Dear Friends in Christ:
We hope you are faring well in this season. We are praying for you and all Christians to “stand firm in your faith…throughout the world.” (I Peter 9)
One important way to help that is by our prayers for one another. On Thursday, July 23, we joined Kairos international for a global, 24-hour prayer chain. The intercessors were mainly our Kairos young people, around ages16-23.
Kairos Europe & Middle East championed this international effort; men and women from all of our Kairos regions have been involved in the planning for several months, soon after the pandemic brought the world to a halt.
The young army of intercessors, united in prayer, also collectively were open to hearing the Lord for our Kairos mission in these unusual days. In particular, they prayed fervently for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the Lord’s protection for our Kairos network and for the wider people of God.
The 24 hours of intercession ended Friday, July 24, 8:00 UTC (coordinated universal time). Later that day Kairos hosted a one-hour digital event at 14:00 UTC (10:00 EDT). We worshiped together, summarised some of the prophetic senses of the 24 hours of prayer, and heard a few minutes from me, James Munk, in my capacity as chair of Kairos International Coordinating Committee.
My talk was on I Thessalonians 5:16-24: Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances. This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
I talked about what a person who really lived this passage would look like. What would it be like to know a person who lived with unassailable hope? Brothers and sisters, we are supposed to be that person for the sake of one another and for the sake of the world; that we can be “salt and light.” And, that we can only do that if we are a spiritual people, pointed to heaven.
Now this portrait – a person with unassailable hope – can seem like an issue of a personality, or will, or character.it is not. Notice, it is the will of God in Christ Jesus.And, I would submit to you, it is not possible to live this way apart from Christ.
It is not willful ignorance; it’s not stoicism;
it is hope – and a strong version of it. The Lord is with us as we go through this current trial (life disrupted, school disrupted, employment concerns, financial concerns, health concerns). But, the Lord’s primary concern is our salvation. If each of us has this as our primary concern as well, we can be confident that the one who called us is faithful, and He will do it. Our job in all this?Fix our eyes on the age to come – be a people of unassailable hope: rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks to the One calling us home.
We pray and expect this initiative to bear fruit: not just in removing spiritual obstacles that grace may flow, but also in helping our younger participants to catch a flavour of the international bulwark that is Kairos; that they have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. Thank you so much for your support! May the Lord continue to bless and keep you now and always.
Every day, there is a scripture meditation to do and then discuss in the daily small groups. For example, here is Monday’s from the first mission challenge week:
We want to start this week thinking about the sort of decision every person has to make: will I live for God, or will I live for myself?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
“Money” in this verse can also be translated “mammon” or riches. The point of this verse is not that money is bad (you need it to eat), but that you can only have one master.
There’s a hard decision here: will our lives be about things (mammon), or about a person (Jesus the Lord).
Only one of these choices will lead you to true freedom; and here’s the good news: there’s a better plan for your life than being a slave to things of this life.
What are the “riches” that you are tempted to make the master of your life?
Have you decided to make Jesus the lord of your life? If so, what does that look like?
We are praying that spending a week with other youth—although remotely—going over mediations like this one, encouraging each other to fully participate in the daily challenges, and building relationships with other young people and staff will be a highlight of a summer where so many things have been cancelled. Thanks so much for your support of Kairos! Knowing we have partners like you in this strange time to be doing youth work helps us immensely. May the Lord be with you and protect you and your family.
Your brother in the Lord,
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,