Archive for Events

2018 Do Something–Days 3 and 4

// June 14th, 2018 // 1 Comment » // Events

Well, I’ve been slacking off a bit on the updates. Sorry. I have two excuses: First, we’ve been going, going, going from morning to night and I’ve been making sure that everyone has what they need, when they need it. It takes a lot of time, energy, and focus to accomplish that task. Second, we’ve been having such a good time that I have been easily “distracted” (not actually distractions, but the point of why we’re here) by some awesome conversations with teenagers from the church and people from the community. Either way, I am taking a moment to send out another update today (you may have to wait a couple days for the next one 🙂

My general statement fo the week has been, “Things are going much better than expected,” which is always nice to say. This week has gone very well. The teenagers have been working hard and connecting with each other. The two groups have really been opening up to each other and are forming some deep relationships. It no longer feels like we are two separate groups, but one group working together. So, we are thanking God for his continued blessing in this department.

Much of the work we’ve been doing throughout the week has been for four different group homes for mentally handicapped adults. Each of these homes are within three to four blocks of one another. The groups have been doing a lot of painting, mulching and landscaping, weeding, and cleaning gutters. They have been very good sports, especially one group that spent two days “trapped” in a basement painting the walls and the floor. In addition to painting/sealing some basements, groups have been painting doors and trim, bedrooms, bathrooms, and living rooms. Another group spent a couple days painting metal hand-railings, fences, and laundry poles. Another group has spent a couple days staining a deck. All in all, each of these groups is checking numerous items off their list each day and working hard.

The younger group has done a little more exploring. On Tuesday they went to Sheboygan to work at Anchor of Hope, which is a crisis pregnancy center. They spent the day weeding around the outside of the building, spreading a large pile of mulch, and then washing their windows. They also spent some time sorting baby clothes and supplies. On Wednesday, they went to another pregnancy resource center called Mary’s Room. At this location they did some more sorting of supplies and cleaned up the outside of their building by weeding and doing random landscaping work. They have enjoyed being able to check out various locations.

Another fun aspect of the last couple days was last night’s community meal. First Oostburg hosts a community meal every second Wednesday of the month. They have a standing offer for members of the community to show up and receive a meal on this night. Since we were in town, they took the opportunity to “spice things up a bit.” They rented a bouncy house, had face painting, and had various lawn games out in the yard. The teenager spent time each day–Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday–handing out fliers in the community for this event. It ended up being a successful night! We served around 223 people and had the opportunity to build relationships with many of them. The teenagers enjoyed the opportunities to serve food, paint faces, and play games with many people from the community. It was a great way to wrap up the day.

Following supper, we always have an evening teaching session. On Tuesday night, we talked about death. We read through the Bible and looked at the various ways it talks about death. We had each of the small groups use scripture to develop their own definition of death. Then, we spent the rest of the session talking about, “Where do you go when you die?” It was a good session for most of the group–some who have lost loved ones fairly recently. Wednesday night we began talking about Christ’s Second Coming. We did a brief overview of passages that talk about His second coming. We spent time looking at the various ways the second coming is described. We talked about events that must happen before the second coming. Then we wrapped up by talking about what the second coming will be like and the purpose behind the second coming. This was one of the best sessions yet. Many of the students were intrigued to understand these things because much of it was new information for them. I always love watching their faces when they finally begin to understand what we’re talking about.

We wrap up each day around a campfire, worshiping and listening to a message from someone in the community. Tuesday night, Pastor Drew shared his testimony about making many mistakes throughout his younger years and finally coming to a place where he understood God’s Love in his life. Not only was his story a great example of coming to truly grasp God’s love, but it was also a great opportunity to get to know the pastor of First Oostburg. On Wednesday night we heard from Gwen Gretch who used to run the youth group “back in the day.” She shared stories from her life about when she was unhappy with God for the way her life was playing out. Then she shared how she slowly came to the point of saying, “Your will be done. I trust you!” The students really appreciated what she had to say.

So, like I mentioned at the beginning of the post. It has been a great week. The teenagers are doing phenomenal and God is working in big and small ways. We have appreciated everyone’s prayers and look forward to seeing how God will finish out our week.

