Kilburn Hall

I have been profoundly encouraged by the work being done at the Kilburn Hall Youth Detention Centre.  Many of you might not actually know that I get to work with incarcerated youth once a week, but it has honestly become a huge highlight for me. I work on the worst unit of the centre, most of the kids have committed serious crimes and are locked away for a very long time.

Now when most people think of jail, they think of it exactly like that, "locked away." These kids are the unwanted and unmentionables of society which we have shut the doors on and essentially kept out of trouble. So... That's what most people think, but I have seen an incredibly different world in there.

I get to go there, hang out, play some sports, and hear their stories.

The workers there legitimately care about the kids.  And you might not think that this is a big deal but how do you think such young kids end up in terrible situations? I can assure you with the few stories I've heard that many of these kids were rarely ever loved or cared for. 

One got hooked on meth after he bought laced weed at the age of 10. Another ended up in the foster system early where the longest he's ever lived at one house (other than Kilburn) was three months. And yet another, at the age of 9, discovered his mother hanging the day after he and his brother stood helpless, as a man broke into his house and violated her.

So who's left to legitimately care for these kids after they've been hooked on drugs and witness things that make your heart stop? It's heartbreaking to see how helpless some of them were when they began the journey down the dark road they ended up on.

But they have help now. The workers there are trying exceptionally hard to instill value in these kids. I've watched these kids smile. I've watched them light up as we play volleyball, or badminton, as the workers congratulate them on a good serve or a good hit. And there is where it dawns on me.

Some of these kids have NEVER been encouraged. Ever.

Maybe they've been encouraged for a job well done on a gang mission, but that's not the same. You don't get a good feeling when you commit evil acts. God designed the world that way. It's when you do legitimately good things or act within your gifting that you actually get the opportunity to feel God's sense of good that was meant to encourage you forward.

There are a couple kids there right now I met through floor hockey... One moved away to the reserve and got into trouble. Another got in with the wrong crowd and ended up in trouble. 
At least I know they're safe (weirdly enough), it could have been worse. 

I just wanted to share that this is one area I feel things really are going well. They're actually trying to heal these kids. They're going after root causes rather than the symptoms and it really is changing these kids. Good work is being done and it's bringing hope and identity to kids, drastically changing what could have been terrible into potential.

Calbreak 2016

What a trip. I fall more and more in love with this trip every year. It is seriously amazing to be able to share this experience with a group of kids every year and also challenge them with purpose. We were a little worried about this year, numbers were down and the dollar was high so come March, things were looking a little dreary for this trip, but it went off without a hitch! We actually ended up having one of our best trips yet! Everyone came home safe, everyone had a blast. Huge success.

        This year I got to hang out with a sweet group of students from Spiritwood, SK. We’ve built up this pretty sweet relationship with that town! Every year they send 10+ students on the trip, giving us some solid support as well as a great opportunity for relationships with returnees! (Gymblast out there is also a riot, seeing and catching up with all the people we’ve met over the years is just a ton of fun!) The picture on the right is the small group of guys I hung out with, and the picture on the bottom is everyone from that area! Such an absolute blast to be able to hang out with these guys and even get to see them grow up a bit. 

        Upon return we figured out a good system for student evaluations, and were given a couple really encouraging statistics! First, we are accomplishing our mission of giving these kids the trip of a lifetime. Almost every one said that it was a life-changing and positive experience. Another goal is to introduce the concept of a loving God. We found that 31 of the students were interested on exploring a relationship with God, and 20 were interested on a Bible they could understand! It is encouraging for us and exciting to see what God has in store!

The Finals

Here they are, your two 2016 YFCHL Champions!!!

    The Saskatchewan Valley Wheat Kings had quite the season! After being ousted from the playoffs in a Game 7 overtime loss last year, this group made a point of having a different year! They finished the season in first place after going on a 15 game winning streak and establishing a prominent lead! Come playoffs, they were ready to play winning the first series 4-0 and the final 4-1. It was well earned by this good group of kids, and it was great to see them hold up the Kelvin Cup!

The Saskatoon Stingers finished the regular season in second place. By far the most tight knit group at YFCHL, this group was ready to fight for each other to win that cup! They polished off their first series with ease sweeping the Capitals, but were worried coming up against the first place Saskatoon Eagles. It was projected that these two teams would meet in the finals and it was an eventful series. There was a huge back and forth momentum swing wit hard fought games and heated emotions. At the end of the day, the Stingers just stepped up that extra level to fight off the Eagles and hoist our Stanley Cup. It was an amazing season, and an even better round of playoffs. 

