Baby Basics – Family Snapshot Stories

Jacob began receiving diapers when he was nine months old. He lives with his young father and grandparents. His father works at a restaurant during the day while his grandmother babysits Jacob and his little cousin. (His grandmother is usually the one who picks up diapers at our once-a-month distributions.)  His grandmother works a swing shift so Jacob spends evenings with his father and grandfather. His father hopes to attend college or a trade school part-time. The family heard about Baby Basics through Hopelink.

Kyle was a newborn when he entered the Baby Basics program. We’ve had fun watching him grow from a tiny baby to a healthy toddler. His single mother works full-time at a local retail business to support Kyle and two school-aged children. Friends, relatives and part-time daycare provide childcare for Kyle. His family heard about the program through the School District’s Family Connection Counselors.

Edwin’s mom was referred to Baby Basics through a School District’s Family Connection Counselor where his sister attends. They were on the wait list for almost six months in 2016. They received one-time emergency diapers during that time and were given contact info for other community resources. When Edwin was eight months old, there was an open spot in the program. Edwin’s father works two jobs: one for a large local athletic club and the other for a cleaning company. When Edwin is a little older, his mother plans to work again. He is a sweet, shy little guy and loves his mom and sister.

Gwen entered the Baby Basics program when she was a year old. Her mom is still in high school and they live with Gwen’s grandparents who are hardworking and low-income. Gwen is a happy, healthy toddler.  Her mom is struggling to finish high school and will not graduate with her class. She works part-time at a fast food restaurant while attending school and parenting her little girl. She dropped out of high school at one point and may not now be attending. They were referred by a family member who knew about the program from Jubilee Reach.

One of the newest babies in our program, Anna, is four months old. Her parents learned about Baby Basics from the Family Connections Counselor at her brother’s school. Her father works full time for a local landscaping service. Anna’s mom does not work outside the home now and plans to work again as a housecleaner when her children are a little older.

These families all live, work and go to school in Bellevue while some other families we serve only work in Bellevue or go to school in Bellevue. Most live near Crossroads Mall. We have had a student from Eastside Academy and currently, we have several teen moms. Their stories show their lives to be challenging with minimum wage jobs, low education and living with extended family in small apartments. Generally, the families in the Baby Basics program are hopeful and want their children to have an education, more job opportunities than is available for them and a better future for their families. It is a privilege to get to know them and to watch their babies grow. They are all very grateful and sometimes embarrassed that they need help. Homelessness is very real to most of the families in the program.  Some have experienced homelessness and some have avoided it by living with extended family in crowded conditions.

“Love Where You Are” by donating diapers to build healthy families. Diapers 4, 5, and 6 are especially needed. Drop off diapers at playpens in lobbies on Mother’s Day or BelPres office.

Jesus For All

She sat across the table from me, her young sons flanking her, one on her left and one on her right. Seven days earlier they had given everything they had left to a man in Turkey to take them to Athens. The journey took them through the forest, along a muddy path by the river, evading fences, wild animals and border guards. They traveled at night and hid during the day. On the fourth day, they ran out of food. On the seventh day, they arrived in Athens, cold, wet, dirty, hungry and with no possessions. She had no one to turn to for help and no place to go. But then someone told her about a church, which was helping refugees, so she went there. They welcomed her and found her a place to stay in an old unheated building. Now she was sitting across from me to receive a free meal. I, along with a small team from

Seattle, had come to serve her and the nearly one hundred other refugees who were there that day. As she told me her story, her hands shook uncontrollably. She didn’t know if it was the cold weather or the trauma she had been through which caused the shaking.

Her story was that after a few years of marriage, her husband began to beat her regularly. Several times he made arrangements to loan her to his friends for a price. Finally, she had enough. She got brave and divorced him. At first, he didn’t want anything to do with her or the boys. So he gave them to her. But then he changed his mind and asked his friends to help him kill her. So she fled and left her country out of fear for her life. First, she went to Turkey. But when they told her they were going to send her back, she found the man who took her to Athens. “Today,” she said, “I am going to apply for my papers from the government.” These papers would allow her boys to go to school in Athens and permit her to work. But documents like this, she lamented, could take several months and sometimes up to a year to receive. After we ate, I gathered our group around her and prayed for her and her boys. Then she left.

The next day, we came again to serve meals. There she was, sitting at a different table, a big beautiful smile foretelling the announcement she was about to make. She had received her papers! But Jesus goodness and love was not unnoticed. Her oldest son explained that the reason why this happened was that we had prayed to our God! And like so many Muslims before them, who have fled their countries in the Middle East, this mother and her two boys eventually committed their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Two months later, the pastor of the church we served in baptized them.

We are living in unprecedented times. We see the most significant turning of Muslims to faith in Christ since the birth of Islam. Coincidentally, Christians have been praying for Muslims to encounter the Risen Christ for over 30 years. Today’s movements are fueled by three decades of faithful prayers.

I am telling you this because May 6 marks the beginning of Ramadan for our Muslim neighbors and continues through June 4. Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims. I want to invite you to join with Christians all over the world in praying for them and using something called the “Muslim World Prayer Guide” to help you. The Prayer Guide will introduce you to specific Muslim people and places where they live, like Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey, and Sudan. You will read the stories of Muslims who have encountered Jesus and learn specific things to pray for during this holy month. You can pick up a copy of the “Muslim World Prayer Guide” in the lobby today or download a PDF version at www.30daysprayer.com. Join the movement.

Translation tidbit: Ifs, ands, or buts

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul bases his argument for the resurrection of the dead on the claim that God raised Jesus to life: “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:12, NIV). As I begin to draft the CT notes for translators on this verse, I see a number of issues that require explanation, including how to understand Paul’s use of a rhetorical question, how to translate with active verbs (in languages where the passive verbs aren’t natural), and how to unpack the abstract noun “resurrection.”

But I start with the small things. In Greek, the verse begins with a conjunction that functions in different ways. In some contexts, it’s translated as “and,” which is not how it’s used in this verse. The NIV translates it here as “but,” a valid option since Paul is contrasting the proclamation known to the Corinthians—that Christ is risen—with the competing claim that there is no resurrection. Another valid way to translate the conjunction is “now,” since it introduces a new stage in Paul’s discourse on the resurrection.

Then there’s the Greek word translated “if.” In this verse, it’s introducing a fact. However, in some African languages, the word “if” can only signal uncertainty about whether or not a statement is true. So our CT notes must point out that it may be clearer to translate with a word meaning “since.” Although these are little words, they are important links in the chain of Paul’s logic. In some languages, the meaning will be clearest if translators use a structure more like that of the Good News Bible: “Now, since our message is that Christ has been raised from death, how can some of you say that the dead will not be raised to life?”

