CELEBRATE OUR STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION and HOPE
1. KILBURN HALL HOPE
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.
"Good work is being done and it's bringing hope and identity to kids, drastically changing what could have been terrible into potential."
— Evan Peters
2. STUDENTS RESPOND TO GOD'S STORY IN CALIFORNIA.
This past April we took 94 teenagers from across the province to California for our annual California Breakaway trip (Calbreak). The students were able to experience the best beaches, theme parks, attractions and shopping, all with their best friends. But the most significant part of our trip was that these students also had the opportunity to build authentic relationships with our staff.
Through these relationships, we were able to organically share the story of God’s love with these kids. Approximately 80% of our students did not come from a church background, so the story of Jesus was new to most of them.
Our guest speaker was Sid Koop, a well respected teacher and communicator within Canada youth ministry circles. During our large group times, Sid was able to share some thoughts and truths about who God is and how to begin relationship with Jesus. The kids were very receptive and our staff were able to have meaningful conversations about how to follow Jesus.
Of the 94 students on our trip this year, 23 indicted that they wanted to begin a relationship with God! Please pray for these students, and for us as we try to continue to encourage and disciple them.
In May we were able to have a reunion with our Calbreak students. We had a premiere of our Calbreak movie at the Roxie Theatre in Saskatoon, complete with a red carpet. It was so great to reconnect with these kids.
Please pray for the upcoming year, that we would have the opportunity to share God’s story with a hundreds more students on Calbreak 2018!
"Of the 94 students on our trip this year, 23 indicted that they wanted to begin a relationship with God!"
— Corwin Thiessen
3. TO LOVE IS TO SERVE
Project Serve 2017 was a huge success! We took a team of 11 youth from Saskatoon down to Belize for a 10 day service trip and we had an amazing time! The majority of our time was spent at the King’s Children’s Home, which I have been partnering with for the last 14 years. It is a home filled with the most incredible children I have ever met, and getting to bring another team down to meet them and love them was such a blessing to me.
During the days we spent our time working on a construction project at the Kids Home. They are in the process of developing their land into a fully self-sustaining farm. Over the last few years teams have helped them build a barn, greenhouse and chicken coop to house their own animals. So our project this year was to pour a concrete roof on a building that will help them process their own animals to feed the children. It is a much needed facility for any well functioning farm, and it was a great project for our team.
We had a lot of fun working alongside a small local crew and learning how they pour a concrete roof. It took several days, and the team was so excited every morning to get back to the worksite and continue their progress. We finished the roof ahead of schedule, and the team did such a good job of working together, having fun, and encouraging each other along the way.
When we were done work each day we would have a few hours to play with the kids, which was a highlight for most of our team! Spending even an hour with these kids will change your life. They are full of light and joy, and taught us so much about how to live a life of abundant joy even when faced with hard times.
They don’t have a lot materially, but they are rich in spirit and there is so much to learn about how to be grateful for everything we have been blessed with. God blessed us abundantly with experiences that changed and shaped each one of us. He used this trip to change the course of life for many people on the team, and it’s exciting to look to the future and imagine what He will do because of Project Serve 2017!
PROJECT SERVE DIRECTOR
"God blessed us abundantly with experiences that changed and shaped each one of us"
— Kristin Clark