2018 Do Something–Day 2

// June 12th, 2018 // 1 Comment » // Events

A Quick Note: I typically write the daily blog posts in the evening before I go to bed. However, I have been pretty exhausted by the time I get to bed and haven’t had the mental capacity to write the daily blog post. All of that to say, the blog posts will most likely be coming “a day late” as I reflect back on what happened. 

Day two started off with a little surprise for all of the new Do Something students. They awoke to instructions regarding their morning obstacle course 🙂 Joy overflowed from their lips…..not. However, they were all good sports. On Monday mornings, the students don’t actually run the obstacle course but walk through the course, listening to specific instructions about each step of the journey. On Day 3 they will be running it.

From there the group ate breakfast and participated in a morning session about daily devotions. We like to start every week by talking about the benefits of daily devotions, the struggles with daily devotions, and the various ways to do daily devotions. It’s a great way to encourage teenagers to enter into this important practice of the Christian Life. After the session students had the opportunity to have their own time in devotions.

Along with this devotional time, we have also assigned each student a meditation verse for the week. Each student will spend fifteen minutes a morning meditating on on particular passage. The majority of the teenagers have never done scripture meditation. However, by the end of the week it becomes one of the most impactful aspects of the week.

We also spent some time talking to the students about life stories. Each of the leaders have been sharing their life stories during the meal times. Each of the students will also be sharing their life story throughout the week. Although this can be fairly “nerve wracking” for some of the students, each of the leaders will be walking alongside them to make sure it’s a successful experience. We have found that it’s important for students to take the time to intentionally think about the ways God has worked in their life over the years. It’s also a helpful tool to “have in your back pocket” as you share your faith with non-Christians. Again, this aspect of the week can bring a level of anxiety to students, by the end of the week it becomes one of their highlights. It’s exciting to repeatedly hears stories about the way God was worked in people’s lives.

After these morning sessions, everyone headed out to the worksites. The majority of our work was centered on helping some of the local group homes. One group helped to pull out some bush stumps in front of a building, clean out gutters, weed, pick up sticks, and do some mulch work. Another group spent the day doing some very tedious and detailed painting in a basement–painting around numerous pipes and wires on the walls. The other two groups spent the day at church washing and detailing vans used at some of these group homes. Once finished with the vans, this group also walked around town and handed out fliers, inviting the community to a meal on Wednesday evening.

After showering, some free time, and eating supper, the group participated in our evening session. This session is always focused on evaluating “where you are” in life and then dreaming about where God may want you in the future. It’s always a lot of fun. The students have an opportunity to look at various aspects of their life, thinking through the ways they are thankful and thinking about problems, frustrations, or concerns. Then, after spending half of the session discussing the “As-Is,” we switch to dreaming. Each of the student spent time thinking through some “fun” dreams for the future, ways they want to contribute to society, and the type of person they want to be. It’s always great to hear each student stand up and say, “I want to be the kind of person who…” It’s exciting to think about how God can (and will) use each of these students for His glory.

We wrapped up the night around a bonfire. We had the opportunity to hear from a local youth leader named Justin, who talked to our group about Total Depravity. He told us a bit of his story and helped the students to understand that any good in them came from God, not from themselves. Each of the students appreciated what he had to say.

It was another great day. The two youth ministries are blending together very well. They are quickly becoming like one youth group–functioning more and more like the Body of Christ. It’s always fun to see the Spirit do this work in the lives of students.

May God continue to work and move and use these students for His glory here in Oostburg.

2018 Do Something–Day 1 (Quick Update)

// June 11th, 2018 // 1 Comment » // Events

Well, we all made it safely to Oostburg, WI last night. The drive went extremely well and we arrived in Oostburg in time for their evening worship service. Not only were we able to worship with them last night, but they also took the opportunity to commission then entire group for the week. So, it was a great way to kick the week off as a whole group.

After the commissioning the teenagers took some time to get set up in their rooms and then we went over some of the logistical information for the week. We also took some time to “set the tone” of the week right away at the beginning. We encourage teenagers to be aware of the ways God is working in and through our group this week. We let the teenagers know that this week will be challenging for them–we intentionally will be pushing them out of their comfort zones. We also remind them that God will work in each of their lives this week. It’s always fun to see their faces as I give this talk. There’s a mix of anxiety about what’s to come, excitement about what God will do, and comfort in knowing God is in control of it all.