Christ is risen indeed! Thank you for remembering my CT teammates and me in your prayers as we work together to provide tools that translators in many African languages will use to bring the good news to their people.

 

Gifts Continue to Give with the Alternative Gift Market

Thank you to everyone who purchased gifts from the BelPres Alternative Gift Market (AGM) last Christmas Season. The total raised by the 2018 AGM was $62,266. Every penny of the AGM funds goes directly toward your purchased gift. The funds are used by global and local ministries to support special projects and programs that fall out of their budget scope. It is exciting to send the money out and see the fruit from our support.
The cover of the 2018 AGM catalogue featured a refugee worker in one of the gardens. One of the global gift items was garden supplies for the refugees starting a new life and settling in Washington. This gift covered materials like seeds and tools to equip refugees to work in their garden preparing, planting, growing and harvesting their crops. Your donations raised over 1000 dollars for this gift.
World Relief shared new photos of recipients using tools bought with the most recent donations, and we want to share those with all of you who give so generously to support AGM each year. Chandra is from Bhutan, and he is holding some new tools that he will use to prepare his garden. Laylay is from Burma and is working in the garden with her daughter and her new hoe to turn over her garden bed winter cover crop.
Many thanks, again, for your support for the Alternative Gift Market. Your gifts make a difference in lives in our community and communities around the world.

Audience of One

Blogging for me is more therapeutic than anything else. Lately, people are asking me why I don’t blog more and when am I going to write again. Honestly, writing is hard. I’m not particularly good at it, and yet, it helps me process what is going on inside; especially, in my heart. I appreciate my friends’ encouragement though, so I’ll try to write more.

Looking back at my Lenten journey in college, it was a negative experience of my faith in Christ. After gathering on campus, we would all head out to different restaurants to just hang and connect. The only reason I knew it was Lent was all the water bottles everyone had, and no one was ordering food, even though we were at a restaurant. I remember asking: “Why is everyone carrying a water bottle? Why is no one eating at that whole table?” Oh yeah, it’s Lent! And they’re fasting. I thought why in the world meet in a restaurant if they weren’t going to eat. It was evident to everyone around them that they were fasting. Some were happy to talk about it. From that experience, I realized I couldn’t stand the public persona of spiritual discipline. It all looked and smelled of hypocrisy.

Jesus said, Matt. 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to people that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Jesus had it right: if you engage in spiritual disciplines, do it in private. God wants an audience of one; just you and Him. Even if you have to stop and break a spiritual discipline (because not doing so would make it public), then I would do it. You can reengage in a spiritual discipline afterward. Once it becomes public, there goes the ‘audience of one.’ More important than the discipline is our relationship with God. Since then, I rarely tell anyone of my spiritual discipline practice. I am far from where I want to be with spiritual disciplines, and I hope to continue becoming more and more like Jesus. He did things right.

The Impact of Short Term Missions

It is an honor for us to facilitate and receive ‘Mission Teams’ for service in Guatemala. These Teams come from across North America and sacrificially give of themselves for 7 to 14 days to evangelism, construction, teaching, food distribution, medical outreach and so much more. Truly, they bless Guatemalans and we thank God for each and every Team.

We have become increasingly aware of the impact on Team Members, the blessings they receive from our Staff, and those we serve. I thought it would be good to share a few testimonies from Team Members, trusting they will be an inspiration to you.

A Pastor wrote: “The effect of this Mission experience had on my personal and spiritual life was to focus more attention on people. I often become overly concerned for the organizational work that I lose (contact) with people. In Guatemala, my focus was entirely upon the team, leaders, teachers, volunteers, children, and the wider community. As for future interests in Mission, I am very committed to supporting and encouraging His Church to give, pray and go.”

A Team member wrote: ”This trip brought me so much closer to God. Preparing for this mission trip brought me back to God after years of turning my back on Him. Seeing what we have to what the people in Guatemala have, has me more thankful to God for my life…I just want to be closer to Him and to serve Him with all my heart.”

A Young man wrote: This Mission had a great effect on my life: to be able to experience such a part of the world, then returning to our own world and seeing it with new eyes. Everyone should take a trip like this.”

A Lady wrote: “This was an amazing experience from the beginning to the very last day. I loved every minute of it and feel so very blessed to have been part of it. »

Other comments included: “I left a large part of my heart in Guatemala; I want to go back every year. I was so humbled by the experience. I learned to speak the name of the Lord more clearly. »

We could fill a book, even a library, with testimonies! We humbly thank God for those who take the time and make the sacrifices necessary to be part of a Mission Team and to join us in what God is doing!

Why not join a Mission team?

 

Come to the Discover Your Impact Lunch Sunday, March 31 at 12:15pm in S-140 to learn about upcoming short term Mission trips at BelPres.  Questions?  Contact impactteams@belpres.org

 

 

 

Diversity in Unity

Imagining our Faith Community Differently

God loves all people and desires that all be saved. That love is clear and evident in the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the hope that we have! Yet there are scores of individuals and groups of people, particularly those who are hurting and left out, who have yet to experience that love. We all can relate to pain and loss. There are those that, due to their disabilities, have experienced pain so deep that maybe few can understand outside of our Lord. They’ve experienced loss not only of personal aspirations, but also the loss of a community that loves and supports its members.

 What if it were different for our friends with disabilities? What if the Church responded differently to people that God longs to include into His family?

 We see in Scripture that this truly is the heart of God. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17). No matter our abilities we know that Jesus came because we all were unable to do this on our own. So, it is our responsibility as the body of Christ to reach out and invite, to share with others the hope that we have in God, and to love our neighbors unconditionally as God loves us.

 I was in India not long ago, visiting an impoverished slum in Mumbai. It was at a prayer service that I shared with everyone that we are no different and that in God’s eyes we are all equal. Just because I may have more money, I live in America, or my skin color is different does not mean I am better, even though in people’s eyes that may be the case. In His eyes, we are all on the same level. We all are made in His image and likeness. What is on the outside does not define us. This equality is summarized beautifully when Christ told us to show no partiality when we gather corporately (James 2:1-4). Truly we are all equal. That is the beauty of our faith!

 If we believe in the saving grace of our God and follow His steps as a community of believers, then it’s clear — it’s not our place to choose who is welcome and who is not welcome in His church. God invites all, and it is our responsibility to actively and intentionally pour out the love that Christ has placed in our hearts to our neighbors. This is not something that we do. It is who we are.

