom and Dad), which, I must admit, occasionally results in several-hour marathons watching sailors with colorful personalities haul crab out of the ocean. It seems like an odd obsession for two inner-city missionaries, but recently while watching one of our King Crab Marathons I felt a strange kinship to their experiences.

Every episode I watch I think, you could not pay me enough to work on a boat in the middle of the Bering Sea hauling hundreds of thousands of pounds of crab out of the water 30 hours at a time. No way. But the guys doing it love it. I heard one captain refer to their work as a calling. Many come seeking the good money (an average season of a several weeks makes the crew about $30,000 each) but few make it a living. The physical and mental demands of long hours and hard labor drive many off the waters. It’s not uncommon to watch a “Greenhorn” (as the newbies on the boat are called) crack 20 hours into their first “grind,” leave the boat when back in harbor, and never be seen on the crab boats again.

For those of you who are not avid watchers of “Deadliest Catch” and are not yourselves Crab Fishermen, let me set the stage for you a bit. The Alaskan Crab Fishing Season runs from about October to January, but it is broken up into different species of crab seasons that are usually a couple months long a piece. Some crab fishermen only fish certain seasons, but many of the seasoned crew and boat owners also fish other things and are then gone from their families (who often live in other U.S. states than Alaska) most of 6-8 months at a time. Most crab fishing boats (at least the ones on the show—because that’s the extent of my knowledge of this field :) have about 5-7 crew members. They chart a course in the Bering Sea and drop big crab-catching cages called “pots” into the ocean through the use of hydraulic cranes and brute strength. The entire season includes them setting and hauling these pots until they catch their quota of crab poundage—which sounds WAY easier than the work really is.

At this point you’re probably saying, OK, Adria, but this still has nothing to do with Inner-City Missions—I’m getting to that part. As I sat and watched these men do what they love to do I could not help but identify with what that one captain referred to as their life calling. Andrew and I have seen many inner-city workers come and go and every single one that makes it in the city says it is their calling that tethers them to this place. There are breaking days where even the seasoned deckhands on these crab boats reach the end of themselves and feel almost too tired to go on, but in the end they are fixed to the ship by their love for their work and the surety that they are doing exactly what they are suited for. Most experienced inner-city missionaries I know say they must write down the calling God has laid on them as a place to revisit on those breaking days and it is that calling that fixes them to the city.

You might think that with all this talk of calling and of being part of an elite team of naturally suited guys, that there would be an air of superiority about them. They make a lot of money for doing manual labor, they sacrifice a lot to make that money, and there are hundreds of guys who don’t make it out there. Yet, most often you hear them say that they are so lucky and grateful to be doing what they do. They don’t despise those guys who don’t make it on the Bering Sea, unless they don’t make it because they’re not willing to work hard. The captains and crew share that they couldn’t imagine doing anything else, even if they know it’s kind of a crazy profession. Occasionally when we as inner-city missionaries go to missions fairs and visit churches to do support raising, people comment on the nature of our work. They kindly hold our hands and self-deprecatingly esteem our calling over theirs. Although they mean nothing but encouragement it often makes me uncomfortable. Knowing myself like I do, I’m certainly not the saint imagined by this well-meaning church member. All I know is that if you feel that by working in the city you’re doing what you feel suited to do then, like the crab fishermen, you’re just doing your job and grateful to do it.

The show quickly draws you into the stories of these men and their mission on the sea. Sometimes while watching the show I catch myself almost holding my breath, tense with the anticipation of each boat’s imminent success or failure. As they haul each pot out of the ocean it feels like I’m leaning forward with the crew as they wait for the top of the pot to appear over the rail, hoping to see it full of crab. When the boats set their strings of pots, often they have to blindly lay sets to locate good fishing waters. It can be disheartening for the crew when they spend several days setting and hauling pots only to have a handful of crabs to show for their hours of labor. Then other times, as the pot clears the side rail, cheers of victory erupt from the crew at the sight of a pot full of thousands of dollars worth of crab. I find myself empathizing with this process, identifying it with the process of working with people when the investment is so high but the results just seem so meager. But then there are those times that you labor and cry and come so close to giving up and then God does an amazing work in someone’s life and the joy buoys your spirits with hope and gladness.

