Tuesday, November 6, 2012

January On My Mind

I'm currently sitting in Ella's. It's my go-to spot in Lowell where the coffee is always hot, the people are friendly, the music is calming, it is basically the Hollywood definition of small town charm. I almost always see people I know while I sit and plan for the ministry or read my devotions. It also gives me a lot of time to think. Today I am thinking of January.
Why January? Maybe it is because I feel a little chilly today and it reminds me of January. Or maybe it is because I have been watching Christmas movies and singing Christmas songs so I feel like January is only a couple weeks away. Both are reasonable guesses.
Or maybe it is because January is when the Youth for Christ ministry in Lowell is going to have its Club kick-off. Yep, that's it.
Campus Life M is going to be kicking-off its once a week program called Club in just a few short months. This is very exciting because this means that students will be able to come to a safe place where they can hear about Christ and meet in small groups with a Christian leader and talk about life issues. At first I was a little nervous about kick-off but after spending so much time at the middle school with the students it has become obvious how much these students need a place like this where they can be real with each other and hear about the hope of Christ, a message that everybody needs to hear or be reminded of. 
While many of your holiday to-do lists seem to be growing daily with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, my Campus Life M to-do list seems to be rapidly growing. Below is part of my list and I would love it if you would take a moment out of your busy schedule's and pray about these things. 
Here we go...
1. Volunteers in place by Dec.
2. A venue to hold Club by Dec.
3. A community support team in place by Dec.
4. More donors 
5. Kick-off organized for January

Take time to stop and enjoy the busy holiday season, but keep January on your mind. :)


Monday, September 10, 2012

The Stranger: My Amazing God Moment

It's hard to believe it has been almost a month since I began full time at Youth for Christ. So many wonderful things have been happening so I thought I should share them with you all.

My first day on the job I had one of the coolest God moments of my life. I was in Indiana at a conference through YFC and I headed down to the sitting area at the retreat center to read some scripture before the conference sessions began. I had just flipped open my Bible when a woman, a complete stranger, sat down next to me and asked if she could share some encouraging words with me. Of course I agreed because who doesn't want to be encouraged? She then began to tell me my life story, my dreams, and about my heart for ministry-specifically working with hurting and lost youth and let me know that God wanted her to tell me all of this to let me know that I am exactly where He wants me to be and that He has plans for my work with mentoring youth. I must admit I got a little teary eyed at the thought that God would speak through a complete stranger to provide me with complete confirmation. Now that is what I call a GREAT first day on the job! 

Since then, things have been chugging right along. I have helped organize the Lowell Area Youth Leaders Network involving youth leaders from a variety of congregations who have all decided to come together with the common purpose of sharing Christ's love with the youth in the community and organize events for them. Our first event is a See You After the Pole party on Sept. 26th so please be in prayer over this. We are very excited about this opportunity!

I have also been in a lot of meetings, which, I never thought I would say this, has been a lot of fun. I did have the opportunity to meet a couple of the secretaries and one of the counselor's at Lowell Middle School. This coming Thursday I get to meet the principal to discuss the ministry and what that will look like in the middle school. Pray that this meeting goes extremely well. If it does, I will be able to begin attending lunches with the students and be involved in other on campus activities by the beginning of next week. 

I appreciate your prayers and support. 
Grace and peace,

Please pray for:
- the Thurs. morning meeting with Lowell Middle School's principal.
- the See You After the Pole prayer event
- that more funds continue to come in to make the YFC ministry possible
- the students and parents in Lowell

Monday, August 13, 2012

How To Donate

Hello everyone!

I have had a couple people request that I put up the Donation Center's information.

Here it is...

WMYFC Donation Processing
PO Box 2121
Holland, MI 49422

If you would prefer using a credit card or setting up an automatic monthly  transfer email Pam at: pszymczak@wmyfc.org.
Or you can call her at: (616) 392-1479

Put on the check or let Pam know if you decide to set up an automatic monthly transfer that this is for the Lowell ministry so the money get's designated to the correct account. 

Thanks for your love and support!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The One With The Really Exciting News

AAAHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! That's what I felt like screaming in Jimmy Johns last week. I was so excited when I heard the news that I think my #6, light on the Mayo sub ended up feeling a little neglected. I ended up wrapping it back up and shoving it in my purse because I was so excited I couldn't even eat it (and that says a lot). But, I'm going to wait to tell you the news until later (SO KEEP READING! And no, that doesn't give you permission to skip to the end like some of you do in really long chapter books.)

