Can You Help Fill This Gap?

Vox Josh Courtney

One of My Boys is coming to Greenville, and he could use your support.

Courtney Owens is a young man from Allendale who . . .

  • was one of the hardest working guys I coached;
  • volunteered at every camp that I asked him to work (and that was a lot);
  • shows a desire to improve himself, such as reading every book I’ve given him, and even going through a book study with a group of guys;
  • impressed a local business owner enough to get hired — an impressive feat in a community of high unemployment and few employers.

Now, he has graduated high school, and is wanting to move on towards success in life. The question before him now is, what does that life look like?

Courtney has been raised by a loving and strong mother, and with the influence of some caring men to give him guidance along the way. But he can use more. He can use Vox Bivium.

What is Vox Bivium? Click here to learn more…

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…

Young Entrepreneurs

hannah village fashion

My daughter has a fantastic summer job, through which she is earning a paycheck by the sweat of her brow (and her back, armpits, and all over). But more than that, she and thirteen other teenagers have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship.

Every Wednesday, these youth meet to learn about characteristics of successful businesses, such as strategy, marketing, customer service, etc. Then they get to apply their knowledge through a real-world business plan.

That’s right, these teenagers are not just learning about business. They are running a business.

Check that. They are collectively launching and running four businesses:

  • Bread Winnerz is developing a recipe with a local bread maker.
  • Village Fashion will be designing and printing a t-shirt.
  • Team Frepair is designing and building a bike repair station.
  • Cook It Up is creating a healthy, low-cost recipe using the produce the teens are growing.

We are almost halfway through our summer (gasp!), and these business teams are making progress. However, they need your support. They each need some more capital to get their businesses going.

Would you consider making a financial contribution to support one of the teams? Note that your money will be used as a no-interest loan to help build a real business. And when that business pays back the loan, your original investment will then help another entrepreneur. (Thanks, Nasha Lending!)

You can click on any of the team names above to make a donation. Of course, I have a particular favorite — the most fashionable choice.  (And you can check out their blog, too.)

Grace Church, Elevate Youth, Me, and You

I’ve been a part of Grace Church for 19 years now. No doubt, 99% of who I am is because of how people in this church have taught, mentored, lead, and served me.

I could say I owe Grace Church a lot, but the truth is that God deserves all credit and glory. Grace Church has been His tool that has shaped me.

But a very important tool. Grace Church . . .

  • is the first church I was a member of (I became a Christian 20 years ago);
  • was where I first started serving with children (I knew nothing about kids, except having been one);
  • was where I met my wife;
  • entrusted with me leading Children’s Ministry for four years;
  • empowered and equipped our family to serve in Allendale, SC for 3.5 years.

As a whole, Grace Church has continued to support and partner with me (and with God’s ministry through me) for nearly two decades.

And it’s still going on.

Read more about Grace Church’s partnership with my new organization, Elevate Youth, on the Grace Pastors Blog.

Then, you can check out these links for more explanation and inspiration:

Mentor, Like Uncle Ricky

Uncle Ricky

Rick Sierchio was never obligated to do anything for my brother and I. Yet he became our “Uncle Ricky,” and our lives were shaped by his love and guidance.

Uncle Ricky wasn’t my uncle in the strict sense. He was the brother of my mom’s high school friend. At some point during my young childhood, he made a choice to invest in my brother and I, merely out of a deep-set sense of love and justice.

Click here to learn more about this special guy…

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 . . .