Friday, September 14, 2018

Introducing Cultivate

What’s life without a little irony?

If you had asked me a year ago what the chances were that I’d be working on a start-up youth ministry for at-risk teens in Fort Myers this fall, I would’ve said slim… very slim… possibly non-existent.

Many years ago now I left a job in Costa Rica working with at-risk youth to do the seminary and ministry to adults thing. At that time, I said that while I was tremendously blessed for the eight years I got to work with at-risk youth, I was ready to move on (permanently) to something different.

And somewhere God chuckled.

When Amy and I decided to launch a local missionary network last year one of our guiding principles was, “Who are the people that the established churches are not serving or seeking with Christ’s love?” We then set out to find those people and to see if God would open a door for us to build relationships with them, serve them, and reveal the Kingdom amongst them. That mission took us down many different streets, but we never received the green light we were looking for to put all our effort into one place.

This past June I was reasonably frustrated with the situation (it had been a tough spring for a variety of reasons), and at a loss for where we were supposed to be. And it was, of course, when I threw up my hands and said, “Okay God, you’re going to have to make something happen here,” that He did. He kicked a door wide open in fact, with just one catch… the people we were called to serve were at-risk youth.

That divine irony thing… get’s me every time!
(When I was 23 I also cursed God and swore I’d never go back to church. Yup, I’m that guy.)

So, for the last four months we’ve been hanging out a few times a week with a group of about 15 teens who are growing up in a particularly challenging neighborhood in Fort Myers. (Here's an example of what goes on in their neighborhood.) They are bright, funny and full of life, but face some very significant challenges in their surroundings.

Nothing like trusting another 13 year old when you're blindfolded
Four weeks ago we officially kicked off Cultivate, a ministry aimed at sharing God’s love with these teens and helping them develop their God-given gifts. Each Wednesday we are gathering to play games, eat dinner, and to talk life and faith. Through the ministry the youth will have mentors, and will have the opportunity to earn special outings and activities (through grades, serving others, meeting goals, attendance, etc). We have a long way to go, but as I write today I’m filled with joy and thankful to God for leading us to this community and for throwing a little irony and adventure into our lives in the process.

All that being said, if you are local and would like an opportunity to serve some great young men and women please let me know! We have many needs that could be addressed by all kinds of people. And to everyone reading this blog, please pray for us that we would lead this group with an abundance of grace, love and truth, and that we would continually point the guys to Jesus with our words and
The champs in action!

No injuries were sustained...

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