At the time of this writing, my wife and I just concluded an incredibly emotional week for us. During this week Tina and I began to walk a path that many parents have walked before us and many will after us. Our oldest child, Jacey, graduated from high school. Now I am not the overly sentimental type but I found myself feeling incredibly emotional leading up to, during, and after the commencement ceremony. To be honest, my feelings really caught me off guard. I fully expected my wife to be emotional. In our marriage that’s always been the way it’s gone at major family life events; she gets emotional, I am her encourager, the shoulder to cry on, the voice to assure her everything is going to be ok. That’s not how it happened this time. This time we both required encouragement, both of us were in need of that shoulder, we looked for others to tell us everything was going to be ok.
My daughter’s graduation made me appreciate the local church. Naturally, having devoted my adult, professional life to local church leadership I already possess quite the respect for the church. But this time I considered the church less as the one who participates in its leadership and more as the beneficiary of the love, community, and service contained within. In my nostalgia looking back at the past 18 years of raising my daughter I was reminded of the role the church has played in her upbringing. You see, Tina and I made the decision years ago to raise our children in the church. Church attendance was going to be the priority above all else.
In making church attendance the priority it meant that many people over the years would play incredibly important roles as our children grew up. As I reflected back on my daughter’s childhood, adolescence, and now young adulthood I could not help but become ever more emotional thinking of all those sweet saints who invested in her at key moments of her spiritual, emotional, and physical development. Yes, Tina and I raised our daughter. We put in the hard work but it was not without a wonderfully loving and supportive network of caring men and women willing to give of their time, talents, resources, and lives investing in Jacey and walking alongside Tina, me, and Jacey as she grew not only as a woman, but as a Christian.
So, to all you nursery workers who lovingly rocked Jacey and patiently introduced her to the gospel through memory verses, crafts, and coloring sheets...thank you! Your investment has paid dividends. To Tammy G., you BASECAMP MCs, teachers, and check in personnel…Tina and I are in your debt. I had the privilege of baptizing my daughter because you welcomed her and invested in her life of faith. To those who served as camp counselors and VBS volunteers, your service created priceless memories from which she draw upon for a lifetime. To all you youth workers, and Neil H. and Bryan E…my family appreciates your being there by her side, supporting us as we navigated the treacherous years of junior high and high school. You have been Christ-like examples providing a safe place for her to mature, ask difficult questions, and grapple with her faith without judging or condemning her. To those precious couples in whom Tina and I have relied and kept a close eye upon as you walked this path right before us, thank you for your allowing us into the lessons you’ve learned and sharing your hearts with utmost transparency.
Many have said that it takes a village to raise a child. I don’t really give this cliché much credence unless that village is the church. You see, Jacey is who she is today for several reasons. There are the obvious genetic and environmental reasons. She is without a doubt a product of her family of origin, but she is also the product of a host of wonderful men and women who comprise the church and who took the time to invest in her spiritual development. You will forever be a part of her spiritual legacy. You have been incredibly instrumental in the development of her faith, a faith from which I pray she never wavers. Thank you!
If you currently serve in the nursery, preschool, elementary, or youth ministries please do not lose your passion to see the children under your watch grow in their faith in Jesus. What you do on a regular basis is tiring, it can be frustrating, it is emotionally draining; but I am here to tell you, the reward is great! Please do not see what you do as a burden, time wasted, or as something you “have” to do. This is something you “get” to do. What a privilege it is to be a part of someone’s spiritual adventure. What a joy it is to see someone in whom you’ve invested much transition toward adulthood with her feet firmly planted upon God’s Word!
Perhaps, you’ve been on the fence as to whether or not you ought to get involved in one of these areas of ministry. Maybe you’re seeking that place where you can meet the Christian’s mandate to serve. Do not underestimate the importance of investing in the generation that follows.