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Kilburn Hall and Str8 Up

Probably one of the biggest blessings in my job has been the ability to sit down with the guys from the youth detention centre every week. Four years in I have seen a lot of guys make they’re way in and out of that place, but I’ve come to really appreciate the staff and have built some pretty awesome relationships with guys that are long term. I’ve made it to a weird point when I’m a little sad to see these guys get out, but there’s obviously huge blessing in that. The staff there are committed to real rehabilitation. They really want to see these kids break their cycles and move into healthy life choices. One of the programs they offer there is called “Str8 Up,” a focus group offering support to young men leaving the gang lifestyle. You hear stories of gang violence and drug addiction that are heartbreaking. But these men are committed to breaking the cycles, changing their patterns and making the world in front of them a better place!

Check them out at http://str8-up.ca/!!!

Where Memories Are Made…

Oh the nostalgia. What a year it has been.

        A long time ago when my boss Kim started the floor hockey league, he decided upon the slogan “Where memories are made” and it has proven to be the best way to describe the YFCHL experience! Way down below are some highlight pictures from our awards banquet. This picture is all of our retirees from the year. We’ve decided that when you turn 20, it is time to move on and let the younger kids shine. As a gift, we compile a bunch of pictures from their time at the league, as well as their cumulative stats from the years they played. In that picture you can see all of them holding up their picture frames. It was pretty sweet to see the those pictures affected them and how thankful they were.

        Going through all of those memories and pictures gave me a ton of emotions. There were so many memories attached to these kids. Seeing who they were now after being reminded of what they used to be like was just incredible. Oh the laughs… There were thick (chubby) boys that had grown into quite slender young men, and voice changes where high pitched squeals eventually became a low bass tone. So great.

        These two pictures are the winning captains with their cups. Brandon on the left at 13 years old, and Kirklin on the right at 19. Kirklin came to us at Brandon’s age, and we’re going to get to see that transformation! We get to be a positive part of these kids lives! So positive, that they stay around as long as they can and in turn, positively influence our other kids!

      At the very bottom is a picture of all our award winner from the year. So much to be proud of in this picture. From MVP to most improved to top leader (pictured right), we have lots to be proud of at YFCHL and this is just a part of it. We have had one more year to bring kids in and let them do what they love. One more year to challenge them to be better. One more year to show them that they are loved. One more year to let them know they have purpose, and one more year to give them hope and one more year to tell them there is a God who loves them and is FOR them, not against them. Now, we just get to do it all again next year! Bring hope, fun and community to kids that might not otherwise get the experience! I get to walk with these kids for a job. I get to build into them. I get to watch them succeed, pick them up when they fail and celebrate the talents God gave them to explore. I can’t wait to see what becomes of some of these gems in future years, and celebrate alongside them as they succeed.

The Blessing of Partnership

    I want to say thank you.

    Thank you for valuing these kids. 

    Thank you for giving me the joy of this job. 

    Thank you for investing in the next generation of young people.

    Thank you for hoping and praying to see these kids become something amazing.

    It is your efforts and sacrifice that enable all of this to happen. This job isn’t sustainable if you don’t sustain it, and it isn’t feasible if you don’t see the value in it. These kids are so worth every penny, and I cannot wait to see the fallout of just one of these kids’ lives. Cycles are beginning to break, they are seeing that they are good for more than just existing. They’re seeing value in themselves. They’re using they’re abilities to move forward, and most importantly, they’re blessing and challenging others around them. I’ve really hammered on the concept of being a leader this year and they have begun to understand the weight of their influence! When one leader improves, it effects everyone around them. Some of these kids are naturally gifted leaders and they are getting better. We have had teachers notice and comment on our kids and how they’ve begun to make positive impacts. This is what you are doing in these kids. Most of these kids lack real cheerleaders and supports, but you are the voice behind them telling them to keep moving, to persevere, to change their direction! This is what you are sustaining!

    So thank you. Thank you for caring and loving these kids in this way. For stepping in and doing your part to provide hope for the next generation when none would have come. There is always a need for support for me, money is a necessity to have more partners and people behind our cause, but I wanted to thank you that are involved, and really highlight the way you are helping to change the world.    

Philippians 1:3-8

Off to California!

We’re finally on our way to California this week! It seems like yesterday that we were joking about leaving in 2016 after arriving home last year, but we’re here!

We’ve got a smaller crowd this year, but as with anything, it allows for a more intentional experience for the kids that are coming and I’m sure we’ll all love having this smaller group. I believe we’ve set our final number down to 93 plus staff. I can’t wait to get there and show these kids around LA and San Diego! 

