What is the vision, goal, and purpose of our Kairos youth work? Great question! This month we want to explain how we are sharpening our vision and focus to serve youth more effectively.
We have become clearer in recent years that our main mission is to teens, from middle school through high school. This includes helping them “launch” into supportive Christian environments: college or mission or employment. How do we do that?
First off, we work to help awaken an “adventuresome faith.” We want our young people to know that following the Lord can be the greatest adventure of their lives! Kairos sponsors high-impact events that call for a “discipleship response.” These are events that help teens build relationships with other Christian teens; that help them form an identity as a disciple of Christ; where great memories are made; and that offer teens a way to serve in return.
We offer young people a place in Christ’s mission. We help youth workers, parents, and leaders in their local situations to do the same. We are looking for a generous response to the Lord from our young people!
Sounds great, James, but how is this done?
Over the years, we have found that the annual high school YES! Retreat has been hugely effective in calling teens to Christ and moving them forward in their walk with Him. But, starting this summer, we will also be holding “class” trips (from 7 th – 12 th grades) that are much more narrowly focused on the needs of young people in each year of their teenage lives, which includes building relationships with peers.
For our post-high school youth, we will offer them the opportunity to serve as Kairos Adventure Guides on our many adventure trips. This will be an internship that goes for the whole summer, with opportunity to extend it into the fall.
We will continue to provide training – in person and virtually – for youth workers. A yearly “Youth Workers Summit” will be an important part of this. We will also help parents negotiate the “bridging points” where youth can most easily lose their Christian faith (e.g., the move from high school to college). We will hold a yearly online Parent Forum specifically to help parents deal with the media challenges their young person may be having.
In the next couple of months, we will explain more fully about these programs and how we are envisioning their blessings for our youth. We are moving ahead with the YES! Retreat this month, despite obvious challenges. We do not want to squander any opportunity to work with, call, and bring youth closer to Christ.
One of the blessings of the COVID-19 “down time” has been the opportunity to pray and plan and reimagine some of our programs. We are excited about the sharper focus and new initiatives. As you can see below, one of the important practical needs is for vans to transport our youth and staff to and from adventure trip locations. We are genuinely excited about the future of Kairos youth work.
Thank you so much for standing with us during this time.
Your brother in Christ,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ! This month we salute youth group leaders everywhere, and especially those connected with Kairos. We very much appreciate their love, creativity, and devotion to the next generation.
This past year has been a challenging time to work with youth. School closings, lockdowns, mask mandates, gathering size restrictions, as well as trying hard to keep the youth group leaders themselves healthy, have all made serving our young people difficult.
This month we highlight what some youth group leaders in Los Angeles have been trying through their “Barnabas Buddy” program for their youth group.
Christine Miranda is the youth group lead staffer and we asked her how this initiative was going and how the young people were responding.
1) What you have tried and what has worked?
“What we found worked well,” Christine tells us, “was focusing on the characteristics that Barnabas displayed in the book of Acts. For example, in Acts, chapter 11, three traits we see in Barnabas: being someone’s champion, continuously growing in righteousness, and learning to work with others. We used videos and integrated those lessons into real-life situations. We were hoping this would help the youth apply Barnabas’ virtues to their own lives. For example, how can we apply these discussions to our social media use, amount of screen time, and how we approach personal relationships?”
2) Have you seen some fruit?
“From this activity, our young people’s participations during our Zoom prayer meetings became more involved. They were able to take turns leading the worship and planning the activities for that day. Through this they were able to work on their relationships and encourage one another.
“When we talked about how they were able to apply all that they leaned, they shared they were more aware and sensitive to the opportunities for them to be encouraging. One of our older boys has taken more responsibility to be a ‘big brother’ to the younger members of the group. He leads the youth ministry in worship. The youth then take an active part in whatever tasks they are assigned to make the meeting successful. Through this experience, they are able to work well with and take more part in the group that they belong to.”
3) What are some challenges you have encountered?
“As with all things, there are some of our young people who are still not as engaged as we would like them to be. We have also discovered that some of the concepts we have taught just do not ‘click’ well with our kids. For example, stories that are more geographically centered (like trying to trace the evangelistic journey that Paul and Barnabas did together) do not resonate with all of them. We learn as we go!”
4) What response have you had from the kids?
“All the kids who are participating have engaged well with each other. Their discussions together have served as a major encouragement.”
This has obviously been a stretching time for our youth and youth group leaders. Youth groups are generally designed to be effective by the young people being together. We send a big “thank you” to all those leaders who are serving our youth at this time and remain dedicated to calling them to Jesus Christ—no matter what the challenges!
KAIROS VAN UPDATE
Here’s an update on our ongoing van fundraiser for Kairos adventure trips; after only one month, we are very encouraged! To contribute, go to our webpage: https://kairos-na.org/van/ OR send a check to Kairos with “van fundraiser” on the memo OR use a smart phone to go to the link
Your brother in Jesus Christ,
Greetings in the New Year! I know we are all hoping to see the end of the pandemic and the beginning of a fruitful 2021.
