Special quarantine greetings! Here in Michigan, we are still in “lockdown” as of this writing. The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly changed life for our Stand in the Gap participants. Our “gappers” had all their services in the city (assisting an after-school program, visiting residents of a long-term care facility, helping with a preschool program, serving with youth
groups, being part of and serving the local UCO, and much more)
canceled. So, what did they do?
For some background, our gappers this year came from diverse places: two from Germany, one from Ireland, one from Ohio, one from California, and one from west Michigan. They came to Lansing, Michigan, without really knowing much about what they were getting themselves into.
Yup, they’ve become good friends!
Coloring Easter eggs during “stay at home”
There were some rough spots at the beginning, especially for the young women. They were all in household together (along with household leaders Marie DeMarais from Minne- sota and Cecilia Harvey from Michigan). None of the gappers had experienced anything like this before. Gab, our sole
guy gapper, lived with the Servants of the Word, in a house- hold of celibate men.
When the COVID-19 stay-at-home
order came in March and all the service opportunities ceased suddenly, the gappers were given the choice to return home or continue a very different Gap year. All of them chose to stay.
The household experience become much more intense than it had been. Cooped up with housemates 24-7 made for new challenges and new blessings. Stephen
Fun with eggs
All the gappers spending time together during lockdown
(that’s the top of Gab’s head on the iPad)
Giles, our Gap director, put together a program for them to do at
home. It called for additional time together in morning prayer, followed by exercising together (if the weather was nice, it was out on the lawn). They also took online courses through Hillsdale College and the “Great Courses” resource.
Maggie Schmidt, Gap director for the women, noted that the gappers were great about initiating service from home. For example, the sisters wrote letters to the resi- dents they had been visiting at the care facility. Gab, our guy gapper, took over all the cooking at his house and sanitized the whole place several times a day. The broth- ers were very blessed by his service.
Usually, there is a closing retreat for the gappers. Ste- phen replaced that with a campfire where they could maintain “social distancing.” The gappers began an im- promptu honoring session for one another and the Gap Directors and household leaders. The leaders also orga- nized a farewell “drive by” for our gappers. People from
Preparing for the “Farewell Drive By”
around the city and the state who knew them from UCO and various services drove by the girls’
house honking and waving signs.
We appreciate your interest in and commitment to our young people. In these changing and uncer- tain times, our Lord is certain and unchanging. He has a good plan for our gappers and all our youth, for us, for our programs, and for you, our partners in mission. May you be blessed and surrounded by the love of Jesus Christ in the summer months ahead!
Your brother in the Lord,
As you all are aware, we are in interesting times. As you are also well aware, none of this is catching our Lord by surprise. He is the Victor, the One who has triumphed over death, over sin, over sickness, and over pandemics.
We tried something we have never done before – having a mass online event for our teens across North America (even one tuning in from Munich, Germany). Over 195 teens joined us with YES! Live – Behold to Become!
We will report more on the virtual retreat in upcoming issues. I was able to present a short talk that called all of us to respond to this unique situation. Of course, we recognize that spending one-and-a-half hours together in no way makes up for a weekend retreat. We will continue to work in the weeks ahead to keep up with our youth and be creative in ministry during this interesting time.
My talk was How Do We Respond? One of the issues we had planned to address at the YES! Retreat was the media youth are often “beholding.” Given that, I told them that we were very aware of the irony of doing the retreat via online media!
The first things I addressed were prudence and courage. “Prudence” is not a term we hear much about nowadays; in fact, it often has a negative connotation (e.g. “prude”). However, it means the right time to act, which is a very important Christian virtue.
“Courage” is clearer, but as a Christian virtue, it means more than just being brave. It means we know that the “good” we are trying to achieve is worth it, regardless of our fears.
For an example of these virtues, I used the story of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14:25-31. As a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, Peter had seen many storms and likely had been out in his boat through quite a few. We also know Peter was out on a stormy sea in the story of Jesus calming the wind and the waves earlier in Matthew (chapter 8).
In the story in Matthew 14, Peter climbed out of the boat after the Lord commanded it. This was the right response at the right (prudent) time, even if it seems a bit crazy.
In the time we find ourselves today, it is helpful to look at our situation as an adventure, not an inconvenience. We should reject the temptation to “kill time,” and instead embrace this interesting time as an opportunity. Christians are not about “killing” time – but “redeeming” time!
How about the adventure of service? There is time to serve our parents, our siblings, and our friends. There are plenty of ways to serve in our own homes if we have the redeemed eyes to see and the will to do.
Connecting with others is important during this time of isolation. Writing an actual letter to someone could make their day (or their week)! We can use this time to practice intercessory prayer: for our leaders, our medical personnel, those working on a vaccine, those who are sick, or hungry, or afraid.
