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