We also held our first session last night about How to Build Relationships. We are very intentional about building relationships throughout the week–relationships with one another and relationships with the people we are serving. We spend time talking about what makes a good relationship. We also spend time talking about how to have good conversations with people and then practice those conversation skills with each other. Not only is it good practice, but it’s also a great way for our group to begin building relationships with one another. I love hearing the buzz of conversations coming from the group.

We wrapped up the evening in the “youth garage” with a time of worship and a time listening to Zack share about Why He Follows Christ. It’s always great to hear the ways God has worked in other people’s lives and has brought them to where they are at this point in time. Zack showed us how God was in control over the seemingly random events of his life, using all of them to bring him to his current position of Youth Director at First CRC in Oostburg.

I’ll leave the report at that for now. I’ll try to get another one posted at the end of the day today. If you want to pray over our group, here are a few things you can pray for:

  • Pray that God would continue to meld our two groups into one and build strong relationships between them.
  • Pray that God would use our group to build relationships in the community and point people to Christ.
  • Pray that God would protect our students from any harm throughout the day.
  • Pray that God would continue to reveal himself to each student today, and throughout the rest of the week.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support over this week!

Do Something — Day 7

// August 19th, 2017 // 1 Comment » // Events

Well, it’s the last full day of Do Something and what a day it was. All of the leaders commented along the lines of, “What an awesome way to end the week!” We are all walking away from this week confident that God worked powerfully in each of the students lives. On top of that, each of the students (and leaders) were able to see and recognize God’s work in their lives.

We started off the day at Rachel’s parent’s house by eating breakfast, then heading to Lake Rebecca Park Reserve. This is where we spent a good portion of the day. If the focus of Friday is relaxing, the focus of Saturday is reflecting–reflecting on the ways that God has worked and is working in your life. Lake Rebecca Park was a great location for us to do some reflecting. There’s a lake (obviously), a beach, a swampy area, wooded areas, and meadow areas–many different places to enjoy God’s creation.

The beginning of our time at Lake Rebecca was spent in devotions and Bible meditation. The teenagers always enjoy the opportunity to do these things outside, by the lake. From there they jumped into small group time. Each group found a picnic table to gather around and discuss their devotions for the morning.

Once the small groups were finished, we got into the “meat” of the day–Solitude. This has become an extremely important part of every Do Something. We believe it’s important for everyone to slow down at the end of a busy week, quiet themselves, and listen. We tell students that this time of solitude is time between them and God, which means they are not to be hanging around each other or talking to anyone–they need to be completely silent. Oh yeah, our solitude time goes for three hours. It’s definitely a struggle for some. However, this year, there were very few struggles and many of the students stayed focused the entire time. Students are encouraged to sing, pray, read their Bibles, journal, and look back through previous years’ binder material (or journals). We wrap up solitude by sharing our impacts from that time. There were many comments that revolved around how various scripture passages addressed a need in their lives or how much they appreciated being in God’s creation, watching it work.

From there we headed back to Rachel’s parent’s house for showers and then back to Bethel for an afternoon session. We spent the afternoon talking about the other sacrament–the Lord’s Supper. We asked questions along the lines of, “What does the Lord’s Supper signify and seal? How is the body and blood of Christ present in the elements? Who should participate in the Lord’s Supper?” Even at the end of a long day, with tired teenagers, they stayed focused and were engaged with the teaching session.

This session flowed beautifully into our next event–the Agape Feast. We have one of these every year and this year we pushed it off so that we could connect it with our conversation on the Lord’s Supper. I think they flowed nicely together.

From here we implemented something new into our Do Something week. We’ve spent the week working hard and cramming a lot of information into our brains. It can become easy for a teenager to say, “What does this have to do with my daily life?” Yes, we answer the question repeatedly throughout the week. However, we take Saturday evening to answer that question in more detail. In the past, we’ve done that through debates. We’ve found that students love the debates. It forces them to learn the topic better and learn how to apply it to various situations. However, this year we wanted to do something different.

