Life 2019: Pray for Us

awaken life 2019 alliance youth

This month I wanted to go over ways that you can specifically pray for our Life trip in July. Before that, I want to take a moment to sincerely thank you for investing in this generation and believing that God will use them now and in the years to come to glorify God’s Kingdom. Your love and care for the teenagers are evident as I have seen your support flow in, and it touches me to see some of you praying for the teenagers. Thank You! 

Here are five specific ways to pray for the teenagers going to Life Conference this year: 

1. God would work in them and through them, and that they will have an open heart and mind to what God shows them (Psalm 119:18). 

2. Pray that God will provide youth leaders (myself and another adult) many opportunities to build meaningful relationships with the teenagers as we live life with them for a week. Specifically, for “discipleship” moments where we can relate God’s Word to their lives, challenging them to grow. 

3. We will talk about prayer at the Life Conference, and this is a chance for them to “go deeper into the life we have in and with Jesus”. Please pray that they will go deeper! 

4. During the week we will get to display Christ’s love with a large body of student believers by serving the Central Florida area. Pray that as we talk about serving and as we serve there that it will ignite a desire for them to become servants for Christ in our church and to be “salt and light” in their communities when they come back home. 

5. Another topic at LIFE is "Justice." There will be a hands-on experience where they will learn about slavery issues, both locally and globally. They will not just learn about it but will know what God is calling them to do about it, (Hebrews 13:3). Ask for God to show them precisely how He wants to use them in the world as they learn about "justice." 

Thank you for your investment and for spending much time in prayer for this trip. “Now to him who can do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (English Standard Version, Ephesians 3:20-21). 

A Family Ministry

Promiseland, Faithweavers, and Circle Drive Students are ministries to the family. Sometimes they are perceived as a "glorified babysitting service," where it is a time to drop children off so that parents can have a break. Some may volunteer in these ministries with the same mindset. 

That mindset is not what we desire out of our children's ministry, nor is it what God wants! We long to see our next Generation come to know Jesus as their Savior, to grow in their walk with God, and to see them become contagious in their faith! 

We are here as a resource to share the Gospel and to provide God's Word into their lives during these programs. However, these ministries are in place to equip the parents in training their children to grow in their walk with God. 

Parents I want to remind you of the big job that we have to raise our children so that they love the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind, Matthew 22:37, and to encourage you to do this by spending time with your children and talking to them about God. 

Here are some ideas to help you. In Promiseland we provide activity pages that show you what we have talked about, the key verses for the story, discussion questions, family activities, and a memory verse. Seek time each day with them to ask them the discussion questions, read the story to them again from the Bible, help them memorize the verses, and explain to them the meaning of it. Ask the teachers and leaders what your children have learned in Faithweavers. They would be happy to share that with you so that you can continue the conversation with your child. Seek engagement with your child, ask them genuine questions, have them paint, draw a picture, or act out the story, whatever makes them tick and helps them retain what they have learned. 

For your teenagers, ask them questions based on what we talked about in youth group, if they had any small group questions, or how they plan to apply what we talked about to their life. Email, text, or Facebook message me if you would like to know what we talked about or a copy of the small group questions. Pray with them over meals and talk to them about God over the dinner table. 

I want you to know that I write this to you as a parent and not perfect when it comes to this by any stretch of the imagination. I try but sometimes get "too busy," "tired," or "home too late" to do this with my children. Teaching them every day is something I fail at occasionally but will always continue striving to achieve because I know it is critical for me to take the time to engage my children and to raise them up for the Lord. 

God has given us that job as parents! Let me encourage you not to give up if you miss a day, but instead seek the Lord for His help in this area and talk to your children about God the next day. 

An Incredible Year

The year 2017 has been incredible for Circle Drive Students, and when I look back, I see how the Lord has been working in them. Please allow me to share some of these moments with you. 

new year.jpg

When youth group on Sunday Night's kicked off this school year, the youth group split into two different times. Middle School starts at 4:30 pm and ends at 6:00 pm. Sr. High begins at 6:30 and ends at 8:00 pm. We made this decision through much prayer, and the Lord has blessed the youth ministry. There have been many new faces for Middle School, and we have seen a few new faces in Sr. High. It has been great to see the Lord work in both groups! 

This Fall we hosted a few outreach events, with the purpose of allowing our students to invite friends. The main event that God's hand was in was Reverb. This was an all-night event full of fun packed activities, held in Binghamton and put on by Word of Life Ministries - All for the sake of sharing the Gospel with teenagers. During this time three of our teens accepted Jesus as their Savior and five of them dedicated their lives for Him to use!!! Please pray that they will continue to grow in their walk with Jesus. 

