Student Spotlight: Mariana & Nathalie

Mariana and Nathalie are two of our high school students at the Las Vegas Center. They are the best of friends and both enjoy playing sports, laughing at their inside jokes, and drinking Starbucks. The girls are excellent role models for their younger siblings and are two of the sweetest teens EVER!

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Mariana 

How long have you been coming to the Center?

I’ve been attending the Center for two years. 

Why do you like the Center?

I like coming to the Center because I get extra help with my homework. Also, I get to learn more about God! 

What do you want to do when you grow up? Why?

I want to be an elementary school teacher because I want to work with little kids. 

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Nathalie

How long have you been coming to the Center?

This is my third year attending the Center. 

What is something you have learned by coming to the Center?

I learned that following the path to God is the best path to take in life. 

What is a challenge you have faced?

A challenge I am currently facing is how to choose the right friends. I want friends who will support me in everything and encourage me that I can achieve my goals. 

Love God and People, Live Like Christ

Love is a four letter word we so easily toss around to our family, best friendships, and significant others. But when it comes to those outside of our inner-circle, we often cannot fathom saying such a thing to those whom do not have as great of an impact on us. So how do we change that? Let’s start by answering some hard questions.

What is love anyway?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has not pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth“. – 1 John 3:16-18

But how can I love someone who doesn’t “love me”?

How can you not? Look at our hurting city. We need God-fearing individuals, like YOU, to show love to those who consider themselves to be worthless and not worth loving. Glance around you, how can you LOVE outsiders today?

  • Pray
  • Read God’s word
  • Realize that you yourself are unlovable at times
  • See them through God’s perspective

Why would I love that person? He is so….. 

When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story. Everyone has gone through something that has/can change them. Consider Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. This demonstrates to us that God loves us in spite of our brokenness. He constantly pursues us, longs for our relationship, and delights in our reverence. As a result of this encounter, only an individual similar to the Samaritan woman, an outcast, would comprehend what it means to be desired, to be cared for when no one else, not even herself, could appreciate anything of value in her – this is grace.

I love my “inner-circle”, isn’t that enough?

No, did Jesus only love His disciples?

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”Luke 6:32

We aren’t called to “kind-of like” or, my personal favorite, “I don’t hate them, but…” those we work with, pass on the street, or make eye-contact with. We are called to (truly and honestly) love them: verbally, physically, and mentally. Remember, you are so loved by God and we need to show others that same love.

“God has seen our unloveliness – the deep brokenness and rebellion in our hearts – and instead of withdrawing, He pursues us to the very end.”

– Matt Chandler

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(Written by Kim: a fashionista, coffee addict, avid blog-reader, and dear friend to Angela. Kim loves Jesus, Disneyland, her boyfriend Michael,  and is eagerly looking forward to finishing her Masters Degree in Business.) 

Getting Our Hands and Feet Dirty

Do you believe in people?

You may have been quick to answer “Yes” in your mind. But think about it for a few minutes: Do you really believe in people?

Let me ask a better question: Do you believe that God has a plan for every person’s life? Does everyone have it within their grasp to, by God’s grace, escape their circumstances and become more than what people expect of them? Or are some people forced to accept their lot in life and consent to being nothing more than a product of their environment?

So when I ask the question, “Do you believe in people?” what I mean is, “Do you believe that God does not give up on people?”

I remember a time during college when a group of friends from the Atlanta Dream Center and I visited the home of a woman named Momma D. She was a sweet woman in her 50s and struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease. In her mind, she was taking care of teenage boys who were homeless, but in reality, the home was being used to deal drugs and solicit prostitutes. The leader of my group knew many of the dealers by name and prayed with them. The experience was eye-opening and truly shook me at my core. At the time, I could not fully comprehend everything that was going on, but I knew that God was trying to show me something.

My whole life I thought I knew what it meant to believe in people. I thought that saying a few encouraging words and inviting someone to church meant that I cared. After visiting Momma D’s house, that knowledge was shattered. If I’m being honest, while we were at the house all I wanted to do was leave. I was not worried about my safety, but uncomfortable because I was being confronted with a reality that I had only seen in movies—and it convicted me. I knew that after that experience, I could not approach my life the same way.

When Jesus was on the earth, he got his hands dirty and socialized with the outcasts. He came for the widows and the orphans, ate with sinners, called tax collectors to follow Him, and touched lepers. He didn’t stand off in the distance and condemn, he crouched down in the dirt and helped them up. Why? Because He knew that their past mistakes and present circumstances didn’t determine their futures.

After visiting Momma D’s house, I knew that if I was going to be His hands and His feet, that those hands and feet would have to get dirty.

God’s grace is sufficient for all people, in all things, at all times. But often times we get in the way with our thoughts of who can or can’t change. If He can change us, he can change “them.”

Be willing to get your hands dirty. Be willing to go after the outcasts. Be willing to believe in people. That is the heart of God. God does not give up on people. And neither should we.

