06 Jul Summer LINK Anderson: Midsummer Update
Summer LINK Anderson has faced challenges since the last update that has inspired renewed assurance of God’s sovereignty over us. During that time, God has taught our team difficult lessons concerning loving the lost, working to be flexible while harboring inflexible hearts, and not always being congratulated for seeking the kingdom. Praise the Lord that our Father disciplines and teaches those He loves!
Three events taught our team these lessons. The Drago family from Renewal Church hosted a block party and Backyard Kid’s Club in the same two-week period to minister to their neighbors, and our team spent a week in Charleston, SC to partner with Summer LINK Charleston and Uncharted Waters to host a sports camp for young athletes in a predominantly underprivileged neighborhood. While challenging, all three events were fruitful times working with other believers with the same mindset of bringing glory to God.
The team, along with Renewal Church volunteers, helped the Dragos host the first block party of the summer. Block parties are a way for families from Renewal to get to know their neighbors on a personal level with the intent of building relationships with unbelievers. Before the block party, the team had handed out fliers to more than 70 houses in the neighborhood with information about the event.
Each team member was assigned a task, whether it was manning the popcorn machine or chasing kids on the bouncy-castles, and all served with untiring joy. One team member was able to talk with one of the families about coming to Backyard Kids Club the next week. As a result of block party, the Drago’s neighbors now know that they have a Christian family living in their neighborhood that wants to get to know them.
Backyard Kids Club (BYKC) was the week after the block party. At least 30 elementary-aged children came to learn about Christ. BYKC is similar to Vacation Bible School, where aspects of the gospel are shared in a way children can understand. BYKC incorporated the gospel in songs, activities, and lessons for each of the three days. This event was a perfect way to present the gospel to children and to the parents who wanted to stay and watch.
Many asked excellent questions and were invested in learning more about the endless love and perfect plan God has for His children. Not only did we see children grow in their understanding of God, but our team grew closer as well. “This was our team’s first Backyard Kids Club together,” said team member Virginia Thomas. “I saw how each person has different strengths and weaknesses and how we exemplify the body of Christ together- many members but one body. Our Father has given us each different gifts: to teach, to shepherd, and to support. Backyard Kids Club was a beautiful way to see these gifts put to work to glorify Him.”
The experience in Charleston was a slight divergence, to say the least. Positive reception to the gospel was found in only a few, but Uncharted Waters and Summer LINK Charleston were excellent partners in ministry. The Anderson team came to assist with the sports camp hosted at St. John’s Chapel, one of the church partnerships with Centerpoint Church. The team went into the surrounding neighborhoods to invite people to come and to start conversations with those in the community, and with each day we had a larger number of new kids than the day before.
For five days, children came to either play basketball or participate in cheerleading. Uncharted Waters led the periodic worship songs, Bible studies, and games while Centerpoint provided snacks and water. We had a large number of children register the first day, and had many return throughout the week. We were eager to see what the Lord had in store for the week, but were not prepared for some of the hardships that would followed.
Nothing is more heartbreaking than to witness someone reject Christ. We observed disrespect, anger, and hostility to the presentation of the gospel. It was in stark contrast to experiences many team members had before, which made it harder on the team to deal with emotions like frustration or discouragement. But as each day progressed, the team began to see certain children listen more intently and more willingly participate in the activities. It was only through the Holy Spirit working through relationships between the young athletes and coaches that their hearts began to soften to Christ’s love. We are filled with gratitude that our Father used sinners like ourselves to reach the lost, that God pursued us with his perfect love when we were once rebels, and that Centerpoint is continuing in partnership with this neighborhood.
We asked for prayer in the last update, and we earnestly ask for more. Will you join us in praying for the salvation of the children we ministered to in Charleston? Our hearts are burdened for them to know Christ, but we rest in the omnipotent control and love that His timing is perfect.
Rather than praying for relief, our team prays for endurance for the next four weeks of Summer LINK. We are grateful to be home in Anderson but know the summer is not over. We ask for prayer for the unification of the team. “Combining ten different personalities and preferences is no easy task,” said one team member, “but with our leaders constantly encouraging us to show grace and to use our words for good, our team is learning to love and grow alongside each other. We have gained skills in conflict resolution and have learned a good deal about getting along with others who differ from ourselves. The Lord brought these ten people together to work for His glory, and I am confident that He will continue to teach us and grow us as a unit.”
We are incredibly blessed with our hospitable church families, driven and godly elders, and Summer LINK leaders who encourage, discipline, and show us grace on a daily basis.
Until He returns!