If anyone doesn’t really know what Calbreak is, basically, it’s a week of camp, but we’re in California enjoying theme parks and beaches instead of back in Saskatchewan enjoying lakes and mosquitoes. We provide what we call a 5 Star Experience focusing on giving kids the chance to experience, Great Friends, Amazing Staff, California Beach Life, Thrilling Theme Parks and “Aha” Moments. They meet other students from all over the province of Saskatchewan building life-long friendships. Considered “California Fun Experts,” we as staff, are quite experienced on this trip and can show students the ins and outs of everywhere we travel to. We visit the best beaches and ride the craziest roller coasters, enabling everyone to both relax and experience something outside their comfort zones. Lastly, we focus on bringing something different to kids’ lives; giving them the chance to have a moment of inspiration or clarity in which they can remember forever. We’ve provided this experience for 38 years and it has become an amazingly, well-oiled machine. It’s also a pretty fun thing to do for a job.

In my 5 years, I’ve had the opportunity to go on this trip with a lot of people, and have had some really amazing relationships built out of it. There are a lot of students I’ve gotten to see grow up and change as they get encouragement through the amazing community that gets built on Calbreak. I’ve seen terrified kids bring up the courage to go on crazy rides (hating every second of it, but still listing it as an achievement), kids find perspective serving homeless people in downtown LA, and gotten to smile at sharing the ability to travel with guys I’ve grown to love deeply over the years.

Shea, Me, Charlie and Lorne

Shea, Me, Charlie and Lorne

The guys in this picture (the two guys on my left) hadn’t travelled farther than Edmonton before this trip. Two foster kids I had known for years, and after watching them grow up, I got the chance to share California with them. I kind of get how parents feel when they take their kids on trips now! You just want to see their faces light up as they experience some of the coolest, most fun things in the world! I kinda hope now that this will give them a desire and passion to provide the same thing for the ones they love. Some people just don't know what they're missing. When you give them a taste they suddenly want more, and they want to share it with everyone they care about!  

Going to Cali with Charlie and Lorne was one of my major joyful moments and I cherish those memories greatly. It wasn't just a trip to California, it was a life changing experience. 

If you’re the praying type, safety as we travel is always a big one. We also would like to see the community of Calbreak come together as the kids get to know us staff and each other. Also, most of the kids we go with come from zero spiritual/church background experience. What we want them to know is that they’re here on this planet for a reason. At some point of the trip, we want them to contemplate their existence and the concept of a God that might not just exist, but actually loves them. Maybe, it can be a thing that changes who they are and how they relate to the world. 

We’re not just a bunch of chemicals, we are beings created for a purpose.

We just want them to live in that truth!

Thanks y’all!

Doing Life Together

    What a summer. I told people that my plans were to just lay low all summer and stick around… that didn’t happen. From Edmonton to Toronto to Winnipeg to Redberry to Brandon to Christopher Lake to Ottawa, I think I had a total of ten or so sleeps in my own bed! It was a great time though, a season of adventure that was memorable and exciting! I can truthfully say “I’m glad that’s over!” The fall has been crazy, but crazy good. It’s amazing that we’ve made our way to Christmas! It has been crazy, but God’s been faithful, giving us great things to celebrate!

Jesus did discipleship right. I guess that would make sense because it did all start with Him, but rarely do we actually follow His example by taking people under our wings and doing life with them. This summer I really got to do life with a bunch of these guys I love. They got to see how things roll on a day-to-day basis and it was awesome. From coming to my hockey games, to spending a week at camp with me, to just hanging out at the exhibition, it was a simple but fantastic way to spend a summer. 

Hockey at YFC Winnipeg!

Hockey at YFC Winnipeg!

    This picture, is a bunch of my student leaders at YFCHL. We had the opportunity to take them to Winnipeg and play a summit series against the YFC Winnipeg floor hockey leaders. It was unreal, and a great way to affirm these young men as leaders among their peers. On top of that, most of our guys haven’t travelled anywhere outside Saskatoon so this experience was an unforgettable change of scenery. Now the guys have a boat-load of memories to look back (we also won, but… minor details) and some travel under their belts, it was a great week.

Hanging out at Redberry!

Hanging out at Redberry!

    This picture (above) is a bunch if my floor hockey guys at Redberry. After 8 years, I figure it’s hard to break tradition so I keep going back. Luckily, I can swing a deal to bring some guys with me and enable them to participate in something very dear to my heart. It was my favourite week of the summer hands down. I love these guys deeply and feel incredibly blessed to have shared camp with them.

At the Saskatoon Ex!

At the Saskatoon Ex!

