Stories from the road: School's Out Party

We’re continuing the summer series on the blog about “Stories from the road.” Stories of how you and our CBAC churches are joining God in our neighbourhoods. At CBACyf we are loving hearing the stories of how you are connecting in new ways with neighbours and neighbourhoods, particularly neighbours from the younger generations. Here is another story to inspire you…

A number of years ago, as Grace Memorial Baptist Church in Fredericton New Brunswick looked around their neighbourhood, it was obvious that a school was smack dab across the street from them. Yet, how much of a connection did they really have with each other?

The church recognized, and were thankful, for the connections they did have. Every Christmas the school used the church to host their Christmas concert. For many years some retired teachers in the Grace Memorial congregation hosted a drop-in on the first day of school for parents and children. These were great connections, but the congregation also knew most schools will not allow churches to advertise their church programs in a school. How could they build a connection with the school? How could they bless the school even more and be a great neighbour?

Grace Memorial knew they could do more, it is no accident a school is right in their neighbourhood.

They started to dream.

They decided they could throw the students and teachers an awesome last day of school party. A School’s Out Party!

Each year now the church has a BBQ for students, their parents & sibling, and teachers as soon as the final school bell rings in June.
They have used many different activities for the School's Out party: water slides, carnival games, pony rides, go-carts, balloon sculpting, face painting, and of course food. Green Hill Lake Camp has helped them with supplies and games.

Through this party Grace Memorial has seen their connection with the school grow.

Two years ago it was a particularly difficult time for the school because a boy who attended the school was killed in an accident just a few days before the end of school. It was an extremely sad time for the whole community. The family of this young boy asked to used the church for the funeral, because it was close by, they’d been to the end of year party and they knew the church was a good place. This allowed the church to show some kindness to the family during such a difficult time. Also that year, there was some question as to whether the “School’s Out Party” should be cancelled. However, just two days before the end of school, the school administration asked the church to go ahead and do the party as the families needed a lift. It was great for the church to hear how much the administration appreciated the party.

Grace Memorial is continuing to ask God how they can join His work in this school, in their neighbourhood. They’ve started hosting giant Easter eggs hunts at Easter, and the school allows them to use the school playground for this event.
They are praying their friendship and trust with the school continues to grow and is a blessing both ways.

How can you join God’s work in your local schools?

I know some of our churches are finding creative ways to bless school and building partnerships with schools. Here some of the great things our churches are doing in schools: running breakfast programs, providing volunteer coaches, providing volunteer for reading programs, raising money for gym equipment, giving teachers an appreciation/thank you treat or meal, arranging or volunteering for field trips and having clean-up days for the school grounds.

  • What other ideas do you have?
  • How can you bless a local school?
  • How can you start a connection between the people of your church and a local school? (Not to advertise your church programs and get kids to your programs, but to bless the school and start building relationships.)
  • How can you build on the connections God has given you with neighbourhood schools?

Thank you for the inspiration Grace Memorial! And thanks for joining God in your neighbourhood! #1neighbourhood

-Renée (with lots of help from Marilyn McCormick at Grace Memorial Baptist Church)
@r_embree
@cbacyf
#1neighbourhoord   

Live, on location from Tidal Impact 2017 #TI2017

Today’s blog is a quick update from Tidal Impact 2017, where 73 churches and about 800 participants are impacting neighbourhoods with God’s love.

It is amazing watching a sea of blue T-shirts serving and caring all along the South Shore and in the Halifax region of Nova Scotia.

Tidal Impact 2017 seeks to make an impact in 3 ways – Impact self, impact church & impact neighbourhoods #1neighbourhood

Impact self – those of us at Tidal Impact are inviting God to work in us and through us.

Amazing to see this happening in a number of ways!

Teams spend time praying & doing devotions together.

Tuesday afternoon the entirety of Tidal Impact participated in Dive Deeper – workshops that helps students gain skills to read the Bible on their own, know a variety of ways to pray, know how to explain the Gospel to others and know how to worship God on their own and how to use arts to express their thoughts and capture Scripture. Amazing skills! I was so blessed to watch teenagers practice talking about Jesus and explaining what Jesus has done for us.

