Saturday, December 29, 2007

Caroling in the City

Yes, Christmas is over, but there is so much to report! So much happened at Impact during December to warm hearts and encourage people. Of course, the Christmas party brought joy to many children, but the collaboration of volunteers from various churches not only encourages us and those served, but plants seeds of ministry in the young and old alike. The effects of these efforts may never be fully tallied. Let me list a few more highlights from December.

The TOY DRIVES!!! Churches from all over Houston contributed to making the holidays happier by making it possible for families to provide gifts for their little ones and each other. Several churches, like Kingwood for example, committed to go Christmas shopping for over 100 families, then had those gifts sent to Impact to be distributed family by family. Bags of presents were labeled by family. Each family member that applied to receive something gave their name, gender, age, and sometimes a specific wish or need. Many wishes were granted and gift cards were often provided to help in other areas. Other churches and individuals help hundreds more families by sending in new toys to the Impact distribution center.

Christmas parties were held here and there. Various members got together in big groups and small. The Impact staff even had a gift exchange at the office, following their monthly birthday celebration.

I, personally, love to go caroling, but not alone. I was blessed to have the Miller family be willing to hit a few homes with me, so off we went to sing to friends and strangers in Fifth Ward. Apparently, judging by the reaction of the folks who witnessed this group of troubadors, caroling is not that common in their neighborhoods. We got a lot of strange looks, curious onlookers, but mostly appreciation for stopping by to sing. Several families were Hispanic, and although not everyone understood the lyrics, the sentiment was obvious, and thus reciprocated. I have to include my personal gratitude to the Miller family, who not only showed up to carol and croon, but who chose a repetoire of choruses, but arranged and practice each choice to make the presentation an extra special treat for their audiences. We visited a family who recently lost a house to a fire, a young teen who has been in and out of the hospital for months now, a family of 8 who are fitting into a tiny house, and several other members who we thought could use an extra dose of cheer. One apartment complex was especially touched by the tiny concert. Although we were unsure how we would be recieved by all, we knew the person we were there to see would be thrilled. Our friend Darrell not only came out all smiles, but he joined in and commenced to direct us, making us an even greater spectacle. Sure, many came out wondering what in the world was going on. Little by little a crowd gathered. Curiosity turned into joy as more and more joined in and some shouted out requests. It was an evening of blessing, at least for me.

Outside of toy drives, parties, caroling, and shopping for others, Impact was also able to continue serving as usual, and was even able to arrange a special Christmas meal or two for the homeless, in addition to the normal routine. These activites make momentary differences, but as I mentioned earlier, we never know the extent of a single action. By continuing to do the things that serve others whenever we can, we develop habits, character, friendships, opportunites, and gifts that God can continue to use in whatever way He desires. We celebrate all such activities, because they celebrate our Lord. A belayed "Merry Christmas," and a "Happy New Year" to you!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Impact Christmas Party '07

Although our amazing Christmas party is an annual event, it continues to develop, it continues to involve a variety of local church groups, and it continues to enchant and bless so many children in the downtown Houston neighborhoods. Sure there are sweets, toys, games, songs, and a time with Santa, but the greatest thing they receive is special attention and love. Thanks to all the volunteers and supporters who made this possible, and thank God that events like these continue to reach families and touch the hearts of so many. People are moved, and Christ is the reason.

2007 in Review
As people could say about other times, 2007 was a year full of joy and things to celebrate, but also a time of desperation and loss. We would like to mention some of the things that help define and paint the picture of what these last twelve months were like for Impact Houston.
Many of you joined us last year to pray for Maria Mendez, a young girl who needed and later received a quadruple transplant surgery. We celebrated with her as the operation was a success. She could now eat solid food for the first time in her 16th year. Complications arose more than once, but the family and our congregation were faithful in their prayers. Recently her sister, Clara Escobar gave me the picture above showing her on her own without machines or equipment, and growing into a beautiful young lady

For Paul Woodward and many others, a highlight of the year was "the baptism of Flora and Linda Garcia. Beside the obvious reason, this was an especially exciting highlight because I believe that Flora and Linda falling in love with Jesus was directly related to theirthe body of Christ lovingly serve their terminally illfamily memberBarbara Garcia. Over and over and over again God's people at Impact quietly, lovingly, creatively, andserved Barbara in her last years, months, weeks, days, and even herhours. When the church behaves like the body of Christ great things happen."

