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…

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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:

Envy, Jealousy, and Allendale

House July2014

For the first time since 2010, we are not spending a summer in Allendale, SC.

For the first time since 2010, we are not meeting and fellowshipping with mission trip teams serving in Allendale.

For the first time since 2010, we are not leading summer camps in Allendale.

And we feel like we are missing out.

A team of students and leaders from Grace Church are leaving Allendale tomorrow, to return to Greenville. We are envious that they spent the last 5 days in our “home.”

I’d love for you to read more, on my guest post on the Culturally Engaged blog, titled Jealous for Allendale.

Related Links:

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 . . .

My Boys

Teens Greenville Trip 14May
Remember this reunion?

I miss my boys.

No, I don’t mean my sons. I mean the guys I was blessed to coach in Allendale. And I especially mean a handful of them who became particularly dear to my family.

Any coach or teacher knows that you ought not to have “favorites.” But it’s hard to avoid this.

We’ve had a dozen or more guys over to dinner. (Not at the same time. Good Lord. It was all we could do to prepare enough food for 3 or 4 at a time.) Some of them helped us with summer camps and spring break camps. I did a book study with four.

They played with my own kids — chess, Lego, Wii, soccer, baseball, whatever. (Hint: You ever want to win a parent’s heart? Love on his kids.)

And despite us looking nothing alike and having little in common, I treated them like my own kids. I was demanding (often) and sensitive (occasionally). I gave them practical advice, which sometimes sunk through their stubborn teenage skulls.

We laughed with each other, and we yelled at each other. I let them borrow my car, even after one of them wrecked his sister’s car.

I guess I’m thinking about “my boys” because a couple of guys (whom we were very close to) just graduated high school. A few them finished their freshman year in college. And a few are still in high school, and are getting ramped up for summer workouts.

For only having known them a few years, I’m amazed how much I think about them. I’m sure I’ll lose contact with most of them over the years.

That’s OK. They’ll always be “my boys.”

Related Links:

Friends Are Friends Forever . . .

“Do you miss Allendale?”

We are asked this question all the time. Sometimes people ask with a smirk, knowing that we are enjoying life back in Greenville. But mostly they are genuinely wondering about our feelings.

The truth is that there is a lot that we do not miss about Allendale. We don’t miss . . .

  • people who don’t want things to change;
  • the politicking;
  • living in The Middle of Nowhere;
  • public signs with typos and out-of-date information (like 9 months old, or more).

But I would trade all this for the one thing we miss dearly — our friends who are still living in Allendale.

Click here to keep reading…

First Fund: Accelerating Children to Higher Education

firstfund scholarshipfirstfund 3thingsfirstfund financial

 

 

 

 

I was working as an in-school tutor (when we lived in Allendale), assisting in math and reading remediation. One second grade boy had been having some significant behavior issues, and the teacher asked me to talk to him in the hallway.

Not wanting to dive right into his behavior problems, I asked him some “warm-up” questions, such as what he likes to do and his favorite foods. But I was shocked by his answer when I asked where he wants to go to college.

I would have understood if he said, “I don’t know.” But he did know. He had an exact answer to this question.

Click here to read exactly why he was sure…