Most evenings of Tidal Impact we gather at Rock Church in Halifax and Bridgewater Baptist along the South Shore for rallies – to worship together, remember why we are doing what we are doing, and hear from a challenging speaker – so we’re ready to go back out and serve with God’s love again.

Tidal Impact impacts self.

Impact church – Tidal Impact only happens in partnership with a local church. Visiting teams come from a church from away – they’ve been preparing for months. Local host churches billet them and work with them to reach out to the community. We love that various denominations are involved! Thanks so much for joining us friends.

Local churches are impacted in a number of ways – one of the great things we see happening is churches waking up to God’s work among the younger generation.

I visited one church the first Sunday of Tidal Impact that was hosting a team of teenagers from away, but actually had no young people of their own. They were blown away by the faith, worship, leadership, and vibrancy of the team of teenagers that led their service that day.

Another church I visited – saw the leadership of this young man, a visiting youth pastor from away and started talking among themselves that they too need and could empower someone to lead their ministry towards the younger generations.

Tidal Impact impacts churches.

Impact neighbourhoods – It is amazing the variety of things Tidal Impact teams are doing this week to bless neighbours around this region. The list is long!

  • Sorting boots and clothes at a shelter
  • Baking cookies to thank workers in Seniors home, IWK nurses, construction workers, fire fighters...
  • Running sports camps
  • Running kids’ camps
  • Fixing up a senior’s home
  • Painting a youth centre
  • Putting floats in a parade
  • Cleaning out goat pens
  • Chopping and stacking wood
  • Painting buildings
  • Fixing up a camp
  • Sorting food at Feed NS
  • Picking up garbage and cleaning up the community
  • Fixing up a food bank
  • Yardwork
  • Building a shed for a BMX/Skate park
  • Doing a massive food drive for Feed NS and local area food banks
  • Visiting seniors
  • Praying for people in the park
  • Putting on a fair in the park
  • Buying people Tim’s cards
  • Handing out hugs & water
  • Washing cars to raise money for important causes
  • Washing windows
  • Planted a garden, to beautify a public space
  • Making lunch and serving it to those who could use a meal

I’m missing a lot, but you get the idea. The team of teenagers as asking – God how can we join you in this neighborhood? Then getting out the door and making it happen.

Tidal Impact impacts neighbourhoods.

TIDAL IMPACT
Our prayer is this impact is noticed across Nova Scotia. In addition, we are praying that teenagers get in the habit of EVERY SINGLE DAY, even after Tidal Impact, asking the question – God, how do I join your work today? God, how do I join you in my neighbourhood today?

Check out #TI2017 on social media and you’ll see a lot more of what Tidal Impact has been up to.

We’ve still got two more days! More impact on self, church and community!

Anyone and everyone, from any walk of life & pocket of society, is invited to the public rally Friday 6pm at either Bridgewater Baptist (564 Glen Allan Dr, Bridgewater NS) or Rock Church Halifax (222 Sackville Dr, Lowerv Sackville NS). Come join us and check out Tidal Impact.

This is the best week ever!
-Renée
#TI2017
#1neighbourhood
@r_embree
@cbacyf

Stories from the road... Dreaming of a playground

The playpark as of July 19, 2017

The playpark as of July 19, 2017

Over the summer I’ll be sharing some stories from the road. In my role I have the privilege of travelling around Atlantic Canada and seeing what our churches are doing to join God in our neighbourhoods. It’s fantastic! I want to share some of those stories over the next few weeks. Our churches are doing some creative and amazing things to get out of their church walls and join God’s work in their neighbourhoods. Some small things, some big things, but all important things, connecting our churches with new people in their neighbourhoods and showing the Good News to the world. May these stories inspire you!

The first story from the road comes from Saint John, New Brunswick, only a few kilometers away from our CBAC office.

This story was a dream that was a LONG time in the making.

First, the neighbourhood - The North End of Saint John has a reputation of being a tough place to live and grow up. The statistics of poverty, teen pregnancy, drugs, violence and school completion rates tell a difficult story. However, there are always two sides to any story, isn’t there? The North End of Saint John is full of caring people, taking pride in their city and wanting to see the best for their neighbourhood and their families. RiverCross Church has been in the heart of the Old North End of Saint John for 175 years. What a perfect place to be.

