“You did a good thing” is part of our chant for the year. My friend got it from a Tik-Tok she saw. We’ll talk more about it later in this post.
God really provided for us this year. In a time of isolation and separation, my team went to work these past few months and managed to build an enthusiastic, diverse, and talented team to serve under-resourced communities in Fresno this year. From friend recommendations, to a pastor sending someone our way, to people moving from out of town, to a guy one of our team members just met, we found people from all sorts of places. We have people who have been working with youth for years to people who are just starting out from different ethnicities and different denominations, some single, some married, one with kids on the way. Diversity can bring us together and help us grow or tear us apart because of our differences. So far it has brought us together and we pray this continues. We all serve the same God and have the same mission. This brings us together.
I had challenged the last team to finish strong, and as a whole, they did. Despite being limited to only six youth max in a room due to regulations and social distancing procedures and masks, we put on a camp at the Courtyard apartment that reached over 30 youth. The team came together with a skit video, games, message, and more. After a season of online programs, it was nice to finally have a chance to see the kids’ faces in person again. Before the camp, the team did everything they could to reach these kids such as Zoom calls, letters on the door, food giveaways, fruit handouts, packets, arts and crafts for youth to do, and more. But now, we had the chance to come together and put on something for the community, and the team really had a chance to shine.
We had our going away dinner for the team with delicious food, certificates, and speeches. We as a staff are proud of them for finishing the year strong. Some had been in our program for two years, three years, one person had been in it six years. We loved having them and seeing them serve these communities, but there is a time for people to move on, whether it is to get married, start a career, finish school, or move to a different ministry. Goodbyes are hard, but necessary. They did a good thing and now it is time for them to do more good things in other places.
Three team members decided to return and we gathered up 14 new team members at 4 new locations this year (with a potential fifth in January). God has continued to bless us during a difficult time. I made everyone get tested for COVID and we headed up to Shaver for our Fall Retreat kickoff.
It was a fun time of bonding, learning, training, casting vision, and prayer. It was also a time of eating lots of food, acting out whacky skits, jumping off big rocks at the lake, wrestling matches, fun hikes, crazy board games, and good chats. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and when everyone prayed on our last day, I knew we were ready to start the year.
The year of transition, is what I’m calling it. From a strong, stable team these last three years with a few additions to a new, also strong, time will tell if they are a stable team this year. With four new locations and a whole new way of doing program social distanced-style. The team will continue to meet youth (with masks on), get youth connected to school online, and prepare a safe space for the youth to get tutored and engage in fun games, mindfulness, and bible study. I told the new team that they joined in one of the most difficult seasons in Care Fresno. They didn’t seem phased.
We have a few new community partners which I’ll talk more about in future blog posts.
You are probably wondering what “you did a good thing” has anything to do with any of this. If there is one thing I learned in the last four years of doing ministry in high-crime neighborhoods, it is that it is hard and we need constant encouragement. My prayer is that this team will become a family that supports each other, and that we’ll be able to build a support network to help support us.
Our new chant involves some standing up, saying something good they did last week - it could be anything from helping tutor a youth to talking to a parent to buying someone food to sharing about Jesus to encouraging a roommate, just has to be something good - and then everyone responds with, “You did a good thing” and a clap. Then someone else goes and everyone responds with “You did a really good thing” and two claps. Then two reallys and three claps and so on, you get it now. Then at the end, we all cheer and someone says “that is the sound that Jesus makes when we enter heaven, having served him.”
And after that person said that someone said, “That could be the sound he is making right now.”
I hope and pray that we can honor God with our work this year. I know God is encouraging us along the way, through every hard thing and every challenge. And there will be challenges. God gives us all good things so that we can give to others.
And I hope at the end of it all, he’ll say,
“You did a good thing.”