Summer Camp: Mid-Summer Update

After week off, we are back at Summer Camp. We are thankful to partner with Long Branch Baptist Church, as it has been a wonderful opportunity for our family, and for 40+ children in this neighborhood and in this church.

This experience has been new for us — being leaders at a summer camp without being in charge of it. We are thankful that we haven’t been in charge. For one, it has helped us to step back and not carry such a big load. But even more, we see that the leaders at Long Branch have done a number of things so much better than we could have!

During the first few weeks of this camp, Joanna and I noticed how loving those leaders are. This church has some younger adults and college students serving, most of the ones involved are older. And while these folks might not have the energy level they once did, their love and passion for children is obvious.

Click here to learn more, and to watch a fun video of our campers…

The Hope for Unseen Greenville

Unseen Greenville Panel

Since we moved back to Greenville a year ago (and especially since we now live downtown), I’ve learned a few things about our city:

Greenville does a great job “hiding” its problems (such as poverty).

And (as a result of this),

It’s easier to raise money and awareness for places like Allendale than it is for Greenville.

Now, both of these observations are vast generalizations. Most of us in Greenville are aware of real problems and needs in our community. And we have had lots of supporters for our ministry in Greenville.

But when most people think of Greenville, they think of all the Top 10 lists that our city finds itself on, for food, raising a family, and more. And we are so confident in our superiority that we boast of our hashtag #yeahTHATGreenville.

Still, if you hang around long enough and open your eyes and hear, you’ll see the unseen Greenville.

You’ll want to SEE this . . .

The Injustice of Prison and Slavery

book letters_incarcerated_brother amazonUpon a recommendation from a friend at Allendale Correctional Institute (he is a “resident,” the term they prefer over “inmate”), I bought a copy of Letters to an Incarcerated Brother by Hill Harper. This book would have made little sense outside of my experience working with guys at that state prison.

Even as it is, I still do not fully understand what it’s like to be in prison (and I hope to keep it that way!). Therefore, most of this book challenged my thinking. And that’s a good thing.

But there were also plenty of parts that were easier to understand, even while giving me new insight. This includes when the author makes a connection between historical slavery and the modern prison system.

The Slavery of Prison

In Chapter 8, Harper is reflecting on a statement made by a counselor in a state prison, “I tell all my students who become repeaters, ‘You’re volunteering for slavery.’”

Captivated? Click here to learn more…

Summer Opportunities

MVF Serenity Farm
Hannah volunteered with Mill Village Farms. Now she’ll be working for them.

This summer will be busy with a new season for our family. And we are glad.

This will be our first full summer in Greenville in 5 years, and there is no doubt that that 2015 is very different than 2010. Five years ago, we had a house with a neighborhood pool, our kids went to a week of VBS, and we spent a lot of time with friends. (Of course, since I was a children’s pastor, summer was very busy.)

All of those are fine and well, but now we are in a new season. Part of the change is because our kids are older: Hannah (about to enter high school!) was our youngest’s age when we last lived in Greenville. And part of the change is that our focus is very different.

This summer, Hannah will be busy working her first real job, and for the first time ever, we will be assisting with (but not in charge of) a summer camp for local children.

Click here to learn more…

Poverty and Violence

Are we trying to solve poverty (through short-term relief and long-term development) when we really should be looking at violence, a core determinant of poverty and hardship?

Gary Haugen, president of the International Justice Mission, explains:

 

I like the idea that he points out, that there is a difference between having laws and enforcing laws. “Most poor people live outside of the protection of law.”

Decades of anti-poverty efforts don’t address the justice issue of slavery and everyday violence. (For more on this, check out what Dr. Jay Richards says is the first thing you need to solve poverty.)

Haugen speaks about global poverty and global violence. But I wonder how much of this can be applied to poverty within our own country?

Related Links:

Help Create Beautiful Memories for a Child This Summer

A couple of weekends ago, I spent two nights at a retreat with a few 5th and 6th graders from Grace Church.

And when I say “a few,” I mean about 250 children. Plus leaders. Yikes.

Despite my distaste for retreats (chaos, lack of sleep, noisy, dirty, crowded) I am glad I went, because I got to be with some special people in my life:

  • my son Elijah,
  • my small group of 6th grade boys,
  • a 5th grade girl from our Clubhouse Kids after school program.

The young lady had a great time. On the first night, she told her leader, “This is the best night I’ve had in a long time.” She got to be with friends from school (but whom she doesn’t interact with much outside of school), and make a lot of new friends.

Her positive experience reminded me of the importance of helping students (especially those from under-resourced communities) get to summer camp.

Read how you can do the same…

Circles Initiative

Have you heard of the Circle Initiative? Here’s a snapshot:

I’m hankful for this initiative (which is going on all over the country, including right here in Greenville, SC). The mission and success of programs like this is why I firmly believe that relationships are the pathway to solving social issues.

Related Links: