November 24, 2008

Free Ministry Resources from Fuller Youth Institute

The following resources are available through Fuller Youth Institute's Curriculum Resources page:

30-Hour Famine Curriculum
"Released in fall 2007, this new adaptation of the 2006 One Life curriculum focuses specifically on combating hunger and poverty through the lenses of nurturing students to become lifetime kingdom followers. With many new opportunities to engage students in discussion, prayer, and action on behalf of the poor, this highly-adaptable curriculum can be used in any justice-seeking ministry."

Vision Generation Curriculum
     for Grades 1-6
     for Grades 7-12 
"A year’s worth of monthly resources for worship, prayer, and action. Use these ideas interspersed throughout your year to continually engage students in catching God’s vision for caring for the poor and oppressed around the world and in their neighborhoods."

One Life Curriculum - this link also includes links to other resources on HIV/AIDS (scroll down below the curriculum downloads)
"Working alongside youth workers and mission organization leaders, FYI spent over a year researching issues related to AIDS in Africa, theological constructs related to the kingdom of God, and strategies for mobilizing kids to care about justice and world concerns. We wrapped all of this up into a curriculum that was field-tested in real youth ministries during the development process before being published by Youth Specialties, World Vision, and FYI (formerly CYFM) in a unique partnership. Now it’s available for free download on our site."

World AIDS Day 2008: 6,000 Reasons to Act (you must provide your name and e-mail address to receive the World AIDS Day resources)
"FYI, the Willow Creek Association, and World Vision have teamed up to create FREE downloadable resources for World AIDS Day, which occurs December 1. Specially designed for adult small groups, this interactive resource features a one-lesson format that will lead groups through a discussion around AIDS in the face of poverty. This curriculum can be used by your whole church, including students and their parents, to engage in AIDS and other global issues of justice."

We haven't used any of these yet, but we will be taking a look at them. If you have used any of these resources or use them in the future, I would love to know what you think of them.


November 11, 2008

A Powerful Marriage Testimony

Cindy Beall at is sharing a section of her story every day; she started this yesterday. It is actually a short book entitled "Life After Porn: A Redemption Story" that she was unable to get published. This is one of the most powerful testimonies of a restored marriage that I have ever read. If you decide to read it, have a box of tissue nearby. Although she is sharing a chapter every day, you can still see all of the chapters here if you can't wait. I read the whole thing in one sitting several months ago. I would recommend reading the introduction too; I don't think she posted it this time.

NOTE: Young people should not read this without their parents permission, and I recommend that parents preview it before letting their children read it.

Be blessed!

November 5, 2008

What do we do now?

I have read such varied Christian opinions before Tuesday's election, many of them extremely passionate and not very kind to the "opposition." However, the election is now over, and regardless of who we voted for, as Christians we have some choices and responsibilities before us.

First of all, let's remember this and be encouraged: We have come a long way from slavery by electing a biracial president! Our country has some major moral issues, and racism is still one of them, but the outcome of yesterday's election was truly momentous. African Americans were oppressed in this country for 400 years. There was a time when voters would not have even considered a biracial president whether or not they agreed with his views. This is a huge step in the area of racism, so let's rejoice with our African American brothers and sisters.

Next, are we going to submit to, honor and pray for the man that God has placed in authority?

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor." Romans 13:1-7

Sure, this is "the verse" (or one of them) on submitting to our governmental authorities. It is pretty clear in Romans that God is ultimately the one who appoints rulers and that we are to submit to them. We talk a lot about the need for wives to submit to and honor their husbands; are we willing to obey the just-as-direct command of God to submit to and honor our new future president?