Through the years RiverCross Church has intentionally built friendships with the various neighbourhood partners in the Old North End of Saint John, including a partner called ONE Change. (ONE stands for Old North End.) ONE Change and the church make it a core principle to listen and consult with folks in the neighbourhood, and to hear their priorities. Way back in 2004 the residents made it clear to ONE Change that a playpark was needed in the area. After all, it’s a neighbourhood full of young families with children, and yet there’s no safe place close by for children to play.

When the RiverCross congregation began constructing a new building on Forbes Drive that would house RiverCross Church while at the same time repurposing their Main Street location to serve as the hub of the RiverCross mission, there was a stronger commitment than ever to join God’s work in the Old North End. In fact, the move would allow the work of the mission to flourish even more – creating space for the foodbank to move in, expanding the clothing bank, creating an office for the community nurse, upgrading the kitchen used to serve meals… As the plans for construction of the new site and renovations of the old site got going it was realized that the parking lot in the North End would no longer really be needed. This parking lot was in the perfect location for a playpark, close to both the Community Centre and the RiverCross Mission location.

What an opportunity for the church to give back to folks who live in the Old North End - to tangibly show God's love in action to them! So, with the congregation's approval, RiverCross deeded the property to ONE Change for the express purpose of building a world-class playpark in the neighbourhood.

RiverCross not only provided the land to serve as the "foundation" for making this dream come to life, they continued to actively participate in all phases of the project.

John Knight, the RiverCross Community Outreach Pastor, helped with the initial planning.
Lots of folks from the church volunteered their time and gifts to join in on seeing the playground come to be.
Matt Holland volunteered his gifts of planning, purchasing and approaching corporations.
Mark Hughes, got involved with his construction knowledge, and even stored the play ground equipment in a warehouse for free while the team was waiting for when installation could begin.
Marc Cormier helped arranged for the survey of the land.
In addition, Neighbourhood residents and ONE Change gave lots of hours and volunteers to the project.

Together the whole team crafted a plan, figured out a design for the park and submitted funding applications.

Set back after set back came and the church, neighbourhood and ONE Change wondered if they’d ever see the playground installed!

After much delay and greater perseverance, funding started to come in to help this dream become reality – from Kiwanis, the Provincial Government, Federal Government and more.

And, finally, as of this July 2017 installation of the playpark has finally begun!

Let me hear you cheer!

The playpark on July 18, 2017. You can see the steeple of the RiverCross Mission in the background.

The playpark on July 18, 2017. You can see the steeple of the RiverCross Mission in the background.

Does this story ever highlight some important things about joining God in our neighbourhoods?!

1.       Listen to your neighbours and their needs & priorities

2.       Build connections with other neighbourhood partners

3.       Persevere in seeing a neighbourhood dream become a reality

4.       Involve lots of different gifts and people in neighbourhood projects

5.       Tangibly show God’s love to your neighbours – it might be by building them a playpark, it might be some other way. Ask God – where are you at work here? How do we show Your love to our neighbours?

-Renée (with lots of help from John Knight)
#1neighbourhood
@r_embree
@cbacyf

Springforth Kamp Tumaini Recap and 4 take aways

Springforth Kamp Tumaini Recap and 4 take aways so you can live vicariously through the team

Here are a few of the lasting things I hope to carry with me from this learning trip with the Springforth students at Kamp Tumaini in Kenya. As you live vicariously through the Springforth students experience it is my prayer that it also changes how you live and lead.

Stronger together.

Claire with some Mivumoni Secondary School students.

Claire with some Mivumoni Secondary School students.

We are stronger when we overcome all that could divide us and love and learn together.
Stronger together was the theme of Kamp Tumaini 2017. I am so very proud of the team of students that went from Springforth in Atlantic Canada to participate in Kamp Tumaini in Kenya. They displayed lots of courage as they embraced a new culture and embraced the whole experience. It was amazing to see the Kenyan students at the Mivumoni Secondary School and Canadian students embrace each other across gender, religious, economic, ethnic and cultural lines. Each Canadian student quickly got swallowed up by a sea of Kenyan students wanting to connect with them and share together. When you are doing things like making tie dye and laughing together as your hands turn blue you quickly forget all that could divide you. What a beautiful sight!

