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,
This past summer we were able to run several junior high boys Kairos Fellowship trips. We did have to make adjustments due to Covid19 (like changing the 8th grade trip to the Adirondacks instead of Algonquin in Canada), but the trips were still a great blessing to the boys and the staff. Our two 7th grade trips to the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia went as planned. The chance to sleep under the stars, hang out next to a waterfall, experience a “big sky” while in a canoe out on the water, gaining the satisfaction of reaching a peak after a challenging hike, and worshipping the Lord with other teens in the midst of God’s creation, will be experiences that stick with these boys for many years.
Our Kairos Fellowship staff, along with our terrific volunteer staff, make these trips way more than merely a wilderness adventure. These godly men set the example of loving and serving the Lord as men, faithfully praying, and consistently joyful, no matter the circumstance.
The boys cook (and often catch) their dinners. They press on through rain, bugs, heat, and wind; they carry canoes over portages and their packs through mountains; they celebrate every successful climb and every fish caught.
They also pray together. Kairos Fellowship staff prepares scripture mediations and sets apart time for group and individual prayer. They have spiritual themes for the day to think and share about as they tackle each new part of the trip.
Thanks so much for your continual support for our youth and our programs for young people. This is a challenging time to be doing youth work. However, our God is faithful and none of this catches Him by surprise. We will move forward as the Lord leads us. The prayers and financial support of you, our partners in mission, is more important than ever. God bless you!
Your brother in mission,
We had to cancel many of our events this summer because of Covid-19 restrictions. However, our junior high boys outdoor Kairos Fellowship trips were able to proceed; praise the Lord! We hear this month from one of the dads who served as staff for a Virginia trip, Joseph Fountain.
“On the first day hitting the trail we, a group of dads, Kairos staff, and junior high boys, headed up the mountain in a downpour,” Joseph reports. “After just a few steps everyone could tell this was the start of something epic! The rain came down and the trail became a river of running water over our boots, but the great attitudes of the boys and staff were a glimpse at a group of guys who came prepared for an adventure.
“The rain let up when we arrived several miles later at our first camp (the rain stopping or starting just in time would be a sign of the Lord’s favor and grace on us for the rest of the week). We were greeted right away by the friendly wild ponies at our camp, and several were quickly adopted and given names, depending on their attitude or varied coats of hair. ‘Cinnamon’ was a light brownish pony that seemed to always be smiling, and ‘Killer Bangs’ had a bit of a mullet and an attitude to match. The boys found a couple pregnant ponies and began naming the future babies; one lucky mare even had her mane braided!
“We made our way further into the mountains, climbing boulders and navigating the scree (a mass of small loose stones that cover a slope on a mountain) that seemed to be just about everywhere on the trail. The views of the mountains on the Appalachian trail are breathtaking; the peaks are covered in a mix of evergreen trees, birch, and other lush, green summer plants. Along the trails we were able to find blueberries and blackberries in abundance and we even found some chanterelle mushrooms to add to our camp dinners.
“We came to a camp that was full of ponies and longhorn cattle and had to be on the watch, since the ponies were mischievous and inquisitive about our gear and food. We continued to our third camp that was deeper in the mountains and was a more forested site. The rain came again just in time for a mid-afternoon nap, and we enjoyed our time around the campfire listening to stories and sharing about the day. We had an epic prayer time on gigantic, ancient boulders that were right in camp.
“In the morning before lunch, we set out from camp to have silent meditations for the few-miles hike. I felt led to meditate on patience and living in the Holy Spirit, both great meditations for me as I dealt with the aches and pains of hiking in the mountains with a large backpack! I experienced the Lord being present in this time in a special way. I found extra energy and joy. I had a few moments of amusement while watching some of the boys as they hiked along, each in his own way: some running ahead and passing all of their brothers, others taking longer and struggling with the climb, but with good attitudes and keeping silent as we reflected together on Romans, chapter 8.
“We hiked to a huge grassy field on a mountainside with panoramic views of mountain vistas and valleys. From that camp we were able to take a refreshing swim in a mountain stream. Then the men watched the sunset while the boys struggled to make a 10-man pyramid. We believed they must have been successful if the whoops and hollers were any indication.
“There were many, many other great views, stories, and experiences, and through it all the Lord was clearly with us. I saw the Lord’s presence in our staff, in our health and relating, in our transportation, and in our short stays at the 4h camp before and after the trip.
“As a dad, I was proud of my son and the other boys that were on the trip; they were resilient and joyful through it all. I was grateful for the other dads that came along, and I grew closer to them and the Kairos staff after sharing stories of our vocations and testimonies of coming to Christ. The men of the Kairos Fellowship staff were great servants and leaders, and we could not have made it without them.”
We are incredibly grateful to Joseph and the other dads and volunteers that serve on staff and make these trips possible. Thanks also to you, our supporters, who by your prayers and financial gifts make it possible for us to offer these great adventures for our young teens. May our Lord greatly bless you in the months ahead.
Your brother in Jesus Christ,