 Bridge Disability Ministries imagines Church as a place where all mankind can gather at the feet of Jesus, where we experience the gift of fellowship, the blessing of being in the family of God. If we intentionally reach out to our neighbors of all abilities, our faith community will be a lot closer to the way God had in mind all along.

 

Bridge Ministries is a partner ministry supported by BelPres Community Outreach and the Legacy Foundation.

On May 15, 2019, Bridge Ministries will host “Diversity in Unity: Imagining our Faith Communities Differently”. It will be held at the Westminster Chapel from 9 -4 PM. Join us as we strive—together—to bring about that which Christ desires. Register by March 31 with code: EARLYBIRD for 20% off

 

Survivor Cambodia

The DOVE Phnom Penh Onyx students, staff and volunteers headed to a retreat on an island off the coast of Cambodia, Koh Rong. It was the location for two seasons of the “reality” show, Survivor. As we approached the coast, it started raining. Tropical Storm Pabuk was in the Gulf of Thailand and authorities warned boats to expect high waves. On the bus ride, I wondered if we were going to make a new episode of Survivor. The staff monitored and prayed about the storm.
An Onyx lesson asks students to imagine that they are a boat, first undergoing repairs in dry dock and then setting sail to test seaworthiness. Lay, the DOVE Phnom Penh Coordinator, thought it fitting to end the year departing from a real port to sail on the ocean. When I heard they were going to Koh Rong, I was afraid I would get seasick crossing in a fishing boat. When Lay said they would take the 50-seat express ferry which is smoother and only takes 45 minutes, I decided to go. Despite Pabuk, the ferry was still running so we took off. I recalled that Jesus is Lord over the wind and waves.

Overall, the only significant effect of Pabuk was that we got seasick. When unloading another group of passengers at an island, waves near shore were so strong they couldn’t step onto the dock. Being tossed up and down, everyone started to look green.  I took off my life jacket and stood near the front deck where there was a breeze. We waited while a smaller boat was sent to transport the others ashore. We continued to Koh Rong and were able to step out on the dock. Friday night, the high surf washed up lots of trash and flotsam onto the beach, but it cleaned up quickly.

Making a scrapbook for the ensuing year, students spent Saturday morning reflecting on what they learned about God, themselves and relationships with others. They also made 2-3 year plans to fulfill or discern God’s vision for their life. That night, they took turns sharing and then prayed blessings for each other to fulfill those visions.

Because of the waves on Saturday, the ferry wasn’t running. The ferry ran again on but arrived late with oversold seats. After some discussion, they let everyone board. Lay and some other passengers wound up standing or sitting on luggage. I noticed two staff members, Serey and Virak, put on life jackets. I followed their lead! The ride back was a lot rougher, so I was grateful to dock back on the mainland. The one thing that approached a Survivor episode was Serey killing a 2-inch centipede crawling next to me on my bed. I carefully shook out all my clothes before and after packing at home.

The real survivors at Koh Rong were the Onyx students persevering the past year to finish the program. Instead of forming alliances against each other to become the sole survivor, they became a family where people share honestly.  Moreover, they’ve shown they have the heart to serve others.  Two students, Ngechsor and Pheakday, travel back to their province on Saturdays after class to share the Onyx lessons with the local church youth. Also, another small group planned and carried out a children’s outreach at a resettlement village near Phnom Penh, where one of them lives. As these students set sail after Onyx, we look forward to hearing further adventures of how God works through them to bless their communities.

Black History Month

Black History Month is a celebration! It is not a time to say that one group is greater than another, but it exists to recognize and respect the resilience of a people amid obstacles they were never meant to overcome. Whether they are engineers, scientists, artists, athletes, inventors, or entrepreneurs, Black people have contributed to the society we all are a part of in the USA and around the world.

American history has not been written in favor of Black people. Movies, television shows, news and history books themselves have distorted views on who Black people are, where they come from, and how they came to be. Black History Month is meant to change the narrative that has been accepted for so long. It is a chance for us to reflect on “…our 400-year-old sin,” as Rev. Scott Dudley speaks of it, as well as the achievements in spite of that.

Black people invented all sorts of things that we use today. Notable innovations such as the first successful open heart surgery, the common day street light, and the first automated oiler for steam-engine trains were brought to our country by brilliant Black people, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, Garret Morgan, and Elijah McCoy. Jazz, rhythm & blues, gospel, rock & roll, and funk music all trace back to Black culture.

It is worth noting how many Black women have contributed and continue to enrich our society. Katherine Johnson,  mathematician and scientist (portrayed in the film Hidden Figures), helped NASA launch the first human-crewed mission to the moon. The first self-made millionaire, Madam CJ Walker, was Black. Modern-day trailblazers continue to fight for equality as well as equity in different realms of American society that were never considered “for Black people.” Oprah Winfrey is the first Black woman to become a billionaire. Misty Copeland is the first Black Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre. Gabrielle Douglas is the first woman of color (of any nationality) and the first Black gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around Champion. She is also the first American gymnast to win gold in both the gymnastic individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic games.

There are so many things to thank Black people for throughout our history, but it does not end there. Today, Black people continue to be the face of popular culture. Hip-hop is now the most popular music around the world. Black people make up roughly 75% of the professional athletes in the NBA and NFL. And with access that was never given before in the corporate world, there are more and more Black business people, lawyers and engineers creating our future.

If we are all made in God’s image, we should celebrate this new narrative. We, as Christians, have the opportunity to help shift the storyline from degradation to celebration.

While the world may demean Black people, let’s honor the accomplishments of our brothers and sisters. We can show the world a new way, the third way, to reconciliation.

“A candle never loses its light by lighting another.” – Rumi (Persian poet)

Walk to Salvation

Mahmadu Koroma is a quiet, determined eleventh grader who walks 4 hours round trip every day between the Mokpangumba Riverbank and Ngolala Junction to attend Mallory Jansen Memorial Senior Secondary School. Mahmadu is from a Muslim background, but no longer a Muslim because of the good works of Children of the Nations (COTN) in this primarily Muslim area. Today, he thanks God for COTN and staff, like Mr. Ngoneh, who helped his parents to allow him to attend church. When asked about his present life, this is what he had to say:

“I, Mahmadu Koroma, will always be thankful to God for using COTN to help me when I fell in a hole a few years back while walking home in the dark after working on a farm.