    This last photo, is just us hanging out at the Saskatoon Exhibition. Simple things can bring great joy when you’re with people you love. These guys are a blast. I’m continually blessed (and most definitely challenged) as I walk through life with them. Jesus said it would be when you denied yourself that you would ultimately find life. I have most definitely found that to be true, both in giving my life to Jesus, and spending my time with these kids.

A Call To Serve.

I’ve started to realize that I have had a vision for our league and these boys for a very long time, but I haven’t really had a chance to share where God is moving and why. Now, is as good a time as any, so I figured I’d let you in on where God has been leading me and how I think that plays itself out into our ministry.

    I have found that over the years, the kids we work with are very (overly) selfish. This sounds negative, but realistically, it’s an insanely good survival tactic and defense mechanism. When you grow up in a terrible situation, you have to look out for yourself, you’re the only one you can trust. The problem is, it builds up terrible habits that become ridiculously hard to break. Those habits are what breed abusive relationships and some addictive behaviours. It “works” in a survival situation, outside of that it can create real lasting problems. 

    Most parents are probably thinking “Well, you might think they’re selfish, but you don’t know my kids.” Well, having interacted with both demographics… maybe, but there’s a difference between throwing a temper tantrum because you don’t get dessert and robbing someone to stop from going to bed hungry. Some need catering, others just want to eat. Either way, we have to kill these habits. When Jesus came to this planet He tossed everything upside by saying things like “Whoever tries to find their life will lose it and whoever loses their life will find it.” People say “It is better to give to receive,” and this is what Jesus is talking about.

    I want these kids that I work with to find life. Real life. Not the earn a big pay check, buy a big house drive a nice car kind of life, but being the selfless, caring, trusted man kind of real life. We find the most life and greatest joy when we give ourselves to another. When we become dependable and trustworthy. When we can bless others with, our gifts, passions, talents and ideas. 

    A pretty sweet moment for me last year, was when a 9 year-old kid was playing mini-stick hockey with pants that were way too long. I watched a 13 year-old kid call him over get down on his knees and roll the kid’s pants up for him. Some people look for huge events of success when they work with people. That was a massive moment for me to see. If you knew the homes these guys came from and how hard it was for them to humble themselves, you’d feel the same. 

    When I see these kids serve, it means that something radical and amazing is happening in their hearts. It means that the Holy Spirit is beginning that good work within them in which He will carry onto completion. You’d think this is a common type of thing, but these moments are rare. These kids are wounded and need real heart transformation. Good thing I believe in a God that loves these kids and performs miracles. It’s the only hope I have for seeing real change in these kids.

Into the Pit

I will descend into the pit, if you will hold tightly to the ropes.

In 1792, a British missionary named William Carey used this quote to gather support from his friends as he journeyed to India to reach people with the Gospel. He booked a one-way ticket, but was only willing to do it as long as people were willing to encourage and support him through correspondence.     

    Although I do not see my life and calling as a terrible pit, I do see it as an incredibly important investment in the next generation of leaders. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of kids over these last four years, and I’m slowly starting to see the impact that it’s had. There have been quite a few discouraging moments in the last few years. Humans are an expensive investment, your whole being dives into teaching and guiding them and it doesn’t always provide a great return. We can grow weary of doing good and seeing little immediate return. But we persevere, knowing that He who called us is faithful and ready to equip for longevity in this ministry. 

    I say all of this because in those moments where I’ve been weary and burdened, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving text messages, phone calls, and even “right time, right place” meetings where God has used you to encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing. My list of monthly supporters sits beside my computer everyday so I can be constantly reminded of who’s tangibly behind my ministry and investing in these kids. So, thank you. Although it may not be a fortune you are sacrificing to support me, you are part of the choir that resounds in my head telling me to keep going, to keep investing and to keep loving! (Hebrews 12:1-2)

    With that in mind, I can use both more financial support, and more advocates for our ministry! We’ve begun to realize there are a lot of people that don’t know we exist and would love to be a part of what we do! Being an advocate for me (for us) is an untapped resource! We (I) need more supporters you can’t financially be a part of our ministry but know someone who can, this is an incredibly important way to contribute! We need $8,000-$10,000 to continue to run YFCHL this year. For some people that is not a big deal. For these kids, it’s their safety and self worth every week! Please consider partnering with us financially or advocating for us! We need the support!      

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!!!

 2 Cor. 3:2-3

Just a Little Boy...

For some reason I just feel like I should share this story, so I will.

