Wednesday, August 31, 2011
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. – Philippians 1:6 (The Message)
We (the Clevengers) have just finished our third summer of ministry here on the Reservation and it was a wonderful time of growth in the youth group. There are more stories than I could possibly share in an email so I have included links to our blog with stories and pictures from the summer. Thanks to all of you for your prayers, support and encouragement that make our life and ministry on the Yakama Reservation possible.
I want to tell you about the fifth and last closing ceremonies we had at the end of the last team week. “Say so” is always a powerful end to every team week - we ask everyone if they saw God do something during the week to say so. The idea is based on our responsibility and privilege as believers to witness and then testify to the work of our Savior.
This summer saw Chis Granberry baptize 11 of the kids in the youth group as well as fifteen of them work side by side with the summer church teams - roofing homes, improving the new church building and playing with kids in Totus Park. A number of them were there at closing ceremonies that last Friday as well, and you could sense the power of God’s Holy Spirit as they testified publicly and privately to the way they, themselves, had seen God changing their hearts and minds. Closing ceremonies can sometimes be a very emotional experience but I have never felt as proud of our youth leadership as I did that night. I thank God for each of them and for the summer he gave us all.
I’ve spent a lot of time since that night, filled with wonder, thinking about it and trying to remember how it all happened. I’ve written about several key events during the summer and included links below:
Summer Roof Number 2 - The second team week started in the middle of June after the school year had ended so it gave me an opportunity to take some of the guys from my D-Group to the work site with me … (more)
Promotion Monday - At the very beginning of the summer we had an ice cream party to celebrate our rising sixth graders graduating from the children’s ministry in the youth group … (more)
Camp High Rock - The week of Camp High Rock - the week of July 4th - coincided with a team week this summer, so we could only send Heather and myself with the high school junior counselors to camp … (more)
A Week in Warm Springs - I spent the fourth team week in Warm Springs with Eric. I had hoped to take my whole D-Group with me for the week but in the ten days leading up everyone but Eric had to cancel … (more)
Skateland Trip 3 - Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words - or at least several hundred. We took the youth group to Skateland in mid July. It was one of our biggest outing yet with 54 of us on the rink … (more)
All of the Clevengers are gearing up for Fall after a two-week break at the end of the Summer. It was a sweet time of rest and for us to have a long spell of quality time with each other.
Asha will start third grade next week which doesn’t seem to be possible. Her teacher is the pastor at one of the churches we work with on the Reservation so we are thankful that we have a friend in her classroom.
Isaac was moved to a toddler bed a week ago. Neena and I braced ourselves for a long night of him being able to get out of bed on his own, but he never did. The downside - he won’t get up in the morning without one of us getting him. So our mornings usually begin with him calling us over and over again from bed until someone comes.
Prayers and Praises:
We praise God for the arrival of Bill and Tina Yarbrough and their four daughters to the Sacred Road Team. Bill will be working as mercy ministry coordinator and has already built a bed for one of the children in his first week here.
As great as the summer was, it felt like it came to a screeching halt in August as we learned about two deaths in our Hope Fellowship family. One was a nine-year-old boy who was killed in a car accident in the closed area of the Reservation. We had just played kickball together the week before, He had been a big part of our Kid’s Club Bible skits and a regular attender on Tuesday nights. Please pray for his family and his little sister.
The father of three of the kids in the youth group died last week after recently being diagnosed with cancer in the stomach. The family had recently moved next to the Longhouse where he was working as the groundskeeper. He was always very kind to me when we showed up at the Longhouse to decorate for the Christmas feast and various interactions in the community. In a recent talk with Chris, he confessed a saving faith in Jesus and asked Chris to perform a wedding ceremony for him and the kids’ mom. They were married just a couple of weeks before his passing. Please pray for his family, especially his daughter, who has spent a lot of time with Chris and Mary this summer.
With the frenzy of summer behind us, I have more time to devote to support raising. Please join me in prayer that others might be as excited as you about what God is doing in the hearts of teenagers in White Swan and be moved to give generously so that we can continue to grow this ministry that means so much to us.
Thank you again and may God Bless you a hundredfold,
In Him, By Him, For Him
Chuck, Neena, Asha and Isaac
The Clevengers (for mail)
155 Kamiakin Avenue
Wapato, Washington 98951
Sacred Road Ministries
22116 SE 51st Place
Issaquah, WA 98029-9221
http://www.rustlings.com - Clevenger blog
http://www.youtube.com/user/SacredRoad - videos
Hello Family and Friends,
Family and Friends,
The summer is nearly over and looking back, it’s been a good summer. Lots of work has been done, kids have been loved, and the love and truth of Christ has been proclaimed and demonstrated.
My favorite story of the summer is about a little 6 or 7 year old boy named Asha. I met Asha two years ago, and he had a tendency to be angry and/or disrespectful. This summer, he’s been much friendlier and openly affectionate, at times holding my hand or giving me hugs – this from a boy who two years ago would kick me in the shins. I noticed his increasing affection and openness and have thought God is working in his heart. A few Tuesdays back, we were sitting on the bench, waiting for the vans to pull around to give him a ride home, and I said “Asha, do you want to hear a story?” He said, “Yes,” and I asked “What kind of story do you want to hear?” Asha said, “Jesus.” Of all the stories in the world, he wanted to hear about Jesus. Of all the superheroes or dragons or monsters that captivate a child’s mind, Asha wanted to know more about Jesus. That’s why we are here and it makes everything else worth it.
The most amazing part of the summer has been being a part of 29 baptisms. It was a true blessing to be a part of the services and see adults, teenagers, and children publicly profess faith in Jesus.