Because we are poor, I didn’t tell my parents for three days for fear of what they might say or do. Then I got to a point that I could no longer hide the pain and suffering anymore. COTN heard about it and had me treated at the Italian Emergency Hospital where they deal with bone accidents. COTN provided accommodations and meals for me for 3 months while I recuperated at COTN housing in Marjay Town. Sadly, it made me see and feel the big difference between Christians and Muslims in need.  Neither of my parents came to give the support I needed – just my brother sometimes, and my COTN brothers and sisters came by while I was there.

As a Muslim, I was taught to look to Allah for everything – I never saw any help and I was disappointed. Had it not been for COTN, I would have lost one leg. I am very thankful to God that I have both legs, although one seems longer than the other when I walk.

Today, I am thankful that I have come to know God through the Christian fellowship conducted in school and church services.  The daily meals at COTN’s feeding program and the shoe distribution have been a blessing to us who cannot afford good, solid shoes.  Those, who are from a Muslim background, wonder why our parents don’t talk much about Jesus.

My prayer for everyone, including children, is that God keeps you and bless you because of your faith.  Thank you for giving us hope for a better tomorrow. Thank you.”

 

BelPres Meal Packing Marathon helps support the COTN feeding program in Mokpangumba, where Mahmadu and many other children like him get their daily nourishment. Your participation and your prayers are the most important ways you support this event.

This year, our goal is to pack 150,000 meals for our brothers and sisters in Mokpangumba.  BelPres Mission+Serve will cover the first $20,000. We still need to raise additional funds since the registration fee does not cover the cost of food, material, and shipping.    If you would like to make a donation, you may give by credit card at Belpres.org – specify “other gift” as Meal Packing. 

The Gift of Milk

Since returning to Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide, First Lady Jeannette Kagame has become devoted to uplifting the lives of the vulnerable population in Rwanda, particularly those of widows, orphans and impoverished families. Because of this work, she helped to establish the Imbuto Foundation, which means “seed” in Kinyarwanda. Among the many areas of need in Rwanda, the foundation has focused on motivating girls to excel in school, providing scholarships to disadvantaged youth, promoting a reading culture, and mentoring and equipping youth with entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

First Lady Jeanette Kagame has also received many awards and appointments for this vital work. In 2009, Mrs. Kagame received the prestigious UNICEF Children’s Champions Award in recognition of her efforts to improve the lives of children in Rwanda. This hardworking and well-loved First Lady of Rwanda also appreciates and recognizes those in Rwanda who are partnering in this effort to uplift impoverished children and families.

In November of 2018, Rwanda Faith Academy received a letter from the office of Jeanette Kagame thanking them for all they are doing to support the next generation of Rwandans. RFA has been diligent in their reporting to the Ministry of Education the number of students enrolled, the consistency of the high scores on the National Exams received by RFA students, and their developing curriculum on practical life skills and good home practices to strengthen the families of RFA students. The teaching staff received recognition this year for excellence in teaching on World Teacher Day. All of these remarkable efforts came to the First Lady’s attention, and she awarded a monthly gift of milk to 444 of the most vulnerable RFA students.

On November 11, 2018, the first gift of milk arrived. The day was festive with much celebration and thanksgiving as the gifted students received and drank the milk. For many of them, it was the first time to drink milk. And the children cheered with glee when told this gift of milk from the First Lady would continue to come each month for the next year. For First Lady Jeanette Kagame, milk has a very special place in her heart; you see, she met her husband, President Paul Kagame, over a glass of milk.

The students, Teachers, staff, and advisory board praise our God for his provision and blessings over Rwanda Faith Academy. We look forward to the start of the 2019 school year and know God will meet all of us on that first day.

Christmas and Refugees

Of the 68.5 million refugees in the world 52% (25.4 million)* are under the age of 18. Displaced from home and country, on the run for their lives, many completely on their own; they are in urgent need of protection and provision. How does Christmas intersect with refugee children?
Matthew’s Gospel has a refugee story in Chapter 2. Having arrived in Jerusalem after a lengthy trek, Magi from the east were inquiring about the birth of a new Jewish King. They told of observing a celestial sign and undertaking the search for a child to be worshiped. Jewish priests and scholars identified Bethlehem as the prophesied birthplace of the future messianic king. The paranoid, maniacal Herod ruling Judea at that time was disturbed by this news and solicited the Magi’s help in locating such a child. His pretense was to participate in such worship and he wanted the child’s address.
Upon arriving in Bethlehem and finding the child with his mother Mary “in a house” the entourage from the east bowed down and worshipped him and presented valuable gifts. Then, warned in a dream not to report this location, they detoured Herod and departed toward their home country.
Realizing he’d been duped, homicidal Herod ordered the execution of all the male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem who were two years old and under according to the time the Magi had reported seeing the celestial sign.
An angel appeared to Mary’s husband, Joseph, in a dream. The angel instructed Joseph to take both mother and child and escape into Egypt because death squads had been dispatched by Herod. Joseph immediately obeyed and consequently, Jesus and his parents became refugees.
 *Statistics from UNHCR

The Holy Spirit…at work in a mighty way in India

See the woman standing quietly in the doorway, looking on as the scene before her unfolds?  Her story of devotion is woven into the fabric of God’s faithfulness to His people in India.  This woman, Pavani*- a Christian, was arranged in marriage to a Hindu man.  She met with other Christians and read her Bible in secret, hoping her husband would not find out.  Her husband was not a Hindu in name only, but a radical Hindu intent on India being a purely Hindu nation.

One day, her husband – Manyu*- found her reading the Bible.  He became violent, tearing up the Bible and threatening divorce if he caught her with a Bible again.  Yet, she persisted in her faithfulness to Jesus.

In time, her husband became seriously ill.  After medical consultation, he was told his kidneys were failing and that he would die.  His family offered sacrifices to Hindu gods and consulted Hindu priests to no avail.  Pavani boldly asked Manyu if she could have her pastor pray for him in the name of Jesus.  Manyu agreed, with the condition that if it didn’t work, he would divorce her.  She brought him to the house church she attended where her pastor and fellow believers prayed for Manyu.  God was at work – Manyu was healed!  His pain left and he has not had any kidney problems since.  Manyu became a believer in Jesus.  This was at a high cost – his family kicked him and Pavani from the family home.  In prayer, they heard God asking them to move to Bihar as missionaries.

Several years later, the now-Pastor Manyu was asked to pray for a young Hindu man’s brother, who had been sent home to die.  That brother was healed in the name of Jesus, and the young Hindu man (asking for prayer on behalf of his brother) was MK, now a believer in Jesus and the leader of New Life Mission Church (NLMC).   Pavani and Manyu now work with NLMC establishing house churches, bringing Jesus to communities through literacy groups like the one in the photo.