So one day, a few years ago, I wanted to get a bunch of our guys to experience a church service. I figured "Hey, get out of your comfort zone, come see something different." People don't actually understand what it takes to get some of these guys out of their comfort zone. The world has usually been painful and scary, so going into unknown situations (especially when it includes white suburbia) are much bigger obstacles then you would think.
Anyway.
We make an event of it and I load up all the kids in the van and drive on up to the new church in town running out of a movie theatre. (I figured it was still a church, but wasn't a "church" building, so it'd be easier to walk into and not feel too weird.) So we roll up, experience a pretty normal church service with a welcoming congregation that was willing to talk to the boys (You think this is a small thing, but I took two big native boys to a church once where the only thing someone said to us was "Can you please take your hat off?" ...Because, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, unless you're wearing a hat.)
So, we chat with some of those people, got to experience “church” but not in a “church” (which was awesome), and then proceeded to hang out together the rest of the day. This was actually pretty awesome and probably one of my favourite days in the last 5 years. I run a Bible study with a buncha super solid high school/university dudes and it gave them an opportunity to interact with this other demographic of kids I love. 
And it went swimmingly.

This brings me to the point of this whole thing. 
So at the end of the day, I’m dropping off all the guys and it’s getting late into the day where you usually end up having those solid chats. I’m left with the last guy (we’ll call him Tim for now) and I ask “Hey, what’d ya like/dislike the most about the church service today?” 
So Tim’s been pretty hardened by a really crappy home situation, lack of support and basically learning to fend for himself way too long. He’s been around Christians so he’s not totally weirded out by some of the things they do, but I never expected him to say this…
“Man, I had a hard time focusing on the music and what the pastor was saying. I kept looking around and seeing all these guys holding their babies and I was almost crying man. I almost lost it but I didn’t want the guys to see it. Cuz, you know, that's something I’ll never get man.”
The nursery wasn’t active that Sunday, and the majority kids that weren’t in that nursery were perched right on daddy’s lap for a major part of the church service. Some were asleep, others were just enjoying themselves, but either way, it had this young man, hardened by a rough life, to the point of tears. 
And I totally get it.

How much do you think the way you love your family speaks to other people? How much do you think your kids (especially your sons) actually need affection? How do you go out of your way to love people the way that they need to be loved (and not the way that you want to love them)? 
You know, I listened to a sermon by Tony Merida about the parable of the Lost Son where the he explained the the phrase “threw his arms around him and kissed him,” (LK. 15:20) should actually be translated “Showered him with kisses.” Merida then goes on to explain, that our culture sucks at showing affection, especially to boys/men, and then we wonder why they are so emotionally out of touch and shut off when they’re adults.
Maybe he's right.
All I know is I watched a scary, drug-dealing, inner-city kid tear up when he saw men holding their children.
And I know a lot more kids that feel the same way.
Heck I know men that would feel that way, they’d just never say it.
I’m glad that I know God as a loving Father. I hurt for those that don’t, and I see the pain and decisions that come from that reality everyday.
Pray for those that need a Father.
And the little boys (and girls) that need Him.

Because behind every “hood-rat” there’s a scared little boy that learned to fend for himself instead of resting in the security daddy should have provided.

Stats from https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/

New Beginnings...

Well, hockey started this last Wednesday and we’re into exciting times here at YFCHL. We decided to look into changing venues for our program, and so far, it may just be a big hit! We made the move to St. Mary’s Health and Wellness Centre just off of 20th Street and Avenue N. St. Mary’s is a very old school with a brand new building (2 or so years old I believe) and was built to try and help offer resources to the community. This area needs all the help it can get, and there are a ton of kids around there we can involve in what we do! The staff at the school are absolutely stoked to have us and are just ecstatic that we’re providing opportunities for their kids. The location is a little off centre from where we were, but I’m sure we’ll make do. That’s what we have vans for :).

Princess Alexandra Community School was great to get us going and left some of the older boys with 6 years of memories, but the change will be good. I talked a little bit last year about space and our desire to move to a bigger facility. Well, this facility is most definitely bigger, and I would say way better for what we’re trying to do. Part of our problem at Princess was the nooks and crannies the kids could get into. They could find ways to disappear if they wanted, and it made supervision harder than it needed to be. This school is much more open and the gym is significantly larger. Everyone is in eyeshot (there’s glass wall between the lobby and gym to watch what’s going on and not get hit in the face by a puck!). This will help to keep everyone a little safer and ensure we don’t break anything too often…

That being said, the other bonus about us moving is… new kids. There was a group of kids attending St. Mary’s that had no clue we existed. Now our program runs out of their school. We had at least 20 new kids on Wednesday (I think we’re going to run into our too many people problem sooner than usual…) while missing a bunch of our regulars. (Man… Say hockey and you’ll get a buncha west side kids for sure!) We’re gonna be well over 60 this year. Hoping that we can brainstorm some solutions to “expand” or at least find a way to fit these kids into our program. At YFCHL we’re all about hope, fun and community, and we want as many kids as possible to experience all three of those.