Inner-city work is much like crab fishing; it’s a high stakes, high rewards lifestyle. For us there isn’t a $30,000-$50,000 paycheck awaiting us every few months, but there is the knowledge that God’s Kingdom is presently advancing in the lives of people in the city. That is true reward indeed, and in the end all the work and all the struggle is worth the joy of watching God’s plan for the city unfold. But it’s not for the timid, for the faint-of-heart, or for those who aren’t ready to commit all their loyalty and all their strength to sail midst the storm and put faith in The Captain to navigate the waters.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Harvest is Plentiful...the Workers are Few and Wornout

Inner-city ministry is long, hard work. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything else I would want to be doing and there is such joy in uncovering the glory of God in a place where people often say it doesn't exist. The city is full of beauty and joy if you look for it. Yet, I think people see movies like "Freedom Writers" or "Lean on Me" or the like and think that it is the usual reality to work long hours and see an equal or more abundant return for your labor. That is not the nature of inner-city work. You can't do inner-city work if you aren't dedicated and able to see very, very small incremental progress as success.

Andrew and I just found out that a couple who has also been doing inner-city church planting in North St. Louis for ten years is leaving the city. I don't know the couple very well, but we occasionally partner with them and always see each other at local missions fairs. Although they are not with World Impact, it's always been somewhat reassuring to know that they are out there striving for the same goal in the same city. This announcement has come on the heels of a long list of people leaving inner-city St. Louis. The reality is that the average inner-city worker lasts 1.5 years. I don’t know if that speaks to the nature of the work or the ideology and expectations people bring to the work or both, but that’s the reality.

Although I don’t know this particular couple well, their leaving hit me in the gut. Every time someone leaves I question: Does no one have the ability to see it through? Will I be one of these stories one day? How can the harvest be so plentiful and the workers always be leaving?

One of the things that helps me in these times is the community I have with World Impact. I love that within World Impact nationally there are people on staff who have dedicated their lives to the inner-city…20, 30, 40 years of self-sacrificing work. I have so much respect for and am encouraged by these people who have committed themselves through good times and bad, through burnout and joy, through successful church plants and times of no response, and have lived and raised their children in the city. There are faithful workers who can go the distance—albeit only through the continual submission of their lives to the grace and power of God.

This is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about as of late. Just yesterday I was at a family’s house in the community and they were asking about past staff. The young girl made the comment that “Every body leaves.” I couldn’t necessarily correct her because very soon, Andrew and I will be the only ones left on staff that she has had any connection with. That both breaks my heart and hardens my resolve to commitment.

There is such a harvest here if you have the eyes to see. God is building His kingdom even in the midst of human failures. I’ve heard it said that we live in an upside-down Kingdom…the Gospel flips our earthy views on their heads. There’s no place better to experience this than in the city. We’ve got to check our worldly expectations at the door and respond with faithfulness and dedication and let God reap the Harvest He sees fit. Although I have only been here 4 years, I’ve learned some pretty big lessons:

• If God calls you to the city you have to write down that calling, make it your Ebenezer. You’ve got to know God called you and be able to revisit that calling when times get hard.
• Camaraderie is key. If you aren’t willing to hold onto the people who God has given you as co-laborers and pour into them then you will eventually feel too alone in the battle. It can still get lonely and isolating but it is the knowledge that there are others laboring faithfully for God’s Kingdom that encourages you on.
• We all come in with grandiose ideas about our impact on the city. I have to continually purge those for the reality that all I’m responsible for is to labor faithfully where God calls me to work…the rest is up to Him.
• God is always faithful. It doesn’t always look the way I’d like it to but God’s provision is sovereign and He can and does transform lives in the city!!
• It is through long-term commitment to the city that an impact is made. This is not to say that people cannot serve the city well for a short time or that God does not call people on to other places to work (none of us knows what God has for our futures—He may yet call Andrew and I somewhere else one day) but being able to commit yourself until the day that God calls you on is so important.
• You’re going to get tired; there will be a time (or times) when you feel burnt out and it is here when you most understand and cherish God’s faithfulness and the greater body of Christ. I have come to understand the church on a very basic level…it is our life-line while here on earth. We must cherish the Body of Christ and cultivate it on a daily basis.

Praise God that His work in the city is bigger than us. He can still accomplish His work and bring new people to the city to labor for the harvest. We pray for this. This is our hope on stormy days.

Monday, January 4, 2010

December Happenings

Although out of chronological order from our January Update, I wanted to share some of the exciting things that happened in December (time is just moving too quickly for me to keep up!)!  It was a whirlwind month of ministry, activity, family, and even though there was rarely time enough to pause and reflect, there was much to reflect upon!

