Saturday, December 11, 2004

Nate's 1st Real Christmas

I've included a story this month about a young man who is experiencing his first "real" Christmas this year. That's what Student Venture is all about . . . helping teenagers begin a personal relationship with Christ, helping them grow in their faith and then helping them make a difference for Christ in the lives of the people around them.

>>> Nate grew up in a pretty typical home these days, a broken one. He and his mom traveled the country stopping here and there for a year or two at a time. Finding himself in Boston at the age of about 13, Nate began seeking answers to the questions he kept hearing about the meaning of life and what this religion stuff was all about. As he looked, the pressures of early adolescence broke him down and he found himself making choices that left him unsatisfied. Just when he met a man who had a few answers, true to fashion, he moved again, this time to Atlanta, starting over again with his dad and new step mom.

Meanwhile, Courtney, a junior at Chattahoochee high school just outside Atlanta, was busy inviting friends to the new Student Venture ministry at her school. She invited Yan who eventually invited Chase. Chase gave his life to Christ and as it turns out, met this new kid, Nate, in chorus class. Chase invited Nate to have dinner with the local Student Venture staff where he was given a clear presentation of God's plan of forgiveness and grace. Three weeks later, at a Student Venture meeting, Nate heard the gospel again and this time was ready to make a commitment to place his faith in Christ.

But wait, it gets better! Just this week, Nate, excited about his newfound meaning and purpose, stood up at this year's Student Venture Community Celebration and shared his story with over two hundred people. The coolest part? Two of those people were his dad and step mom who had no idea what it means to have a relationship with a God who loves them. Nate is experiencing his first "real" Christmas this year, understanding the meaning of the birth of Christ in a totally new way and is already excitedly sharing it with others.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Glimpse From Around The Country

It's been a great fall in Student Venture with lots of teenagers hearing about how they can begin a personal relationship with God. Fall is always a crazy busy, but really fun, time of the year because there is so much going on. New kids are getting involved, many are hearing the Gospel for the first time, and lives are being changed right before your eyes. It's an exciting time. Below, I've highlighted five stories from around the country that will give you a feel for what we get to see on a regular basis. I'm sure you'll be encouraged as you get a glimpse of what God is doing.

Eli Gomez is senior involved with Student Venture at Greenway High School in Phoenix, AZ. This year, he has taken on a great challenge from the Lord! Eli has begun to rally students to pray every morning before school for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with every student at Greenway before the end of this school year! His plan includes praying for opportunities with specific individuals and then in September, he and the other students from SV small groups began to share their faith with those students they have been praying for. Since school began in August, more than 50 young people have received Christ!

Through Student Venture football team outreaches at four high schools, 67 teenagers have received Christ, and at an ROTC outreach 12 young men trusted Christ. At Brainerd High, three Christian students are leading Bible studies at lunch with 25-40 students attending each study.

During drill team practice at Katy High School last month, a teenage girl collapsed and died of an enlarged heart. The next day, the drill team teacher asked if anyone had anything to share. One of the senior girls involved in Student Venture shared her testimony of knowing Christ, then another leader shared the gospel and invited them to receive Christ. Sixteen girls raised their hands indicating they did so. At this school in the last year and a half, over 300 teenagers have indicated decisions for Christ.

In the last two weeks of September, there were three group outreaches at Marietta High School. In all, over 80 students heard about how they could begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. For each of these groups (band, volleyball and cheerleaders), we shared a motivational talk about unity and the need for our attitudes, actions, and hearts to be changed. At the end of our talks, we invited students who were interested in hearing more about how God could change their hearts to an outreach the following day. More than 20 of these students indicated they wanted to learn more about a relationship with God!

New York City:
Outside FDR high school in New York City, intern Johnny Lopez and I, (staff member, Kevin Young) were hanging out with a gang of tough-looking guys and girls. They were curious about us, and wanted to know if we were cops. When they found out we were youth ministers, they drew near and began to listen. Johnny brings street language and street toughness to his gospel presentation that penetrates where kids feel. Over the course of an hour, I watched as the Spirit opened their eyes to the truth. Before we parted, Johnny had all eight hold hands in a circle and pray to receive Christ in unison. Their first question was, "Are you coming back?" "Absolutely!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The 30 Football Guys Who Trusted Christ

In Student Venture we're all about evangelism and discipleship. We want to share with students how they can know Christ personally and how they can grow in their faith. Then we want to equip them to reach out to others, to use their natural sphere of influence to have a personal ministry while they're still in high school. Many students make a very significant impact on their campus before they graduate.

In this process of evangelism and discipleship, one of the distinctives of our ministry is that we go to the students, to their world. We don't wait for them to come to us. Many times we approach this through group outreaches. In the fall, there are lots of large, responsive groups to reach into. The band, the cheerleaders and the football team are three prime groups that we try to reach this time of year. The story below is an exciting look at what can happen when we go to the students. These are some of my former disciples in Carrollton, Texas.

>>>Jared Lyons is a senior on the football team at Newman Smith High School. Although he became a Christian at a young age, in the fall of his freshman year he took the first steps in growing in his faith when he attended a freshmen football team meeting hosted by Student Venture. That summer, he rededicated his life to Christ at the Student Venture Getaway. For the last few years he has been involved in Student Venture in weekly Bible studies, winter and summer conferences, and a summer missions trip.

After the last SV conference in December, he felt the Lord placing it on his heart to have an outreach for the freshman football team at his school in the spring. In April, Jared invited the entire freshmen team to an Iron Stomach contest similar to the one he attended as a freshman 2 years ago.

Twenty-five freshman football players and one coach showed up. A JV football player, who became a Christian through Student Venture his freshman year, also came and shared his testimony about the difference that Christ had made in his life. After the testimony, Jared explained the Gospel and extended an invitation to trust Christ. Five players indicated a decision to place their faith in Christ that day! In addition, ten JV football players agreed to attend the weekly freshmen follow up Bible study to help disciple one of the younger players. (Many of these JV players have become Christians in the last 12 months and have been discipled by one of the SV staff.)

Although Jared was excited about seeing several of the freshmen respond to Christ, there was still 30 other freshmen players who did not attend the outreach. So Jared had another outreach for the freshmen team! Twenty more players came out and five more placed their faith in Christ!

A follow up Bible study started up and one of the JV players, Matt Rucker, led one of the freshmen players, Robert, to Christ during the study. Several new guys came to the study and Robert, who had been a Christian for one week, led his friend to Christ using the Connecting With God booklet that Matt had used to lead him to Christ the week before.

In the last two years, 30 guys from the JV football team have come to Christ through a SV staff member or student sharing the Connecting With God booklet with them. Most of them have been regularly attending a Bible study group at Matt Rucker's home. They want to see the same thing happen with the freshmen football team, who they hope will catch the same vision and reach out to the incoming freshmen football team this fall.

Matt and Jared continue to lead the freshmen group in the study and have included the varsity football players in the bible study this fall. They are currently recruiting all of them to attend this years' Student Venture Fastbreak (our winter conference) in Austin, TX. They hope that their disciples will continue to reach out to incoming freshmen football teams, and leave a legacy for Christ at their high school.