Brigette with new friends 

Brigette with new friends 

In Kenya, HIV and AIDs can quickly create a barrier, as social stigma, ignorance and fear surround the infection. One of the main goals of Kamp Tumaini was to reduce this stigma and embrace all students as loved and valued. Where we were, in the coastal community of Kenya's Kwale County, one in twenty people are infected by HIV. This extreme prevalence rate is one of the highest in the world. Among young people, like those in high school, the prevalence rate is even higher (some suggest it is as high as one in five young people). For close to fourteen years Canadian Baptist ministries and their African partner churches have been on the front lines working with people impacted by HIV/AIDs providing support and care. It was amazing to see the Springforth team join in the partnership for a short time. At Kamp you could not tell who was affected by the virus, nor anyone’s background, God quickly made us one big family. Through the Kamp the teens learned more about HIV/AIDs and the challenges that they face, however, they also experienced what it is like for everyone, regardless of their struggle, to be embraced and become “stronger together”.  

Take away 1 - What barrier have you let stand in the way of deeper community and new partnerships? How can you overcome this barrier?

Form 1 (grade 9's) during their day of camp

Form 1 (grade 9's) during their day of camp

Partnership

I love the approach of the Kenny’s and Canadian Baptist Ministries. I love that it is so clear we are not trying to build our own Kingdom or brand. CBM is not there to build our own church and enculturate people in any way. They are asking the same question we are asking ourselves in Atlantic Canada – how can we join God in what He is already doing here? How can we join God in OUR neighbourhoods? In Kenya that looks like the Guardians of Hope program that supports kids affected by HIV/AIDs by providing school fees, mentors, support…  In Kenya that looks like helping Muslim women make beautiful scarves to sell, so they can better support their families. In Kenya that looks like providing a camp for kids affected by HIV/Aids, with their peers in schools, so they can know they are loved and valued. As CBM joins God in Kenya they are not trying to compete with other churches, schools, and ministries – instead they have looked for where God is at work and how they can join what God is doing to reveal Himself and His compassion through partnerships and working together.

What could it mean for you here?
Take away 2 - Ask the same question – where is God already at work around you? What does it look like to join in and help turn up the wattage on the good that needs to happen?

Melora and Emily with some new friends

Melora and Emily with some new friends

Richness & Poverty

While in Kenya many of our Springforth students rightfully broke down in tears as they recognized the contrast between the village and school we visited and the hotel where we were staying – with toilets, clean water, a buffet of food, Wi-Fi…
The contrast was stark.
Kenya is among the world’s 30 poorest countries, ranking 152 out of 177 countries on the 2006 Human Development Index with 46% of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 a day.
However, the villages and school we visited didn’t see themselves as poor – they recognized their privilege – having their school fees paid, owning school uniforms, the villagers growing mangos, cashews, bananas, and oranges. We had important conversations with the Springforth students about poverty and about richness. While we saw material poverty, particularly in comparison to our luxurious North American life style, we saw much richness in Kenyan culture in other ways. It was so clear they are rich in community – the village caring for the other community members, extended family members living together and pooling their resources, students at the school rich in relationships and embracing their new Canadian friends… The richness of community in Kenya stands in stark contrast to our often isolation in Canadian society. When our Canadian students asked questions to the Kenyan students like “Don’t you get tired of eating beans and corn every day for a meal?” The Mivumoni students replied with “Oh no, it is such a privilege to be at this excellent school and my family & village has given me a lot to be here. I am so thankful for this opportunity.”  What a far cry from our often Canadian response to the privileges we’ve been given!

Take away 3 – Do I live with this same thankfulness for all I’ve been given and entrusted with? Do I recognize the great opportunities and privileges I’ve been given?

Jacob and Tristan with their pod.

Jacob and Tristan with their pod.

