Friday, June 23, 2017

Langley Youth Unlimited

Students: the money has been counted! If you had a piece of art in the Art Show this year, contact a youth worker to see if it sold and to collect your earnings. A little extra cash for 🎤 summa summa summa time🎤

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Simple Thank You

The Greater Vancouver Youth For Christ Summer Institute students
The nature of youth work is pouring your time and heart into teenagers, often not knowing the true impact you have on their lives. Occasionally, students who we have intentionally loved decide to invite us in on how we have influenced them.

It was a Tuesday afternoon as I walked into the local high school and saw Garrett’s* familiar face, usually so bright and warm, seeming scattered and worried. Before I could even ask how he was, he asked me, “Savannah, what are you doing after this break? I have a spare class and I really need someone to talk too.” We set up a time to meet and I took him out for lunch that afternoon. He was going through some tough times with his family, feeling like no one really cared about him. He was lonely and overworked at home. I assured him that us youth workers care and, most importantly, Jesus cares.

This can be a typical conversation for us youth workers, hearing stories over and over about brokenness and difficult relationships. What happens next during my time with Garrett* was surprising. He started sharing how Youth Unlimited and the youth workers in Langley have changed his life. At times of desperation he knew that he could call on us and that we would be there to the best of our ability. He has been in our programs for a couple of years so we have been around to see him grow and mature into a really friendly and compassionate young man.

Another instance this month was from a young girl named Heather*. We were texting because I knew she was dealing with some mental health situations and feeling stuck in a dark place. As I was ending the conversation for the night she proceeded to tell me how thankful she was for me and the team. She said, “If it wasn’t for you guys, I literally would not be here today.” I told her that we see the potential she has in the world and that times may be hard, but God has a plan for her life.

Something so simple as a thank you makes the work we do so rewarding. It is not often that we get to fully see the fruit of our ministry. It is moments like this that gets us through the tough days; knowing that all of our tears, our prayers and our love never goes unnoticed.

As I am writing this newsletter I am thousands of feet in the air on a plane returning from Ancaster, Ontario. I just spent a week doing some intensive training with Youth Unlimited. I was surrounded by many others who do similar work to me all over Canada and the world. It has been a challenging yet encouraging week. I feel as though I have learned a lot and am coming back into Langley with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. I look forward to seeing how the next few months will play out using the skills I have gained from this trip. Thank you for all of your encouragement and prayers during this time. I am continuously amazed at your generosity that allows me to do the work I do. You guys rock!

- Savannah Deepwell

Friends and Family

Well, Kirstie and I are excited to announce the birth of our first son, Roland Harold Pue. He was born on May 16 in the afternoon and weighed in at 9lbs 3oz. Kirstie did incredible and I am so proud of her.

I took 8 days of work off afterwards to be at home with Kirstie and Roland. It was much needed as we began adjusting to this new life of ours and starting to figure out what this whole parenting thing is all about! Along with the precious time being together, and getting to know Ro, we were so lucky to have so many friends and family surround us with visits. He is well loved already and we are so grateful for our community that now surrounds wee Roland as well.

Prior to the arrival of Roland, Kirstie and I spent lots of time being together, having fun and spending time with friends. We took advantage of this last season as a family of two by going out on lots of dates and enjoying every minute of it. Our place was also recently renovated by our dear friends (and coincidentally, our landlords), so we stayed with Kirstie’s parents for a few months while that was happening. We were able to get moved back in and get settled with some time to spare.

All that to say, if this summer you feel the need to meet Roland and see our beautiful place, you are more than welcome to! Just let me know and we will find a time - we can talk about life, ministry, and share a meal.

Heading into summer now on the work front it will be filled with graduations, the end of our programs, the art show (which you are invited to - see the Save the Date section on the opposite page), one on one time with teens in Langley, and the Walnut Grove Secondary School Gator Shades program! I will elaborate on that all next time. In addition to all that I am being credentialed with Youth Unlimited! Those trips and papers are paying off as I come to the end of this process. After being credentialed, I will be taking on more responsibility here with the Langley Youth Unlimited team as a supervisor, supervising staff and overseeing all of our internal programs. Very excited for all that’s to come!

Thank you for your support and being on this journey with us.

- Jon Pue

Ending Well

“This place is pretty awesome,” she said to the new boy sitting beside her at our Wednesday programs. It was his first week and he had just moved to the area. His guardian had called me earlier in the week, asking about our programs as she was looking for a place for the boy to come as he was struggling to fit in elsewhere.  Four weeks later he was still attending our programs and had
begun to bring a friend.

