From the Executive Director . . .

Timeless Treasures found in Matthew 8

Jesus Calms the Storm

Matthew 8: 23-27 “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this?  Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Jesus tells us to get in a boat because we need to go to the other side.  While in the boat, he has never promised smooth sailing and that we would not run into trouble.  In reading Matthew Chapter 8, the disciples found exactly that….rough water and trouble.  What did some of the experienced fisherman do?  Well, they did what we sometimes do.  We have a tendency to trust in our abilities, in our experiences and just go and fix the problem ourselves.  However, we often make it worse.  Have you been there?  I have.  And how did your plan turn out?  It probably didn’t work.

With the recent violence in our neighborhood, my first reaction is let’s just keep all the kids off the streets.  We can rescue them.  But can we really?  When we grasp the reality of that, it’s overwhelming.  The disciples were overwhelmed.  And in their despair, they cried out to Jesus who was asleep.  “Save us Lord, we’re perishing.  Save us Lord , we’re drowning.”  Jesus calmly arose, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm.  What did we learn in this story?  Jesus is the storm-calming master.  We are not.

Yes, there’s work that needs to be done in the urban community.  However, most of that work is done on our knees, calling on the Lord Jesus for help.  Only with His strength can we engage and calm the storm in the urban community.

To God be the Glory,

Alf Clark
Executive Director

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!””
Isaiah 52:7

Save The Date . . . .

Equipping to Serve Workshop – May 18

Our next “Equipping to Serve” Workshop is planned for Saturday, May 18.  The equipping will center around two main areas: The Heart of Service, and The Present and Future Vision of Urban Family Ministries.  We will send out more information about time and location later in April.  Call our office at (616) 365-9009 or email Peggy if you would like to know more.  These workshops are held 3 times a year and are open to anyone curious about volunteering, as well as current and past volunteers.  The workshop is brief, just 1 1/2 hours long, and is designed to better prepare volunteers to come alongside inner city children and their families and serve more effectively.  No longer will you feel “ill-prepared” when volunteering.

Equipping To Serve

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner – May 18

Following the “Equipping to Serve” workshop, we want to thank our volunteers with a Volunteer Appreciation dinner for all Urban Family Ministries volunteers.  It will also be open to those that attended the “Equipping to Serve” workshop.  We are working on details of the evening and will send out more information later in April.  In the meantime, give our office a call at (616) 365-9009 or email Peggy if you have any questions.

Happenings . . . .

UFM Teen Activities

Teen Girls – We’ve recently had two lively discussions with our teen girls regarding the book of Psalms.  We took the opportunity to share how God has used the Psalms to speak into our lives.  DeShownna, an 8th grader, randomly chose to read Psalm 13 and found peace, knowing she can talk to God even when she’s upset.

The following week the girls paired up and were assigned a Psalm.  They were to read it aloud and discuss, “How did the author view God?” and “How did the author speak to God?”  We talked about praying regardless of our circumstances or mood. It was great to hear the girls share about times they’ve called out to God even when they were scared, hurt, or downright angry.  We’ve seen the girls really open up this season.  We look forward to deepening our relationships with them as they grow into young women.  And we praise God for great volunteer involvement in our Teen Girls’ ministry.

Teen Boys Basketball – The boys have been meeting regularly to play basketball in the gym at Calvary Church, though this winter we have had a few not so surprising “snow days.”  We are thankful for several new, committed volunteers this season who are able to help with some of the evening’s responsibilities.

Sunday Gathering

Two or three times each month staff members from UFM take a group of 30+ kids and parents to worship at Calvary Church.  One Sunday a month, a community group at Calvary called Family Tree volunteers to prepare and serve lunch to our families in the gym following the 3rd hour service.  Family Tree volunteers and our families sit together and share conversation about daily life during the meal.  Some of the dads shoot a few hoops with the youth and give coaching tips.  Then everyone participates together in a couple of fun and active games.  Friendships are developing between the Family Tree volunteers and our families as they get to know more about one another.  This mealtime provides an opportunity for healthy family and husband and wife relationships to be modeled in a natural and fun environment.

Ministering on the Ground Level Blog

Are you enjoying reading the stories of God at work that have been written by volunteers, kids, and staff members?  A simple way to ensure that you don’t miss reading a post is to subscribe to our blog at As you scroll down the blog, in the right column directly above the “Search” feature there is a box to enter your email address. This “follow by email” feature means you will receive an email when a new blog entry is posted.

Under each blog post are various social media applications that you can use to share the story with your friends. You can email it, post it on your Facebook page, or “tweet” it. Help spread the news of God at work in Grand Rapids!

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

Going to ALL Nations….right here in Grand Rapids

An excerpt from our new blog….