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." 1 Timothy 2:1-2

and I love the next part:

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 3-4

Again, there is no question that we are to pray for our rulers. Do we realize that we do not serve a puny God? Can we even fathom his vastness and greatness? Why are we here anyway? To worry about our rights as citizens of America? To expect the government to do the job Jesus gave to the Church? To cower in fear if the government isn't upholding "Christian" values? No, we are here to be bearers of the Good News of Christ; to show His love to those who don't know Him; "to preach good news to the bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners..." (Isaiah 63:1)

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." 1 Peter 2:13-17

Another verse emphasizing the need to submit to those in authority, but I included it because I thought it was interesting that "love the brotherhood of believers" was lumped in with fear God and honor the king.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said that His disciples will be known by their love for each other. 1 John repeatedly admonishes us to love one another. Where does the Bible say that it is okay for us to belittle and accuse brothers and sisters in Christ who focus on different issues in an election than we do because they live in very different circumstances that we might not even understand? Have we as Christians shown love to each other during this election? I have seen a lot of misunderstanding and even hate between brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not right or Godly.

I know Christians who voted for a candidate because they always vote a certain way (both Democrats and Republicans). I also know Christians who prayerfully labored over and researched their decision. I know some Christians who voted for Obama, veering from a pro-life vote for the first time. I know others who voted for McCain after diligently seeking the Lord. I know of other Christians who voted for another candidate because the Lord put it on their hearts to do so. Is it possible that God put different candidates on believers' hearts because He is more concerned about our obedience than He is about who becomes president of the United States? What if He really is God and He has plans that we couldn't possibly understand? What if He doesn't want us to vote for a candidate in the hope that the government will end abortion or take care of the poor? Maybe He wants us, His Church, to do that.

I was struck by the fact that 1 Peter 9-12 (just before the verses I quoted above) says,

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us."

Let's not forget that we are the Church! We are God's ambassadors on Earth. Although we live here, our hope is not in this world or our government. And our jurisdiction exceeds the boundaries of the United States!

Whose job is it to minister to women who are looking for love and not finding True Love, to the poor and needy, etc? It is our job as the Church to do this, not the government's. No government is the ambassador of God. Is it possible that we have been abdicating our God-given commands in the Great Commission by thinking that a vote for a certain type of candidate is going to take care of ministering for us? Is it possible that God's heart is for life (all life) and social justice? If so, then maybe we need to repent and get to work!

So, what do we do now? Do we believe that our job is over because the election is over? What if our hearts beat for the unborn? There are so many ways to minister to women and teenage girls before and during a "crisis" pregnancy. If we voted for Obama in hopes that he would take care of the poor, let's not leave it up to his administration: Let's go out ourselves and show the love of Christ to people in need. The government may be able to make it more difficult to have abortions or implement programs to help the needy, but it will never and never was intended to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) Let's heed the calling of Jesus!

I have read some great responses to the election that I wanted to share:

August 24, 2008

A Powerful Video

We showed this to our youth group several months ago. I sob every time I watch it.

July 14, 2008

Why we do what we do

July 9, 2008

My house is trashed

Everywhere I look, I see piles of clothes, suitcases, bags of toiletries, boxes of missions items....

ministry stuff

folding as small as possible

compact packingWe are trying to fit most, if not all, of our clothes in carry-ons for our upcoming 10-day missions trip. My niece had a great idea: Instead of spending a lot of money on special compacting travel bags, try putting clothes in Zip-Loc bags and sitting on them to squeeze all of the air out while zipping. She was able to fit an entire outfit in one gallon size bag. We tried it, and it definitely seems to save space. We decided to make it even more more compact by slightly opening the bag and using a straw to remove as much excess air as possible (I learned this trick from my grandma years ago). Jordan fit 10 T-shirts into a 2.5-gallon bag. Nathan decided to put outfits for each day into a 1-gallon bag and date it (another of my niece's ideas). That is a bit too much for me! I will be happy just to squeeze as much as possible into a carry-on.

I am getting really excited for our trip! We have a great team of youth going. We start our team training for this trip tonight, so prayers are appreciated. I will give more details about the trip when we get back.

Have a wonderful and blessed day!

July 3, 2008

A Quick Update

We have been busy planning and serving at Vacation Bible School and Hope for Warren/Detroit (a large annual outreach to the community), which is the reason for my prolonged absence here. We had a wonderful week of outreach last week! I will blog about it as soon as I have time and get pics uploaded.