At the beginning of November, four families were displaced by a devastating fire on Summer Street. No one was injured and many individuals and organizations were on-hand to help, but almost everything they had was lost. Keep praying for Sandra Perez and her family, and Imelda Saldana’s family. These houses had a history with Impact mission groups. (Many churches and organizations have blessed these families with so much help, thanks to newspaper articles, tv interviews, and efforts from Impact. Thanks to all who lent a hand.)

The revitalization of area surrounding our facilities has been going on for a few years, but 2007 has seen some drastic changes. Old houses are being torn down and town homes are going up, right up to our doorsteps it seems. Businesses like Target, Chilis, Starbucks, and a few banks have magically appeared only seconds from the campus! New growth brings new prospects. Pray that our plans are ever mindful of ALL our surroundings and neighbors.
Jack Weems has been busy himself at helping where our buildings need attention. New lighting and some landscaping has made our entrances safer and more appealing. If you can stop Jack long enough, thank him for his constant efforts.
With every new year, life is evidenced by new visitors, new brothers and sisters in Christ, babies being born and all the excitement brought by each. However, with life comes death, and Impact has experienced some losses. Among those who have left us are Robert Taylor, Michael Broussard (pictured on the left), Barbara Garcia, and the firstborn of Juana Monjarres.
I’m sure if I asked around, there would be so many notable moments that we could fill a book. Annual Events like the Garage Sale, Seasonal Parties for children, the Celebration Dinner, VBS, and supply/gift roundups continue to see success and bring blessings to so many. The groups that come and give their time to Impact leave lasting impressions and we continue to see fruits of those efforts. For example, Jenaro Thibideaux shared his conversion story at thecelebration dinner. "JT" made a moving speech about his first encounter with Impact and then talked about his journey toward Jesus, which culminated in his dedicating his life to being a Jesus follower. Joy upon joy "JT" will graduate on December 15 from San Angelo State University, which is an amazing accomplishment, considering some of the obstacles he's had to overcome.
Making a difference in each others’ lives is the focus of all our parties, programs, celebrations, and projects, and we only hope to do more and more. Discipleship programs, meeting in house churches and small groups, and making plans for training more and more leaders are other efforts that Impact has seen grow this year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kitchen Staff Stands the Heat

When our building was being renovated, it was important that space be allowed for a sizable kitchen because of the importance of food in our ministries. We did so well that the City of Houston deemed our kitchen as "Commercial," meaning that we have to adhere to applicable City and State codes dealing with the handling and storage of food. We have also hoped that we might someday have a full-time staff person in the kitchen. A combination of part-time and volunteer staff mean that we do, indeed, have full-time coverage of our kitchen. Felton Benton and Daryl Washington are Certified Food Managers by the City of Houston. Winston Bridges and Patrick Lavelle handle cleaning, preparation, and serving responsibilities. Thousands of meals are prepared in our kitchen each year. As we approach the Holiday Season, we are preparing for large Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to be served to the homeless and residents of facilities that house disabled clients, many of whom attend Impact.
-Doug Williams

"A generous man will find himself blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." Proverbs 22:9 NIV

top: Taking charge of the kitchen are faithful volunteers Felton Benton, Patrick Lavelle, Daryl Washington, and Winston Bridges.

middle: Taking care of the Outdoorsmen every Monday and Wednesday, Winston Bridges (a veteran circus worker) juggles foord prep, fielding requests, and keeping the peace. His heart for serving Christ shines through.

Right: Showing appreciation for the services the receive, many of the regulars, like Ricky and Fred here, love to volunteer for daily chores as they wait for the afternoon Bible study.