Success is a difficult thing to measure in youth work. What success looks like typically depends on the individual. For some, it means making eye contact when they had avoided your eyes before. For others, it means taking a visible step towards a relationship with Jesus. For this boy, it meant coming back a second week because he felt welcome, safe and included.

On May 31st we ran our last Wednesday evening program for the 2016-2017 year. It was loud, it was chaotic, and with 45 youth in attendance (our average is 25-35), our team was consistently moving and engaging in conversation. At the end of the night we were exhausted but our hearts were happy. I would say we ended the school year well. Our program numbers were growing, we had an incredible amount of buy-in for our Art Show and have many amazing pieces to display this year, and many youth took a step towards a relationship with Jesus through our Spiritual Life program.

In summer, things slow down but we pray that the progress in these youth’s lives will not stop. A lot of my co-workers will be engaging youth in one-on-ones throughout the summer months. I am currently actively planning our 2017 Art Show fundraiser in which we put on a silent auction for the art pieces that students and staff have submitted. All proceeds from the event support our programs, as well as the youth artist, and give the community a better idea about what it is that we do.

If you pray, I ask that you keep us in your prayers over the summer. Pray for our Art Show coming up on June 17th from noon until 3pm. Pray that it will be highly attended and that we will be blown away by the support we receive. Pray for our students who are transitioning out of a normal routine and into an unscheduled summer. For some, summer is not met with excitement as it means losing the stability they had throughout the school year. Also, please pray for our staff who will be engaging in various activities this summer. Many will be involved in a high school transition program, designed for students entering high school that are targeted as needing extra help with the transition. Most of us will also be taking time off to rest and be with family. Pray that the summer will help us feel refreshed and give us the space we need to plan ahead and glean from God what He desires for us and the youth in Langley.

Thank you for walking alongside me in this journey with Youth Unlimited. I also wish you a summer filled with family, friends, sunshine and some rest.

- Megan Adam

Danny's June Update

“I used to want to save the world, this beautiful place.
But the closer you get, the more you see the great darkness within.”

The above quote comes from the opening lines of the new Wonder Woman movie and I found myself connecting with the sentiment.  When I started in this role with Youth Unlimited I felt that I could change the world.  I felt that the mission was simple and I just needed to be brave enough to do it. I remember a defining moment back in 2003 when I saw a young person walking down the street suddenly rage, throw his back pack down on the street and kick a fence panel down at a house along the street.  I did not know this young guy, but I pulled over and talked with him, brought him to McDonalds, fed him and brought him back to the school with the task of confessing to his wrong doing or I would.  I called the school later and they assured me that they had connected with the student and were resolving the issue.  I had never done anything like that before and I realized that my role as a youth worker was so much more than preparing games and a lecture at the weekly youth group that I ran.  I felt that I had something to offer to help change the world outside the walls of a church.

Now, fourteen years later, I have realized it is not all as easy as going to McDonalds and repairing fences.  There is some dark stuff out there and I have often felt like I was in over my head.  I have witnessed youth living through abuse, those that were recruited into the sex trade, visited young people in jail, watched the ravages of addiction on individuals, wept over those kids that chose to end the pain through suicide. Not only is it hard to know how to respond, but often times youth and their families seemingly have no desire to change.  This is especially true as I see what sort of things youth do to try to cope with all this confusion - from cutting, self-mutilation and addiction, to those that deal with their victimization by becoming the offenders themselves.  Just this week I saw a former youth’s picture posted in connection with some heinous crimes. As someone who is supposedly tasked with the mission of bringing hope, I often have struggled to find hope myself.

It is no wonder that many in this generation are struggling with their purpose and identity.  When there is no stable ground in their lives then they have to question everything, down to the core of who they are and why they exist.  This reality makes me extremely thankful that my upbringing, though not perfect, was consistent and loving.  It gave me a foundation to build on.  I am not the same person I was when I started.  In fact, the biggest individual transformation I have seen in my career here at Youth Unlimited has been my own.  I have a much deeper appreciation for Jesus.  Not just for his work of salvation, but for his way of life, his way of peace and his way of love.  It is true, the closer you get the more you see the darkness within, but “in him [is] life and that life [is] the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Those of you reading this are a part of the network that keeps me sane in the midst of this insanity. Your words of encouragement keep me motivated to continue, your prayers remind me that my source of strength comes from beyond myself and your gifts of your finances or resources ensure that I do not need to worry about my needs as I care for the needs of others.  Thank you being a part of this on-going saga that is life.