The beginning of December was filled with a lot of sewing for me (Adria), one of my new-found hobbies.  I made purses for most of the women in my life as Christmas presents because I fancy myself original and thoughtful in gift giving...but really I'm just CHEAP!!  :)  Well, maybe I could be all of the above??
I also got to visit my good friend Amber in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for her baby shower and help decorate her baby room!  We put a decal on the baby's wall with the verse in James that says "Every good and perfect gift comes from above."  I love that little Blake will come into the world knowing he is a gift from God. Pray for his arrival coming in March!

Mid December brought about a long-awaited and celebrated day:  Bruce graduated from college!  Bruce grew up a block from World Impact and has known Andrew for many years.  Andrew mentored him in high school and he was a graduate of World Impact's L.I.T. (Leadership In Training) program for high schoolers.  It was so special to share in his day of celebration and to see what a solid young man of God he is!  He is now in the process of applying for med school so keep him in your prayers as he still has a long road ahead of him!

Then we had the privilege of sharing Christmas with Stephon in Kansas.  Stephon was a part of Bridge of Hope's youth group and has also known Andrew for many years.  He is now attending college at Missouri University in Columbia, Missouri, about two hours from us.  We picked him up on our way out to Andrew's parents' house in Topeka, Kansas, and he spent the week with us.  It is a joy to spend time with this young man who exudes such resiliance and joy even in the face of the trials he has experienced.  Continue to pray for him as he goes to college and grows in mind and spirit!

Then came Urbana 09!  The largest missions conference in North America (with over 15,000 students) held here in St. Louis between Christmas and New Years!  Our St. Louis staff were the point people for our National booth at the conference and Andrew was one of our representatives!  So we kept very busy builing displays, putting together literature, giving tours of our facility and trying to recruit, recruit, recruit! 

Andrew and I also hosted number 18-25 of the people who have stayed with us since we moved into our new (larger) home in October!  Dad told us that if the missionary thing didn't work out we could open a bed and breakfast (those of you who know how much I love to cook and clean, feel free to laugh now).

Phew...December was a busy month, but one filled with many blessings and in the moments when I get to pause and reflect I am so grateful for the family, the friends, and the ministry that God has seen fit to place in our lives.  We love you all...and Happy New Year!!

January Update

January 1, 2010

Dear Team,

Grace and Peace to each of you this new year! We hope this letter finds each of you doing very well. Well, I have good news and I have bad news. OK, bad news first: St. Louis just received the award for America’s 2nd most dangerous city. The good news is: Adria and I are exactly where God has called us to be!

Since I arrived in St. Louis nine years ago, St. Louis has consistently been in the top five America’s most dangerous cities, but, God has still done so many amazing things in this city. Since Adria and I have moved into our new neighborhood (about 5 blocks from our old house) several months ago, God has been helping us to develop some really great relationships.

Across the street from us is a house we call the four-flat. It is a big house with four apartments in it and it is rented out to several families. Our block is always active and very loud because of this house. A few months ago, the FBI came in and arrested ten people for drug related activity. Needless to say, I am a little intimidated by most of the people coming and going from this house.

There is never a dull moment from this house—whether it is mothers arguing on the front porch, people drinking and partying in the front yard, or guys shooting dice on the sidewalk. However, a big thing happened the other day. Adria and I were walking to our car and one of the guys who lives at the four-flat waved to us before we had a chance to wave.

Now that may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but this comes after two full months of waving every time I exited my house and getting nothing. I have been over a few times to spark conversation and it had not taken off.

What this wave meant to me was a chance to earn their respect and an opening to possible relationships. That house and the people in it are constantly in my prayers. Hopefully there are future Church leaders living in that house! Christ has a burden for this house and I am praying that God uses Adria and I in a mighty way to show them that there is something way better than their present life. God is mighty to save!

Adria and I host a Bible study at our house every Sunday night from 6-8p.m. Our intention is to eventually start a house Church from this Bible study. What potential there is right across the street for future leaders of this Church. Please be in prayer that our neighbor’s waves will turn into conversations, and those conversations will turn into conversions. St. Louis may be one of America’s most dangerous cities, but we are here to see that this city be won for Christ!

All for our Glorious and soon coming King!

Andrew & Adria Medlen