I first really want to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! to those of you who have been praying for me throughout this process and for the future ministry in Lowell. I cannot begin to express how much it means to me to be surrounded by so many wonderful people. I really do cherish your thoughts and prayers and please continue to pray for the students, leaders, community, school administration and myself. I would really appreciate that.

Second, thank you for those of you have have supported me monetarily. You all have been more than generous and I have been absolutely blown away by the amount of support that has come in. Thank you for being a part of this ministry. Your donations and pledges have almost gotten me to my goal (in a matter of 3 months!!!) That is amazing.
(This is starting to sound like an Academy Award speech)

If you have been considering giving or plain ole just forgot about this, it is never too late. Keep in prayer about it and see if this is a way God would like to use you. If you have any questions or need another donation envelope, just give me a call or stop me if you see me. I am currently $1,300 away from reaching 75% (which is when I can start full time at YFC).

Did you hear that exciting news?! I am $1,300 away from reaching 75%!!! (That was my really exciting news I got at Jimmy John's by the way). I had an update meeting last week and was told that because I only had $1,300 left to reach 75% that I can officially plan on becoming a full time Youth For Christ staffer by mid-August. WooHoo!

After I hit the 75% I still have the other 25% still to raise but I can raise that while working at YFC. Please keep the prayers (and pledges) coming. I am in awe at how abundantly God has been blessing me in so many ways throughout all of this. Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers.

Stacey Oswald
West Michigan Youth For Christ
Soon to be Campus Life M Director 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

Hey everyone! Here are some common questions people have been asking...

$60,000? What in the world do you need that much for?
Well, here is the skinny on that...
The total amount I am raising is going to be divided up into numerous different areas among the Lowell/YFC ministry. The different areas will include my training, volunteer training, benefits, administrative costs, start up costs (because YFC has never had a ministry in the Lowell school system), ministry costs for the whole year (that adds up              q-u-i-c-k), salary, YFC fees, etc. for the entire year. I hope this is helpful. 
It does sounds like a lot because we typically don't have to think about how much other jobs may cost to run for a whole year. It was an eye opener for me because I'm not much of a business minded person. :) 

What will you be doing during the day if you aren't allowed to talk about Christ in school?
This time is crucial. It is where I will dedicate my time building trusting relationships with the students. I will be getting involved in different areas throughout the school such as mentoring programs, spending lunch with them, going to their sporting events, plays, and yes...even chaperoning dances. Not only that, but I will be using a lot of this time to build trusting relationships with the administration, teachers, and the community. Even if I can't speak about Christ's love during school hours, I can surely show others Christ's love through my attitude and actions. Every second of everyday is a chance to be a disciple. 

Do you get summer's off like the students do?
Good idea! But no. Once the students are off from school, this is "go" time for us. We are gathering all of the paperwork and getting everything ready for summer camp. Once summer camp happens, we have meetings, YFC conferences, put together plans for the upcoming school year, meet up with students, donors, churches,... the list goes on and on. It is a full time job for the full year. 

What is your biggest fear with this job?
Honestly, it is that students will have things going on in their life that they will want help with that are far beyond me. And the truth is, this will happen a lot. The things that some of these students are dealing with are absolutely horrific and there is no way that I could ever hold the answers they will desperately need. But that is also the beauty of it. God has the answers they desperately need. I will have to trust God to help me out in this ministry every single second. I am very blessed to have an extremely strong support system as well: the staff at YFC, my relatives, friends, church. There will be a lot of discouraging times for me in this ministry, but the reward of seeing a student's life be transformed by the power of God will be completely indescribable (but I will do my best because I'll want to share the story with you!)

Keep the questions coming! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Caramel Apple Challenge

Have you ever heard of the caramel apple challenge? I hadn't either. Let me just give you a glimpse of this wonderfully disgusting surprise that happened at Club. For those of you who don't know what Club is, it is kind of like a youth group for mainly unsaved students. This will be part of my job once I am able to begin at Youth For Christ; I will be the person in charge of organizing and directing Club night each week for the students. Now back to the caramel apple challenge...

Two boys took the stage along with two girls. A classic case of boy vs. girl competition. A delicious looking caramel covered "apple" was placed in front of each student. The goal was to have your team finish their "apples" before the other one could. Now for the twist...one of the "apples" for each team was really a huge onion slathered in gooey, delicious caramel. I can't even begin to describe the faces of the two students who ended up with the caramel onion. The room of students onlookers went nuts. There was even a brief Hunger Games moment. One of the boys could not quite stomach the onion so one of his brave, apparently non-germiphobic friends proudly "volunteered as Tribute!" 

