From the Executive Director . . .
Timeless Treasures found in Matthew 8
If Jesus is our aim, what was his aim when dealing with people in a crisis? Matthew Chapter 8 gives some examples of how Jesus did that.
First, he Allowed interruptions. Jesus had just finished speaking on what we know as The Sermon on the Mount and was on his way to Peter’s mother in law’s house. Then it happened. An interruption. They seem to show up at the worst times. Hence, that’s why they’re called interruptions. You read in that chapter that after the sermon on the mountain, he had multiple encounters with people. He did not say, “I’m busy and I’m on my way to someone’s home”; he did not say, “Let me check my calendar.” He saw a crisis situation in someone’s life, and he stopped what he was doing. He accepted the interruption as an opportunity.
Secondly, he Intentionally involved himself in people’s lives. This word “intentional” means Jesus had a purpose to what he was doing. Look how he touched the leper. This leper had probably not been touched for years, but yet Jesus had personal, intentional involvement with the leper, with a clear understanding of how much it would mean to the person who wasn’t receiving the touch.
And finally, he Moved with urgency. In every situation he stopped what he was doing, intentionally got involved, and did not wait. He took care of the crisis in the moment. There was no consideration of whether this crisis that was brought to his footsteps could be dealt with next week or even a couple of hours later. Instead, as compassionate as we know Jesus is, he moved with urgency.
Dear Jesus followers, focus on the mark and aim for Jesus!
To God be the Glory,
“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
Happenings . . . .
“The Christmas Shoppe? It was Awesome!”
Our first year of the UFM Christmas Shoppe was a success. Brand new items were donated from more than 25 families and businesses, giving our store a wide variety of items to offer UFM parents at a greatly reduced price. There were board games, sports equipment, coloring books, clothing, kitchen utensils, housewares, homemade blankets, hats and scarves, and much more! Because of the generous people who donated these gifts, Urban Family Ministries was, in turn, able to touch nearly 50 families and over 200 individuals. The Christmas Shoppe helped our parents gain dignity by having a personal investment in giving to their family at Christmas, rather than accepting handouts.
The Christmas Shoppe was well-received by our parents! A few quotes from those shopping were:
“The Christmas Shoppe was a tremendous blessing to my family. I wasn’t going to be able to buy gifts this year for my kids but you helped make it possible!” – single mom of 3
“I hope you are doing the Shoppe again next year. Now that I know what you have, I’m going to save more money for next year’s Christmas shopping!” – single mom of 5
“I did not have enough money to shop at the retail stores. I was able to shop with a small amount of money in the Christmas Shoppe. It made me feel good to shop, buy things for my kids, wrap them and then have gifts under the tree for them on Christmas.” – a single mom of 3
We sent a thank you card and pictures to those of you who made a donation. If you did not receive your thank you, please contact our office so we can get your correct address. We don’t want to miss thanking a single one of you! You are a blessing to us and to our families!
Equipping to Serve Workshop
At our most recent session, Alf Clark talked about “Barriers to Ministering in the Urban Community, When Helping Hurts, and Discipleship.” The next “Equipping to Serve” workshop is planned for May and we have some great topics planned. Give our office a call at (616) 365-9009 or email if you would like to join us.
These workshops are open to anyone curious about volunteering, as well as current, and even 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 have to feel “ill-prepared” when volunteering.
Super Bowl Extravaganza at UFM
UFM and Georgetown Bible paired up to host a fabulous Super Bowl Extravaganza. Glen Wilson, youth pastor at Georgetown Bible, collaborated with the UFM Teen Leadership and Tabernacle Community Church youth group to throw a Super Bowl Extravaganza party at UFM’s ministry center. The game was broadcast on 4 different televisions and a large projector screen. Middle and high school students and volunteers filled the building with laughter and conversation. Over 60 people joined in cheering on different students as they participated in a variety of “minute-to-win-it” type games. Winners went home with a variety of prizes from candy bars, buckets of gumballs, all the way to $25 iTunes or Best Buy gift cards, and two lucky winners took home iPods! It was a great blessing to see this facility used so well, packed with students and volunteers having a blast, sharing in community, and creating memories. We ate, we danced, we cheered!! It was a Super Bowl Party to remember.
Executive Director, Alf Clark responded to the night with these words:
“I had a dream right after starting here in March of 2012. I dreamed at some point, we could be part of bridging the urban community with the suburban community. My dream included urban and suburban youth filling the main room in our office building, breaking out of their cultural shells and experiencing what Heaven will look like. This dream, in which we as a staff continue to cultivate, is called in the office “God with US” (Urban Suburban). This dream became a reality for the first time on Sunday night….” — Read the rest of his comment on our new blog.