Youth group and all the activities that take place, could not have been done without the volunteers that we have each Sunday night or the chaperones that sacrificed a night of sleep to go to Reverb and the drivers that got up at 4 am to pick us up (on the first day of hunting no less!) And don't forget the parents/volunteers that helped with Black Light Dodgeball, and the Candy Fundraiser. Thank you for your time and for serving God by helping us out! Your heart for youth is evident, in a culture where teens are often overlooked and left to figure out life on their own as best they can. Adults who truly care can make all the difference in the world. 

Looking back over the course of the year and how the Lord has blessed this ministry gives me a desire to say, "My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together". (Psalm 34:2-3). 

Envision Cleveland - Short Term Youth Trip

This month I wanted to take some time to tell you about our mission trip to Cleveland, OH this summer. Megan and I along with Josiah VonBerg will be taking 10 students on a week-long adventure to the inner city of Cleveland. Did you know that there are over one hundred different languages spoken in Cleveland? Most people don't think of this city as being so diverse but it is one of the top 5 depositories for refugees in the country. There is a great need for Jesus in the city of Cleveland so our goal is to help in any way we can.

The C&MA makes it a priority to bring the gospel to the darkest places on the globe. A lot of times these nations are overseas in cities that have never heard of Jesus but sometimes they're within a day’s drive from us. The short term sending agency for the Alliance is called Envision and Cleveland is one of their many sites.

Envision Cleveland seeks to partner with local churches in the city to reach those that don't know Jesus. Some of the ministries we have an opportunity to take part in are refugee ministry, VBS, health clinics, sports camps, construction work, beautification, and urban gardening. Obviously we won't be able to do all of those in one week but as the weeks draw closer we will know more about what we'll be doing and how the students can use their gifts and talents to best serve the city and God.

We thank God that there are so many teens in our church that have a desire to look past themselves and help others. I think this trip will not only benefit the city of Cleveland but will have a huge impact on our students as well. Our prayer is that they take this experience and bring something back with them so they can serve their own communities. Safety is something that is often prayed for when traveling and we definitely want students to be safe but I would encourage you to pray not just for safety but for these kids to truly be willing to say "Yes" to Jesus.

Jesus said that "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? - Luke 9:3-25.

This past week during both worship services, you should have received a card reminding you to pray for an individual student who is going on the trip. I want to challenge you to put the card somewhere where you'll see it every day and it will remind you to pray. As much as we need prayer support many of these students still have some money left to raise so please consider how God may lead you to give.

It is our desire to not only bring students to Cleveland but to be able to meet a financial need while we're down there as well. Envision Cleveland has done a great job meeting needs in their community by giving out bicycles to refugees but they're discovering that some of these bikes are getting stolen. Envision Cleveland has asked us to consider raising an extra $1000 to pay for bike locks for these refugees. So please pray about how you can partner with us to reach this community in need 

Youth Ministry Semi-Annual Update

1 Timothy 4:12   "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."

This past year has been a year of discovery.  We've discovered the importance of discipleship in small groups.  We've discovered the value of student leadership.  Teens have discovered their spiritual gifts and talents.  When we hold high the charge to Timothy from Paul to let no one look down on us for our age we begin to see past age and into each student's core.  At each of our student's core is their faith, or what they believe to be true about God, people, and the world around them.  Many of our students have discovered what they believe and are now acting on it and defending it to those around them.

Wins:

We've had several ministry wins this year and we are constantly looking back and celebrating God for those things.  Our wins include our attendance reaching 26 students on a single night, our turnout for the Daddy Daughter Date Night with 65 dads and daughters sharing an awesome night together.   This summer has been one big win with the addition of three students to our student leadership team.  Our students planned everything this summer from the message and the worship, to the food and games.  Lastly we took eight students to the Bridge Community Center in Johnson City, NY to help lead a summer day camp for sixty inner city kids. 

Areas of Growth:

Although we had several wins we still have areas we would like to grow in.  We are still in need of more volunteers especially to be small group leaders.  We can always use more help in this area, we continue to get more students than we can handle, which is a good problem but still a problem.  We would like to see 4 more leaders by next year.  Another area we still need to grow in is our middle school ministry.  We have dedicated leaders for our high school students but we are in need of a couple more leaders to work with 6-8th grade students.  We would like to have 2 more leaders to work with middle school students by next year.  Lastly, we have many students that come out for our weekly programming that are not involved in Sunday morning services.  We would love to see 10 more students in church on Sunday mornings and for our church to be a place where students feel welcome and comfortable.

Thank you for your prayers and please continue to pray for us in the next year. 

Pastor Levi Owens