Our TOP 3 spots to celebrate the 4th of July!

3 Jul

In the city that never sleeps, it’s often quite easy to find FUN and FREE things to do in the valley during a holiday. But the question is which one will your child MOST enjoy and which ones are family friendly?

Here is our list of our favorite things to do on the 4th of July here in Las Vegas and Henderson!

1. Boulder City’s Veterans Memorial Park Firework Show!

boulder city fireworks

Boulder City is a great place to just go and hang out any day of the week, but it’s especially fun on the 4th of July! With all day events starting at 7 am there is lots of fun things for you and your family to do!

TIP: Make sure to arrive early to get a good spot to see the fireworks. The fireworks don’t go off until 9:00 pm, we suggest arriving around 6:00 pm in order to lay out your blankets to save your spot. Make sure you pack a cooler full of snacks and water to keep the kids entertained while you wait. There’s even a splash pad and bounce house that your kids can enjoy!

2. Summerlin Patriotic Parade

This 4th of July enjoy a parade in Summerlin that is guaranteed to fill your little ones with excitement! The parade travels along flag-lined streets from Hillpointe Road and Hills Center, then south on Hills Center Drive concluding on Trailwood Drive at the entrance of the Trails Village Shopping Center. Arrive early to get a prime viewing area along the route. The parade commences at 9:00 AM!

summerlin parade 2

TIP: Make sure to bring LOTS of sunscreen and water! Everyone knows the Las Vegas heat is pretty grueling, but with some sunscreen, cold water and a umbrella, your children will be comfortable enough to take in all of the floats passing them by!

3. Celebrate America at Lake Las Vegas

4th-July-2015-LLV

Head on out to Lake Las Vegas and enjoy some music, food and fun! Enjoy an incredible Fireworks Show over the lake at 9 pm! What’s great about this event is that there will some fun kids activities such as face painting, balloon artist, washable tattoos, a stilt walker, Glo-works, and some fun games!

TIP: Make reservations to watch the fireworks from a yacht at $20 a person. If you’re thinking of a way to make this 4th of July different and special, Lake Las Vegas is the perfect spot.

We hope you all enjoy this special holiday with your family and friends! From all of us at Club Christ we wish you and yours a Happy 4th of July!

Untold Story-Angela

19 Jun

It seems common for a person to say that one book or one movie altered their life, but whether they actually mean it is another story. For me though, I can confidently make this statement:

The movie Unconditional forever changed my path.

It was just over two years ago that I was wondering what would be the next step in my life. I had been teaching the last five years at Mojave High School, which is located in a low-income, at-risk area in North Las Vegas. Several of my students and their families faced similar struggles and challenges, and at times, it seemed like they were in an endless cycle. That led me to begin kicking around the idea of starting a non-profit that combined my love for Jesus, education, and the kids who live in areas like where I had been working. I had no clue where to even start, so instead I decided to continue my Netflix binge and watch a movie before bed. In what was seemingly random in the moment, but clearly not in the scheme of my life, I chose to watch the aforementioned movie.

“My heart was stirred by the realization that this could lead to something great”

Unconditional is based on the true story of a man named Joe. A series of events led him and his wife to found a non-profit, Elijah’s Heart, to help love and support the kids and their families who live in at-risk areas. At the end of the movie, there was a little announcement about a website that would allow the viewer to find local faith-based organizations like Elijah’s Heart in their community. My heart was stirred by the realization that this could lead to something great, so I went to the website and searched for any available opportunities in Las Vegas. There were only two results: The Shade Tree and Club Christ Ministries (CCM). I clicked to CCM’s website and just knew it was the PERFECT place for me to volunteer. It was as though Evan had seen into the future and learned of my exact idea, years before I had even imagined it!

Even though at this point it was almost midnight, I immediately texted two of my very close friends to tell them about CCM and my desire to volunteer there. My friend Nicole responded back that she knew one of the current Center Directors, Maryann, and would connect the two of us. A couple of days later, Maryann and I talked on the phone (little did I know she would become one of my best friends!) and I was set to begin serving when the school year began.

“…one of my favorite things about Him is how He weaves the littlest things together to bring you to where He calls you!”

Volunteering and then interning at Club Christ has been such a fulfilling experience the last two years and I am beyond thrilled to continue the work of my co-workers as I run the third Center, which is in North Las Vegas, an area so close to my heart, this fall. There is a lot about God that amazes me, but by far, one of my favorite things about Him is how He weaves the littlest things together to bring you to where He calls you! Who would have known a late-night movie would bring about one of the greatest joys and journeys of my life?

angela and reyli

It started out as a way to impress my wannabe girlfriend and it turned into so much more.

14 Jun

I surrendered whatever plans I had for my life and God empowered me to encourage students to take heart in Jesus.

It’s still amazes me how I ended up on staff with Club Christ Ministries.

Three years ago my passion for education, ministry and fatherless youth lead me to volunteer at the age of 21… Or at least that’s what I like to tell myself.