It was a tremendous blessing to visit NLMC this past month with a team from BelPres.  We met and encouraged the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, worshipped in house churches and prayed with many.  We heard testimony after testimony of healing – physical healing and/or freedom from evil spirits.  The Holy Spirit is at work in a mighty way in northern India.  As people are freed from physical or spiritual sickness, they (and their families) are accepting Jesus as their Savior.  They are bucking their culture to live and follow Jesus, forming house churches to worship and learn together. New leaders are being raised up and becoming church planters and pastors in neighboring villages.  We witnessed Jesus’ power transforming lives in the smiles of formerly untouchable orphans now at home in an NLMC orphanage.  At every turn of our trip, the Bible came to life before my eyes.

God invites us to be part of his rescue mission for humanity.  Jesus clearly asks us to “let your light shine before men” (Matthey 5:16), but how often have I kept Jesus hidden away?  In India, I met person after person who accepted Jesus not only as their Savior, but as their Lord, orienting their life to serve Him.  I met a man whose home was tormented by evil spirits banging all over his house each night.  When he accepted Christ and began reading the Bible in his home, the banging stopped.  A short year later, he now works as a church planter.  I saw this same passion in MK – feeling such thankfulness to Jesus for saving his brother, he could do nothing less than launch a movement and a vision to establish a church in every village across the Ganges plain.  I saw this in Manyu: hearing God in prayer asking him to move across the country and doing it.  And I saw this in the steadfast faithfulness of Pavani, risking all to share Jesus with her unbelieving husband.  So the questions loom: Would the church planter have accepted Jesus if it weren’t for MK leading a group of believers to spread the Good News across northern India?  If it weren’t for Manyu praying for MK’s brother, could MK have come to know Jesus?  Would (Pavani’s unbelieving husband) Manyu have come to know Jesus if Pavani hadn’t sought prayer for him?  Only God knows the answers to these questions. How fulfilled are their lives now knowing they are helping to establish God’s Kingdom here on earth?

What nudge is God asking you to respond with a “yes?”  Our individual action does make a difference.  On a Saturday afternoon in October, I sat in a conference room in Bihar, India hearing MK speak of the incredible vision that God has for India and beyond.  I wondered: Why was I, a mom from Redmond, hearing this vision and feeling so inspired?  And yet, I knew that joining the India Impact Team was saying “yes” to a nudge from God. I’m still not sure of all the consequences of that “yes,” but I know my life is bigger now that it includes all I experienced on the other side of the world.   My heart is chastened and broken and full – all at the same time as it never has been before.  I know it is impossible for me to speak of our experience in India without mentioning Jesus, so my light is shining brighter these days.

The Holy Spirit is working in miraculous ways in northern India. That same Spirit is at work here.  I am so thankful for the shining examples of faithfulness witnessed in the lives of our brothers and sisters in India.  As I pray Colossians 1:3+ “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you since we heard of your faith in Christ and the love which you have for all the saints because . . . the gospel which has come to you . . . is constantly bearing fruit and increasing . . .”. The “you” looks like the beautiful faces of men, women and children gathered tightly together in the room of a house in Bihar.

There is so much more to share, but you can come and hear of it first-hand as MK, director of New Life Mission Church, and his wife Punam will be visiting BelPres – Sunday, November 25, 12:15pm in S-140.  Be prepared to feel inspired as MK shares the vision that God has given him and excited as you learn of God’s faithful work in India.

 *Names have been changed.

 

 

A BROKEN HEART!

 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Last year, my wife and I traveled to Guatemala’s Mission Campus to share in special outreaches and celebrations. While preparing to leave, we heard on the news about a home in Guatemala where at least 18 children had died in a fire. Needless to say, we were greatly disturbed and prayed for the families. Little did we realize how this was going to impact us; indeed break our hearts!

In Guatemala, we heard various stories and read reports that included the following statements:

“These are the dumping grounds for people who are not wanted by society, whether they are disabled or gay or happen to get there through the criminal justice system.”

“Guatemalan human rights officials said Thursday that they believe the 35 girls who were killed (when a fire swept through a childrens home dormitory) had been unable to escape because they were locked inside. Legislators also heard that only three of the 64 security cameras were working in the home which housed 750 children in a space meant for 500.”

Driving to the Campus, our Director said “Pastor, one of the 40 girls (the number continues to rise) who died attended our school.” We were stunned as we heard this and our hearts began to break. Tears quietly began to flow. Her name was Milenie and was, in fact, one of our sponsored children. From the age of 6, Milenie displayed behavioral difficulties and her Mother tried everything to help her. The Mission did its best and, of course, we are grateful to her sponsors who stood by her for years. In January, she ran away from home, was picked up by Police who placed her in the City Government Home and tragically lost her life in the fire. Yes, our hearts were broken! We prayed for her family and the families of all who lost their lives.

As the week continued, I shared the story with our entire student body, encouraging them not to be led astray, to realize their potential and the plan God has for them. It reenergized our commitment to help the children and young people of Guatemala. Recognizing the need for kids in trouble or faced with abuse and problems at home (some who are even wards of the court), we opened a special fund to provide help. An example: children in a home close to Campus (run by a wonderful Pastor and his team) are wards of the court who struggle in public school. From this special fund, they will be able to attend the Arms of Jesus (AOJ) School and will be blessed in so many ways by our ministry. (It is difficult to find sponsors for them because the Court can remove them at any time.)

We are so blessed! Please pray for the children who are ‘placed into the dumping grounds of society and pray for us as we seek to be ‘the arms of Jesus to them.’

Feelin’ so Extra

They would normally be on tour. They have turned down multiple gigs to be here. The time is non-negotiable. These children are a priority. They said they want to do it for ten years. This is year six.

To play basketball, you need a court. We didn’t have one. After the earthquake, one of the young Port-au-Prince refugees staying with a pastor showed up with a basketball and was dribbling all over Passe Catabois. All the boys in Passe Catabois followed him for a chance to hold or dribble that ball. Pretty soon, a five-gallon bucket with a hole in it, a two-by-four and some concrete disappeared from one of our construction sites. Using the rim of a plastic bucket, they created a makeshift hoop six feet off the ground.

Being mesmerized by a basketball is better than dwelling on the immediate trauma or the aftershocks still ongoing. The news from Port-au-Prince was horrid. Basketball is much better than thinking about the earthquakes that keep happening.