Dear Friends –
Impact is into its 21st wonderful year. And now, as always, we are indebted to you. Your gifts of all kinds – time, energy, money – make real what was once a dream. You make it possible for the Impact family to thrive and grow.
I think it’s a good idea to do as little record-keeping as possible in measuring the success of our work in the kingdom of God. We should celebrate at all times, even the discouraging ones, knowing that God is in all things, recognizing that sometimes what we judge to be success may in fact be failure and what we think has failed God uses to do his will.
But maybe we can be forgiven if we especially rejoice in the fact that 18 Impact young adults are attending universities. EIGHTEEN!! Each of them has worked to get the opportunity that we believe will transform in positive ways both them and Impact. To know them, to know the neighborhoods from which they come, to realize what they’ve already accomplished is to be optimistic about the future. To put them and the fact that they’re going to college into a word is to say "Wonderful!" Sometimes I want to shout "Wonderful!" for the world to hear. Other times I want to whisper it quietly to myself.
Adding to the wonder is the realization that their accomplishments are theirs, but that they are under girded by others, including you. In most cases I’m not at all sure they’d have gotten to where they are without Impact. And I certainly don’t believe Impact would be what it is without you.
We write a letter like this annually, asking you to help with the year end contribution which is so important to us. Please know that our gratitude is real and deeply felt. Do what you can.
Through Christ,
Charlie Middlebrook

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fire displaces families

Last week 4 families were displaced by a fire about 4 blocks from Impact's campus. Two of those families have attended Impact for years and many of the children have grown up going to Impact's VBS, fall festivals, and Christmas parties, etc. At least one of these houses had been painted by past mission groups.

Little George gives an interview on the following link describing his eye-witness account. His big sister, Alejandra is in the picture above.

Sandra Perez, the mother of 7, and all of the other families could still use some help. If anyone would like to help, just call the church office at 713-864-5667.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

(an excerpt from "Urban Wisdom")
Be careful that nobody tries to move you from your faith to the fear factor.
Protect your soul if you are often feeling like you’re in drowning waters of tears.
Don’t let anybody put you through storm and stress by trying to pull you down or drag you through confusion.
Know that Jesus is our life preserver when we give Him a deep cry for assistance during our storm.
So rest assure He’ll give you sophisticated comfort from trouble and doubt.
Don’t let anybody put you through storm and stress if it seem like we are going astray.
Stand in Christ as we count the ultimate sacrifice that can lead us into something prosperous.
Because we shall rise above our trauma with triumph and you’ll see or find that the presence of prayer is the most incredible powerful tool we can use.
Get perseverance if you’re going to make it through. Engage in spiritual combat to conquer anything through your storm. Have a realistic hope and you’ll never fail. Prosper spiritually as God becomes a great counselor when difficult situations arise.
Don’t grow weary if your road is hard to find. Know you can always come to smoother roads with a special relationship with the Lord.
Don’t let anybody put you through storm and stress over things that are not in your situation.
Just pay attention to the Lord to reach above your madness while trusting in your faith.
Know that God is so captivating He’ll never forsake us through our storm. But if times are hard have a valid spirit in the footsteps of faith Amen.
Pray your way through every kind of danger to have a strong foundation that’s suitable for any situation.
Don’t let anybody put you through storm and stress. Just pursue and plug into what is good.

Copyright 2003
ZOE conference!

Last weekend, Impact took its second group to a ZOE conference. This time it was in Nashville. Patrick Lemmons and Laurie Templeton took a completely new group this time allowing for more of our members to experience the ZOE experience. Unfortunately, there are no real ZOE photos, but notice that this group included four from our youth group who are very involved in worship planning and "worship technology." The group had a great time together, and came back excited about the things that they learned.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just Being Together

Not too long ago, the Hispanic part of the congregation hosted a get together at a park. Nothing big, just burgers, families, some playing soccer, some moms just walking around following their toddlers, others just hanging back chatting at the picnic tables, breeze blowing, storm blowing in.

There was no special event. Just families and friends together. We don't get enough of that it seems. No matter who we are. And you know what? The more we do that, the more we realize how great it is. We are just itching to be community. Enjoy the pics, and -hey, why not throw a party and invite someone (me) over?
Oh, here's an "aside." Yes, the rains came, right in the middle of cooking burgers and playing soccer. Not much changed. We covered up the grills, huddled a bit closer under the large pavillion, the rains were stomping down, but only ONE soccer player came in from the deluge, and HE had been playing in slacks and dress shoes. After 7 minutes or so the storm let up to a drizzle and we got back to grilling and eating. It was a truly laid back afternoon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Living His Word
by Dennis Jaeger

Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34 -35). I am, at the same time, both proud and humbled to be surrounded by true “disciples.”
Impact’s High School Youth once again ended their summer with a journey to Tulsa , OK , where we conducted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children at two different apartment complexes. What I had the opportunity to witness, though I should have expected it, blew me away. It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and talk about love, community, and reaching out to others, but it’s an entirely different story to actually put it into practice, especially when it goes against the deeply rooted, selfish culture we find ourselves living in.
Before and during Mission Trip, we often discussed our attitudes when we were with the children at the apartment complexes. We were going to get plenty of sleep so we could devote our time and energy to the children we came to Tulsa to see. We were going to be full of smiles, laughter, hugs, songs, patience, shoulders and laps to sit on – we were going to make absolutely certain that these children knew what it was like to be loved by Christ through our interaction with them. The increased numbers throughout the week, the smiles, the hugs, the laughter, and the tears when we were done all said one thing: “ Mission accomplished.”
This did not surprise me. Our youth have grown up being part of a several week VBS every summer run by 25 summer interns and 4 different youth groups each week, and about 15 of our youth intern with VBS each summer – they know how to run a VBS! What surprised me about the trip was how much our youth have grown in their love toward each other.
I should have recognized their growth, but it took Erick Delgado, one of our youth, leading a devotional one night on Mission Trip to point this out to me. He eloquently stated that he not only saw Christ through the way we reached out to the children, but also through the way we were treating each other. He was right. I have never been part of a group who is more encouraging to each other than this one. When we were tired and worn out, there were encouraging words, waters distributed, hands lent and shoulder massages given. When there were several people one night dealing with the horrors of their past, tears were shed, prayers were said, and encouraging hugs (more than any words could say) and shoulders were given freely. I could go on and on at the selfless hearts I saw at work that week and throughout the whole summer. God is moving among our youth, and he will continue to move through them as the school year begins and they continue what they’ve been doing in their homes and schools. May hearts continue to change and God continue to be praised because of these “disciples.”

Friday, August 17, 2007

In Loving Memory of Barbara Garcia

Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

For more about Barbara and "her" amazing story:

ForDonations in Memory of Barbaraand/orDonations for Noe (Barbara's Son) Trust/Education Fund, (please contact Charlie Middlebrook, Paul Woodward, or Sonya Guice)(or simply donate online)

Thank you for your gift.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Felicidades al Equipo Impact!

En su primero juego de futbol de la temporada, Impact vencio a Alvin, 9-1. HAy muchas iglesias entre las iglesias de Cristo Hispano que han formado una ligera para disfrutar un tiempo asi con sus hermanos diferentes en Cristo, y para conocer y invitar mas personas y amigos. Ya tenemos bastante interes en jugar entre los miembros de la iglesia y unos de sus amigos. Esperamos que el tiempo que tenemos juntos producira mucho fruto. Gracias a todos quien ayudo' con los uniformes, y a todos que nos apoyan en otras maneras. (Nuestras porristas espirituales) Que Dios sigue en guiarnos en este ministerio tan divertido.

-todo a Su gloria,


Congratulations to Team Impact!

In their first soccer game of the season, Impact beat Alvin, 9-1. There are many churches among the area Hispanic churches of Christ that have formed a league for enjoying a time like this with their different brothers in Christ, as well as getting to know and invite more people and friends. We hope that the time that we have together will produce a lot of fruit. Thanks to all who helped with the uniforms, and to all who support us in other ways. (Our spiritual cheeleaders!) May God continue to this wonderfully fun ministry.

-all for His glory,


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

the following are a couple of newsletter articles about our Summer activities:

The Hot, humid summer days at our campus in downtown Houston are a rollercoaster ride of fun and service. What goes on at Impact during the Summer is credited to God, but we also are thankful for and indebted to the many volunteers and servants who come to combine their efforts in making our Summer Youth Program fantastic! About 15 college students arrived from various universities to spend the summer as interns. Many are from Christian universities, like ACU, Harding, LCU, and OC, while some others came in from OSU and even from so far away as Canada. But the collaboration does not stop there. Helpers came in June to take kids on trips, assist in this Summer’s Reading Camp, and provide extra hands for special activities as various church groups are there to bear the load of activity. 20-30 High school interns from Impact join the other interns to man the myriad of activities that is VBS 1 and VBS 2. Groups also came to camp out on campus as they lent their groups and various talents to us. Churches and ministries descended upon us from Oklahoma to Kentucky and from Kansas to Alabama, each bringing their own special blend of blessing and talent. Some of these groups have been coming down for years. Others are new supporters, like one group who just happened across our webpage this year, became interested in us, and organized a large group of kids to drive in from Missouri to serve in this area. We received so much help from these efforts (close to 400 volunteers in all), but we have also learned that they take something with them when they leave. They grow in their passion for ministry to others, they dream of more ways to care for their cities, and new works and servants of the Lord develop from what was experienced during a hot sweaty summer. Please pray that what happens at Impact does NOT stay at Impact. Pray that the effects of this summer extend to many more people in many more places. God is faithful and He will do it. Our schedule is crowded and so will be our building and facilities, but don’t let that keep you from stopping by. There is always room for YOU at Impact!

..........As we think of Summer, things like baseball, camps, cook-outs, and fun in the sun come to mind. Here at Impact, we wrapped all that up in God’s love.
Monday, June 4, was in many ways our first official day of summer, and as first days usually are it was pretty hectic. The youth group from Conroe Church of Christ arrived in the morning to pick up thirty of our elementary children and take them to Gulf Coast Christian Camp to spend a week at camp together. Impact’s middle school youth group, led by our middle school minister Wes Fikes and several of his interns, loaded up an Impact bus to head to Galveston for their summer kick-off. And later in the afternoon our VBS directors and I, along with a visiting youth group from – in Amarillo, went to the Irvington Village apartments, where many of our kids come from, and picked up a busload of kids (and I do mean busload) and took them to play at the park, an event we used to help finish signing kids up for our upcoming VBS and Reading Camps. And all of this was happening while our high school youth group was hiking in the mountains of Colorado on Wilderness Trek.
All of this activity (and the God-breathed impact this activity has on the hearts of His children) takes lots of resources, including financial ones. Many of you been great supporters and partners of God’s work in Houston in the past, and we hope and pray that partnership can continue.

Walking Where Jesus Walked

After many years of dreaming about going to Israel, my dream became a reality in June of 2007. It was so difficult to even imagine that when we were descending from the plane I had to ask my wife to pinch me so I could know that I wasn’t dreaming.

Israel is a beautiful country and the people are very friendly, and what made me feel even more comfortable was going with 16 brothers, going with the same objective and spiritual focus. We took the opportunities to pray, sing, and have devotionals in the same places that Christ prayed. On the Mount of Olives, we listened to the Word of God as presented by our brother Steve Austin at the same spot where the Apostle Peter gave his first sermon. All the places we visited just kept filling us with more and more excitement, from getting to know the city of Jerusalem, to visiting places we knew from the Old and New Testament, and passing through places where Jesus walked when he was here among us. We were nonetheless thrilled to tour the area of Galilee, crossing the sea in a boat similar to the ones the disciples of Jesús used for fishing. We went to the Jordan River to a place called Yardenit where it is believed that Jesus was baptized. All in all we visited 60 official sites. Our main objective as TGCBI students, I believe was accomplished as with all the photos that we took and the information we absorbed gave us more confidence and inspiration to preach and give classes.

I could spend hours and hours detailing all the different locations, but my main hope here is to give endless thanks to those who helped make this dream possible: Steve Austin, the team at Impact, especially my fellow elders, all my brothers and sisters. Thank you for your prayers. They took us, carried us, and brought us back. May God bless you. –your brother Dimas Velazquez