We spent the week talking about the church, the government of the church, the means of grace, and the sacraments (which are means of grace). At some point, a few weeks ago, God gave me an idea. What if we didn’t do debates but presented our group with various case studies. Each small group was to pretend they were the council of a church. They were presented with a difficult church situation relating to topics we covered throughout the week. They were to understand the situation, reflect on it biblically and theologically, make a decision as a council, then decide how to present this in a pastoral manner. Then, after making all of these decisions, they presented their report to their “congregation” (the rest of the Do Something participants). Following the presentation, the congregation was allowed to ask them further questions regarding their decision.

This was a tremendous success! Not only did the students do a tremendous job thinking through and preparing for these decision, but they had pastoral hearts, AND they were able to answer many of the difficult questions that came their way. I sat back through the entire thing like a proud pastor (as did the rest of the leaders). It was a tremendous opportunity to see the fruit of our labors (and many of yours).

Like many of the other nights, we wrapped our day up around a campfire. However, we didn’t have a message tonight. Tonight was worship and highlights and impacts. It was really fun to listen to the ways God has worked in this group. I kept remembering where many of these teenagers were at last year and was reminded of how much they’ve grown up and matured in Christ. It was powerful.

Then, we wrapped up our time around the campfire by presenting our seniors with gifts and praying over them. Since we encourage our students to read their Bibles and study them deeply, it’s become Ignite tradition to give our seniors a commentary on a particular book of the Bible. After presenting these gifts the group gathered around Clayton and Tony, laid hands on them, and prayed over them as they move on from Ignite. It’s pretty powerful to hear the students pouring out their hearts in prayer over the seniors each year.

We’ve also made this a small “ceremony” of sorts. Once we finish praying over them, I say something like, “Tony and Clayton. You entered this ministry as little boys. Now, we send you out as Christian Men–leaders in your church.” I think it’s important for them to have an official declaration made over them. Now, go and make disciples of all nations.

Like I said at the beginning. It’s been a good week and a good ending to the week. Now it’s time for bed (We’ve got church in the morning).

Do Something — Day 6

// August 19th, 2017 // No Comments » // Events

So, we ended up returning late enough last night that I wasn’t able to get a post online. So, I’m going to shoot you one quick while I have free-time today.

The primary focus of Friday is typically REST. The group has been working their bodies, souls, and minds all week and need some time to let loos and relax. So, we give them a day on Friday.

However, this year we did things a little differently (typical, eh?). We were able to find spots for our group at Feed My Starving Children. So we signed them up and served there Friday morning. It was fun to watch our group dive into the task. They even stood our right away at the beginning. They crew asked the large group of volunteers who wanted to work in the warehouse–no hands went up. Then one member of our group stuck their hand up, then another, then another. Nobody else’s hand was going up, so our group kept on going. We ended up filling every spot they needed in the warehouse because nobody else was willing to work there. The group worked very hard and stayed on task. By the end of the two-hour session the entire group (our group and the others) had packed enough food to feed 87 children for an entire year.

It was also a powerful moment for me. We were shipping the food to Haiti, which brought a bunch of our Dominican Republic trip back to me and the work we did with Haitian refugees. At the end, they showed a video of people who received these packages saying “Thanks!” Many of the people in the video were Haitian. It brought tears to me eyes to remember the poverty we experienced on that island and to think that we were able to bless 87 children in such a short period of time. Many of the teenagers in our group felt the same way. I heard multiple times, “That was a really cool experience!”

From there, we headed to Rachel’s parent’s house where we spent the night Friday night. We had small groups there and had a “campfire message.” Well, not really a campfire message. More like a message in the style of a campfire talk, but held in a garage. Because we were down in the cities, we talked to Arlan Koppendrayer about coming to give this talk. He heartily agreed. His topic for the afternoon was Overcoming Doubt and Keeping the Faith. We all really appreciated what he had to say and the passion with which he said it. Arlan spoke to us about how doubt can be powerful when it forces us to seek the truth. He gave us testimony from his own life of these realities.