Not long ago, the church elementary school in Passe Catabois started the outline for a basketball court. Compassion, the child sponsorship agency, decided every school needed a court for an obscure game people vaguely knew about. The construction hadn’t gotten very far and things happen. Sometimes the ground shakes and things are very different afterward.

I tell the boys about the remains of a basketball court foundation buried somewhere in the schoolyard. With the pastor’s blessing, I promise, if they will dig it up and get everything ready, we will pour fifteen feet of the basketball court and put up a goal.

By 10 am the next morning, the work was done. It was now “put up or shut up” time; and the perfect time to divert attention from the earthquake. Shortly, we had a fifteen-foot concrete basketball court and a half court in packed dirt.

Over time, we got the half court done in two pours. And then someone said: “Let’s just pour the other half of this basketball court.”

The Boca Raton youth group came to basketball camp that first year afterward and brought two Haitian Americans who have played a lot of ball.

By the third year, we had a second court and a second program at the Poste Metier church five miles away. The two Haitian Americans increased to four and formed a music/ministry group. Local boys are more familiar with soccer. We had to convince them to quit hitting the ball with their head…use hands only and don’t kick the ball. This is basketball.

A bus pulls up. There are 60 cheering boys inside and 60 cheering boys outside waiting for them; all in reversible “Upward Basketball” jerseys. The home team is blue; the visitors, cream.

This is the big day. For a week, these boys have been learning basketball fundamentals and Bible lessons. The Poste Metier ball players travel to Passe Catabois for a ‘tournament.’ This is a competition involving basketball drills like dribbling and shooting. Then they let the older (11-13 year-olds) play some full-court sessions.

“K4C” (or Knights for Christ) is a ministry and a musical group of first-generation Haitian Americans with a heart for at-risk young people in America. They do concerts in schools and churches wherever they are invited, investing in youth, telling them about Jesus and trying to help them stay out of trouble. The leader of K4C says that Jesus saved him, but basketball kept him out of trouble.

They just put out an album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alaxH0YEXQ0&feature=youtu.be.  Footage from basketball camp is on the video. A friend from Georgia is with them who last played competitive high school basketball and comes out of retirement to coach and organize the camp. I wasn’t sure he was going to make the video. He did, but it was basketball coaching that got him in and not singing. Along with the 120 boys are a dozen volunteer coaches from the two churches, some parents, a sound system and a lot of excitement.

Deb and I don’t know much about children’s ministries. But we receive the teams and provide the venue. Over recent months, we have been shipping everything necessary for a basketball camp:  uniforms, basketballs (many children win their own ball either in the daily competitions or when they graduate at 13), peanut butter for breakfast before camp and other paraphernalia. For the past two weeks, boys in faded uniforms from previous years have stopped me on the road and asked if Sammy, Dee, Lucson, or Hobbs are coming for camp this summer. You can feel the excitement building.

One of the beauties of the Passe Catabois basketball court is that it has trees all around it. I sit in the shade watching the two teams’ race up and down the court. Most of these children are natural athletes and have caught on amazingly fast to this recent addition to Haiti sport. Over the years, many have come to Christ during basketball camp while listening to the story of salvation.

One of the eleven year-olds is blocked by a bigger player in front of him. Without missing a beat, he does a behind-the-back pass to a teammate and they press in toward the goal.  Another amazement is seeing them pass – a lot. Watching local soccer is painful. When one guy gets the ball, too often he tries to take it all the way to the goal himself. It is one against eleven. When someone on the other team takes the ball from him, he runs the other way – one on eleven -without passing.

That doesn’t happen here. This is a profound change and something to take to other parts of their lives: teamwork. They are passing it off, keeping it, moving around and looking for an open man rather than personal glory.

I see all manner of sneakers patched up, sewn up or otherwise improvised. More than several have feet jammed in shoes that are way too narrow and no laces because there isn’t room. Some have street shoes or work boots. Who knows what sacrifices the parents made to find something for their boys to put on so they can attend camp? And someone at home is covering for them collecting firewood, carrying water, or tending to the animals so they can be boys for a week to do basketball and Bible study. And it is all forgotten in the excitement of these boys on the court.

Deb and I just got the new K4C CD. One of the songs is called ‘So Extra.’ For those who, like us, may need a translator to communicate with the younger generation: in rap/jive/hip-hop, it translates to ‘so blessed.’  As I sit in the shade watching these boys play basketball and have fun, I am feelin’ “so extra.”

We are so thankful for you, your friendship, prayers, and support.

 

Pchum Ben-Festival of the Dead

Phnom Penh is a ghost town.  For 3 days, it was bumper-to-bumper traffic while people fled as if a tsunami was coming up the Mekong from the Gulf of Thailand.  Every year at this time, Cambodian families leave to pay homage to their ancestors in their home village. Almost everything is closed, except maybe a gas station and a few shopping markets.  It’s like the only time I can get over 30 mph on my bike – once a year!

Alana visited for a week, and loved it; teaching English at DOVE(Develop Our Village Economy), visiting schoolmates, spending time with her step-siblings, Johnnathan and Yorean. She ate all her favorite Khmer dishes. Then she missed her flight booked through some fly-by-night Chinese Airline; so we got an extra day with her.  Good bye, Kids!  🙁

Three kids and one teen from HOP were integrated back to their home villages yesterday and today. In some cases, this is a good thing. In other cases, it’s a tragedy.  I have lived with and been a part of these kids’ lives for 5 years now. They call me “daddy.” Every time I have been called “daddy,” it startles me and makes me think: am I being a good example of a father? Am I loving them, and encouraging them? My time with them has allowed me to love these children in a way that has eluded me most of my life. Miss Chanta, 12 years old, a tough cookie and a HOP scrapper, knew her time was down to the wire; soon to be shipped out to a distant aunt. For the last week – every day – she escorts me out to where I park my motorcycle, slips her arm into mine and off we go.  Upon firing up the Baja, she hops on the back and I drop her back at HOP. The next day, she waits for me to come home from work and goes through the same ritual. My soul has been shaped (living in a community of children nobody really wanted) in ways that would never happen in a conventional world.

 I am now teaching the “Missional Church” block in ONYX. We are discovering that God is a ‘sending God’ and we, as his people, are a ‘sent people’ – pushed out of our safe and comfortable nests into uncertainty to bring hope to the marginalized and rejected. Local pastors don’t like this block as they are interested in keeping the actions within the church building where they believe: they are in control, there is no risk, discomfort, nor leveling of power. The students are into this concept though and are surprised to find this principle everywhere in the Bible.