For any youth leaders out there, that is one quick way to get students engaged in what is happening. Let me give you a quick run down of what a typical Club evening would look like. 

The evening would start out with a couple of fun, usually ridiculous games to break the ice and get things off to a energetic start. Then the students would all gather around for the Food Challenge portion (such as the caramel apple challenge) This portion of the evening is more for conditioning our future competitors for Fear Factor. Now it is time to get more serious. 

The students would then listen to a message from one of the leaders. The week I visited Club, the leader, who was also a pastor at an area church, gave a message that really hit home to many students. It was a powerful, personal story of his terrible (and unfortunately common) middle and high school experience that completely shaped him into the strong Christian man he is today. 

Once the message was over, the students break into small groups. This was another powerful experience for not just the students but for me as well. It is their opportunity to share their similar experiences with each other in a safe environment. Many of their stories give you just a glimpse into their broken, fragile lives. But it is wonderful to see how much they had connected as a small group over that past year. They were pretty much all comfortable sharing their stories with each other while the small group leader was able to listen and offer solid Christian advice to the students. They closed their time in prayer. 

Because I will be starting the Campus Life M ministry from scratch in Lowell, Club is something that I will be working towards but will not implement right when I begin. YFC values the relationship between leaders and students so greatly that I will have to know at least 100 Lowell students by name before I can even begin organizing my first Club. This is a very crucial part of the ministry. These students need to know that they are valued as an individual and not just another face in the hallway. I will be in the school a large majority of the week taking every opportunity to know the students, hanging out with them at lunch, tutoring them during school hours, going to their sporting events, dances, plays, etc. Building a trusting relationship is one of the most important parts of reaching out to these unsaved students so please be praying for the students, my future team of leaders, and myself that we are able to build strong relationships. 

As of right now I am about $8,000 shy of reaching the 75% mark. (75% is when I can officially become a full time Campus Life M Director at YFC). If you have given already, I cannot thank you enough for your support in this cause. If you have not yet given and are interested, please feel free to contact me so we can chat more. My goal is to raise the full 100% by the time the students head back to school in the fall. Thank you all for your love and support.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Step One: Conquering My Everest

Ever since the days of candy bar sales to raise money for little league or magazine sales to pay my way to the Mackinac Island field trip in the 4th grade, there is one word that continues to make me shake...fundraising. 

I thought I had kissed those days goodbye long ago. However, I couldn't have been more wrong. Those were only little bumps compared to the Everest I must conquer. $60,000. My first instinct was, "AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" A couple hundred dollars to go to Mackinac Island seemed unattainable! So why does my dream job, the job I've been passionate about since my own middle school experience, have this big twist to it?

I know exactly why. I have been fundraising for a little over a month now to be able to start a full time career as the Campus Life M Director at Lowell Middle School. A job that I have always tried to describe to people as a perfect fit for me but I didn't know it actually existed. Mentoring students who come from homes with neglectful or abusive parents, building the trust of a student who thinks that no one, not even God could possibly love them, journeying with students who have given up on life; this is the passion God gave me. But God knew that I needed a kick in the pants.

These students that I will be journeying with will be wrestling with some of their biggest fears. Rejection. Hurt. Trust. How can I complain about having to do something that I am afraid of in order to begin a career helping students with the things they are afraid of? Fundraising seems like a pretty petty fear in comparison.

I am pleased to say that I am about halfway to my $60,000. Would you do me a favor? Would you please take some time to pray for me as I continue the process of fundraising? Would you pray for the students of Lowell? And would you prayerfully consider financially supporting the ministry? We are a team. Some of you may not be able to think of anything more terrifying than spending all day with middle schoolers; others may not have the time because of a busy work and home life. Whatever the case may be I would love for you to play a part in the team. I, along with a team of volunteers will be the representatives that you send out into the halls of middle school; a place many of you probably would prefer never returning to (and I don't blame you! Braces, bullies, and zits are never a fun thing to relive). We need prayers and funding to be able to do this. Is this something that you would be willing to do for the team?

"On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Mark 2:17

I would love to talk to you more about the ministry. Let me know if you have any questions that you would like answered.

Grace and peace,