Truthfully, I began as a volunteer because my soon-to-be girlfriend (and now, fiancée) Katie was a volunteer. So as a wannabe boyfriend, and college student with some extra time on my hands, I agreed to volunteer once a week.

Within two months, I fell in love with a generation of mostly fatherless urban youth.

I grew up middle class, with a single-mom, and got to see my father a few times a year. But throughout my life I carried the weighty burden of wanting his approval.

When I started volunteering at Club Christ Ministries was when Jesus began the long process of healing my wounds, and he called me to use my story to change the lives of children growing up without their fathers. I surrendered whatever plans I had for my life and God empowered me to encourage students to take heart in Jesus.

Fast forward three years and I transitioned from volunteer to intern, and from intern to Center Director. I thank God for this opportunity to speak truth into the lives of countless disadvantaged children growing up without fathers. Today, my prayer is that Jesus take their disadvantage, hurt, and insecurity, and turn it into the passion and joy that comes from serving him.

fatherless

photo by: http://www.thechristianmessage.org

Evan’s Untold Story

6 Jun

I’m not the guy you would expect to be leading a ministry like Club Christ.  In fact, I don’t know anyone from my graduating class at my high school, Bishop Gorman, that are now in the non-profit field.  They are lawyers, financial planners, realtors, and more.  I’m not really much different from my peers I grew up with.  I was raised in a sheltered, upper middle-class home with a full-ride scholarship to college.  But then I fell in love.  First with Jesus… as an insecure 18 year old fresh out of high school.

Then I fell in love with the city… when I said yes to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I was just 19 when I decided to spend the summer of my sophomore year at UNLV in Fresno, California.  Some know it as the “armpit” of California and as one of the poorest urban communities in the country.  I know it as the place that changed my life forever. I had naively signed up for Intervarsity’s Fresno Urban Internship expecting a fun mission trip to the inner city with my college friends.  Each week there I fell more and more in love with urban ministry and by the end of the summer I was itching to do something, anything to help meet the overwhelming needs I saw.

One of the last nights in Fresno, my friend, Bethany, and I were worn out from a long day serving at the area soup kitchen. “Let’s go for a walk.” As we walked along the sidewalks, broken and jutting, we both were so overwhelmed by all that we had been taking in.  I remember saying desperately to her, “What more can we do?” I suddenly had an idea, “I have some cash.  I’m gonna throw it on the ground so someone will find it and be blessed by it.”  So there we were, two white college kids throwing cash down on the street in the heart of the inner city.  It wasn’t my brightest idea.

The method might have been impractical but the motive was pure.  I wanted to help people in need but I didn’t know where to start. That same kid would find a better way do urban ministry than throwing a few bucks on the ground.  In fact the place where I served that summer, Mustard Tree Foundation, was the first ministry I had encountered that served kids out of a rented apartment.   Who knew that literally would be the “mustard seed” that inspired Club Christ a year later.

mustard-seed

Photo by: artofthechristianinja.com

I look back at that summer and it reminds me of why I am still here over ten years later.  In those six formative weeks, God unlocked a passion in my heart for what has become my life’s work.  It broke me then and still breaks me to this day to walk the streets of my city.  I hope you too can find that thing that breaks your heart and unlocks a passion to do something.  Anything.  Even if it is just to throw a few bucks on the street.

All seven called him “Dad.”

25 Apr

It was somber as we drove through Henderson thinking about how unfair it felt that Sharon’s family would most likely be split up at an impending custody trial. It had only been a few months since Sharon’s death at the hands of lung cancer.  We (Kendall and my fiancée Katie) arrived to the center with heavy hearts. We would hear the court’s decision very soon. Three years spent building relationships with this family and we could find ourselves with only a few days left with most of them.

Sarah, the third youngest of seven children, arrived to the center wearing her emotions on her sleeve.  She wanted to talk, but she didn’t have to.  Her face said it all.

I came to say goodbye Mr. Kendall. Today will be my last day at the Learning Center. All of us have to move to live with my aunt (Sharon’s sister) except for Jessica and Rachel (who are her two youngest sisters and daughters of Derick, Sharon’s boyfriend of 10 years).”

The court custody trial was between their aunt, who wanted the older five children for the government assistance that would follow them, and the only man they have ever known as Dad. The decision would be announced the next day, but Derick knew he probably wasn’t going to get custody.  He and Sharon had never married. Though only the two youngest girls were his, he loved all seven with all his heart. All seven called him “Dad.”

court

If Derick lost the custody battle, the five oldest children would be taken immediately, including Sarah. This tragedy seemed like it was never going to end. Not only do these girls have to work through losing their mom, but the rest of the family would be split up.  No more Mom, no more Dad, no more brothers and sisters.