During the summer, the youth took a greater leadership role at the work sites and kid’s club. Several went to Warm Springs, getting to share Jesus on the Warm Springs Reservation. I wasn’t at camp, but I heard our youth did a great job serving as junior counselors and also had a great time! It’s been really exciting to see the youth grow into leaders and minister to others.
Kid’s Club has gone really well, which is amazing considering we’ve been stretched thin most of the summer. The skits have been on the life of Jesus, from birth to Ascension, and the kids love dressing up and acting. We had to cancel several times due to wind, but it’s been good ministry this summer.
Although the summer has gone well, there have been some hard times in the community. A Christian man who has two youth regularly involved in Bible Study, and a third who comes occasionally has terminal cancer. His name is Jesse and his family needs prayer. A man and his son who come to Bible Study were in a rough car accident. I saw a woman arrested for a DUI while her 4 daughters watched. The girls have at times have regularly come to Bible Study and Kid’s Club and I got to spend 40 minutes with them, waiting for their grandmother and giving them ice cream. It was good that I was there to be with the girls and help them in a small way, but it broke my heart.
Throughout the summer and the year, we see many families in turmoil, and it’s hard because there’s often little we can do, but try to love people well and point them to Jesus. A key verse for Sacred Road is “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love” Galatians 5:6. I know I’m often not very loving and my faith is weak, but I pray that God gives me His love and give me faith for the situations we encounter.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Please pray for the families out here and the dysfunction that hurts the children. Please pray for those we see inconsistently – we see many kids for a month, then they are gone for three, then they are back. It’s really hard to build a relationship and then have to restart.
I’ll be back in Macon on August 13, speaking at North Macon Presbyterian Church on August 14 at 5:30, and at Fitzgerald First Presbyterian Church on August 17 at 6:30. I’d love to catch up with everyone, so call or email me if you’d like to talk.
Grace and Peace to you all,
youtube.com/sacredroad – see Sacred Road’s videos
PO Box 223
Harrah, WA 98933
Sacred Road Ministries
22116 SE 51st Place
Issaquah WA 98029-9221
Wow! What an amazing summer we had! When I try to figure out how too effectively communicate what we've seen the Lord doing I am at a loss for words. There is much more to the story than "numbers" but they may help tell the story. The first number I think of is "29". We had 29 of our regular attenders (of Tuesday Night Bible Study) get baptized! In my mind's eye I can still see the face of each as I had the honor of baptizing them. 29 people amounts to about 25% of our regular attenders! On top of that, about ten more people are planning on being baptized in September! The Lord is on the move.
Another number that comes to mind is "2". As I write this, two families are moving to the reservation to join our team full time! The Yarbroughs are currently driving through Montana on their way here. They should arrive on August 15th. The Dempsens are moving out in September! That is four adults and six children ages infant through 16. A total of ten new people will be added to our team over the next month! That brings the total number of our full time team (including children, who contribute in various ways from leading roofing crews, making team week and promotional videos, working with slightly younger children and youth, to being cute/adorable) to 24 people! Amazing!
Another number that gets my attention is "8". Our family (the Granberrys) moved to the Yakama reservation with the desire to be used by the Lord to plant a healthy church 8 years ago. The experts said we wouldn't last two years on the reservation (apparently most pastors don't) but by God's grace we are still here, still reasonably sane, and the church and our team are still growing. Praise God.
Another exciting number is "387". That is how many believers came to serve here in White Swan and on the reservation in Warm Springs, OR combine! The people of God are responding to the needs and the opportunities to love our "first neighbors" well in record numbers (in spite of the lousy economy). We are so encouraged by the overwhelming response (we had to turn about ten churches/team who wanted to come because we simply didn't have the space to put them).
"19" is a special number because that is how many new roofs were completed by teams working in White Swan. The most we have ever done before in one summer was 10! Another great worksite related number is "0". That's the number of serious injuries we have had on worksite over the last nine summers! Can you imagine that?! Literally thousands of people on roofs, ladders, hauling trash, etc. and no significant injuries! The Lord has faithfully watched over all of us.
"Six" is the number of couples who expressed interest in joining our team full time with the desire to move to Warm Springs and facilitate ministry there year round! (I was hoping/praying for one significant conversation with one couple!)
Finally, a number that I am very happy about is "250". That is the approximate number of children who came to one of the Kid's Clubs that we host here on the Yakama Reservation or in Warm Springs. I believe that each and every one of those children experienced the love of Jesus and heard the truth of Jesus (the Gospel) through our teams (the kids call us and our teams "the church people"). One little boy touched my heart last week in Warm Springs. He is about 7 and loves to participate in rodeos (yes, he is an "Indian cowboy"). He is proud to let you know that he has moved up from "mutton busting" (riding sheep) to "calf riding". He is a bull rider in the making. After story time, the story teller asked the children, "What do we learn about Jesus through this story?" Our future bull rider began shouting out various attributes of Christ like: "He is strong! He is faithful! He will never leave us! He does miracles! He is good! He loves us!" and more! None of those answers were exactly what the story teller was after that day, but those answers are exactly what we are after year in year out!
May the Lord raise us a generation of bull riders and teachers, loggers and nurses, fishermen and homemakers, hunters and ranchers, gatherers and preachers, who are above all else lovers and followers of Jesus on this reservation and in Warm Springs, OR and all over the northwest and throughout Native America. And may His Kingdom Come on the Reservation as it is in Heaven. Amen.
The last special number that I'll mention is "20". That's how many years Mary and I have been married (as of August 10th)! What a blessing she is to me and to so many others. What an honor and a privilege to serve together.
Thank you for praying, giving and coming. Thank you for joining us as we join the Lord in what He is doing on the reservations. We could not do it without you.
In Him and for His Kingdom,