This is a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to the Lord through reading scripture and trying out different methods of prayer. Let’s not look back at this time and say, “I wish I had finished that project; I wish I had used my time better; I wish I had shown more love for my Lord and for my family.”
Finally, for most of us, this will not be the worst trial in our lives; not even close. Let us use this time as training to become the Christian man or woman God is calling us to be!
Hope you enjoyed this little meditation. We appreciate your ongoing financial support for our ministry to youth. We also greatly appreciate prayer support – that we can be creative in doing what God is asking us to do in reaching young people in this challenging time. God bless you!
Your brother in Christ,
I was invited to speak to a group of international leaders about Kairos’ approach to youth ministry, particularly what we call the Youth Bridge. The conference (the Charismatic Leaders Conference) was in Augusta, Georgia. Following the conference, I led a one-day retreat for the youth of the host community in Augusta.
Our Kairos vision for the Youth Bridge is that there is a path or ‘bridge’ on which every young person travels in their journey from childhood to adulthood. Our job is to meet them every step of the way. Kairos sponsors programs for 12-14-year-olds (for example, our Kairos Fellowship adventure trips). We very much encourage dads and moms to work alongside staff for retreats and trips.
As young people move into high school, there are many challenges that assault them. Kairos sponsors mission trips, supplies help with local youth groups, and sponsors the annual YES! Retreat. We encourage high school juniors and seniors to seriously consider attending a college or university where there is a vibrant college outreach (like University Christian Outreach or Saint Paul’s Outreach). We also challenge seniors to consider taking a year before beginning college to spend that time “Standing in the Gap.”
During the first few weeks of university, a staggering number of young people lose their faith. All too often, young students lose their childhood faith to the enticements of the university world. This dynamic is why our college outreach members work so hard to make contact with freshmen and bring them along to evangelistic activities, get them connected with a Bible study, invite them to a party, and form relationships with them.
We have found that each step along the ‘youth bridge’ must be strong, inspected, continually reinforced and repaired—just like a bridge made of wood or metal. If there are missing sections (say the junior high piece is in good repair but the high school bridge section is weak), it is much more difficult to get our youth successfully to Christian adulthood. If they reach college years unprepared and unsupported, the situation can be dire in terms of them becoming mature disciples of Jesus Christ.
It was enjoyable to address a roomful of teens who were all new to Kairos. I talked with them about great expectations—what the Lord wants for their lives. I spoke to the whole group and then to the guys alone while the girls had their own session. Mainly, what I wanted to communicate to the teens was the “power of intention.” I told them that when they see an action, they can usually figure out the intention. “Intention” means to stretch for something—using tension and tendon!
I wanted them to understand that the Lord has a full life for them (John 10:10-11: “That you may have life, and life to the full.”) Often, the issue for us (and for our youth) is that we are too easily pleased. We may hear from youth, “Heaven sounds great, but I really just want to be rich.” I read them a quote from C.S. Lewis: “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”
After this, we did the exercise to the left. The students were paired, and each grasped the hand of the person across from them. They then told that person, “this is what I hope for you and your life.” Most of these kids knew each other very well, so it was fruitful for them to hear from each other in this positive way: “I hope you go to a good college” or “I hope you have a happy life” or “I hope you have a good family.” Then we prayed over each other. It turned out very well.
Of course, this was all before the COVID-19 virus caused us to cancel our events. Our challenge right now as a youth ministry is how not to lose touch with all the students in our outreaches. We had to cancel our annual YES! Retreat, after we already had over 200 youth registered. So, we are going to try a new approach called YES! Live where we will live-stream about four hours of talks, testimonies, and songs. We will let you know how this goes.
Please pray for us as we continue our outreach to youth in this current reality; none of this catches the Lord by surprise. Please know that even though we are all working from home, we are still working together to minister Jesus Christ to young people. We very much appreciate our partners in mission; thank you for your spiritual and financial support!
Your brother in Christ,
Each Thursday, three of our Michigan “Gappers” drive 45 minutes south from Lansing to Jackson College to do outreach there. We sat down with Gab, Maria, and Lea to hear some reflections on this outreach adventure they have been doing since the fall.
“We do a Bible study with a small group each week,” our Gap missionaries shared. “Generally, we get around five people a week. Then we do prayer ministry, followed by 30-45 minutes of outreach to other students. Our Jackson students there are happy with our time together and the outreach opportunities.
“We also invite Jackson College students to attend some University Christian Outreach (UCO) events in Lansing. They always enjoy the time with the bigger group and the large ‘Campus Wide’ monthly prayer meetings where there are often over 100 students praying and worshipping together. They also like the ‘community feel’ of UCO Lansing and the environment they experience there.
Gab said, “I have improved in confidence doing this sort of outreach. I have certainly grown in the strength and courage to invite people to events through serving the Jackson outreach.”