Last summer, our faithful Kairos Fellowship van, dubbed “Red Justice,” rolled through its last mile. It made it through the summer but died at the end of our last 2020 Virginia trip. We have had this workhorse 1998 Ford E350 since 2016. It provided us with over 30,000 miles over five summers, transporting at least 150 boys.
Kairos Fellowship is our outdoor camping program that forms junior high boys, ages 13-15, in strong Christian character and equips them for a mature walk with the Lord. The program is designed for boys to encounter and be challenged by the beauty of God’s creation. Boys form lasting experiences and friendships with each other that are rooted in the Lord.
Over the coming years we will be expanding our trips to include another guys trip, and ultimately four girls trips as well. We’ve had some girls trips in the past, but nothing as consistent as for the guys. We are working to change that. In order for this to be possible, we need to purchase a new van, actually two vans if we can. These vans are essential for all of these trips. We need them to transport youth, staff, and gear. They allow us to offer the trips at a much lower price than if we had to rent vans for each trip. This month, we are launching a van fundraiser so that for next summer, and for many summers to come, we can have the vans we need to run these great adventure trips. “Red Justice” served at least 150 boys over five summers. Five years from now, our goal is to serve that many youth every single summer!
We are inviting you to make a contribution to this van fundraiser, helping us continue our mission for many summers to come. Any contributions you make will go directly towards allowing us to purchase these
vans. As a “thank you” for any gift to the van fundraiser, you will receive a cool bumper sticker from Kairos Fellowship (see right). For a $500 gift, we will send you a Yeti Thermos with the Kairos logo. For a $1,500 gift, you will receive both the thermos and a fleece. For a $5,000 gift, I may even be able to convince Stan and Brian to take you on a camping trip!
Donate here: https://kairos-na.org/van/
Thank you so much for your support of all our programs for youth. We know by God’s grace, along with your prayers and financial support, we will have what we need to serve young people and be part of the process that brings them into Christian adulthood.
May God richly bless you in this New Year!
Your brother in Christ,
Many blessings of the Season to you! We asked Elisha Miranda, one of our Kairos staff members, to look back at her 2015-16 Standing in the Gap (GAP) experience as well as to her college days, to share with us how the Lord used those years to prepare her for her current work with Kairos. Elisha is from Los Angeles and came to Michigan for her GAP year.
“Looking back on my GAP year, there were many life-shaping events right away: moving away from home, learning exactly how unprepared I was to be away from home, and having exposure to different kinds of people. These and many other experiences prepared me to go back home, start college, and serve the LA community and outreach. Two takeaways that truly helped me in my service are these: just because it is hard doesn’t mean it is not worth doing, and being on mission for the Lord does not always look like praying over strangers on the street.
“These feel like common sense in some ways. Many things that are worth doing are difficult, but it was something that stuck with me as I took my flight home coming out of my year of service. As I adjusted to life back home and established new routines and tried to not miss my friends from Michigan so much, I had to do the hard work of reestablishing myself through a transition. There were many moments when I thought I was suffering for no reason, and that life was simply hard.
“When those thoughts came, I remembered my GAP Year. I remembered the equally difficult transition then, the challenges of getting used to my service, and the awkwardness that came with meeting new people when I was so used to keeping to myself. I remembered those personal hardships and the end results of what happened when I persevered and continued to do those hard things. Not only did I grow in my personal relationship with the Lord, but I also grew in relationships with others. I grew in knowing my own character. Those lessons stuck with me as I reached out to the students in my classes, struck up relationships with them, served in my community, and grew in my prayer life.
“I also had to switch my perception of what mission looked like in my situation. During my high school years, it was hard for me to find many practical applications for the talks I heard at the high school YES retreats or in my own youth group. However, in my GAP year, I saw life lived for the Lord in a variety of ways. Sometimes mission does look like going onto campus and stopping people on their lunch breaks and asking to pray with them. But other times it looks like being welcoming when a new face shows up to a prayer meeting. Sometimes it looks like serving your housemates by doing dishes. Sometimes it looks like normal life lived diligently for the Lord.
“This was so important for me to realize as I got home and started to do more ‘regular’ service for my home community. At first, I was restless and bored because I wanted to do more. I wanted to do the exciting and fun and high impact events that were still so fresh in my mind. I had to constantly remind myself that ordinary life can be lived well and can be used for mission. My GAP year helped me realize that while serving can look exciting, most of the time it just looks normal.
“Back in LA during my college years, I mainly served with high school youth as a small group leader. This included giving talks to the girls, helping them establish a prayer life, and supporting them in their many life events. I also served the wider Christian community by leading a testimony writing seminar. I was able to use a lot of the materials given to me by University Christian Outreach (UCO), along with my experience of writing my own testimony during my GAP year.