It worked out well when most ONYX students joined in an interfaith tree-planting event in the vanishing jungles of Cambodia for four days.  It was truly a holistic mission at its best. I had planned to go but Bophal’s assistant smashed her knee and I got to mind ‘Fort Banchee.’
It has been fun and this 5th-year cohort has been the most responsive to all we do. I love this group as they choose to be vulnerable, curious, fun and open to new paradigms.  We have two from HOP this year. ONYX Phnom is also a very close Christian Community and missional. We’ve got all the right DNA. 

Bophal and I would do well to savor such times as tremendous gifts. The more organic we become and the deeper we go (personally, HOP and DOVE), the more elusive funding becomes. The correlation escapes me.  Maybe recovering our souls is part of the cost issue.  The structures and systems that served so well in the past don’t seem to fit the revived soul.

 

Peace to you,

Brian and Bophal

 

A Man Who Walked on Water

Over two thousand years ago, Jesus gave us His Great Commission:

“Therefore, go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Currently, we are living in one of the greatest times of harvest in the history of the church. More and more people are coming to a relationship with Christ now than ever before. Recently, I visited Lebanon and Greece. I firsthand heard eyewitness reports of Muslim refugees having visions and dreams of Jesus.

One story in particular made me shiver in awe:  A refugee relief worker shared a story of a family just off a refugee boat in Lesbos, Greece, adamantly looking for someone who knew about a ‘man who walks on water.’ A local Christian missionary serving these refugees met this family. They continued to ask, “Who is this man that walks on water?” The missionary asked, “Why are you asking about a man who walks on water?” The father told the missionary, as they were on the boat one evening, there was a storm. The ship almost capsized. Their young daughter, in the blink of an eye, got separated from them and they lost her. She was thrown into the water. Frantically, the parents looked for her, but couldn’t find her. They were in complete despair. When the parents awoke the next morning, their daughter was back on the boat. They couldn’t believe their eyes! They asked her: “How is it that you are here? We lost you in the storm.” The daughter replied that, in the storm when the waves hit the boat, she was separated from her family and fell into the water. She said ‘a man who walks on water’ caught her and put her back on the boat. The missionary shared: “The man who walks on water is Jesus Christ.” That day, this family became followers of Jesus! Incredible!

Millions of refugees are being displaced from their homes and their families. For most, they leave behind a closed society where freedom of religion is not practiced. Now they have the freedom to learn new ideas. Many missiologists call this time a ‘Kairos’ moment (an opportune and decisive moment). Per Finishing the Task Network (https://www.finishingthetask.com), there are currently 1,347 ethnolinguistic, unengaged, unreached people groups in the world. This is where a church-planting movement does not exist because there is no indigenous church capable of reaching the group without cross-cultural missionary assistance. Generally, an unreached people group is less than 2% evangelical. ‘Unengaged’ means there are no full-time Christian workers attempting to do evangelism and church planting.

Historically, BelPres has always responded to major crises in the world. I believe God is revealing Himself, through visions and dreams, for the church to rise up and finish the task Christ set before us. Is God calling you to go and disciple these unreached peoples? We need to respond to this moment. BelPres, God is calling you to go and make disciples of all nations and to bring God’s healing.  It begins with you.

 

Behind the Scenes with Heather Hedlund

Where is God calling you? What is your passion and purpose? Many of us are searching for answers to these questions. But even as a child, Heather Hedlund knew the Lord was calling her.

As a young teen, God put issues of justice on her heart and she daydreamed about how she would one day solve some of the world’s problems – perhaps the answer to homelessness or the path out of poverty.

When Heather feels a nudge from the Holy Spirit, she acts on it.  She prays for direction, educates herself, and takes initiative.

For example, after listening to former pastor Dick Leon’s call to the congregation for an assault on poverty, she joined a group to pray about it and study how poverty affected elementary-aged children in our local area. Soon after, KidREACH was established in Bellevue; a program Heather helped lead for 13 years.

“I will never forget the way Heather advocated for children and families as the director of KidREACH,” says Lisa Phelps, director of early childhood. “Heather truly loved each child and family, and advocated for them at school, in immigration matters, and for basic needs. God gave Heather a humble heart and the strength to serve in difficult situations, as Jesus did,”says Phelps.

Heather describes her service with KidREACH as a time of great learning. “My years in KidREACH opened my eyes to the issue of poverty and the pathways out of poverty. My views were challenged and I had to rethink the issue once I was exposed to real people who were suffering. It caused me to open my mind to new ideas,” she says.

After 13 years, and with much prayer and thoughtful decision-making, she stepped away to await God’s next call. “I wanted to be intentional about my next project. I knew God had called me both into and out of KidREACH, and I wanted to take my time to listen for my next calling,” says Heather.

A year later, while listening to guest speaker Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil speak on racial justice, Heather felt another nudge from the Lord – one she had apparently been preparing for and knew she couldn’t ignore.

“I had read several articles on racial justice and reconciliation, heard many news reports, and was aware of the unrest, hurt, and struggle of the country – but I hadn’t found a way to act on my passion,” Heather says. “I didn’t know what my next steps would look like, but I felt the Holy Spirit within me and I knew I had to learn more. I began to feel the same passion for racial justice and reconciliation and the Justice Team as I had for KidREACH.”

“Heather has an enormous caring heart,” says Elizabeth Hayford, director of missions administration. “Through her work leading our KidREACH program and now guiding our Justice and Reconciliation Team, she shows Jesus’ love by building bridges to connect and care for many who are marginalized,” she says. “Supporting Heather in her roles at church is a pleasure and gives me a glimpse into a person after God’s heart who is seeking to build God’s kingdom every day.”

As leader of the Justice and Reconciliation Team, Heather has broadened awareness of social justice issues by helping to bring opportunities to the congregation, like Frames and Filters and Under Our Skin workshops, Anti-Racism Bible studies, book groups, and more.

Tom Brewer, director of community outreach, describes Heather as dedicated to serving others, especially those more vulnerable. “Heather is a supremely capable and conscientious leader who demonstrates empathy, compassion, an indomitable spirit, and a get-it-done attitude,” Tom says. “When something important and challenging needs to be achieved, Heather is a leader you can rely on.”

“Opening myself up to new things and putting myself outside my comfort zone have taught me how to be teachable,” says Heather. “I discover not only what I know, but also what I don’t know. It has taught me humility,” she says, “so that I’m not so set in my notions and more willing to learn.”

Lisa Phelps, who has worked alongside Heather in KidREACH and attended several justice learning opportunities, sees Heather’s gifts firsthand. “The Lord has called Heather to serve the poor, seek justice, and share her God-given gifts. She has a remarkable intellect, curiosity, patience, and love,” says Lisa.