From there, the group had a good chunk of free-time. Rachel’s parent’s have a deck, a pool, and a hot tub and all three were in heavy use throughout the rest of the afternoon. There was a group on the deck playing cribbage, a group in the pool swimming and playing volleyball, and a group in the hot tub relaxing. It was fun to see how “fluid” each of these groups were. Kids would move from one to the other regularly. It was great to see that these three groups weren’t “cliquey” but just represented different opportunities to hang out.

After we had supper, we headed out to the surprise activity for the evening. We were able to discounted group tickets to the Tim Hawking and John Crist show at Grace Church in Edina. The youth ministry team decided that it was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. How often will something like this land exactly on our “fun day” during Do Something? Probably never again. It was sooooooo much fun. From the leader’s perspective it was fun to see the excitement and surprise when they found out what we were doing. It was also fun to see everyone laughing until they cried and their stomachs hurt. Tim and John put on a great show. I think this will be a memory that sticks with many of these youth for a long time.

That was it for the day. We returned home and crashed right away. Everyone was exhausted.

Stay tuned for tonight’s post in a few hours……

Do Something — Day 5

// August 17th, 2017 // No Comments » // Events

We continue to thank God for his faithfulness to our group throughout this week. He continues to pour out comfort, strength, and peace to our group. God is GOOD!

Because of the rain, we didn’t begin with the obstacle course this morning, but began our day with active worship. It’s a great way to start off the day, singing praises to our King and moving our bodies in praise as well.

After our typical morning schedule (breakfast, devotions, meditation) groups headed off to their various worksites. Today hasn’t been as rainy as predicted, but it’s still been raining. Thankfully, Brian VanZee has been doing this for a long time and made sure we had inside work scheduled in case of rain. So, our groups all worked inside today in various places.

Willy’s group began their day up at Julian and Norma Baas’ house. They helped wash windows, screens, cupboards. They also helped out with other random tasks that would bless Julian and Norma. After finishing up at the Baas’ home, they headed to the Rum River Life Choices Center in Milaca to do some weeding.

Nicki and Andrea’s group began their day down on Lake Fremont. They are serving Thomas and Sharon. Thomas is a veteran who is suffering from chronic back pain, a heart condition, and Parkinson’s disease. His wife is also recovering from a broken hip and just began dialysis right before Do Something started. So, this family has a lot going on. Our group helped them with various tasks around the house and yard (when it wasn’t raining). They helped wash windows and screens. They cleaned out the garage. They moved some furniture around the house. They also trimmed some trees and did any other random jobs that came up during the day. They also had an opportunity to wrap up their work day at the Rum River Life Choices Center in Princeton, cleaning around the office.

Rachel’s group spent most of the work day cleaning carpets in the Gathering Place at church. We ran to Marv’s right away this morning and rented a couple additional carpet shampooers and the got the kids working. They worked very diligently until the job was finished. Once they finished with that job, they helped Leroy and Carolyn mulch the flower beds around church and put the rest of the mulch in the memorial garden.

From the worksites, groups showered, had a bit of free-time, ate supper, and met in small groups. Then we began our next session of the week. Tonight we moved into our final section of sessions focusing on the topic of the sacraments. Tonight we focused on the nature of sacraments and then dug deeper into the sacrament of Baptism. We asked questions like, “What is the meaning of baptism? How should we baptize people? Who should be baptized?” Once again, the group was engaged, asking good questions, and coming to solid conclusions on their own. It was a good session.

Once again, we wrapped up around the fire pit. We had the privilege of having Julian and Norma Baas join us to talk about Love and Service. We were excited to have them come and share because we know both of their lives that have been devoted to Love and Service. They laid a strong biblical foundation, then walked us through the many aspects of their life that represented God’s faithfulness and their faith which worked itself out in Love and Service.

Tomorrow things change up a bit. We are having a quick breakfast and heading out for the next couple days. Friday we will be doing some work, but the primary focus of the day is a “fun day” of rest and fellowship. Saturday will be focused on reflection and solitude. We will be spending the night in another location on Friday night and returning late Saturday afternoon.

I tell you this information because it may be difficult for me to get a blog post out on Friday evening from a different location. It’s my goal to write one and publish it Friday night. However, there is a possibility that you may have to wait until Saturday evening to hear about what we did both Friday and Saturday.

Continue to pray for our group. We thank you for your prayers so far and we look forward to being upheld by them for the rest of the week. Thanks be to God!