We are preparing to lead a group of youth on a short-term missions trip to Mexico later this month. I am so excited! Because of this, I probably will not be actively blogging here until August. I will try to get my outreach post up before we leave.


June 4, 2008

Deep Justice and Short-Term Missions

Fuller's Center for Youth and Family Ministry is offering a free draft version of Deep Justice and Short-term Missions Curriculum, by Kara Powell and Fuller's Center for Youth and Family Ministry, for a limited time. There are three downloads available: BEFORE with leader's guide (pdf), DURING (pdf) and AFTER (pdf). I downloaded the draft of this curriculum to see if we can use it with a team of youth that we are taking to Mexico this summer, and it looks promising.

When I saw that the Before file was an intimidating (at least for this time of year) 72 pages, I almost decided to wait until next year's trip. We are currently planning VBS, co-coordinating a large local outreach, beginning training for the missions trip in July, and trying to finish up homeschooling for the year. If you have read Deep Justice in a Broken World, by Chap Clark & Kara Powell, however, you will probably understand why I wanted to at least skim through this to see if we could use some of it.

The Before portion of the curriculum begins with an eight-page introduction that includes convincing reasons to use the ideas presented in this curriculum, along with an overview of the three-part model it promotes.

"If we want greater transformation, we need a completely different timeframe for our service. Perhaps instead of viewing an inner city trip as just three days, we need to view it as a 3 month process. Instead of looking at a week in the Dominican Republic as seven days, we need to think of it as a seven month journey."

The remaining 62 pages include seventeen 20- to 40-minute "before" activities broken into three different categories. You choose which activities to use. This is doable; there is no pressure to use all of the activities and we can tailor it to our group.

The During portion of the curriculum includes seventeen activities broken into the same three categories as the Before segment. These activities are intended to guide the team towards reflection on what they are experiencing on the trip.

This is the largest team of youth that we have ever taken on a trip, and we really want to take advantage of its long-term growth potential. I was excited to see that the After portion of the curriculum includes 10 initial debriefing activities using the same three categories and 14 activities to help facilitate "ongoing transformation."

This curriculum is intended for use in any short-term missions setting, whether it be a local 1-day service project or a 10-day short-term missions trip. We have not used it yet, but we do plan to incorporate it into our training for the upcoming Mexico trip. We will probably also try to use at least one of the activities with our whole youth group before VBS and the local outreach I mentioned, as most of our youth serve in one or both of those outreaches. If anyone is interested, I will try to keep you updated on how this works out for us.

If you are interested in downloading Deep Justice and Short-Term Missions, you will find it here. The authors are requesting feedback if you decide to use the draft of this curriculum.


June 1, 2008

Youth Ministry Links

These are some of my favorite youth ministry links. This will be an ongoing list, so if you know of any sites I should add, please let me know.

May 30, 2008

A Little Bit About Me

I am Andrea, wife to the most wonderful man in the world, mother to four of the best children in existence, and a sinful human being, saved by grace and striving to serve my Savior in everything I do.

My husband is a "part-time" youth pastor; a full-time husband, father, and salesman; and is currently attending Bible college. We work together in youth and children's ministry, while homeschooling our four children and doing our best to model love for Christ, His Body and His Kingdom for them. We have our ups and downs, of course, but I wouldn't trade this adventurous journey for anything!

I have a home school blog called Elliott Academy of Excellence, where I post primarily about our homeschooling journey, homemaking, and free Internet homeschooling resources.

At this blog, I plan to write about our ministry experiences and my personal journey as I learn how to serve my Savior; and hopefully to connect with others of like mind and heart.

I am so grateful that God will never give up on me; even though I have been marred in His hands many times, He patiently continues to shape and mold me into what seems best to Him. May I be pliable in His hands.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know a little bit about me.

May 29, 2008

Contact Information

I would love to hear from you!

Email: andijeane (at) yahoo (dot) com or click here