“Heather thinks and prays about what she has learned, and quietly works with others to create opportunities for all of us to learn, act and consider Jesus’ example.”

“I have gained so much,” Heather says. “My faith has been stretched by these opportunities. First, I have learned to depend on God. When the problems look too big to solve on my own, I trust that God will provide.

“We often hear Pastor Dudley pray ‘Break my heart for what breaks yours, Jesus.’ That is my prayer too, and my work in the areas of poverty and justice are places I feel clearly called by the Lord and led by the Holy Spirit.

“My advice to others is to find areas you are passionate about and listen for spiritual direction. There is so much we can do together to make a difference.”

Heather is married to husband Magnus and is the mother of Elise and Erik.

 

Behind the Scenes with Wyatt Cook

Life experience and perspective are gifts we gain with age. We look back and realize the life lessons we’ve learned over the years from the good times and the hardships we faced. Is there a way to share our hard-won experience with those who are struggling with similar life issues?

At Eastside Academy (EA) they’re always looking for adults willing to “share life” with a teen. Many young people are eager to connect with an adult who can help guide them through life’s twists and turns. For the past four years, Wyatt Cook mentored at Eastside Academy. Wyatt is an engineer, a pilot, an Auto Angels participant and long-time BelPres congregant. He has enjoyed his relationship with two EA mentees, with his second one just graduating in June 2018.  “Kids need a consistent adult in their life,” says Wyatt, “someone who will listen, share a relationship, and give them guidance. Ninety percent of being a mentor at EA is just showing up,” he explains, “and when you show up, you build trust and the rest naturally follows.”

Wyatt has attended BelPres for over 20 years and has lived in Bellevue most of his life.  He grew up with a very involved dad who spent considerable time doing activities with the family – from flying to fishing to skiing. He valued their relationship and the time they spent together.  He treasures their times together learning to restore an airplane, fly a plane, re-build a car and boat, as well as taking long, leisurely vacations with the family.

As his children moved into adulthood, Wyatt has spent some of his newfound free time volunteering at BelPres – “paying it forward” through his work with Eastside Academy. He sees less parental engagement in our society today, with families torn between increasing commitments and longer working hours. He feels strongly that kids need an adult in their life to help them through the confusing time of growing up.

As a mentor, he meets for lunch once a week with his mentee, and may take him on an outing 2-3 times a year. Wyatt has taken his mentees to the Museum of Flight and Mariners games.  He sometimes gives advice on education, career, or life choices and at other times just simply listens.  “I try to model a Christian life and be empathetic. But my consistent time with my student is what is most important – just knowing I am going to show up each time,” he explains.

Wyatt and his mentee Josh share an interest in engineering.   “My mentor, Wyatt, is my favorite thing about Eastside Academy,” says Josh. “He’s a pilot and knows a lot about what I want to do in my life. He helps me make plans for my future. We hang out at least once or twice a week, and I’m helping him construct an airplane at his house,” he says.

“As a mentor, your role is not as a friend or a parent, but more of a guiding adult in someone’s life. A rock for a younger person to lean on – an oasis to rest in.  Confidentiality is key. Eastside Academy has an excellent manual that helps you understand your role, and mentors meet quarterly at information meetings,” Wyatt explains.

With just a few years left until retirement from his job as a pilot for American Airlines, Wyatt enjoys the opportunity to mentor at EA and plans to start with a new student next year since Josh has graduated. He encourages others to not let the extreme issues kids are dealing with stop them from mentoring. He reminds us that after all, teens are still kids at heart.

“Wyatt is a fantastic part of the Eastside Academy Mentorship program,” says Anny IIlisoi, EA mentor and alumni coordinator. “He is very committed to his role as a mentor and it shows in his dedication to Josh and the school. Mentors are an incredibly important part of a student’s life at EA. Wyatt is a great example of how mentoring can make a positive impact on students in different areas of their lives,” she says.

Wyatt expects to stay in touch with his mentees in the years ahead. “My highest honor would be for one of them to call me someday in the future to talk – not to solve a problem but just to catch up, see how they are doing, and help them if I can,” says Wyatt.

Wyatt also volunteers for Auto Angels most Saturday mornings, where he can put his engineering expertise to work and where a handful of EA students also volunteer.

#belpresserve

 

 

KidREACH spells Success

Jasey said, “I finished my first year pursuing a Masters in Social Work at the USC graduate school. Though USC has extremely high standards, through blood, sweat, and tears I was somehow able to meet their expectations.” There was a time when this level of success did not seem obtainable for Jasey.  When she came to KidREACH during high school she was struggling academically. “There were times I didn’t think I was going to make it or was cut out for this. It has taken a lot of patience and hard work. I don’t think I would have gotten this far without the help of KidREACH.”

KidREACH offers free one-on-one tutoring for students in grades K-12 who would otherwise be unable to afford it. Tutors not only support a student academically but have the opportunity to walk alongside and share God’s love with them. Tutors positively impact student’s lives by encouraging and appreciating them, celebrating their progress, supporting them in their struggles, and loving them as Jesus does.  In 2001, a group of BelPres members saw the need to actively serve the community by establishing KidREACH.  In the words of a former director, “In this ministry much more than solving tricky math problems or preparing for a vocabulary quiz takes place. God’s Kingdom comes alive in the energy and joy tutors find by serving the students. The smiles and laughter of the students and the peace experienced by the entire family are rewarding for tutors at the end of their busy days.  Now, after 17 years KidREACH is a thriving supportive community.”

Brandon, a current student, says, “My KidREACH tutor Drew helped me a lot. I started the year with all F’s and C’s, and by the time I hit summer vacation, I already had 4 A’s and three B’s thanks to my tutor.”   Brandon’s mom, Neta adds, “We feel blessed to be a part of the KidREACH family. The day we come for tutoring is our family’s favorite day of the week. We always feel welcomed and cared for. My sons love meeting with their tutors not only for academic support but also for emotional support. They enjoy talking and sharing with their tutors about how their day went and how they feel. The tutors and KidREACH Director, Lisa, are always there for us and continually offer help and support to our family. We are very grateful to them! KidREACH changed our life!”

KidREACH is currently looking for tutors for this school year.  There are students enrolled in most grade levels. KidREACH meets in the Upper Campus of BelPres on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. No experience is needed to become a tutor.  A weekly commitment of one evening and a heart for youth are all that is required.  For more information, please contact belpresserve@belpres.org