Wednesday, July 21, 2010

KIN's lasting effects

Most people reading this blog are familiar enough with Student Ministries at NMC to know what KIN stands for. But for those that don't, it means Kids In Need. Last school year the entire student population (grades 5-12) at NMC focused on meeting the needs of kids around the world. The focus had three goals: GAIN awareness, GIVE sacrificially and LIVE differently.

I wrote a little about one of my KIN experiences here.

But now I want to share with you how Kids In Need has marked me deeply enough to make me LIVE differently.

Perspective has been a word I've used a lot lately. The more I learn and see, the more I'm convinced that much of how we respond to things in life is based on perspective. Looking at things from the wrong perspective leads to the wrong response in almost all instances.

But how does one change his/her perspective? It's an easy thing to talk about but a very difficult thing to actually accomplish.

Throughout the school year, I was consistently learning new facts and stories of Kids In Need. In fact, one of the first things I did to GAIN awareness was write to two guys I know who work in different urban areas. I asked them what the greatest needs facing the kids in their areas were and, to paraphrase, both said the kids needed parents who care about them.

That was not the answer I was looking for because how could I help with that? I wanted them to say something like new shoes, a basketball court, help with school or anything tangible that I could figure out a way to provide for them.

So, at first I was very frustrated because, while I had GAINed awareness, I couldn't figure out how to GIVE anything to them.

Now nearly a year after I received those answers, God has officially broken my heart for the kids who need parents who care. Reading stories from Kory and Alison at the Transformation have helped to change my perspective.

I never knew there were kids who come home to a place where nobody is around and there is no food to eat, no electricity, no heat or air conditioning, no phone and no running water.

I never knew parents could abandon their kids.

I never knew drugs could become more important to people than their families, especially their children.

I never knew kids as young as mine (8 & 5) are sometimes left alone and allowed to wander the streets for days at a time.

All these things exist.
All these things are common.
All these things happen in my own town.

And I cannot stand for it any longer.
I have to do something about it.
Doing nothing is no longer an option.

Starting right now I am LIVING differently. This life is no longer about me. I am not here to be served but to serve.

My KIDS will always know that I love them because of the way I prioritize my time.

My KIDS may not always have the newest, fanciest, prettiest or best stuff, but they will always have a loving home to live in - no matter what they've done, who they've been with, where they've gone or why they made those choices.

My KIDS are not the only ones who deserve these things. All KIDS deserve to be loved and, with God's help, I am going to work to make sure they are.

Here I am. Send me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Last night I got back from 5 days at Senior High Camp along the shore of Lake Erie in Vermillion, Ohio. It was an exciting, busy, exhausting, hilarious, hot, wet, dirty, sad and uplifting experience.

In many ways it was exactly like the first time I went to Senior High Camp last year.

But I can think of a few ways it was way DIFFERENT for me.

1. Last year was very intimidating for me because it was the first time I had met most of the students and many of the leaders. This year I went into it knowing several students and almost all of the leaders. So, there was a certain level of comfort for me.

2. Last year was also very emotional for me. I had been holding back from getting involved with students for several years. I just never felt like I was ready. Even last year I didn't feel completely ready, but I jumped in and was overwhelmed by a lot of stuff God revealed to me last year. This year it wasn't very emotional at all. It was, however, significant in many ways. God spoke to me again and I have a great challenge ahead of me.

3. Last year I was given a clear call from God into a very specific area of ministry. This year there was no clear call, but many clear challenges. I was given a clearer picture of myself and of the people around me. I am learning to see people the way God sees them, instead of how I normally see them.

4. Last year I was energized by camp. This year I was physically exhausted by camp but am much more focused than I was a week ago. I don't have to rush out and force situations to become opportunities for me to fulfill the call of God in my life. He's got the spots picked out for me. All I have to do is be faithful in the little things and be ready for those opportunities.

5. Last year I didn't come away with many real solid connections with students. This year I feel like I've got a lot of new friends, including some real strong connections with young men that may have a great deal of influence over the direction of their youth group this year and beyond. That's exciting ... and intimidating.

6. Last year I didn't have much of a problem leaving my kids for 5 days. This year I missed them really badly. I think it's because of the way God was challenging me. I know I haven't been exactly what He's called me to be as a father and so I spent a lot of time thinking about them while I was away.

I went in with high expectations. Some of them were met, others weren't. But in the end I realized that DIFFERENT is definitely good.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Dear Secret Intern ...

I got your letter and it means a lot. Thank you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I feel like this would be a good post for Jon Acuff over at Stuff Christians Like. Maybe some day he'll pick it up and put a comedic spin on it, but since I'm not very funny I'll take the serious side.

Why is it that the word "processing" is thrown around so much by Christians? Whenever something big happens - good or bad - people start talking about "processing it" or "processing through it."

I understand the general meaning of the phrase. I just don't understand why "processing" is the first thing that Christians feel they need to start doing after a big event in their lives.

Just a couple days ago two students from the youth group I work with at NMC were in a really bad accident. Fortunately neither of them suffered severe injuries. They basically walked away from the wreck. They started "processing" the night it happened.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to see a bigger lesson to be learned through experiences like an accident, loss of a loved one, mission trip, injury or an encounter with God. Of course there are lessons to be learned and of course we should be on the lookout for them.

I guess I just don't think we're capable of figuring it all out - especially in the matter of days, or even hours.

Having talked with one of the students who was in the accident, it seems like the only clear lesson he's learned is to be thankful for every moment and for the people he loves. It's a great lesson ... and maybe it's the only lesson.

Would that be enough? If the reminder to be thankful is all he ever gets out of this experience, shouldn't that be enough? I mean, it's a great lesson to learn - a life changing lesson, right?

In time, maybe other lessons will come out of this experience, but I don't think it's our job to try to pull lessons out of the experience that may or may not have been intended. If God has a lesson He's trying to teach in all of this, He is able to make it clear to us even if we don't spend a lot of time "processing."

I'm not writing this because I'm against "processing." I just question whether it's the best way to react to certain things. Maybe when we hear a message on a Sunday morning, the best thing we can do is "process" it and see how it applies to our lives. But when we get into an accident, we should just hug the people around us, thank God and let Him teach us in His own time.