Dear Grace, Sincerely Philly
As I took photos from the audience in the Manahan Orthopedic Capital Center at Grace College, Amber stood on the main stage and spoke to the student body of the Winona Lake, Indiana based school. She offered them a clear and poignant message: West Kensington, Philadelphia needs you to tell it's children about Jesus.
Amber challenged the students, during their chapel, with the story of how God changed her desire to become a music teacher in Altoona, PA into his desire for her to work as a Children's Ministry Director in West Kensington at Urban Hope. She shared stories of children in our neighborhood and the external difficulties they face with drugs, violence and unstable homes. She also brought to light the internal struggle that all these children have in common. Sin.
In a society and national education system that focuses so much on the external behavior of a child, Amber called the students of Grace College to see children for who they are, not for what they do. And when the dust settles and the external factors fade away, our West Kensington kids are simply sinners in need of a Savior.
In the last few minutes of her talk, she shared this quote from Charles Spurgeon,
"You may speak but a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian Church in years to come."
To this Amber asked,--and this is totally my paraphrase/summary--"If you are not taking the initiative to speak that word of truth to a child in the city of Philadelphia, who is?"
Now I am going to turn this on you, the reader.
This city needs people who understand that for a child to come to Saving Faith a seed must be planted and nurtured. Philadelphia needs dedicated seed planters and nurturers. Are you willing to take a leap of faith into West Kensington and serve where service is needed? Are you the worker that will take advantage of this plentiful harvest in Philadelphia?
After a very impactful chapel, Amber taught a class on the most awkward, yet important age of a child's spiritual development...the 11-13 year range. This fact blew my mind:
"The current Barna study indicates that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%)..."
Check out the whole Barna Group study HERE.
So what are you doing about your 11, 12 and 13 year olds?
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend in Indiana. Please pray that the Lord would raise up students to take part in the Studies in Urban Ministries (SUM) program where Grace College is partnering with Urban Hope Training Center to bring students to Philadelphia to engage in urban ministry for the last year of their education.
And to end this post...here's a--VERY--small album with some midwest sights.