“It is great to see how students grow in the Lord,” Lea shared. “It is also amazing to witness God answering prayers for them and for us!”
Some other blessings of the relationships made in Jackson included being able to “delve deeper with personal connections,” as one Gapper shared. “Because it is a smaller group, it has allowed for more personal sharing and friendship building.”
“We are also learning that even when we don’t see direct fruit from our service there, God is definitely working. Lives are being changed!”
A man who has worked for outreach at Jackson College for many years shared more with us about the impact of the January UCO Fan Into Flame retreat on some of the Jackson students. “The Fan Into Flame was a big event in the lives of the young men and women from Jackson College. The atmosphere at the camp where the retreat was held was something they expressed they had never felt before. The retreat allowed them to see how a big community of Christians live, and a testament of the Lord they serve. Some expressed that it felt like ‘a glimpse of heaven.’
“Carson, one of the guys, asked, ‘why is it that since I came to this place I am feeling like my worries have all gone away?’ Sierra said it been a life-changing experience for her (she was prayed for and received the gift of tongues). Conrad said he experienced a very deep connection with the Lord.
“Everyone felt like this was something that exceeded their expectations. Since most of them are new to the Christian faith, with small groups after every talk, they were able to talk about following Jesus Christ, experiencing the Holy Spirit, and personal faith struggles. Every one of our students received prayer. From my perspective, the desire in our students to live for the Lord was at an all-time high as a result of the retreat.”
Our Stand in the Gap program “stretches” our participants in service, prayer, outreach, and learning more about Jesus Christ. Having 18 and 19-year-olds do the kind of “gutsy” outreach that our gappers do (and many adults would fear to do) at Jackson College is part of that stretching. Thank you for supporting them; their service not only changes them but has a real impact on those they are reaching out to. Our desire for our gappers is for them to live their whole lives, for the rest of their lives, for Jesus Christ. We very much appreciate your partnership in this mission by your prayers and financial support. God bless you!
Your brother in the Lord,
We had a wonderful Legacy Conference last month in Jacksonville, Florida. This was the first year we ventured into the warmth of Florida instead of enjoying January in Minnesota or Michigan! We had 86 participants at this year’s Conference. Post-university/young professionals came from Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Seattle, Mexico, Costa Rica, and more (we lost some of our Minnesotans to a winter storm that shut down the airports, although a few others had already left to catch flights in Michigan and they made it).
Kairos Director James Munk was there. He says, “The weather in Florida was beautiful (75 degrees on Saturday), especially for us northerners. We enjoyed great times of fellowship: lots of friends re-connecting and many opportunities to form new friendships.
“On Sunday, we had ‘Professional Huddles,’ where we divided into various related professions to talk about being a disciple in today’s work world. We had talks on vision for lifelong discipleship, building a Christian culture, reaching out to and connecting with other young professionals, and taking risks for mission.”
Maggie, one of the participants originally from Minnesota, says, “It was very evident at the Legacy conference that the people attending were hungry for community, and we came there knowing that we are living in a culture that is starving for community. The retreat was both a place where we ourselves were fed (on fellowship and worship) as well as a place where we were equipped to bring something to our peers back home, who are eager for the life we have been given. Also, the beach outing was fun!”
“The first thought that immediately stood out was that there was a lot of practical things I was able to take away from the conference,” says Jason, from Michigan. “I feel I’ve been better equipped to be Jesus’ eyes and feet in my workplace. Also, The calling of being ‘salt and light’ was prevalent during the worship time for me. Sometimes during our work weeks, we get caught up in our jobs and lose sight of the mission and call of disciples. This was a good weekend to learn to combat that feeling and hit the ‘reset’ button on my outlook in my workplace. There was also a general feeling of excitement hovering over the whole weekend. (Might just been the 75-degree weather though!)
“All in all, it was a good weekend of worship, learning, and fellowship. I have renewed zeal for Lansing’s YPO (young professional outreach) and am eagerly looking forward to seeing how God uses me to grow his kingdom in Lansing!”
Travis, also from Michigan, tells us: “At the Legacy Conference this year I joined 80+ young professionals who came together to hear talks on building a culture, responding to the times, being on mission, and receiving the Holy Spirit to live out the faith more effectively. By the end of the time, the Lord had moved powerfully in stirring up a missional zeal for reaching other young professionals. The Holy Spirit came into the lives of many of the people attending, giving all of us much more power to live out our discipleship to Christ.”he Legacy Conference is one of the ministries of Kairos. We work to reach young people for Christ—from late elementary, through the middle and high-school years, into college, and in the years following university to full adulthood. We refer to each of these stages as points on the “youth bridge.”The move into each new stage of life are times many young people fall away from Christ. The goal of Kairos is that they remain disciples of Christ. You are a very important part of this mission; thank you so much for your prayers and financial support!
Your brother in the Lord,