Champions for Christ

At Club Christ, our summer program is unique because each week a team from a different church in Las Vegas comes to serve. It is a great way for more people to learn about us and see the work we do. The first week at the Las Vegas Center we had a team of interns from Grace City Church volunteer and they were an awesome group to kick off the program! One of the interns, Chevy, shares about his experience.

Image-1

Last month, a group of us from church were able to be part of an amazing thing happening in Las Vegas! What is it you ask? Club Christ! The program is truly life-changing for the kids and their families, AND even those who volunteer. We were only there for a week, but in that short amount of time, it was outstanding to see the children’s desire to learn, both academically and spiritually.

During the week I taught writing and math, and performed in a Bible skit on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The kids are writing their own books this summer and so we were there to help them choose a topic and begin brainstorming ideas. They are mind-blowing: so smart and full of wonderful ideas, with way-creative imaginations, plus handwriting better than my own! Their writing topics included adventures with Batman, traveling into the future, and pirates searching for gold.  When I taught math, kids were completing the math worksheets in seconds, faster than I could check their answers. With so much spare time for fun, we had them do problems that I thought would be hard (23 x 187), but with ease they finished, and I had to come up with bigger and bigger numbers (22,583 x 14,873) which they could solve in minutes!

Ferrell2015_24

The kids we served are truly amazing and respectable, well-rounded and intelligent young kids, just ready to be poured into with the love of Christ and to be trained as champions for Christ! How amazing is that?! Keep it up Club Christ!

Chevy is 19 years old and currently a junior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is studying Pastoral Leadership and believes he is called to plant a church in San Francisco. He enjoys being active (hiking and biking especially), serving the Lord (volunteering, mission trips), and spending time with people. His favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

We Almost Lost Him

I knew this kid was different and it wasn’t just because of his strange name… Myzaveon showed up at Club Christ in 2004, our very first year.  He was a scrawny little 5th grader with a twinkle in his eye.  He was bright, funny, and had a love for God that set him apart.  Over the years, he matured into a young man who didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his cousins who were involved in gangs.  But it almost all came crashing down one afternoon when he was a junior in high school.

020

That particular day another Club Christ teen walked in the door and said, “Myzaveon got kicked out of school today.” I freaked out and thought, “No way, Myzaveon!?” Turns out that another student picked a fight with him while he got on the school bus, which led to a scuffle and the bus driver reporting the whole incident to the principal.  Since the Clark County School District has a zero-tolerance policy for fighting, Myzaveon was immediately expelled.  I thought, “Man, are we losing Myzaveon too?”  Over the years we have had kids pivot away from us and get into all sorts of trouble.  I immediately began praying.

After sitting Myzaveon down and making sure that he had learned his lesson from this experience, I reassured him that God still had an amazing plan for his life.  He looked at me and said that he made a mistake and he would never do it again.  He was right.  Since that moment, I have not only seen Myzaveon make wise decisions, but I have witnessed him choose to make a difference in the lives of troubled youth by becoming a mentor at the local recreation center in the community where he grew up.

IMG_0060

Be sure to check out the video link at the end of this post to see a snapshot of who Myzaveon has become: a leader, a mentor, and a shining example of what Club Christ is here to do.  Our vision is to empower urban youth to transform their communities for Christ.  One way we would love to see their community transformed is for young men to value marriage and to make a covenant with their wives before having children.  I’m proud to say that Myzaveon married his lovely God-fearing fiancé this past year and they are doing wonderful.

I knew this kid was different.  It was because God set him apart.

Written by Evan Hartsell, Executive Director, Club Christ

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ouz4uyIcY

The Best Week of Their Summer

Last week we had the awesome opportunity to send seven of our Las Vegas Center teens to Ignite Summer Camp with Central Church. They spent five days in Prescott, Arizona and made new friends and grew in their faith! We asked two of our students, Nathalie and Ashley, to share their experience with us.

What was the best part of camp and why? 

IMG_3196

Ashley: Well, the best fun part was when all of the middle school girls played Jamaican Pool-Pool; it was SO intense! And then my favorite part of service was when Drew, who leads the band, spoke about the Word of God and told us stories about Jesus. He was really encouraging and reminded me how Jesus, an innocent man, died for people who sin every day.

Nathalie: I would have to say the last night service was the best because it was amazing to see how many people recommitted their lives to God and I learned that I can start over fresh. And anytime we worshipped, just to look around and see other kids with their hands in the air, praising God just really effected me. I felt like I actually belonged to a group of people who are Christ-followers just like me.

How are you different since returning to Las Vegas?

Ashley: I am different because now I know the importance of staying close to God and I really want to stay close to Him. I am following the reading plan they gave us and I am reading my Bible every day.

IMG_3195 (1)

Nathalie: This experience has changed me in so many ways. It has made my faith grow stronger and stronger and helped me realize that I am a bright and smart girl. I feel like I have a second family because I met new people and grew close to them. I know that God loves me and has the best planned for me. I can trust Him!

What would you tell your small group leader? 

IMG_3057

 

 

Ashley: I would tell Christina a huge THANK YOU for staying there with us for a week and helping us grow in our faith and have fun.

 

 

IMG_3194

 

Nathalie: Tayler, thank you for everything! You cared for me when I was hurting and helped me when I needed it. Thanks for making me do the activities. You were the BEST leader!

 

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

-1 Timothy 4:12 

Alisa’s Unlikely Journey

The beginning of Alisa’s story is one that is too common for first generation Mexican-Americans living in Las Vegas.

IMG_3170

Raised in a home with an abusive father for the first few years of her life, Alisa struggled with trusting others. Her mom, a single mother who only spoke Spanish, struggled to provide financial and educational support. With an inability to read, it appeared Alisa and her siblings would become another drop-out statistic.

But God… 

Eight years ago, Club Christ opened a new Learning Center in old Henderson, and after hearing about us from her older siblings, Alisa was excited to learn to read and make friends. That’s where she met then Center Director, Kendra, and the volunteers. Slowly, her life began to change. A few weeks later, Alisa first learned about Jesus and God’s special love for those who are hurt and fatherless. She discovered that He has THE plan to make it better and that gave her the freedom she needed to trust others, especially Kendra.

Two years later, Alisa made significant progress in her reading and opened her life up to God. Sadly, due to a mold infestation that caused the housing complex to be torn down, Alisa and her family were forced to move abruptly and quickly find a new home. She wasn’t sure if she would ever see her friends, Kendra, and the Club Christ Learning Center again.

IMG_3945

Her mom struggled to find consistent work and without a community to support Alisa and her siblings in school, they began falling behind. Though her progress in reading began to fade and the stress began affecting her family, Alisa never lost hope. She took solace in a Bible given to her by Kendra and continued to trust that God would provide.

God proved to be faithful and three years after they were forced to move, Alisa’s family was invited to move back into the housing complex in old Henderson. She reconnected with Kendra and was encouraged to come back once the program started. Alisa and her brother Alam quickly re-enrolled and became faithful students of our teen leadership program, and begin to attend theSOCIAL, the youth group at Kendall’s church, Crossroads Community Church.

One month later and through the help of generous donations from our donors, Alisa and Alam were able to attend summer camp with theSOCIAL. They would never be the same because they made the decision to give their lives to Jesus! On this retreat away from the violence of the community and emotional stress of their struggling mother, Alisa learned, in her own words,”God, who is the Creator of the entire world loves me so much, that He wanted to take away my hurt with His love!”

IMG_3414

Today, Alisa is free from the fear left by an abusive father and is full of dreams, allowing God to use her to impact the community. Alisa continues to work hard in school, faithfully attending Club Christ and theSOCIAL, loving her family and trusting God. When asked what Club Christ has done for her, Alisa responded, “Before I came, I did not know Jesus existed. I now know God wants to change my life and use me to change the lives of others. Club Christ will help me work hard and build a better life when I get older.”

Alisa’s story is a success story not of our organization or theSOCIAL alone, but of God’s ability to change the lives of people who are lost, broken and hurt. It is our privilege to share this story with you, and we thank you for your continued support of Club Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: 

The old has gone, the new is here!”

-2 Corinthians 5:17 

The Power of Words

IMG_2407

Before the year ended, our Las Vegas teens participated in an activity that got them thinking about who they are. They were given pieces of paper and told to write down negative things they’ve either thought about themselves or things others have told them. Lists were long as they scribbled down phrases such as “ugly”, “stupid”, “worthless”.

“Look at that list. You are not those things. God tells us that we fearfully and wonderfully made. He created you on purpose and you have a purpose in this world. Anytime you feel negative thoughts coming into your mind, remember this activity. Crumple up those papers and toss them into the garbage.”

The teens joyfully obliged. Then each teen received a new piece of paper and they wrote their name in the middle. We spent the next ten minutes passing the papers around and writing affirming words for everyone- teens and adults alike. When they received their papers back, huge smiles spread across their faces as they read life-giving words.

“I’m putting this in my binder so I can look at it during school.”

“I’m going to hang mine in my room so I can see it before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning.”

We went around and everyone shared words that stood out to them- either words that were repeated or words that they were surprised to see.

A leader. Beautiful. Smart. Independent. Driven. Hilarious. Compassionate. Caring. 

From this day forward, let us remind ourselves of who we really are. God tells us that we are dearly loved, new creations, and made in His image. And let us not be selfish with this, let us share this truth and affirm those in our lives.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

-1 Thessalonians 5:11

Welcome Jessica!

We recently hired Jessica to join the Club Christ team in the role of Center Coordinator at the Las Vegas Center. We had been praying that God would bring someone who”awed” us from the start and Jessica is just that person. She is incredibly compassionate and loving, PLUS she is bilingual, which is amazing; we are so excited about her addition to staff!

IMG_1181

How did you hear about Club Christ and why did you want to join staff?

I heard about Club Christ at Hope Church. Immediately I was drawn into their vision because I love children and I love pouring into them, encouraging them, and equipping them to be world – changers. 

Share a little about your background. 

