Our Unchanging God
By Ashtyn Washington
“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will make even a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” - Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV
My name is Ashtyn and I am the new City Life Site Director in the Edison Neighborhood. When I started interviewing for this position, none of us knew that just a month later, there would be a worldwide pandemic that would shut everything down and bring the world to a halt. There’s been so much confusion and uncertainty. We get different reports and numbers from officials each week. On top of that, there’s racial divide and injustice taking place all over the country.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned over the past couple months, it’s that God doesn’t change just because our circumstances do. His goodness hasn’t changed. His sovereignty hasn’t changed. His power hasn’t changed. His love hasn’t changed. His patience with us hasn’t changed. His will hasn’t changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever more. So while everything else around us is changing, the one constant we have is God. He is the only thing that we can put our trust and hope in.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m trusting God and believing that as we gear up to relaunch City Life in the Edison Neighborhood, that He will do what only He can do. I’m trusting that He is doing a new thing. He is making a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. I’m trusting that He has already softened the hearts of the teens in the neighborhood, and that they would be ready to receive all that we as a ministry team want to pour into them. I’m trusting that God will continue to provide us with the resources, financial support, and volunteers that we need to effectively carry out our mission of sharing the gospel with lost teens.
I am so excited about what God is doing, and humbled that He chose me as a vessel. I am hoping that as God continues to change my heart that He will use me to change the hearts of the teens. As their hearts are changed, I hope that the hearts of their families can be changed. As their hearts are changed, I hope that we will see a change moving through the Edison Neighborhood.
I hope that you would join me in praying for this change.
Spring Newsletter 2020
*Virtual Ministry *Temporary Space *Meet Donave *Growth at Colonial *Out of the Pit
In the mind of any Youth For Christ staff member, the phrase “virtual ministry” is an oxymoron. It’s no different than phrases like “jumbo shrimp” or “pretty ugly.” Youth For Christ has always been about developing Christ-sharing relationships, and this has always been done face to face . . . that is, until COVID-19 entered the scene.
When the coronavirus first impacted our community, schools were cancelled and limits of gathering size were put into place. Immediately, there was a tremendous response by our staff and volunteers as well as the organizations with whom we partner. The Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home told YFC staff member Bill Smith that, while no other volunteers or community members could come into the building, they still wanted him to come and do chapel services. They value him tremendously and wanted him to do a separate chapel service for each of the four “pods” rather than the one large chapel gathering. Bill was excited to come in and continue sharing the Good News! Staff member Steve Newland had a similar experience at the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, where he serves as the chaplain to 136 cadets who attend a five-month military-style school. They asked him to continue our ministry, but to conduct separate chapel services for the three platoons. When schools were cancelled, staff member Tyler Gjeltema felt called to meet a very real need for his underprivileged students. That need was food. The students in the Colonial Acres mobile home community were not happy that school was cancelled, because that’s where they get most of their food. So, Tyler and a number of volunteers started bringing food to the families in the community with whom we are connected. None of our staff or volunteers walked in fear, but, rather, were looking for every way possible to continue ministry at a time when it was most needed. It was amazing to watch Christ-followers living out our calling to serve this world!
Then, in a matter of just a few days, the government wisely restricted interactions even further. For the first time in the 75-year history of Kalamazoo YFC, we could not meet face to face with our students. Not for one minute did our staff consider stopping our ministry in Kalamazoo. Instead, we started doing “virtual ministry.” Building relationships when you can’t be face to face seems strange . . . unless you’re a teenager. In that case, it’s a way of life. So, ministry continued! We use apps that allow us to “hang out” with groups of teens who normally would be at Campus Life or City Life Clubs. We use technology that allows us to create an entire chapel service digitally. This includes worship songs with lyrics as well as a Bible message from one of our staff members. We also use social media apps that allow us to encourage teens in these times that are full of uncertainty and anxiety for them. The life-changing message of Jesus Christ continues to be shared with teens in Kalamazoo . . . virtually for now, but just as powerfully as ever because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
THANK YOU for helping lost and hurting teens hear about the hope of Christ in this unique moment in time. THANK YOU also for your continued prayers. God is using you to impact young lives for eternity!