Después de muchos años soñando, en ir a Israel, finalmente en
Junio del 2007, mi sueño se hizo realidad, era difícil pensar incluso entando haya, que no estaba soñando y al bajarme del avión le pedí a mi esposa que me diera un pellizco, para darme cuenta que no estaba soñando.
Israel es un país hermoso y la gente muy amable, y lo que hizo sentirme mas cómodo es ir con los 16 hermanos, que íbamos con el mismo objetivo y la misma espiritualidad, tuvimos la oportunidad de orar, cantar, hacer devocionales en los lugares en que Cristo oró, como en el huerto de los Olivos, escuchar la palabra de Dios, desde el lugar donde el apóstol Pedro dio su primer discurso, predicada por nuestro hermano Esteban Austin.
Todos los lugares que vistamos, nos llenaban de mucha emoción unos mas que otros, como el conocer la ciudad de Jerusalén, conocer los lugares que tuvieron que ver con el Antiguo y Nuevo Testamento, sobre todos los lugares que tuvieron que ver con Nuestro Señor Jesús cuando el estuvo entre nosotros. No menos emocionante fue ir al área de Galilea cruzar su mar en unas de las barcas parecida a la que usaron los discípulos de Jesús para pescar, el rio jordán el lugar conocido Yardenit en donde se cree, que Jesús fue bautizado. Y muchos otros lugares que visitamos que oficialmente fueron 60.
La meta más importante por la que fuimos, como alumno del TGCBI, yo creo que se cumplió al cien por ciento, fotografías y mirar los lugares desde el lugar de los hechos nos da mas confianza al predicar y dar clases.
Yo podría pasar horas y horas detallando cada uno de los lugares, pero mi objetivo principal en esta ocasión, es de agradecer de manera infinita a los que hicieron posible mi sueño, al hermano Estaban Austin, a la administración de mi congregación IMPACT, especialmente a mis compañeros ancianos, a todos mis hermanos, que gracias a sus oraciones fuimos y regresamos con bien.
Hispanic Family night was a great success as far as numbers of new families go. Many parents of children who are planning to attend VBS were able to learn more about the Summer program, learn about Impact, and meet many members. Tacos were served, workers were serving and mingling, parents were reminded of how seeds planted in the hearts of their children now could bear incredible fruit for God in the future. A salsa contest, actually a hot sauce recipe contest, rounded out the evening affairs in a memorable way.
All Aboard for Impact's Reading Camp!
Chevone McKinney came to Impact with a dream. That dream was shared by some others who were willing to support that dream. Thus, the Lit Up Reading program was begun at Impact, helping kids learn to enjoy reading. Below is a recent report on this summer's activities.

"Chug-a Chug-a Chug-a Choo- Choo," could be heard throughout Impact's Educational building during the last two weeks of June as Impact had it's first ever All Aboard the Reading Express Reading Camp. This reading camp was specifically designed for kindergartners through second graders to be entertained and enchanted by the world of literature. This camp was an interactive treat for children to use all of their five senses as their love of books was brought to life by the incoming church groups. Each day thirty children arrived to the train depot station as they began their experience by singing church songs, being hugged and loved by big buddies, and were informed of the day's activity by the train conductor. Impact's Summer Interns lead the opening and closing ceremonies and actively participated in the train route activities. Children were exposed the world of Dr.Seuss's, the world of author Mo Williams, and the world of Curious George. Each Thursday the children went on field trips that complimented their experience during the week which were: The Houston Children's Museum and The Houston Zoo. We thank BYKOTA and Crossroads Church for enriching our children's lives through literacy and opening Impact's children hearts to the world of books. Impact had such a great time exploring the world of books and cannot wait for Reading Camp Next Year. If your church group would like to come and participate, please contact Impact's Children's Literacy Ministry, at 713-426-6593. -Chevone

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Miles of Smiles!

VBS is in its second week, but our Summer has been saturated by activities for youth and family. Kids get the greatest amount of attention during the summer, as has been characteristic of Impact from the beginning. So many groups have already come to minister at Impact and will be coming through the end of July. Look forward to more pictures and articles, but lets start with a few shots from the kick-off events from mid to late June where parents were invited to learn more about the summer program and for some get to know Impact. Here are some smiles from the Family Nights at Impact.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Interns are In!

