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Trying to keep up with a move of God

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Wednesday Night Tutoring Program Gets a New Name, New Structure

Every Wednesday night we're pleased to welcome to Zion nearly 200 children who are either refugees or the children of refugees.  Many are reading at grade level and speak English well and they are incorporating themselves into WOW, our “regular” Wednesday night program for kids, or the junior high or high school groups.  For the others, we try to work on homework or English reading.  This is our third year.  We've been blessed with tremendous growth, we started 3 years ago with 4 kids, and that fast growth has always been an organizational challenge.  Over the summer a group of committed people met to revamp the program.  Out of those meetings, which continue even now, came the new name.   We continue to try and "organize" in a human way what the Holy Spirit is doing.  

Instead of calling the tutoring program, Whiz Kidz, the new name is STARs.   Whiz Kidz came out of our beginnings as the first church based manifestation of the tutoring and discipling program of Freedom for Youth. We’ve never been able to keep up with the student/tutor ratio of that very good program, so we’ve decided that we have to go our own way.

STAR is an acronym which stands for the four purposes of the program:  

S - Serve.   We serve these children as if we are serving Christ himself.  Jesus wanted us to welcome the little children and in his name we do.  Many have needs for the basics of life and we try to meet those needs: food, clothing, shoes, coats, etc.  Many simply need a friend or role model and we try to be that as well.  

T - Teach.  Thanks to an influx of tutors from many different churches and a great number of Des Moines Christian High School students, we are now able to offer better opportunities to do homework with the kids and help them read.  Our content continues to be in the hands of a professional educator and we work closely with Samuelson School to discuss needs and techniques as many of the kids are in the ELL program there.  

A - Advocate.  Many of the parents of these kids don't know how things work in our country.  So we advocate for the kids in order that they might have the best opportunity to acclimate to our society and thrive in this good land.

R - Reach.  Everything we do is motivated by the love of Christ for us that pushes us beyond ourselves and into the lives of others.  We desire more than anything else to see these kids in the kingdom of God and so through song and drama and teaching, we seek to invite them to follow Jesus.  Our evangelism techniques are sometimes subtle and sometimes very overt. We try to match the approach to the activity and to the kids. Some are Muslim and some are Buddhist and some are Animist and some attend other churches and some now attend Zion and many have no faith background whatever.  It is a mission field ripe for harvest.  

Here is what a typical evening looks like: Vans leave to begin collecting kids at 4 p.m.  We have 2 full vans from an apartment complex about 20 minutes away.  By 5 p.m we are collecting kids from local complexes.  The kids play outside or, when it's cold or inclement, watch a movie inside.  At 5:45 everyone lines up for dinner.  At 6:20 we go to the sanctuary for our opening worship as a church together.  Afterwards, WOW kids go off to their activities and STAR kids stay for a presentation.  Then it's time to break into small groups and begin the learning phase.  We usually finish about 7:45 and start the buses running back home.  The last vans are back at Zion about 9 p.m. It is a day full of joy for those of us who volunteer.  

Would you like to help?   We can always use help as the number of kids continues to grow.  Would you like to work as a homework or reading helper?  A group leader of six or seven kids?  A van driver? (We especially need help in the late afternoon, 4-5:30 p.m.).  We need your help in the kitchen - there are many mouths to feed and many plates to wash.  We need your financial support as well.  It costs money to pay for the gas for the vans, for the food bill (about $1 per plate - amazing!)  We also need your prayers.  Please pray for the continued safety, success and salvation of these priceless children and that they may see Jesus in us.  Thanks for reading. God bless you. PJ

A Big Gift

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This week Zion received a major gift of $10,300 from a local philanthropic group called 100+ Men on a Mission.  

 

100+ Men on a Mission, as it’s name implies, is a group of 100+ men in our community who meet quarterly.  Each man pledges $100 each quarter to a charity that the majority of men vote to support.   The names of three charities are drawn from a hat at each meeting.  Those three charities are permitted to make their case.  Then the men vote.  The winner receives $100 from each man.  It’s a great concept and you can read more about it on their website:  www.100menonamission.com

 

Matt Lenaghan, one of the guys in our church, spoke eloquently on our behalf at the 100+ meeting.  We’re thankful to 100+ Men, to Matt, and to God for his provision in this unique way.

 

Zion received the funds this week during an ice cream social at Douglas Terrace Apartments.  Douglas Terrace was a good location for the event because that’s where Zion’s latest outreach efforts to our community started two years ago this month.  It was a moving experience to be with the kids we met back in those early days and with the new kids who have moved in recently.  We took the opportunity to register kids for Bible School and Art Camp this summer.

 You can see the flier we prepared for this event here.


So how will the money be used?  It is our intention to use part of the gift as a challenge grant for another van.  We intend to challenge the congregation this summer to raise $5,000 which will all be used to purchase a badly needed second van.  The response to our outreach efforts continues to be amazing.  But we need more transportation capacity to get people to Zion.  This spring we started renting a second van and it’s expensive.  Even with two vans it takes 2 hours to get everyone to church on Wednesday nights.  Sunday mornings we’re running our van twice, having a second van will certainly make things easier.  

 

Some of the money will be used to purchase some supplies and furniture that are needed for our Wednesday night tutoring program.  

 

Some of the money will be used to purchase some beds for needy people in our community.  It seems that not a day goes by without at least one request from Zion for a bed.  Hopefully we can meet our current need for beds (about 12) and have a few extra for the coming months.  We’ve been so blessed to receive so many gently used beds from people.  Right now, the demand is far exceeding our supply so it will be a wonderful gift to be able to get caught up.  

 

Some of the money will be used to prepare for fall when we resume Wednesday night community meals and the Back Pack Buddies program that supplies kids identified by the local school with meals on the weekends.  

 

We are very thankful and very blessed.  One of the best blessings is the joy that comes when someone from the outside sees what you’re doing as important; important enough to give $10,000 toward.  That’s been a big boost at the end of the school year to us and motivates us to prepare with diligence for the fall.

 

And our outreaches continue this summer.  Remember the almost weekly activities for kids as well as Bible School and Art Camp and our two scheduled outreaches to Douglas Terrace on July 1 and August 26.  

 

Please keep Zion in your prayers.  Thanks for reading.  God bless you.  PJ

Ramblings about God, the Church and Everything.

  • after Jesus’ own heart, 
  • with relevant, Bible based teaching,
  • with passionate and authentic worship,
  • of prayer,
  • with a heart for our city and the world,
  • where the love of our Lord is evident in the way we live and minister together. 

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