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Church Leaders' Luncheon - Chester, PA

In June, more than 60 local pastors and church leaders met at Mt. Olive Baptist Church to be encouraged by World Impact President Efrem Smith and to learn more about TUMI Chester. They enjoyed a luncheon provided by the church hospitality ministry team and copy of Efrem's most recent book, Post Black and post White Church provided by a local sponsor.

Rev. Anton Hackett, the senior pastor of Mt. Olive, emceed the afternoon gathering. He has been a TUMI Chester student for two years and is planning for Mt. Olive to be a stand-alone TUMI site by 2015. Rev Hackett shared his testimony at the luncheon, describing the visible change when he began taking TUMI classes. His congregation said to him, "Pastor, we don't know what you are doing, but keep it up. We love your preaching of the Word now more than ever."

In the same meeting, Church Mother Barbara Starkey shared that TUMI has opened her eyes to the Word of God. She felt so strongly about this change that she had everyone at the luncheon close their eyes for five seconds. When she told them to open their eyes she said, "You know how that darkness turned to bright light when you opened your eyes? That's what TUMI has done for me." Mother Starkey has completed 10 of the Capstone Courses and hopes to graduate in the next year.

The luncheon generated wonderful fruit: several attendees became first-time students; urban pastors from New Jersey, the Dominican Republic, and Pennsylvania are eager to see TUMI in their own settings. These sites would be a continued growth of TUMI East Coast, expanding from preexisting sites in Philadelphia, Coatesville, Schwenksville, and Ashland, OH. Enthusiasm for TUMI has generated positive friendships that were strengthened by the Lord through this gathering!


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Child Discipline: Spare the Switch? - Efrem Smith

"Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him"

Proverbs 13:24 (ESV)

The recent news about Minnesota Vikings Running Back, Adrian Peterson whooping his 4 year son excessively with a switch has sparked a lot of discussion throughout social media. Even using the word excessively could cause great frustration with those who would say I'm using language to cover up child abuse. In the end, child abuse could very well be the verdict in the legal process. But I will let the process take its course.

Let me start by saying that there are a number of issues at work here. The first is the cultural differences and opinions about child discipline. When I say cultural differences, I'm not purely focused on race or ethnicity. Values and behavior within this issue can be based on demographics, economic class, and one's own childhood issues. The second issue is the value placed on children in our society. Some are reacting based on their love for football, not children. Some are reacting based on defending an African American male that they feel is being made an example of within the powerful institutions of the media, the NFL, and the ever-growing public opinion. But even this category doesn't seem to put children first. Some people are reacting based on what they went through as a child and the unresolved issues around how they were disciplined. I wonder what our discussions would be if we put children first.

I was spanked and whooped as a part of being disciplined by my parents. This was the cultural context in which I grew up. I have never doubted that my parents loved me dearly as a child. I also know that they took a different approach in disciplining me than how their parents disciplined them. Now that I'm a parent, I discipline my children somewhat different than my parents disciplined me. I know this: though I received spankings and whoopings growing up, my doctor never saw marks on my body that raised concern. I'm not here to judge Adrian Peterson. I'm here to say that we need to be willing to regularly revisit the complex issues around disciplining our children. Here are some thoughts:

1.) Never discipline your child when you are angry. Cool off, explain to your child why you are disciplining them, and when it's over hug them and tell them how much you love them.

2.) Ask yourself: Is physical punishment of some kind is needed? Are you doing it because it's all you know? Or are you too tired to think through other options?

3.) Don't parent in isolation. You should have other family members, friends, and even professionals who you allow to speak into your life about how you discipline your children.

4.) An arrogant parent is an ignorant parent.

I'm not telling you to spank or not spank your child. I'm not telling you to whoop or not whoop your children. What I am saying is this: continue to grow as a parent. Don't do something just because your parents did. My parents listened to 8 tracks, but I don't. It's a different day. Be wise, be loving, be consistent, and keep learning when it comes to being a parent. As a Christian, I ultimately want to be directed by God in how I parent. What directs and guides you? Speaking of Christianity, I would encourage you to study all of the interactions of Jesus with children. Also, reflect upon what could become the thin line between discipline and abuse. Finally, as a society we must wrestle with how much we truly value children in our society. We are so quick to judge and defend celebrities while our kids become second-class citizens.


King's Kids Bible Club

Seventeen years ago, a World Impact church plant in Newark started the King's Kids Bible Club on a Saturday morning. Today it continues to reach children in the neighborhood surrounding the Newark Christian School building—especially un-churched children — to evangelize, equip and empower them to follow Christ, even in their youth. The club's vision is to see entire families led to Christ through these children. In the coming year, there will be regular family movie nights co-sponsored by King's Kids and World Impact Community Church in an effort to reach the extended family.

DeeDee is one of the children whose family was impacted for Christ through the ministry. Her two older brothers, Daquan and Darnell have been attending King's Kids for four years. During their first year and a half, they struggled with getting along with other children. Occasionally, the boys were sent home for their behavior. Although they were angry and frustrated, they kept coming back, to the safe environment of King's Kids.

Daquan made a commitment to follow Jesus in December 2010 and Darnell in January 2012. There wasn't a significant outward change at first, but God is gradually transforming these two brothers. The boys are becoming more cooperative and attentive during  the Bible teaching, and their behavior toward the other children is improving. They demonstrate more control over their anger and are more apt to listen to correction rather than shift the blame. Although memorizing is not easy for either of them, they have work hard to learn their memory verses.

Their mother is thankful for the influence King's Kids has had on her children. We are praying for the day when they will come to church as a family.