(Written by Kory, the youth pastor of Crossroads Community Church and a good friend to our Henderson Center Director, Kendall. Kory loves his wife Faith and son Lion. He is known to home-brew the best coffee in Las Vegas; yes, some of the best.) 

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An Everlasting Impact

I’ll never forget what I saw in 2004 when I went to visit the North Las Vegas Center: a desolate desert- so much broken glass the sand sparkled different colors, little children as young as three outside without shoes completely unsupervised, and a broken playground. There were no real stores or banks and very few cars in the neighborhood. Unless of course you counted the few sleek cars surrounded by the several young men who no doubt were associated with drugs. I watched two boys play with the only toy they had- it was a shirt tied to a rope hanging from a tree. They were using it like a tetherball and I thought to myself am I really in Las Vegas? Am I really in America right now?!

I volunteered for a good amount of time with Club Christ and was in awe of what God was doing there. Evan had created a program in the middle of a forgotten community that welcomed children after school; all were welcomed for free. He gave them a safe place, surrounded them with safe adults, engaged in real conversations with them, and prayed for them. On Fridays we had Bible Study with these precious beautiful kids. It was so beautiful and hopeful to see each kid hear the gospel and study the Bible.

My deepest hope for the children of Club Christ is they will know without a doubt they are dearly loved and valued as part of God’s family. I pray they would not take their identity from their current circumstances but their identities would be fashioned as children of the Living God. I pray they would graduate from school and pursue work that is meaningful to them and their community; that they would become lovely parents who are able to support and care for their children. I pray they chose wisely and never look left or right but stick with Jesus until the race is finished.

To sum it all up, I have never seen a ministry run more ethically, more grounded in Christ-like obedience, or have as much impact and fruit as Club Christ.  I urge anyone to go check it out. You will be changed forever… I know I have been.

(Written by Carolyn, an original volunteer) 

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Did You Know?

Ten Club Christ Facts

10. Executive Director Evan was just 20 years old when he founded Club Christ.
9. Our other three current staff members began as volunteers!
8. Club Christ has served over 600 children and teens.

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7. One of our center addresses technically does NOT exist. 760 N. Major Street does not come up on any map or the assessor’s website, but NV Energy charges us for power at that location every month.
6. Each Club Christ kid can spend 160 hours at the center annually. Combined, they spend 11,520 hours within the center walls over the course of a year.

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5. At present, the Sun Chip flavor of choice is… Garden Salsa! Juice boxes are always a hit, but cheese sticks are on the outs right now.
4. Our Las Vegas campus is located over a parking lot.
3. Each staff member has had a side job while on staff. See if you can guess which job belongs to Evan, Kendra, Angela or Kendall: A nanny, a college professor, a coffee barista, and a photographer. (See answers below)
2. If kids had to pay us a dollar each time they stretched the truth as to whether or not they had homework, Club Christ would earn about $544 annually.

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1. We are incredibly thankful for the 454 people who gave financially last year! THANK YOU!!!

“You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.”

-Woodrow Wilson 

(Answers to #3: Evan- nanny, Kendra- photographer, Angela- college professor, Kendall- barista) 

A Resolution to Be

Friends it is hard to believe that 2016 is almost upon us. It is now the annual time of creating resolutions and lists of everything we plan to do.

  • Work out
  • Eat fruits and veggies
  • Read more books
  • Pray more
  • Travel to new places

And the list goes on and on. There’s nothing wrong with these resolutions, of course, but what if we did something different this year? What if we focused not on what to do, but on what to be? 

  • Be present
  • Be intentional
  • Be healthy
  • Be gentle
  • Be confident

What would our lives look like? Our friendships? Our marriages? Our communities?

I think we would be happier. We would be patient. We would remember that this life is a journey. We would take the time to actually see the people around us and to love them more deeply.

So tonight as the clock turns 12, our hope for you is that you begin to be as you take in the sweetness of another year.

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”

-Goran Persson

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Defining Joy

Joy: a) the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. (Webster’s)

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Joy: the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation. (Kay Warren, “The Definition of Joy”)

Personally, the first definition of joy makes me chuckle a little. How fleeting are ALL of those things: well-being, success, good fortune, the prospect of possessing what one desires. And what happens when we reach those goals and subsequently lose them? Because we all know how life is. What happens when we lose our job? What happens when a family member passes away unexpectedly? What happens when we finally obtain the newest fad, only to realize we are still searching?

I don’t want my joy to be based on things; I want it to be based on someone. And not just anyone, but the ultimate One- God. That’s why I love Kay’s definition of joy.

A remembrance that God is in control: Romans 8:28.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

A quiet confidence: Philippians 4:11-13

I am not saying this because I am in need for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

A determination to choose to praise God: Romans 12:12

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

This holiday season, I pray you are encouraged to place your joy in Jesus, because as our life fluctuates, he is our constant source of comfort and peace.

The peace and fulfillment of Jesus is literally so good that your bank account can be empty, your body be sick and your heart be broken, but it can always be well with your soul.

Carl Lentz