Do Something — Day 4

// August 16th, 2017 // No Comments » // Events

Once again, we’ve been watching God pour out blessing on our group as we serve him.

After our typical morning activities (breakfast, devotions, Bible meditation), the leaders gathered quickly to discuss our work plans for the day. For the past week, the forecast has predicted today to be full of rain. So, Brian had scheduled today with indoor worksites. However, as of this morning, it looked as if the rain was going to start later and go into tomorrow morning–which leads to a difficult decision. If we wait till tomorrow to finish up the painting/outdoor jobs, and it ends up raining, we won’t be able to finish. So, we made a call to head to the worksites this morning and work until it starts raining. God blessed us by holding off the rain all day. As I kept an eye on the radar throughout the day, I watched the rain wrap around and redirect around us. I give him credit and glory for helping us out. I also thank you for your prayers!

The blessing of this was that our group was able to finish the painting job in Milaca. So, again, we are seeing answered prayers.

Willy’s group started off the day by helping unload some truckloads of food at the food pantry. Pastor Harv and I swung by the worksite and appreciated the diligent work of the students. They were on task and keeping busy. Nobody standing around. Once Willy’s group finished up at the food pantry, they headed back to church to finish up the memorial garden. Leroy and Carolyn Koppendrayer have been helping at this site and have put a lot of time and effort into making this project successful. So, make sure to tell them “Thanks” when you see them. I’m glad that our youth group was able to be a part of this project.

Rachel’s group started off just down the street from Bethel Church. They were helping Deb VanVliet, who struggles with cancer and fibromyalgia. They helped her clean our her garage, move some furniture, clean up the yard, and do some painting in her bathroom. While they were doing this work, Deb told them about her neighbor. Deb’s neighbor’s husband just recently had a craniotomy and is still recovering. So, our group went next door and asked how they could help. They ended up fixing her screen door and cleaning out her garage as well. She was in tears as she told me how blessed she felt by this group of teenagers. Once Rachel’s group finished up at that site, they headed up to Milaca to help the group finish painting.

All of the groups returned and proceeded with our typical afternoon/evening schedule (showers, supper, small groups). Once small groups were finished, we dove into our session for the evening. Tonight’s session had to finish up a little bit of last nights session and move into the next topic. So, our session started off by talking about the power/authority of the church–“What type of authority does the church have in the world?” From there we moved into the topic of the Means of Grace and the Word of God. It was really great to see a number of the students in our group step out of their comfort zones and have things to say in front of the group. We also had a bunch more of those “epiphany” moments as we talked about the power of God’s Word. One of the things I enjoyed about this session was how focused every student was during the session. I didn’t feel like I lost any of them. All eyes were focused on what we were studying and everyone was engaged.

Like every night, we wrapped up around a campfire. Actually, because it was raining, we wrapped up the night in the youth area, gathered around an electric fireplace (it’s the thought that counts). Harv and Kathy Roosma joined us for this message and shared with us on the topic of Submitting to Christ. Our group really appreciated what Harv and Kathy had to say tonight and the way they presented it. They told numerous stories from their lives when they had to learn submission to God’s will. Much like tonight’s session, everyone was engaged the entire time.

We continue to give thanks to God for the grace, comfort, and power that he pours out into our lives in greater measure than we deserve. Glory be to God!

Do Something — Day 3

// August 15th, 2017 // No Comments » // Events

God worked in and through our group today.

Like every day at Do Something, our day began with an obstacle course, breakfast, devotions, and Bible meditation. I always enjoy watching out teenagers settle in, reading and meditating on God’s Word. It’s such a blessing to know that they are in a conversation with God that will have a powerful impact on their life. God’s Word is powerful and never returns void.

We began our work day by helping move some BAC2ONE supplies. Many hands make light work. Our entire group pitched in and had everything moved from downstairs to upstairs in approximately fifteen minutes. After this everyone headed out to their worksites for the day.

Nicki and Andrea’s group returned to Jennie’s home in Milaca and continued priming and painting her house. It’s been fun to watch the transformation of this house. It’s really starting to look good. Prayers would be appreciated for our ability to finish the project. It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow, which means we loose one day of painting. So, we need to finish up the job on Thursday.

