Thursday, September 09, 2010

Will You Stand?

Standing.  Those of us who are able do it hundreds of times a day.  When we were infants, it was new and exciting.  We would practice again and again.  Now it’s become a habit.  We sit and we stand without thinking - it’s no big deal.  For a while, it’s exciting again as we watch with bated breath our children and grandchildren explore with wonder what their bodies are able to do as they learn how to sit, stand, and walk.
There are children, however, who do not have parents to partake in the joy of learning these things with them.  There are children who grow up without any encouragement to explore the world around them, no congratulations when they learn something new, and who are viewed as more of a hassle than a gift.  When we encounter these children, once again we need to learn how to stand.
God stands on behalf of children who have been wronged by people who are supposed to love them no matter what.  We at Impact are thankful that one of the ways he does so is by allowing us to cross their paths.  The story of four brothers who showed up at Impact this last June are a perfect example.
With their father in jail, these four boys (ages 5-9) were already missing out on an important person in their life.  In the beginning of June, their mother brought them to Houston, dropped them off at grandma’s, and left without a word of when she would return for them.  The boys found themselves in a new city, with people they didn’t know, and not knowing whether they would ever see their mother again.
Their grandmother, an Impact member, signed them up for VBS.  They came to Impact scared of the unknown, rejected by their mother, but embraced by family desperate to show them love.  Over the next six weeks of VBS, they were smiled at, laughed with, hugged on, and loved more than they ever had been in their short lives.  They began the summer lonely, with big behavior problems, big eyes, and blank stares.  They ended the summer earning awards for exceptional behavior and service, with huge smiles, lots of giggles, and more friends than they’d ever had.  Above all, they learned through all those people that there is a God who will never leave them, never forsake them, who loves them so much that he gave up his only son so they could be with him, and will always stand on their behalf.  He will be there to rejoice with them when they learn something new, to cry with them when the world is unkind, and to encourage them towards a great and amazing life lived for him.
The mother of these four sweet boys has not returned.  No one knows where she is or if they will ever see her again.  The boys have found a new home, with people who love them and who are joyfully learning how to stand on their behalf.  Thank you for allowing God to use you to enable Impact to stand in the gap for those who are unable to stand alone!       
       -Dennis Jaeger
Impacting Our Health

Healthy Treasure, a Christian-Based bilingual health and wellness program. We will meet every Fridays beginning September 3, 2010 from 6pm-8pm. We just decided to make some changes due to concerns from current participants. We will have Bible Class for the first half hour, discuss nutrition and menu planning the second half hour and then we will focus on mental health dealing specifically with self-esteem (building) and motivation. We will add exercise at the beginning of the new year once we have helped the women understand the importance and benefits of exercise.        -Maria Arzu

A Second Opportunity

In February of this year we began a residential recovery program on our campus.  We began with six individuals.  Two completed the program and are now in After Care and housed on our campus.  Three who dropped out of the program are still utilizing our continuing services for the homeless.  Beginning Aug. 1, we added eight individuals to the program.  With the House Manager and an intern, we have ten in our small facility.
These men are older than the first group.  All express an intense desire to leave the life of addiction and grow closer to the Lord.  Of course you would say anything to get off the street and into housing and care.  But these men seem to be sincerely dedicated to recovery, but fearful about the whole process of recovery and becoming independent and self-supporting.  We will add a daily Twelve Step program that will be open to others interested in recovery.
We request your prayers for these men for the long process ahead of them.  We ask, also, that you pray for an opportunity to offer the same program to women in the near future.  That will mean acquiring more room for the men and having the women taking over the present facility.  We can do this…and we must. Please pray for them…and us as we plan for the future. 
-Doug Williams

In Feb. of 2009, several leaders of inner-city ministries across the nation met in St. Louis at Jim Harbin's request to feel the "state of the nation" in urban ministry within our brotherhood.  That was a great time of being together, again.  The Impact Church volunteered to host another conference in 2011.  We intend to keep that promise.  The dates are Feb. 25 and 26.
The theme will be (or something like this) "Impact at age 24: What we did right and what we did wrong."  We will overview our programs and offer time for question and answers.  Being onsite, you can visit each ministry and ministry leader(s).  We will also explore what happened to some of the ministries that have failed since 2005.  I hope you will plan now to attend and spread the word. -Doug Williams

There are  so many pictures and stories we didn’t get to share about what God did among  the young people at Impact, but know that  many lives were changed forever!

Learning a new language is much easier when a friend is there to help.  Daniel Arzu (above) helped his friend, Hector learn English just in time for his first taste of Texas schools.  (Below) Already back at SFA, Marilyn Flores made so many summer/lifetime buddies!

Bilingual Minister!  ..and a supporting congregation!

For 23 years a local congregation has supported our bi-lingual minister.  That began with Calvin Henry, to Ken Lewis to Steve Austin to Steven Wells who just left to do graduate work in St. Louis.  That congregation can no longer support this position.  Two candidates are scheduled to come seeking to fill that vacancy.  Both are fully aware of the financial shortfall we are experiencing.  Please pray that we can find suitable support to this very vital work.  Our rapidly growing Spanish-speaking outreach is one of our most important staff positions.
“How I Spent My Summer Internship...”
by Ezequiel Lopez

We have already reported on how 3 of Impact’s young men left to serve in other ministries for the summer.  Ezequiel Lopez was asked to report on his experiences:

“I was able to spend my summer in an urban area of Tulsa, Oklahoma working with Contact Church of Christ. While there I was able to work with youth, who lived in impoverished neighborhoods. I was able to go to camp with many of them at the beginning of the summer and get to know them by living, playing, and worshipping with them.  I also learned this summer that the best way to communicate with a teenager is by doing the things they like, which is play video-games. So we would do that with a couple of teens on Friday, just to hang out and relax.

Another thing that I was able to do and learn from this summer was Contact Bible Club (CBC), which is similar to Impact’s Vacation bible school. We would go every Tuesday and Thursday to one apartment complex and go knock on doors, find some kids and bring them to the Recreation Center. Inside they would have government snacks ready for them before we started. We would start by singing (led by me), Skits (led by Kayla Bilby and performed by our Contact youth kids), crafts (led by Kaytie Jo Stinson), then “Ticket Time” (led by me!)  This is the part where the kids are allowed to be as noisy and as crazy as they can be just for a piece of gum.

This summer has been, hands down, one of the best summer’s I have ever had. I was able to fellowship not only with the adults of the church, but also with the teens and the youth. Thanks to all of those who were able to make this summer possible, either financially or through prayer. I had a life-changing experience, thanks to God and to the support of many friends.”

Still dripping from her recent baptism, this TSU student, Ameena is not just pursuing higher education but her Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is just so much to celebrate!