Some of the senior boys in the new gym.

This is such a huge answer to prayer. I had begun thinking and praying about a new facility two years ago, and now it’s amazing to see it actually come to fruition. Jesus loves these kids, despite how terrible some of their situations are, and He’s finding ways to reach them.

God is good.

Three last quick things.

One - If you’d want to partner with me in praying for a female staff for YFCHL that’d be great. The last two years our past intern Kaitlyn was helping us out, but she has moved on to pursue Social Work in Alberta. God directed her through her experience with us and we were blessed to have her, but now we need another girl like her! Part of us having more kids is having more girls and I’d love to have a female volunteer that can speak into their lives.

Two - Our YFCHL budget is on me to raise this year. On top of raising my salary, I’ll need to raise around $4000 to provide this program and experience for our kids this year. If you would like to be a part of that OR you know someone that probably would, please give me a shout and let me know. (I’d like to point out, we provide this program for 60-80 kids for the price it would cost two kids to play AA ice hockey for a year).

Three - YFC has a golf tournament fundraiser this weekend at Greenbryre. The cost is $150 ($75 of which is tax deductible) which includes a bunch of other stuff. If you like to golf and are interested, check out the webpage here (http://yfcsask.com/golf-challenge/)

Thanks for the read y’all. Have a great week!
2 Peter 3:9


The Rest of Summer!

Most of us at Redberry!

Most of us at Redberry!

Guess I’ve been off the grid for a bit… Well, just kinda ended up travelling around a bit more then I had originally expected! 
Last time I’d thrown a post on here I had just gotten back from Winnipeg with the YFCHL leaders. After a ball hockey trip to Brandon, Manitoba, I went directly to my favourite week of the summer out at Redberry Bible Camp. I had managed to squeeze together some guys from the floor hockey league and ended up out at camp with 10 guys (9 students and a volunteer) all from the floor hockey league! It’s one thing when we meet together every Wednesday, but getting to spend that time out at camp, at a place I love, with a buncha sweet guys I also love, was the best thing ever. Some pretty awesome stuff happened that week and I’m super thankful for everything God’s graced me enough to experience with those guys.
There was also a huge realization for me that my time spent at Redberry over the last 8 years I've been a part of the ministry there has been pretty fruitful. I've got some really awesome relationships by being a consistent figure for those kids the last 8 years. Man it was cool to speak some truth into some of those kids. Truth that meant something.

After that lovely, eventful week, I was off to Camp Kadesh, about 2 hours north of Saskatoon. While on the way to Brandon, I got a call from the director of programs at Kadesh, wondering if I happened to be free to speak at camp the following week. I was, so away I went!
It was my first time in “enemy territory” smile emoticon and it was an absolute blast. Camp Kadesh has one of the most beautiful sites I’ve seen and it was really great to spend the week hanging out with a buncha really energetic, smart, inquisitive junior high kids (along with some awesome staff, great young leaders)!
I have a fairly simple 5 point version of the Gospel that I love to share at camps when I speak. It’s easy to remember and the points are all something to elaborate on. I break it down like this.

Speaking the last night of camp.

The first night was all about how we are not mistakes and have purpose, and that God has a plan for us (some people just need to know that they are not a mistake). 
The next night we talked about human brokeness and how it fractures this world. It might seem depressing, but it also means we don't need to be perfect (some people need to hear it’s ok that you’re not perfect). There’s also hope in Jesus; our brokeness is not the end of the story. 
The third night I just get to talk about Jesus and how awesome He is. Sharing life stories and some of His parables, showing what kinda God we can choose to serve and how His sacrifice made a difference. 
The fourth night is all about the Holy Spirit and how He radically changes things in our lives. How Jesus destroyed the divide between God and man which brought the Holy Spirit straight into our lives. 
The last night is all about hope. How this world is really broken and things are a terrible, crappy version of what they were meant to be, but God is coming to restore it. Where God is, there is goodness. No mourning, crying tears or pain.

So… I hope that becomes one of those things where a point or two can stick in someone’s head. They’re all important points and hopefully one of them buries its way into a kids heart. To make it memorable I had them finish a couple sentences for me, repeating them so they were easy to remember.
It’d go something like this…

The deck at Camp Kadesh 

(I’d say) (They’d say)
You are not a… Mistake
You have… Purpose

But you are… Broken
At least there’s… Hope

Because… Jesus

God lives… In us

And He’s coming back to… Save us

(You might notice it also kinda/sorta covers the Bible from cover to cover… figure it’s a bit of a speed version, but hey, it’s something).