Willy’s group continued their work at church on the memorial garden. The spent the day hauling sand, leveling sand, and placing pavers. It’s tedious, meticulous work, but it’s looking very good. Everyone is excited to see the finished project. Again, pray for this project to be finished up on Thursday as well.

Rachel and Jennie’s group worked at two different locations today. They began at Pam’s house where they scrapped and painted one of her garden sheds. There was a point in time when they were waiting for the paint to dry, so they began shoveling out her fire pit and cleaning up the yard. Pam was very impressed with their work ethic and their willingness to go “above and beyond.” Once they finished at this site, they headed to Betty’s house in the afternoon. At this site they helped clean up the yard. Betty suffers from a syatic nerve and a bulging disk in her back, which makes it very difficult to do these things. So, the kids enjoyed the opportunity to bless her in this way.

Once we returned from the worksites today, our group received some tough news through the prayer chain. We had another tragic death in our congregation. We met as leaders and discussed the best way to communicate this to our group. Each shower group consists of about 4 teenagers and a leader. We felt that the smaller groups would be a better environment for grieving and discussing their loss. Many of our students are from outside of our congregation, so they were not connected the families affected by the loss. However, some grieved deeply. It was a blessing for us to carry each others burdens and weep with those who weep. The Body of Christ is the best place to mourn this type of loss.

After showers, supper, and small groups, we had our sessions for the evening. Last night we focused on the nature of the church. Tonight we focused on the government of the church. We answered questions like, “How do we determine church government structures? What is the role of elders and deacons in the church? What authority do these officers have? How does the CRC structure its church government?” This may sound like boring, dry conversation, but the students were engaged and interested. Many of them didn’t understand how these things functioned. It’s a powerful foundation to lay as we build up leaders in the church–leaders who will one day be elders and deacons in their congregations.

Finally, our night finished up around the campfire. Allie Terpstra spoke to our group about God’s Love and Forgiveness. It’s such a blessing to have Ignite alumni come back and pour into a new group of students. It’s great to see how much they’ve grown after they left Ignite. All of the leaders were looking at Allie like proud “parents” would look at a child. The students also appreciated hearing what Allie had to say and the way she related it to them and their situation.

So, like I said at the beginning. God did a powerful work in and through our group today. He gave us strength, comfort, and peace. We continue to pray for our congregation as they struggle through another difficult situation. Let us carry each other’s burdens and weep with those who weep. Ultimately, let us look to Christ for strength and comfort. To Him be the glory!

Do Something — Day 2

// August 14th, 2017 // No Comments » // Events

Another good day in the books.

Today, started off by having all of the students run through the obstacle course. They did a great job and finished strong. After finishing up the obstacle course we were treated to a hearty breakfast by RaAnne and Carlene Koppendrayer. It was a solid way to start the day.

Rather than heading off to worksites right away, we spent some time talking about what it looks like to have–and the benefits of–a daily devotional life. We spent a decent amount of time helping them to understand various ways to do daily devotions and the importance of having a daily devotional time. Then, the students were able to spend some time doing their own devotions, followed by 15 minutes meditating on a particular verse. Each student is assigned one verse to meditate on for 15 minutes every morning, all week long. It has become a very important/impactful aspect of their daily devotions during this week.

Once we wrapped up with devotions, we prayed over our day and the teenagers all headed off to their worksites for the day. Two groups worked at Jennie DeJoode’s home in Milaca. Jennie is 95 years old and in need of a new paint job on her house. So, we had two groups there today scraping off the old paint and getting ready to prime. They group seemed to stay focused during my time at the worksite. This will be a big job and will take a good chunk of the week to finish.

The other small group, spent time working at Lois Severson’s place and at Bethel Church. A while back, Louis had a tree fall down at her place. The tree had already been trimmed and chopped up. However, some of the brush needed to be taken care of and the wood needed to be loaded in a trailer and hauled to another location. The group told me that there was a LOT of wood there. Enough wood that if filled Leroy’s trailer to overflowing. Once they finished up that job, they headed to church to begin working on the Memorial Garden on the North side of church. Like the other worksite, this one will take a couple days as well.