“As I was reaching the end of my bachelor’s degree program, I was looking to the future and what kind of job I could find which best served the Lord while also being a viable career. Initially, I was thinking about becoming a full-time missionary for UCO. As part of my discernment process, I contacted James Munk, my former Gap Director, who had also done work with UCO missionaries, and asked for his advice. During my talk with him, I explained briefly what I was looking for in a career and my discernment about being a missionary. After we talked, James offered me the opportunity to work for Kairos. He did not know it at the time but working for Kairos was something that I had wanted to do since high school. I took the next month to pray and discern this offer.
“I made the decision to move across the country to work for Kairos. Working remotely has its benefits, but there is nothing that can compare with working alongside people who have a similar vision and who are working on the same projects. I love the office camaraderie and being able to brainstorm in person with my colleagues.
“So, here I am back in Michigan. I work as the Kairos Assistant Director of Information. This includes event administration for our retreats, conferences, and programs. I also connect with youth group leaders in North America with the resources Kairos has to offer, and I am on the executive team for YES Retreats.
“Right now, the Lord is teaching me the same takeaway that I received on my GAP Year: that serving and being on mission is also in the ordinary days of life. It is in the emails I send; it is in organizing information so that others are able access it; it is in the day-to-day tasks. He’s showing me that the events I loved going to as a high schooler took a lot of diligent work, and that this kind of nitty gritty work matters. Working for Kairos now has been an incredible blessing and being able to look at how the Lord created a lot of building blocks for me to get to this point is something I am constantly grateful for.“
Thank you for your partnership with Elisha and all the other missionaries serving our youth! May the Lord greatly bless and protect you in this Season of Expectation and in the year ahead. We very much value your friendship and support in mission. God bless you.
In the Peace of Christ,
Many young men and women have participated in the Kairos Stand in the Gap program over the years. Some of them discern the Lord’s call to go on doing mission for another year (or even more). Michael Koval is one such young man. He spent last year in London, serving mainly with the college outreach and evangelism there.
Mike came back to the States this past summer and we were able to catch up with him to report on his year. Mike is a certified welder, so he was using the summer to raise funds for another year on mission.
Why did you decide to take a year “Stand in the Gap” in London?
“I simply felt the Lord putting this call on my heart over time, it wasn’t a ‘snap—of—the—fingers’ decision. I was working in what I thought at the time was going to be my career, but I found myself desiring to serve the Lord more fully. As time went on, several words from the Lord, along with conversations with trusted friends and loved ones lead me to a) believe this truly was a call from God, and b) know I could trust in his plan despite my fear of leaving my roots in Michigan. The latter was one of my greatest motivations and greatest obstacles; I knew I needed to grow In my faith and I also knew that leaving my bonds of comfort was the only way to do it.”
What were a couple of highlights?
“There were many highlights, so many in fact I usually tell people the entire year was simply the best year of my life! I was able to watch the Lord tangibly work in my life; in ways I never expected or knew was possible. There were, of course, some very ‘highlighted’ highlights, the first being my experience with an outreach ministry. We went to an event called Witch Fest, which is the largest gathering of witches and warlocks in the world, numbering in the thousands.
“The day I spent with a handful of fellow Christians ministering to these people was hands down the most powerful experience I have ever had in my entire life. It is going take one heck of another Saturday to beat it! I witnessed miraculous conversions, and I came away with a completely renewed sense of God’s unconditional love for every person, even those that devote their lives in the pursuit of the evil one. God still loves them and wants them to know it. To witness a lifelong Wicken break down, admit she never knew Jesus loved her, and then immediately give her life to Christ, was, to say the least, groundbreaking in my faith.
“Another highlight I want to mention was living with a household of the Servants of the Word, a group of celibate, missionary men. The consistency in prayer and the overall structure living there gave my life was pivotal to the growth in my relationship with God that I needed.”
Can you share some thing or two that were challenges for you?
“In all of this, the hardest challenge was leaving, not my job or even my country, but my friends and family on whom I rely on so much. However, in hindsight, I can say with full certainty it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, or rather the best thing God has worked in me. It was necessary for me to leave everything in order to find solace in a new reliance on God and a new trust in his power.”
You are going back to London for another year on mission. Why?
“I felt many times over my first mission/Gap year that God was calling me to give more of my life to him for the sake of mission. After a lengthy discernment process, I truly felt blessed to have found a place where I can help and serve in building the kingdom of God. Through that time of discernment, God wholly changed my heart. I thought the idea of serving for two years was out of the question, but after seeking the Lord in prayer more deeply, and asking for a heart like clay that He can mold to His likeness, God did just that. I haven’t a single regret or doubt that I am where God wants me to be for this time of my life.”
Knowing young men like Mike is an amazing privilege. What a servant of Christ he has become! Thank you for participating in the mission of reaching young people for Jesus; your prayers and financial support go a very long ways in helping us help them. May the Lord bless and keep you and your loved ones.
Yours in Christ,