Feeling like this might be the last time we see her, we sat down with her while the rest of the kids started their homework. As we opened up the Bible the scripture we turned to was Psalm 23…

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Katie, who had been her Bible Study teacher at Club Christ for a few years, told Sarah, “God loves you and your siblings so much. He will always protect and comfort you, but he needs you to be a leader.” You could see in that moment that Sarah understood. I asked Sarah, “What are you going to do when you move in with your new family?” Sarah stoically said, “I’m going to be a leader.  And I’m going to help my brother and sisters by loving and trusting God.”

I could not be more proud after investing into her at Club Christ.  She had grown so much as a leader, student and follower of Jesus.  I was heartbroken that this would be the last time we would get to have her in our Center, but I’m glad she planned to hold fast to her faith. Katie and I prayed with Sarah and said our goodbyes as she left.

Derick lost the custody battle.  The police picked up the siblings at school and they were taken to live with their new family. They left behind a heartbroken single father and their two younger sisters. With the swing of a gavel, the family of eight was reduced to a family of three, and five siblings were sent away.

Our team of staff and volunteers at Club Christ Ministries were humbled that we had an opportunity to be part of Sharon’s story. Thankfully we get to continue to pour into the lives of her two youngest, Jessica and Rachel, who are still with us at the Henderson Center today. Please pray for Sarah and the rest of her family.  Pray that The Good Shepherd will see them through.

shoulders lyrics

Someone I love Died.

20 Apr

The last time I (Evan) saw Sharon was when she stopped by our center to pick up a bag full of food we were giving to families for Thanksgiving.  Her youngest, Rachel, is a little spark plug who always has something to say.  “Mom what did we get?” She was holding her mom’s hand as I explained how proud I was that her three youngest daughters were doing so well in school.  She looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you so much Mr. Evan.  We love the Learning Center.”

That next week little Rachel walked in the door and she wasn’t her usual, bubbly self.  “Mom is in the hospital.” I asked, “What’s wrong with her?” She didn’t know.  Her mom was just really sick.  I later found out that her mom, Sharon, had stage 4 lung cancer.  She hadn’t been to the doctors in years so there was nothing they could do.

Sharon wasn’t coming home.

All of a sudden her seven children had lost their rock, their comforter, their momma.  And we lost a friend. We had never dealt with this before at Club Christ. All we knew what that the kids would take this really hard and we needed to help them make sense of it all.  So when they returned to the center we stopped our normal scheduled program and spent some time reading a children’s book called Someone I Love Died.  While three volunteers and I sat across from Rachel she looked up from the book and said, I’m not sad… I’m just so mad.” I shared glances with the adults in the room and we all understood that this little second grader needed God’s help to heal.  So at the end of the book we all bowed our heads and prayed.

someone i love died

I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.  Because Christmas was only a couple weeks away I put it out there on Facebook that we wanted to bless a family in need.  Just 48 hours later my office had three bikes, boxes of household supplies, a Barbie playhouse, and hundreds of dollars in gift cards.  I was overwhelmed.  In the midst of such a heart-breaking tragedy we had been able to give them a Christmas that would have made their mom smile. I felt like I could see her again standing just outside our doorstep saying, “Thank you so much Mr. Evan.  We love the Learning Center.

I wish I could say that this families’ trouble ended there…

Next week: Kendall will share with us what happened next with the kids and the fight for guardianship.

A rough first impression

12 Apr

Though the door did not bang as the mom exited, I felt like it should have.  Seconds before, she had briskly left the room with two kids and a frustrated spirit in tow.  That was my first encounter with Sharon.  Though the center was literally feet from her porch, that was the last time she would enter it for the next three years.  Past hurtful interactions with Christians had caused her to deny God and in turn, reject us.

For the next two years, a sort of unspoken battle was waged. Glares were common.  Our kids took the brunt of it though.  They were frequently in trouble for lining up too near her backdoor.  My heart felt heavy for this woman who felt that we were the enemy when we could have been an ally.

Change comes through the most unexpected means.  For Sharon, it was a flier for Girl Scouts.

I’d like to sign my girls up for Girl Scouts.  How old do they need to be?” she asked gruffly.  It was a surreal experience answering each of her questions. Yes, everything is free. Yes, they could get help with their homework. Then came the question that still causes me to well-up with joy.

And I heard you do Bible study.  Is that right?” Sharon asked.

My reply was a simple, “Yes.”  I expected her to deny them the opportunity to attend.  Instead she said, “Good, I want them to be involved in that.”

For the first year, she approached us with caution.  Guarded as ever, she watched as we served her kids.  Gradually though, her heart softened toward us.  We grew closer to her six children and to her youngest children’s father.  A love for Jesus was birthed in the hearts of her children through Bible study.

Sharon soon became a fixture at the center.  After dropping off her girls, she stop and chat.  Volunteering when we were in a pinch became common.  She even served alongside our teens during a community service project.

At that community service project, she shared, “I really appreciate all you’ve done for my kids.  I see how much you care about them.”  My mind swam of images of Sharon opening her heart to Christ.  I anticipated growing our relationship.

door

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