Lovely time at camp. So cool to be part of the bigger picture where God is working. Cool to see kids think about stuff and form their own opinions! Love it!

Took off to Ottawa for ball hockey nationals shortly after Kadesh. That tournament is a great example of the high respect elite athletes have for each other. Was a lot of fun to reconnect with the guys I know from around Canada and to just hang out with the bros. (Ottawa had some beautiful scenery, love that city!)

Again, thanks for all your support! Couldn’t do what I do without you!
Have a great week!

Travelling Around

Well, we had a great trip to Winnipeg last week. Unreal stuff. You know, most people wouldn’t think of Winnipeg as an awesome place to go hang out, (I would be one of those people… haha) but I was hanging out with a bunch guys who’ve never really travelled much outside of Saskatoon and were able to spend some quality time on the road with a bunch of their friends. Some times you just want to share things with people you love. You just want them to see some of the cool things in life because the reactions they give you are just so totally worth it. 
Moments like that are worth millions of dollars.
It was also sweet to take this specific group of guys, because they’re all leaders in some way shape or form, and it’s good to recognize that in them. There are some pretty crazy stories locked up between the eyes of those guys, and they’re continuing to prove they have an amazing amount of potential. 
I feel blessed that Jesus has placed these kids in my life and allowed me to see them grow and mature into the men they’ve become. Getting to share these experiences with them is priceless, a true gift.

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One great story from the week. 
The captain of my team, Brennan, had shown up to Winnipeg with one pair of raggedy old shoes. He’d used them for everything the last little while (everything from gym class to concrete work) and they were in terrible shape. The first night we get there, we get out the equipment to have a little late night scrimmage in the gym, and he blows his foot right out the side of his shoe. Well… All the way to Winnipeg only to wreck the one pair of shoes he has to get him through the next month (forget the fact that he can’t play hockey). Luckily, the YFC guy in Winnipeg (Jamie) had an extra pair of shoes lying around that Bren could use, but that was just for the week. He still had to have something to work in when he got back.
That night, Jamie got home and figured he’d throw it out to a few people on Facebook to see if they’d consider helping out our friend Brennan with shoes. Naturally, there’s an overwhelmingly awesome response. He ends up with $130 to spend and has someone mention they’ll give out their staff discount at sportchek.
 

I mentioned to Brennan, that while we have the ability, we might as well get you two pairs, gym pair/everyday pair, that way they’ll last at least. So, Brennan came to Winnipeg with a crappy pair of shoes, leaves with two great ones that’ll hopefully last him a while!
If you know Brennan and the crap he’s had to deal with, you’d be as stoked as I am. Having known him for 6 years I can say that I’m incredibly proud of this kid. I’ve been able to watch him make good decisions and man up without any support. He’s literally making it on his own, and sometimes seeing a boost come from someone else really lifts your spirits.
I told him, “Sometimes God just decides to bless you, even though it looks crappy. This stuff happens to me all the time man. You could play it off on coincidence, but this happens to me way too much to believe that crap.”
Super glad he ruined his shoes now. Really, really glad.
And that’s why I love Jesus.

God is good y’all. 

Thank you!

        It’s been quite the year. One that I’m incredibly thankful of, but one that has most definitely stretched and pushed me. Basically there’s one thing I can seriously sit back and be thankful for, and that is the group of people I have behind me. The amazing group of supporters, donating and praying for everything I do here at SYFC. I have made it one more year living entirely off of a call that I believed God placed on my life. A call to work in and among the unloved, forgotten and hurting kids of Saskatoon. I stepped into this having no clue what it would really end up looking like or how I would survive, but I did it because I trusted that God would provide. And He did. I believe at this point I’ve successfully raised about $90,000 over the last three years here at YFC (yup...). This is incredibly humbling and amazing. That shows the kind of belief people have bestowed on my life and blows me away beyond measure. 

        All I can say is thank you. So, thank you. 

        Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for trusting my work. Thank you for partnering with us. Thank you for believing in these kids. Thank you for believing these kids are worth it. Thank you for sacrificing for that belief. Thank you for those little discussions where you ask how our kids are doing. Thank you for the smiles and notes of encouragement. Thank you for the simple statement “You’re doing good work.” (If you only knew its impact). Thank you for the statement “I’m proud of you.” Thank you for looking for creative ways to serve us. Thank you for praying consistently. Seriously. Thank you for those little prayers you throw up not really knowing just what they’re doing. I’m exhausted. I may have hit the breaking point a couple times this year, but there was something keeping me going, something pushing me ahead. If you only knew the times I felt supernatural peace and strength to push forward you would totally understand (but I guess you can’t… that must just be my blessing!). Jesus has used your prayers marvellously. By the grace of God I’ll remain at this position as long as I can. Thank you so much.
   I don’t wonder if I could have done it without you, I straight up know I couldn’t have. Jesus has sustained me this far and used you guys to play a huge part in doing so. These victories I’ve seen working in kids hearts are as much mine as they are yours. Every moment I spend pouring into kids' lives, every minute spent planning program activities, every school I step into, is all empowered by the grace of God administered through your prayers and sacrifices. I’ll never forget the feeling I got the first time a support check came in the mail. It’s one thing to do a job for a paycheque, it’s another thing to have people send in their hard-earned money to empower the work you do. It is amazing and I’m glad to be in this position (even though the uncertainty is often mildly terrifying…). By His power, through His leading, for His glory. Thank you.

Mobile Youth Center

Well, summer is always kind of an interesting time here. I elected not to book my summer up with camp speaking this year, instead I’m participating in a new initiative on the horizon called the Mobile Youth Centre! Our Executive Director had this dream a couple years ago to have a camping trailer as a type of “drop-in” we could set up and move around the city. We have a couple activities lined up and ready to go inside this trailer and the ability of mobility!  We’ve got a couple different sites around the city where we’re going to be consistently setting up throughout the week. Hopefully it will give local kids something to do! We’re hoping that this gets even more kids connected and involved in some of our more regular programs. There is a lot of potential for the youth of our city here. Hopefully it’ll be the vehicle for giving kids hope that we want it to be!

The end of another YFCHL season

    How crazy it is that we are six years into this ministry! It seems like just yesterday I was meeting some of our graduates for the first time as little junior high kids. Reflecting gives us a lot to be thankful for. I’m still amazed at how simple it can be to get kids to come out. You say the word hockey, and 50 kids will be there. We just hope and pray that the things we’ve done to serve these kids are impacting and changing lives. We know that God uses our every action to work His goodness, but time will only tell exactly where those changes have really taken place. We are not discouraged, but sometimes you wonder how different life would be for these kids if we had not come around. I’ll say it for the millionth time, just knowing these kids makes my job incredibly rewarding. I love these relationships and the kids that come with them. They are a huge blessing to me. 
Lots to reflect upon as our season has drawn to a close. It was just as intense as we thought it would be. Playoffs were a huge toss up, with three game 7 showdowns (one which went to overtime) and a couple new championship franchises. The parody of the league this year was really awesome. There were a couple teams that had a bit of a rough go in parts of the season, but come playoffs, it really was anyone’s game. 
A personal highlight for me was watching my team grow this year. A rag-tag group of youngsters, we lost the first 12 or so games. We were getting blown out and the boys were pretty down, but then eventually  we managed to squeeze out a win. It didn’t look good at first, but eventually they pulled together as a team and could compete well with everyone else. Come playoffs, they were ready to go and knocked off the first place team! Definite proud moment. It was amazing to watch these guys grow through adversity. Choosing to work together, never give up, and encourage each other, despite the circumstances! Hopefully the guys learned some life lessons in the midst of that too. Sometimes you need to persevere through what sucks. If it does get better, the victory is that much sweeter.

Calbreak 2015

        This was the best Calbreak I’ve ever had the chance to be a part of. Normally, Calbreak is a little like camp. You show up on that first day and you meet the group of kids you’ll get to hang out with that week, and then create some sweet relationships and memories that last a life time. This year was totally different, I was taking guys with me that I had already developed 5-6 year relationships with. It’s a whole other thing to take all the inside jokes and memories you already have and transport them to California. Being able to share the experience with the guys in that photo was just completely beyond words.         
Normally we’re bringing a more affluent crowd of kids with us to California, but these guys weren’t exactly from a privileged background. Two of those guys pictured with me there had an extensive travel history of… Edmonton, once. They hadn’t gone to Mexico once a year for a vacation or Europe for some leisure, just a 5 hour drive to Edmonton. Needless to say, it was jaw dropping for them. It’s awesome to watch someone you love completely wide-eyed in a new area. Unforgettable.

The experience was unreal, but now it has me problem solving, trying to figure out a way to get the kids I’m building relationships with to California. There’s got to be a way to give these great kids I work with an experience of a lifetime, like this, in a way that’s well-earned and appreciated. The humble beginnings and circumstances my kids find themselves in shouldn’t be a limit to experiencing this world God has made for them. I’m praying through and working things around in my head. Stay tuned for future programs. As always, prayers appreciated!