Our interns have arrived from all over to help make sure the kids of Impact and our neighborhood have a great summer. Here is a list of who came to join in the fun:

Directors: Gabby Arevalo, Chevone McKinney, Jessica Coleman, and Ashely Cooks
High School Interns: Sandra Chavez, Brittney Cooks, Benny Dixon, Deena Jones, Ricardo Manjarrez, Mariah Mijares, Geremy Varner, Marilyn Flores, Edgar Gallegos, Richard Guice, Ezequiel Lopez, Da’Meshia Lynch, RayRay O’Neal, Gerald Varner,Ben Glover, Sheena Jones

College-Age Interns: Deborah Arango – Houston, TX (Literacy Program Assistant),
Lluvia Flores- Houston, TX, Kyle Gredt – Vancouver, BC, Canada, Hannah Guice – Houston, TX, Ebony Tolder – Houston, TX, Clayton Humphrey – Houston TX, Gerald Davis – Marietta, GA, Randall Gabriel – Houston, TX, Taylor Gabriel – Houston, TX, Sid Gutierrez – Snyder, TX, Angel Howard – Houston, TX, Megan McCormick – Snyder, TX, Sarah McSpadden – Weatherford, OK, Erin Newberry – Oklahoma City, OK, Andrea Tharp – Mesquite, TX

Adult Interns: Maria Arzu- Houston, TX, Laura Hamilton – Houston, TX, Derrick Fletcher –Houston, TX, Luke Boyd – Tipton, OK, Zach Hilburn – Houston, TX Chanthavy Chanhnouvong – Ft. Smith, AR, Loren Moore – Houston, TX
Summit Surrendered to Snow

This year's Trek group may have seemed small, but they were big on skills and heart. The group met their challenges, and even when an anticipated challenge was taken away they faced the potential disappointment with snowball fights and enjoyable campfires.

Thanks for all who gave or sponsored this trip. The summit may not have been reached, but the purpose was accomplished.
Celebrating a Commencement

As many people came in from all over to celebrate Impact's completing 20 years in downtown Houston, a small portion of our body was having an extra special celebration of their own. The Impact Kindergarten class of 2007 experienced the pomp and circumstance of passage, in an event organized by their teachers designed to bless and honor these students as they head into Elementary school. Abigail Arango, Rocio Saldana, and Aracely Velazquez have been with this group of youngsters, watching them grow and learn and face challenges. This past Sunday they also lifted them up by guiding them through a commencement program of songs, special words, the handing out of diplomas, and the opportunity to wear funny hats. The kids had a great time and were made to feel very special. It was a great blessing for them and their families who witnessed the love poured out to them.

Impact Reunion!
Thanks to all who came and made it such a special time!
(More pics and an article to come.)

First Colony Hits a Home Run at Impact!

What better way to kick off the Summer than going to a baseball game! First Colony is #1 in our eyes as Impact was blesses with hundreds of tickets to see the Astros take on the CArdinals at the end of May. The night before, the 'Stros ended a near-record losing streak by gaining a victory against St. Louis. Impact fans got to ride the wave of excitement as Houston produced a strong and exciting 8-3 win over the visiting team. NOt only was it a blessing to watch the home team stomp the opposition, but to have a section full of Christian families bringing their friends and family and reveling in the excitement of a great national past time was like eating a fresh slice of warm apple pie topped with a huge scoop of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Ok, I have to say that it was just extra special for me. I got to see so many Impact kids and Hispanic families come out and really enjoy their time. Thank you God and thank you First Colony. But even more special, I got to bring my son to his first ball game. It was just wonderful pointing things out, explaining things, and seeing him get excited about the things he was discovering and noticing. The game became alive. Well, on that particular day, I was also blessed to have my brother and sister-in-law, another couple from Brazil, and two
Hispanic youth. This was their very first baseball game as well. As soon as we stepped into Minute Maid Park, Claudio remarked how it was just like being in a movie. Imagine your first experience like this: the immense park, tons of people moving smoothly along on escalators, the billboard entertainment and statistics, the hot dogs and chili fries and fresh roasted peanuts, the wave, the sound effects, the "TAke Me Out to the Ball Game," the wonderment of the 7th inning stretch, and of course, the players and the beauty of the game! Watching all of these people discover and fall in love with something new made the experience that much more satisfying for me.

Imagine, also, what it was like, and could be for others, the first time that God really opens our eyes to His love and the great blessings that await us in a new life in Christ. The newness is incredible, but the great thing about this walk with God is that as we keep participating in His work, we appreciate more and more what He is doing. What was once an exciting new thing, only continues to be better and better. Lord, take me out to the "ball game."

