Tuesday, July 5, 2016

street reach, 2016

On Sunday of last week, we arrived at Brinkley Heights Urban Academy at four in the afternoon.  We checked in, were given our room assignments, ate dinner and were assigned to our club sites for the week.  Our church had a large group, so as usual, we were given two sites again this year.  One site was National (with a larger group of students for the kids), and for the third year in a row, the other site was Treadwell.

If you are new to this blog, or if you don't know, street reach is a program that reaches out to all the kids in a really rough area of Memphis.  We give bible clubs five days a week, and in the afternoon, we go out and do a service project.  This happens all summer, week after week, and churches from all over the nation come to participate in this.  How fortunate are we, that we live only thirty minutes away?  I love that this is in our city.

On Monday, it was HOT.  Really hot.  We had a decent number of kids, but we grew in number throughout the week.

Drew's walking group had the most kids in it each day.  We would get there, they would get their assigned walking routes for the week, and they would go door to door, picking up kids.  They would return at ten fifty, we would have club, and at twelve forty, they would walk all the kids back home.  Because it was so hot, I went to pick up my group each day, to save them some steps.  The worst day, heat wise, was Monday, and that afternoon our service project was the Urban Farms.  We planted and weeded and sweat our tails off.  I almost passed out at one point, and went to my car to sit in the air condition.  Club National also had to be outside that day, doing yard work.

I was so proud of our students.  Never once did any of them complain about the heat or the work.  And on Tuesday, we started all over.

Bible club consists of a bible story, a craft, recreation and bible reinforcement.  Also, thanks to Shelby County schools for bringing lunch to these kiddos each day.  For every day that there are kids at club sites, they get a free and healthy lunch.  For some of these kids, it might be their only meal a day, or at least their only healthy meal.  The kids are broken into age groups.  We had a big group of younger kids, ages three to seven.  Older girls were all together and older boys were together.  Each site might run a little differently, but they designed to work for the kids in that area.  Every site accepts kids from the ages of three to twelve.

On Wednesday, after club, we have lunch then have free time until three, when we have to leave Brinkley.  The staff has to clean up for them to have church that night.  We stay gone until eight, when we are able to return.  Each year, we go to a movie, to dinner at a pizza place in Bartlett called Stevie B's, then to a park sometimes, but this year we skipped the park.

The kids that come to bible club LOVE affection.  They constantly want to be held or carried.  They are always wanting to mess with the girls' hair, or wear our name tags or just be there to hold your hand.  It's really sweet and really sad, all at the same time.  I think they're just starving for attention, because the parents have to work, or they don't give them what they crave.  Sometimes the kids are really sweet, sometimes they really push your buttons, because they want to see how far they can get, but they are always needing love and affection.

More than that, they need to know of the hope that we have in Jesus, and it is a privilege to be able to share with them.  This year was different than any other year, and in every little thing we did, it all pointed back to Jesus.  We were intentional with our games, our free times of conversation during lunch and especially during the crafts and bible story times.

Because of how well it was received, we in turn got a blessing from being able to share.  Sometimes kids accept Jesus during clubs, and sometimes seeds are planted.  This was a seed planting year for us at Treadwell.  This week, and the ensuing weeks of summer, more students will come to minister to them, so please pray for them, that God would turn them from the darkness to His glorious light.

Something new this year, at least I think it's new, is that names can be submitted for a discipleship program that street reach now offers.  One girl from our site at Treadwell, Moriah, was referred for this program.  Please be in prayer for her specifically, as well.

It is an honor to be a small part of this ministry each summer.  I am so thankful for the youth staff at church that put this whole trip together and I am grateful that I get to work with the youth in our church.  These students continually amaze me, and more than that, my Lord amazes me for the work He has done in all of their hearts.  I am so glad that He made me fall in love with teenagers.  They've been one of the greatest gifts in my life, and all the praise and honor and glory go to Him.

Thanks for reading about our week, and thanks for praying, all of you who prayed for us.  Love to all.

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