Of course, another question follows – Am I being generous with the opportunities and privileges I’ve been given?

Our Canadian students were blown away by the generosity of the Kenyan’s. During our home visits, where the students divided up and visited some of the Guardians of Hope homes in the Mivumoni village, our students were offered oranges, tea, mangos and lots of conversation. One of the guardians came to the school where we were hosting the camp a few days later to bring her visitors fresh cashews she’d harvested for them! Everywhere we went in Kenya, for work or play, Kenyan’s broke out in song and dance to entertain and welcome us...even though they laughed with us at our attempts to join in the dancing. The students at the school repeatedly offered to share their lunch of beans, maize (corn) and tea with us. Although materially they appeared to have very little, they had all they needed, and their generosity was overwhelming to us.

Take away 4 - It begs the question – Am I holding what I’ve been given with open hands, ready to be generous?

Danielle and Julia with new friends

Danielle and Julia with new friends

Now what?
How can you join God in what He is doing here and there?

  • Did you know it only costs about $300 Canadian dollars to send a Guardians of Hope kid to boarding school for a whole year – including their uniform, room and board? What an important opportunity we could provide for kids and teens in Kenya.
  • Did you know $20 sends a kid to a future Kamp Tumaini? You, your youth group, your church could send a lot of kids to Kamp!
  • Want to serve and learn more? Arrange to go on a short term mission with a group from your church through our friend at CBM, Adrian Gardner http://www.cbmin.org/get-involved/short-term-mission/
  • Open your eyes and ears to where God is at work around you in your neighbourhoods and networks. Start sharing what you have to join God in His mission right around you. 
  • Will you join God in changing Atlantic Canada (and beyond) one neighbourhood at a time? Learn more about joining what God is doing right here in Atlantic Canada through CBAC and CBACyf

With such thanks for God’s generosity and God’s invitation to join His work in this world
-Renée
@r_embree
@cbacyf
#1neighbourhood 

P.S. In the days to come, lots more pictures will be shared by the team on social media and if you have them share with your church/group. 

We made lots of friends in the animal world too!

We made lots of friends in the animal world too!

The team on our last day!

The team on our last day!

Why I Love Tidal Impact

This week while Renee is away in Kenya leading the Springforth team on an international mission trip, I (Jacqueline) thought it would be appropriate to do a little reflecting on the benefits of local mission opportunities, specifically Tidal Impact (TI).  Did you know that 2017 marks the 9th Tidal Impact?  I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the last 5 events and I love this event!  I think that TI offers something unique that no other local mission opportunity (that I know of) presents for us here at home. 

Here are 3 reasons why all Atlantic Baptists can celebrate Tidal Impact:

 

1.     We partner with the local church

The philosophy of TI is simple:  a host church (in the host region) partners with a team from away (vising church) to do ministry together for the week.  The visiting team has the privilege of partnering with a host church to help them in their local mission.  It’s a great opportunity for our churches to join God in changing Atlantic Canada one neighbourhood at a time.  The host church gets to plan, coordinate and facilitate ministry that helps them to advance the mission that they believe God has called them to. There’s opportunity for everyone to get involved:  service project, meal prep, baking, billeting, coordinating drives, etc. It’s an exciting time in ministry where we see students (grades 6 – 12) working inter-generationally with adults of all ages and other organizations to serve God and love His people.  This stuff really excites me!

Volunteers, primarily from our local churches, are the members of the local area planning teams that look after many of the logistics for the event:  rallies, community ministry opportunities, food drive coordination, Dive Deeper afternoon (focuses on spiritual disciplines), fun event, group suppers, etc.  They have been meeting regularly, planning and coordinating for the past 10 months to help make this event possible.  We could not do it without their support and dedication!

 

2.      We get to serve right here in Atlantic Canada

I love that global travel has been made easy for many people; this means that it’s easier than ever before for our churches to partner with CBM (and other agencies) to send teams to be involved in short term mission work.  This is highly educational for us and formative in our worldview.  It’s also very inspirational as we see how we, Canadian Baptists, can make a difference in our world by supporting some of the work that is being done globally.  As I write, Renee is leading a team with 14 students (including my daughter) in Africa where they will participate in the work being done in Kenya through Kamp Tumaini (connected to the Guardians of Hope Program) in a local high school.