“One of my favorite things about Super Saturday is being the last one out of the parking lot for pickup. We drivers get together and pray before we depart to pick up our kids and teens. When we’re done praying, we find our clipboards, grab the keys, the teens and kids who arrive early to pick a driver to ride with, and we’re off.  If possible, I like to be the last to leave the parking lot.  I love seeing the vans go in their different directions. The red van heads in one direction, off to pick up kids in nearby neighborhoods.  The rest of us hop on the highway in a caravan.  Then, one by one, exits are taken.  First blue and green, then purple. I, the pink route, have the furthest to travel before my first stop, but I like it that way as well.  I get to see each van make its way into the neighborhoods.

I’ve ridden along on most of the routes and know where they’re going as they depart from the shared road space.  It brings a smile to my face to know where they’re going, and which kids they’re picking up.  I get excited about who I’m hopefully going to see that night.  One night as I was watching all the vans go their respective ways, it made me think of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).  Specifically, I thought of verses 19 & 20. Jesus is speaking to his disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”           Melissa K, Volunteer

UFM Blog

Opportunities . . . .

Summer Camp 2013

In just a few short weeks, we will be sending out our camp sponsorship letter.  In it will be details on how you may sponsor one or more children to attend camp this summer.  So be watching your mail.  God provided sponsorships to send 96 children to camp last summer.  We are very grateful for many generous donors.  And the kids were overjoyed to participate!  We would like to send 130 children this year.  Please pray and ask God if He would have you sponsor a child this summer.

Camp Sponsorship

Partner with UFM . . . .

  • As a Prayer Partner, pray daily for the work God is doing through Urban Family Ministries here in Grand Rapids.
  • Have you considered partnering with us as a regular monthly supporter?  We now offer automatic monthly withdrawals from your bank account that you can change or stop at any time.  Just download and print a form and mail, fax or email it back to the office.  You can also donate online from our secure website using Paypal (you don’t have to be registered with Paypal to use it).  Your regular monthly support enables us to continue to strengthen families and change lives.
  • As a Volunteer….see some of our immediate needs below.  Help support UFM by doing your online shopping through eScrip, which offers links to hundreds of name-brand store websites.  Go to to register or sign in and shop.  eScrip will donate from 2% to 16% to UFM based on your purchase. 

Volunteers Needed . . . .

  • Electrician – To install an electrical outlet in the UFM basement so that we may properly plug in a second freezer.
  • Repairman – To look at the oven in our kitchen.
  • Child Care – Our volunteers can use a little extra help Tuesday and Thursday mornings caring for some pre-schoolers while their mothers attend our Ladies Bible Study.  From 1 to 5 children may come any given week.
  • Drivers, Co-Pilots & Substitute Drivers – Drive a UFM van and help with student pick up for any of our many programs….Cornerstone Connection, Super Saturday, WildWednesday, Teen Programs, Ladies Ministry.  Call our office for more information at 365-9009.
  • Wild Wednesday – It will be held in the gym at Calvary Church, mid June through mid-August.  Come and hang out with our kids and mingle with a purpose.  Contact our office to get signed up.
  • Facility Cleaning – We’re looking for someone that would have a couple of hours a week to come and do some light cleaning….vacuum, dust, bathrooms.

    Contact Peggy at our office at 365-9009 if you would like to know more about volunteering.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10

Prayer & Praises . . . .

Pray With Us . . .

  • Pray for the children and families that will be impacted by the message of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for UFM staff and volunteers, that we will have the energy needed to do the work God has put before us, and that we continue to seek Him first in all things.
  • Pray for the Lord’s direction as we desire to use this facility God has given us to more effectively minister to our urban neighbors.
  • Pray for us as we seek out grant and funding opportunities.
  • Pray for opportunities to meet with more neighboring churches.
  • Prayer for our Teen Discipling-Leadership Team (2012-2013) as they move forward as a team and as individuals. Pray that they would continue to ask questions and seek what it means to be a Christ follower.
  • Prayer for the 20 teens who will receive “letters of interest” invitations from UFM staff to participate in our 2013-2014 Teen Discipling-Leadership Team.  Pray that we be intentional in building into their lives as we put together the team God has selected.
  • Prayer for direction as we explore ways to strengthen opportunities available for our young men.

We Praise God 
. . . .

  • For every one of our donors! “For you have been partners in spreading the Good News about Christ…..” Philippians 1:5
  • For our many volunteers who faithfully serve each week.
  • For our partnerships with Ada Bible Church, Bella Vista Church, Calvary Church, Georgetown Bible Church and new and developing partnerships with area churches.
  • For safety on the icy roads this winter.
  • For Pat Guikema, one of our volunteers, as she is healing and adjusting well after several eye surgeries.