Even when there is snow on the ground, we begin to think about summer camp. We start to set the budget, schedule the weeks the children will be attending, write the support letter and lay out a basic plan for the summer…..already in February.
We are excited to tell you about a new piece we are adding to the summer camp opportunity. While we are moving from dependency of our families to empowering our families, we are making slight adjustments to the summer camp program. We will still be seeking sponsors for our kids to attend camp as usual, the difference this summer will be our families will be paying $10 per child for a week of camp. (That $10 will go directly into their child’s Candy Shack fund so they can spend it while at camp.) We are praying this will help to create more ownership by the parents; that the $10 is an investment they make to send their child to camp. Pray with us as we continue to transition and share with the families about the future of our camp program.
Our neighborhood ladies meet Tuesday and Thursday mornings spending time together in a one hour Bible Foundations class, which is teaching them the basic truths of the Christian faith. Immediately following they have participated in a 10 week parenting class facilitated by staff from the Family Outreach Center.
They recently celebrated the completion of the course with a feast of delicious food where each lady brought something to share. During the feast the group shared with each other how they have utilized the steps they’ve learned and how a verse they learned has helped them to deal with their anger….“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” – James 1:19
A 17-year old boy that has been attending along with his mother, shared how he has grown in his respect for his mother and himself as a result of the parenting class. Oh how wonderful is that!
Opportunities . . .
UFM’s New Blog has Launched!
As this New Year begins, our commitment is to start sharing more stories! God has placed us in community with incredible people with experiences and memories we’d be amiss to overlook. There are so many God sightings, yet we quickly forget what God has done, unless we capture the blessings in writing, in pictures, or by sharing stories in conversation. We want our blog to serve as a reminder that God is always moving, we just need to slow down and listen!
Everyone contributing to our blog is connected to Urban Family Ministries as a volunteer, participant or staff who is ministering at the ground level, sharing with you how God is speaking to their hearts. We’d love to hear from you, too. If you’re not good with words, don’t sweat it. We have a couple of volunteers with English Major backgrounds that are great at making sense out of anything! Keep those emails and stories coming.
Visit UFM Blog
Partner with UFM . . . .
- As a Prayer Partner, pray daily for the work God is doing through Urban Family Ministries here in Grand Rapids.
- As a Financial Partner. We are now set up to do automatic withdrawals. Click here for a printable authorization form.
- As a Volunteer….see some of our immediate needs below.
- Shop Feb. 3-9 and Feb. 24-Mar. 2 at D&W Fresh Markets or Family Fare Supermarketsduring their “Cash for Class” promotion. Be sure to update your “Yes” card once a year and add UFM. The store will make a donation to UFM based on your purchase amount.
- Help support UFM by doing your online shopping through eScrip, which offers links to hundreds of name-brand store websites. Go to www.escrip.com 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.
- Drivers, Co-Pilots & Substitute Drivers – Drive a UFM van and pick up kids for Super Saturday one or more Saturdays a month. Help with our Cornerstone Connection transportation one evening a week. Call our office for more information at 365-9009
- Super Saturday – It is held in the gym at Calvary Church. Volunteers arrive at 5:15pm. Come and hang out with our kids and mingle with a purpose. Call for more information.
- We can use your help as part of our advanced food prep team for some of our Super Saturday meals. The prep would occur on a day other than Saturday, and would not be necessary every week.
- 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 are interested in any of these areas or volunteering in general.
“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 Wendy and her family as they grieve the loss of their oldest daughter who was one of the recent Grand Rapids murder victims.
- Pray for Rennae, one of our moms that attends our Ladies Ministries Bible study. She is pregnant and due in 4 weeks. The doctor may deliver the baby early as he has concerns about the baby.
- Nellie, one of our Ladies Ministry volunteers, passed away this week from a long battle with cancer. Pray for her husband and family at this difficult time.
- Dan, one of our volunteer staff, lost his brother last week. Pray for Dan as he helps his sister-in-law navigate through these next few weeks.
- Pray for Pat Guikema, one of our volunteers, as she is having eye surgery this week. This will be her second surgery.
- 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 Alf, as he teaches the Bible lesson at Super Saturday.
- Pray that as we go out and pick up children and families that God would keep us safe on the icy wintery roads.
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 the enthusiasm in our new volunteers to minister in this part of God’s vineyard.
- For all the new opportunities with local churches to spread the news about what God is doing through UFM.
- For Kentwood Community Church and their partnership with UFM as we begin an after-school ESL program that we will be launching this month.
“Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 115:1