Again, many thanks to First Colony for buying an entire section of the park and permitting a great opportunity for many people. Sure, its just a ball game, but you never know how a simple moment can make an large Impact on someone's life.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This week, as we have done for a number of years, Impact will take a group of High School students from inner-city Houston out to the wilderness of Colorado to hike, repel, and reach the summit of a mountain as a group. Below is a speech given by one of last year's group and a recent Impact graduate, Edgar Gallegos, at a Fundraising Dinner this Spring:

Wilderness Trek was one of the most wonderful experiences I had the opportunity to be a part of my life. Getting to do something such as climbing a 14,000 ft mountain with our church’s youth group is something you don’t do everyday. Trek is a good way to see God’s world in a different view than were used to. It’s an opportunity to look at life in a different prospective and to see what he made for us to enjoy and call home.

During this trip the Lord taught our youth group many things. He helped us work together as one to reach our goal, which was making it to the summit of the mountain. All the time that we spent on the mountain God taught us the most important thing you needed on the trip; which was patience. During the climb patience was the last thing we had with our guides and ourselves. They would tell us “keep on walking, we are almost there” but we would just get mad at them and stop to take our own little breaks. The reason we couldn’t take lots of breaks was because we had only a certain amount of sunlight and we needed to get to our campsite so we could set up our tent in with light instead of in the dark. After the whole day of fussing and wishing that we have never should of gone, we took the time to actually think about what we had accomplished in reaching the summit and enjoy ourselves on top of a mountain were we’ve never been before. God helped us reach the mentality that with His awesome power we could do anything as one.

Going to Colorado and getting to climb a mountain is a once in a lifetime opportunity. This trip alone has made me realize that nothing is impossible and experiences like this one made me grow into stronger Christian. In this trip, I was one of the two leaders to help encourage every one to give it all they had and to make sure no one was left behind. Even though the whole group, including myself thought the goal of making it to the top of the mountain was unachievable we kept on encouraging each other to do our best and to keep on going. Seeing everyone helping out each other made me realize that everyone was a leader in some way. The trip also made me feel more comfortable being with the group. I have been in the youth group through my four years in high school and this trip made me feel more confident with myself and being with the group. Before this trip I felt left out from the group, I felt like I was not wanted but this experience made realize that were all in this together and what life throws us at us we have to challenge it together as a family.

The point of the whole trip is to show our youth group that with faith and with a lot of patience we could do what seems impossible like climbing a 14,000 ft mountain in 3 days. This experience has made our youth group become intact with each other. Wilderness Trek is a perfect opportunity to prepare you for real life. It also shows you that with the Lord by your side, anything is possible.

~ Edgar Gallegos

This past Sunday, Impact celebrated its graduating Seniors. Just growing up downtown is hard, staying in school becomes an acheivment, and still participating in church activities makes this group all the more special. We thank God for these young people. We celebrate this milestone with them. We pray the best of God's blessings for their future.

The graduates:

Jose Alejandro Arevalo

Taylor Blizzard

Sandra Chavez

Edgar Gallegos

Benjamin Glover

Deena Jones

Sheena Jones

Leland Rose

Diana Saldana

Priscilla Saucillo

Michelle Saucillo

Don Victoria

Congratulations Seniors '07!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Barbara Garcia meets with Governor Perry

Impact member and cancer victim, Barbara Garcia recently met with Gov. Perry at the state capitol to show her support for his HPV order. Follow the link to view the video:

excerpt from press conference: "The cost of providing this vaccine to eligible young women through the Vaccines for Children program and Medicaid is less than $13 million in general revenue each year, while the cost of treating HPV-related cervical diseases is $173 million in direct medical costs each year.
I am also mystified by the argument that making this vaccine widely available encourages promiscuity, especially from legislators who voted for a needle exchange program that encourages drug addicts to continue to abuse illegal drugs...... And it is the tone of this debate that has disturbed me most. The notion of forgiveness and grace has been totally lost in this debate. People make wrong choices. Our society is full of such individuals who have found redemption from past mistakes......
And this is not some arcane policy debate. We're talking about real lives. Lives like Barbara Garcia, whose battle with cervical cancer now confines her to a wheelchair. She won't live to see her 9 year old son one day graduate from high school…or ask his sweetheart to marry him. Barbara, thank you for being here today. That's what this is about my fellow Texans, ensuring that other women don't have to face the same suffering."