- Danny Ferguson

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Where is God in Our Pain?

  Our Spiritual Life group continues to be a highlight in our weekly programs. Recently one our Interns shared their story with our students. They spoke of how they’d struggled with depression for many years and how their faith had actually deepened through this battle. An interesting thing to note is that their depression hasn’t actually gotten better. They shared how God has not healed their depression but that they had found Jesus “at the bottom of a lake.” This was life changing for them to know that they were not alone in their struggle and that Jesus wasn’t just in the sunshine and hilltops of life. It was quite amazing to see this intern courageously share their story. It was even more amazing to see our students hugging him and thanking him afterwards.

  That night it was my turn to lead the students in a prayer exercise. I reiterated to the group that when we seek Jesus in prayer, sometimes his answer is to take away our pain, like with the 2 youth who had been healed recently. Other times, like in the case of our Intern, Jesus wants us to know he’s right there with us in the midst of our pain.

  At the end of the night, as I was driving students home, my last stop was the student who’d had his eye pain previously healed. He began to share about some really hard things he’s facing. He felt confused because “Why would God heal my relatively minor physical pain but then not change this really terrible situation?” It was one of those God moments, as I realized I had answered his question earlier that night. God does not always remove the pain from our lives but He will be there with us in the midst of the pain. I suggested to him that perhaps his physical healing was one way Jesus was reminding him that he cared about this young man and would not abandon him in the midst of this difficult situation. I saw the ‘Aha!’ light go on in his head as that answer sunk in.

  Some days this job can leave you wondering if you have accomplished anything at all, and then there are days, like this one, which leave me thinking, “Wow, I really get to do this! I can’t wait for next week!”

- Derian Julihn

Life Update - Rachel

Clothes shopping at Value Village

  It has been one year since I started working for Youth Unlimited Langley. Working with teenagers means experiencing the world through their eyes.  Many days are filled with a multitude of ups and downs and it can be difficult for them to cope. As they come to me for help and care it creates in me the necessity to have a life that maintains my own balance. To function best in my job, my life must be peaceful. The risk is that I try to take on the pain of my young friends, but I realize that my effort alone will not help them heal. I want to see them transformed through the peace and strength of Jesus, the way I have been.  Christ has been a pillar for me to lean on in times of distress and my peace comes from him alone. No matter the outer situation I am facing I am able to remain stable because his steadfastness and strength are always enduring. Many of these youth feel alone and the idea of God is very far away and foreign to them.  In these times, the peace that I experience and share with them may be the first experience they will have of Christ.

  You never quite know what to expect when you get random text messages from students. Michelle and I had talked about Christianity and faith only a couple of times. Michelle was feeling pretty down one morning due to a fight with her father and nothing to keep her going so she decided to pray. “God, I need you to show me you are real, not tomorrow or a month from now but right now. You have all the time in the world but I don’t.” Hours later, while at work, a man approached her with a stuffed dog. He said to her, “someone told me you needed cheering up today “. She asked who had told him that, to which he replied, “God did”. He gave her the stuffed dog and offered up his name, which happened to be Jeremiah. She thanked him and the man left.

  Michelle messaged me about this, sharing how shocked she was that this happened. She had researched the name Jeremiah and found the following definition; “Jeremiah was set aside before birth to take a message to the nations, urging a change of heart and turning to the one true God. His message still applies”. The following is the unfiltered text message I received from her, “DOOOD. MAKES TOTAL SENSE. LIKE, I BELIEVE IN GOD BUT SOMETIMES IM NOT INVESTED, BUT THEN I DON’T EVEN THO THERE’S SIGNS FOR ME, BUT I GUESS YOU CAN SAY IM A FALLEN CHRISTIAN? BUT HOMES. THIS IS CRAZY…”. I hope that this story encourages you about the work that God is doing in these youths lives. Further, I hope that we can all be encouraged to speak up for Christ when He prompts us. You never know whose life you may change with an encouragement and a stuffed animal.

And the rest…
  As of a month ago I have moved into my own place. The extra freedom and responsibility has been nice. My best friend has recently moved in with me and we will add a third person in time. Living in community is a core value of mine and I have had greater joy in doing it thus far. I have also recently had the opportunity to be a part of a Gardening Club. Something about getting your hands dirty reminds me of the simple joys of life. I now have the opportunity to do that and it has added richly to my life. Life is, honestly, really awesome right now.

- Rachel Tapp