-Scott McCloughan, Executive Director
A Temporary Space Helps Move the Mission Forward
We have recently been blessed with a new temporary office space. You can find us at 5401 Portage Road, Suite 2, Portage, MI 49002. By God’s grace, we haven’t missed a beat, and have been continually blown away by the generosity of God’s people. In this season of transition, we desire to keep the mission of reaching young people for Jesus at the forefront. We are being diligent in our efforts to share the gospel and pour into the lives of young people. We are seeking like-minded individuals to partner with us in our pursuit of lost young people. If you are not currently volunteering with us, would you prayerfully consider joining our team? God is on the move, and we can’t help but stand in awe. There’s work to be done, and we are excited and humbled to be a part of what God is doing in Kalamazoo County!
-Joe Bragg, Ministry Director
Meet Donave. When asked what her family was like, she said, “I was physically, mentally, and sexually abused until I was six. I was taken from my mom and put into foster care. At 15, I was adopted by my parents I’m with now. They are my mom and dad!” She explained the reason for wanting to attend the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy was, “I hope to get engaged after I graduate. I’m just 18, and I need to mature and work on all this stuff that is in me from my past.” Donave attends every chapel with our seasoned YFC team, continues to ask for personal ministry appointments every chance she can, and meets weekly in a small lunch-time group that focuses on healing from the past and walking out her new identity in Christ! She has chosen to forgive her birth family. What an opportunity we have to step into a young life, build a great relationship, and see them take huge steps toward freedom! Donave is just one of 136 teens/cadets in Class #42 who have the open door to opt-in to all Father God has to offer at this National Guard military school!
-Steve Newland, MI Youth Challenge Academy Director
Growth at Colonial
Out of the Pit
Wesley came into the Lakeside Chapel service, and, with one look, we could tell he was really struggling. He hadn’t been to Chapel for a few weeks. I told him, “We missed you,” and he replied, “I’ve been struggling really bad. I feel like I’m in a deep dark pit and I can’t get out.” I said a prayer in my heart, and immediately Scripture verses came to my mind. I said, “Let me read something to you.” I turned in my Bible to Psalm 40:1- 2, and read, “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He turned to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my steps.”
Wesley looked at me with awe and said, “Wow, it’s like that verse is just for me.” We prayed right then and there that God would lift Wesley out of the pit and put his feet upon the Rock. The next week, Wesley came to Chapel with a huge smile on his face. He said, “I’ve been reading those verses every day, and God has lifted me out of the pit.” During our worship time, we were singing the song, “Chain Breaker.” I looked over at Wesley, and he was singing with his hands lifted up to God with a huge smile on his face. I smiled and said, “Thank you, Father, for helping Wesley.” Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Wesley is free because Jesus is in his life, and he is learning the truth of God. This is the freedom and hope that we bring troubled teens every week.
-Bill Smith, Juvenile Justice Ministry Director
Expecting a Stimulus Check?
These are unprecedented days for all of us. The COVID-19 epidemic has impacted every one of our lives in ways none of us could have imagined just a month ago. In an effort to help Americans, the government is sending stimulus checks to the majority of Americans. Should you find that your family is not in need of the stimulus money at this time, we are ask that you prayerfully consider donating those funds to Youth For Christ. Operational funds are needed now more than ever, as many people are unable to send in their regular contributions. Here are three ways to support the life-changing ministry of Kalamazoo Youth For Christ:
Mail: P.O. Box 51487 Kalamazoo, MI 49005
Online: Click Here
A word from Tyler: Colonial Acres
Dear Friends and Family,
I just want to start out and say “thank you” for all that you are doing in partnering with us in the work God has called us to do at Youth for Christ and Colonial Acres! Thank you for your faithful partnership through financial gifts and prayers during this scary time of the unknown with COVID-19. My ministry leaders and I are so grateful for you. We are praying for you! If there is something specific you would like us to lift before the Throne, please let me know!
This month has been a challenging month with the virus not allowing us to meet in-person as a club. We are definitely in challenging times. Please be in prayer for us as we try to figure out ways to connect with our teens during this time. We have launched out virtual club and are trying to connect in some other ways through social media. The problem we are facing is that not all homes have internet for the teens to have access to social media; their internet is at school or Ms. Pam’s trailer, which is our hosting spot at this time. Please pray for us as we continue trying to connect with the teens, while being obedient to the governor’s orders and observing social distancing. We are also excited that these teens are still trying to sell popcorn to help pay their way to camp. Their excitement is awesome that, as long as camp is still on, they still want to raise funds. Please pay for them as they push on in this aspect of our Club.
Please also pray for:
Tyler and Meghan Gjeltema
City Life Site Director- Colonial Acres
P.S. We have launched our “Send a Teen to Camp” campaign. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us in sending a teen to camp? Contact me if you would like to know more at 269-806-4724 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also click here to learn more and donate, thank you for your prayerful consideration!