One of the things that I love about Tidal Impact is that it is affordable, accessible and an exciting opportunity for hundreds of students to serve right here in Atlantic Canada.  I can’t wait to hear stories about how NS has been impacted from Truro to Port Mouton as 740+ students intentionally live out their faith over that whole entire area for a full week.  One of the emphasis of the week is to impact the local community so every group will spend time serving outside the walls of the church – breaking into the community.  Wednesday evening is the food drive and we’ll collect thousands of pounds of food for the local food banks.  We’ll be cleaning up garbage, ministering with seniors and shut ins, partnering with local agencies helping the marginalized and doing random acts of kindness.  When the event is over, the local church gets to build on those relationships and has a wonderful opportunity to be salt and light in their community.

 

3.      The students get to give and receive at Tidal Impact

Tidal Impact offers a unique experience where students can serve all day and 4 evenings in the week, they can go to the rallies to join the bands as they lead us in worship and hear amazing speakers challenge the students about ways that God may be calling them to enter into a deeper relationship with Him.  We’ll celebrate stories of ways that we have seen God at work throughout the week.  We’ll celebrate communion together at the rally on Thursday evening – always a moving and significant part of the week for students.

The leaders, many of whom are volunteers that have taken a week of vacation to bring their youth group to Tidal Impact, have had the amazing opportunity to disciple and mentor their teens leading up to TI and now they get to model what it looks like to serve Jesus as they serve with their students for the week.  They get to unleash their students and watch them do amazing things.

The students will be stretched in new and healthy ways as many are doing things that they have never done before.  Students will be engaging people in the community in many different ways.  They will knock on doors and invite local residents to donate to the local food banks.  They may have opportunity for one-on-one conversations with people that they meet on the street, in parks, in seniors’ homes and maybe even pray for them.  They will love community children as a number of churches host children’s ministry programs in the mornings. They will build relationships with people in marginalized communities.  All of the students will be stretched in some way as they serve in TI.

The Win of TI

The biggest win of Tidal Impact is that these students, leaders, and volunteers are focusing on and pointing people to Jesus for the whole week.  I’m confident that anytime we interrupt our daily lives and immerse ourselves in Jesus for a whole week, He will show up and honor our act of service and we will be changed.  Statistics show attending Bible camp and participation in short-term mission are the two most significant factors in a believer’s faith journey.  I’m thankful that the CBAC and its member churches see the value in this event and continue to dream about ways to build relationships with the people in their community during Tidal Impact and welcome these students to join them for the week.

We are so blessed to have our Atlantic Baptist Women’s groups partner with every participating team in Tidal Impact.  They have been praying for these teams as we prepare and they will pray for us every day of the event.  There is opportunity for personal connection with their prayer groups as special prayer needs arise.  Thankful for these ladies and their faithfulness in prayer!

Tidal Impact is July 22 – 29 and the rallies are being hosted in Halifax and Bridgewater, NS. 

If you’re in the host church region than check to see how you could help your church or another church near you who may be hosting a team from away.

If you’re outside the host church region then you can pray.  Pray for safety as we travel, serve and commit ourselves to a week on mission in NS.

Follow us on social medial (looking for #TI2017) for stories and photos.

After the event, ask your students what they did, what they learned, how they saw God at work in the community and what they sensed God stirring in their lives during Tidal Impact.

Tidal Impact is such an amazing event.  It’s one of my favorite ministry highlights for sure.  Over these years, we’ve heard countless number of stories about how participants have been impacted and grown in their faith journey.  We’ve heard many stories of people who were served, visited, ministered to who have been blessed by the ministry of a Tidal Impact team.  We know that thousands of people (approx. 15,000) are provided a meal through their local food banks because of the food drive that happens during this event.  It’s an encouragement to the local church, the visiting team and also the community.  God is already at work in Atlantic Canada.  We are so privileged to be able to partner with Him in Nova Scotia this summer and celebrate all that He is doing in neighbourhoods all across Atlantic Canada.