The rest of the evening entailed showering, some free-time, supper, and small group time. The small group time in the evening revolves around the devotional time the students have each morning. As they do devotions, they write down any insights and questions they have. Then, in the evening, they gather with their small group and discuss the passage as a group. All walk away understanding the passage better because of the multi-perspectives present in the group.

Following small group time, we had our evening session. Today we moved from some of the introductory sessions for the week, into the “meat” of the content we will be studying. We have a six-year teaching rotation based on Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology. This year our focus is on the Church and the Means of Grace. So, tonight’s study session focused on the church. We studied the Bible, looking for answers to the questions, “How does the Bible use the word ‘church’? What is the essence of the church? What distinctions need to be made regarding the church? What are the attributes of the church? And, What are the Marks of the church?” It was really fun to lead the session tonight. My favorite part of these sessions is when I see the “aha!” moments of our group. We had many of them tonight as our students began to more fully understand how Scripture talks about the church.

We wrapped up the evening around the campfire, like we do every night. We had the privilege of having Phil Terborg with us tonight. He shared with the group on the topic of Total Depravity (exciting topic, eh?). We’ve found it to be very important to cover this topic each year because our culture is continually pushing a different message. Also, Calvin says that we don’t truly know God, until we truly understand ourselves and our fallenness……Phil said the same thing (great minds think alike). Phil did a great job of helping our group understand our sinful condition and how we arrived in this condition. He also couldn’t help but point us past our sinful condition to the hope we have in Christ. It was a great way to break in our new fire pit at church.

We continue to thank God for pouring out blessings on our day, each one of the teenagers and leaders, and the people we’ve served. God is good. All the time!!

Do Something — Day 1

// August 13th, 2017 // No Comments » // Events

It’s late. So, this will be a short post. More will be coming tomorrow.

The biggest thing I want to say about today is that it was a great day. All of the leaders commented on how well this went as a first day of Do Something. All of the teenagers participated wholeheartedly and were engaged throughout the day. We couldn’t have asked for more.

The day started off with the opportunity to worship with our congregation. What a great way to kick this trip off (and end it at the end of the week). I think it’s a great reminder that this week isn’t just about a group of teenager, but about the broader Body of Christ.

Following the service we set up in the rooms, ate lunch, then had our first “talk” of the week. We start every trip with a “talk” like this one. It involves filling all of the students in on housekeeping details, guidelines for the week, and expectations for the week. We also take the time to remind them that this week isn’t an end in and of itself–it’s only the beginning. The goal is for this week to kick off some godly habits that will overflow into the rest of their lives.

From this “talk” we brought back an older aspect of Do Something……..the obstacle course. Once again, Troy Payment has come up with an obstacle course that is both fun and challenging. All of the students had smiles on their faces as they participated in it today. It was a good time.

Following the obstacle course, we had one of our yearly sessions on how to build relationships. This went really well and the students seemed to understand what we were doing and why we were doing it. This is definitely a “life skills” session that will come in handy for years to come.

After the session, we had supper and then headed to most of the worksites for the week to pray over the site and the people. It’s always a blessing to hear the students praying over these things. It’s also a blessing when people join us in prayer. In particular, our group enjoyed gathering in Julian and Norma’s screen porch to get out of the rain, then praying for and with them. It was a beautiful moment.

We came back and began another yearly session focusing on where we are and where we want to be. We’ve found it to be extremely helpful to have students analyze where they are “at” at the beginning of the week. What’s going well in your life? Where are you struggling? Etc… Then we take some time to dream about what God may have in store for the future. Each student was challenged to come up with a list of ten dreams–at least one “fun” dream, one dream that contributes to society, and one dream about the type of person you want to be. It’s always a ton of fun to hear what the group comes up with each night.

We wrapped up the night with our “campfire” message (since it was raining, our “campfire” message was held inside by an electric fireplace). We were blessed to Anne Marie Ulferts join us and share with our group about why she follows Christ. We all appreciated seeing her joy and passion for Christ. These things radiated from her as she spoke. It was a perfect way to wrap up the day.

Now, all of the teenagers are in bed and the leaders are heading there as well. Pictures should start popping up tomorrow.

Good night. Thanks be to God!!