Newark Christian School Provides More Than Education
On June 12, Newark Christian School held its first eighth-grade graduation. As the graduates shared about their lives and time in school and recited Scripture, they were so poised and confident. The graduation service included sharing by former Newark Christian School graduates on how their education prepared them for high school and college. One graduate was Aziz. When he came to Newark Christian School six years ago, Aziz could barely read. The teachers invested their summers and many Saturdays to strengthen his academic skills. Now Aziz aspires to become a veterinarian—he was even able to take part in a summer program at Cornell.
Newark Christian School students receive a rich and fulfilling education that includes field trips few adults get to take. Their summers are filled with day camps and even more educational trips. They win awards in regional and state competitions against the top students in public and private schools. They go on missions trips and make gospel presentations in churches and other schools. With the help of your prayers and financial support our school is writing a powerful letter in the lives of our students. We are excited by the powerful verses they too will write.
Violent and Passive Men in the Church - Efrem Smith
With the release of the TMZ video showing NFL player Ray Rice punching his then fiancée so hard that she was knocked unconscious, we once again see that domestic violence is a serious and tragic issue among professional athletes. But what about the seriousness of domestic violence within the Church?
I am concerned that domestic abuse is not dealt with at the level that it should be within the Church. Now you may disagree with me, but let me ask you, when is the last time domestic abuse was brought up biblically within a sermon in your Church? If you would say recently, I would be impressed and envious. I can't tell you the last time I heard a sermon on the topic. I can say to you that as a Pastor and ministry leader, I have walked with and counseled many couples where domestic abuse was an issue. Over the years I have challenged the men in my congregations about how they treat women. A few times I have had to confront friends and family members when I witnessed how they treated their wives and girlfriends. There have also been the times when I have had to deal with male Pastors who treated their wives as second class citizens. Some of the things I've heard male Pastors say to their wives have hurt me deeply. It also made me wonder what happened when they got home behind closed doors.
I have been deeply challenged lately in my own preaching to deal more often with the issue of violence as the primary means to solve conflict. Too many men know no other way to deal with conflict than to resort to some sort of threatening or violent behavior. The Church must own that this approach to solving conflict with women could be connected to an extreme and misappropriated theology of the man as the head over the woman. I'm not talking about a spiritual leading and serving based on the love of Christ for the Church, but a belief that a woman must do as a man says or face the consequences. The Church must dismantle this dysfunctional and damaging theology and replace it with deep biblical teaching on love and forgiveness as the primary way to solve conflict. There is the significant possibility that violent and hurting men will be sitting in congregations this Sunday. Who will preach to them a word that could deal with and begin to dismantle the demons of violence within?
There is also the possibility that non-violent men who are passive and lack the courage to confront domestic violence will be sitting in congregations this Sunday.. Who will minister to them? The Church can and must deal with the issue of domestic violence. This is not just a problem in the National Football League. This is about a broader culture of violence, sin, and brokenness that can be dismantled through the love and transformation found in Christ.
East Coast Ministry Update - Butch Patrick
Butch Patrick is an East Coast World Impact Associate, serving in Philadelphia, PA. He is involved in many endeavors in his neighborhood to bring transformation and the Kingdom to life. Here is a recent update from Butch:
We finished up our first TUMI course this past spring! It was a huge learning curve for both the students and me. While these courses are extremely accessible, they are by no means a walk in the park. The course load is quite heavy, and includes a ministry project and exegetical paper. Still, we came out on the other end greatly enriched, encouraged, and looking forward to the next course! We have been blessed to be able to expand—we'll be offering two courses this fall at our North Philly site. We have also been blessed to secure space in West Philly, and will be offering our introductory course there this fall. I have been able to bring on two additional instructors, which will be a great help as we look to expand further. Please pray that in all of this, we would seek God's face and move at His pace. Also, pray that our students would be truly encouraged and equipped in their learning endeavors. Pray for their ability to balance the TUMI work and their existing commitments to work and family.
I have the privilege of working inside a work-release prison in West Philly. In this unique opportunity, I am facilitating parenting classes for soon-to-be released inmates. These two-hour classes meet twice a week for eight weeks. After eight weeks, we begin again with another cohort. The men are particularly drawn to the class because they have the ability to join us off-site for three times during the eight week cycle. Two of those times consist of a parent-child interaction where the men, their spouses/partners, and their children have dinner and interact over a two hour period. During this time the men are consciously using what they learn in the class to better engage their children. The final outing consists of a night out at Dave and Busters! The men get to order what they want to eat and then spend time in the game room. This is a time for just the guys and facilitators, so no families are permitted. The program is not Christian based, so I've been surprised at how spiritual the discussions often become. These guys are hungry for something greater. They often lament at the lack of spiritual programming. I've contacted the administration to discuss some options (maybe TUMI). Pray for these men and their families and that God would make provision for the spiritual hunger that is so evident there.
I'm continuing in my strategic partnership with World Impact who continues to provide both technical and financial support. Still, this is perhaps the hardest, slowest, and most frustrating of all the aspects of my ministry! I am so eager and have a vision for my community, but am careful about establishing a certain kind of "DNA" at the core of this church. In this deliberateness, I have been encouraged by how Keisha, my wife, and I are learning how to look at our community with the eyes of God—learning how to engage, interact with, and love our neighbors. We are learning how to not just start another church, but to be among our neighbors in a way that we can truly invite them into the life of God. We want to identify with their needs, hopes, and dreams, and then show them how it's all found in the beauty and grace of Jesus. We've been living in this community for seven years now, and it has been only the last year or so that we have lived in such an intentional way. In that space of time, we have been a part of three impromptu barbecues, two impromptu yard sales, and have helped form our block committee (Keisha is the co-vice president!). All because we decided to come out of the house. This may seem minor, but it's huge and beautiful to us. Pray that we continue to be a part of our community in this way. Pray that we can move our discussions beyond generalities to Jesus and His kingdom. And ultimately pray that disciples will be made and as a result, communities will be transformed. Also pray that God will bring us into contact with the right folks who may want to join us on mission to Overbrook.