My parents were addicted to drugs when I was born so I was raised in a home with abuse and addiction. I lost my little brother to Leukemia when he was 3 years old and the next year my sister overdosed on anti-depressants. After that I was taken into foster care and placed into three different homes before I finally ended up in a loving God-centered home. That last placement had a huge impact on me. For a long time I was so lost, broken, and hurt but God took my broken and made it beautiful. My mess is now my message. My life verses are Psalm 90:15 and Joel 2:25. 

IMG_0929

Tell us about your family.

In August I will have been married for 14 years to my amazing husband Miguel. We have three daughters: Makenzie (9), Madyson (7), and Caylee Grace (2). Our family is completed by Glitter, a rescued cat. We love singing, dancing, riding bikes, hiking, and playing games together. 

What is your vision for the Las Vegas community and specifically for the Las Vegas Center students and families?

I have a vision of all the children, staff, and families being united and uplifting one another. I have a prayer that the Las Vegas community would grow in love and grace.  I pray that God’s love would continue to bring people to life, break chains, create transformation, allow healing, and that each child would use their gifts, talents, and passions to change their communities. I pray we would truly be the change we want to see in the world. 

There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in- that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible. 

-Mother Teresa 

 

Bidding Farewell to Kendra

This week is the last week our amazing Program Director Kendra will be on staff. She is transitioning off of staff to spend more time at home with her little ones and to begin a new venture of preventing child abuse. She has been an integral part of Club Christ for the last eight years and we will greatly miss her presence and insight. We are so excited for her though as she continues to follow God’s calling.

IMG_1962

I’ll never forget when I first met you. I arrived at the Henderson center super unsure of what I had just gotten myself into and there you were! Kind, soft-spoken, beautiful, wearing a dress and pearls, and working with a bunch of wild kids. I’ve always been inspired by you. No matter what it is you’re doing you always do it with excellency.  Out of all the things I love about you, I love your compassionate heart the most. You care so much and SO deeply for everyone around you. When you listen to people speak you truly engage and connect, it’s what makes you so wonderful. I’ll always be inspired by the girl in the dress and pearls and that girl will always be so dear to my heart. You are my inspiration, my fashion icon, and my friend. Thank you for every thing you’ve ever spoken into my heart! I love you! – Maryann, former Las Vegas Center Director 

IMG_2906

Kendra, I’ll never forget the first time I met you- it was the middle of August, a thousand degrees, and I was checking out the Las Vegas Center for the first time. Immediately I sensed a gracious, gentle, and loving spirit within you! Thank you so much for all you have done for Club Christ and for me- both as my co-worker and my friend. Your support, concern, and encouragement have gotten me through some tough times and for that, I am incredibly grateful. I am going to miss our meetings at Grouchy Johns and seeing you in the office. I know that you have a gift and a heart for kids who have experienced some terrible things and God is using you to change their lives and the lives of their families. You are amazing. Love you! –Angela, Las Vegas Center Director

IMG_0623

Kendra has brought a lot of “firsts” to Club Christ.  She is a pioneer in a lot of ways, unafraid to throw out new ideas to see if they stick.  I love to work through the practicality of ideas, so her and I have made a great team!  When I look back over her eight years with us, I can hardly put into words what she has meant to me and this organization.  Here are just a few of the firsts that have made Club Christ what it is today…

  • Our First Brochure
    • I wanted a nice brochure for our new organization and a friend recommended I reach out to Kendra Perry (later to become Kendra Dyson).  She whipped up a beautiful and professional trifold that really impressed me.  Her artistic talents have been such an HUGE asset to Club Christ over the years and they will be missed.
  • Our First Time Opening a New Center
    • After five years at our original center in North Las Vegas when I sat down with Kendra at her job interview to share how we hoped to launch a new center in Henderson.  She told me that when she was a little girl she had done an outreach in Landsman Gardens and that she remembers God gently impressing on her that she would return to that neighborhood someday.  She did an amazing job leading that center which had some of the wildest kids I have ever met haha!
  • Our First Mac User
    • “You use a Mac?”  Kendra had a Macbook before it was cool to have a Mac haha. Now we all have them.  She is definitely a trend setter. 

Evan, Executive Director 

IMG_3687

Kendra you are so awesome because of your heart for others. It has been a pleasure serving alongside you the past four years and witnessing the wonderful ways God uses you to love everyone around you. You were such an influential part of me joining staff with Club Christ. Serving under you as a volunteer from 2012-2013, your devotion to the students, community and your family inspired me. I LITERALLY wanted to join the Club Christ team because I wanted to love others the way you did. Little did I know God would use you to encourage me to join the team and take over this community you treasure. Over the last two and a half years, I don’t think there has been a single day in the office or center where you didn’t ask me about my day, Katie or if I needed any help. No matter how busy we were or how chaotic the moment was, you took the time to make me, our team and our students feel valued. I am a better leader because of your influence Kendra, and I am so grateful to be part of this amazing ministry and team because of your encouragement. You saw potential in me as a volunteer, and you empowered me to be the leader that I am; thank you. I will always appreciate you and I’m so touched by all you do for others. Praying for you and your family on this new adventure. –Kendall, Henderson Center Director 

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

-Winnie the Pooh