As many of you have walked this bittersweet path before Tina and me you know what this next season of life entails. My family will learn all this soon enough. We are excited about the newness of the time. We mourn the end of what we’ve known and appreciated for so long, but welcome the challenges before us. We are so thankful that as we let our daughter go and pursue the life she desires for herself it will be with the manifold wisdom of God, a confidence in God’s Word, a strong desire to continue to serve others through the local church, and with God’s will in mind.
Thank you Victor Valley Christian Church. You’re not done. Our son has three years to go, and there are several dozen other infants, toddlers, children, and youth who need you.
As Wednesday and Thursday came, we continued serving the people of Tucson and enjoying a little down time. We spent part of Wednesday at a waterpark called Breakers as we prepared for a night of VBS. VBS brought many families within the community to Westside church for food, bounce house fun and to learn about the Armor of God.
On Thursday, we had the opportunity to paint a great deal of the interior at Westside church to give it a fresh new look. We also finished putting the baptistry in place in preparation for the contractor to come and pour cement. A few of us went to Gap Ministries (they provide food and clothes for many churches who support hundreds of families in Tucson) where we sorted various items for departure to dozens of churches in Tucson.
The students have been having fun while working hard and though we are all very tired, the trip thus far has been extremely rewarding. It's amazing that our intention was to come here and bless people, which is indeed happening, but we are ourselves being blessed in such a huge way. Please continue to pray for a safe and successful trip. Thank you for all of your support.
The youth mission trip to Tucson, AZ has been a great experience so far. We have had the opportunity to work at a couple of different sites serving a variety of ministries.
We have started a construction project at Westside Church of Christ to put in a baptistry, meanwhile some of our kids were able to wash the feet of homeless people and give them new shoes, and some of us have been able to serve a ministry that supports many refugees from Nepal.
The stories that I have been able to hear so far point to an already awesome experience and we are looking forward to serving the less fortunate throughout the week. Tucson is an area where only 4%-7% of the population are religious. They need to experience the love of Christ and so far we have been able to share the gospel with several people who do not yet belong to a church community. Thank you so much for supporting us through your prayers and those of you who contributed financially. I believe that this experience will change the lives of people in Tucson as well as our students who are serving. Please keep praying.....we have done a lot but there is still more to do.
Check back later this week for more updates from the trip!
Technical Arts Pastor
Every kid grows up looking forward to summer. I certainly remember counting down those final days of school and looking forward to...um... the blazing heat of summer in the High Desert? Actually, I don't really remember what I was looking forward to back then except that I wouldn't have to get up and go to school each morning. So jump to the past couple weeks when as a parent I got to witness the build up of excitement as my kids approached the end of their school year and the start of their summer break. It's been fun to witness this anticipation of summer at home, and just as much fun to witness it taking place in various ministries at Victor Valley. Having the pleasure of being on staff means that these last few weeks I've been witness to an ever-increasing stream of preparations as we head into summer at the church.
Summer at VVCC really kicked off a couple of weeks ago with Promotion Sunday and watching as wide-eyed and newly-minted "First Graders" walk into BASECAMP for the first time. Seeing these little one's approach the climbing wall for the first time is one of those experiences that makes being a part of the BASECAMP team extra awesome (or so I hear). Equally awesome is the thrill experienced by former "sixth graders" who on that Sunday begin their Junior High journey and experience worship with a live band and hearing the occasionally odd-ball, often funny and always challenging weekly message from Bryan and the team over in Pathway.
From Promotion Sunday it's full steam ahead into Summer Jam, which as I write this blog post, we are smack dab in the midst of. Formerly referred to as VBS, this is the week that Victor Valley plays host to over 175 preschool and elementary aged children. These kids schedules are full as they will sing, play, snack, craft and actively participate in discovering valuable lessons from God's Word over the course of this week. This year's theme sees kids heading to the Summer Jam CIRCUS where under the watchful eye of our ringmaster and 90 volunteer team members they will discover what the Bible has to teach them about strength, courage, peace, direction and finding a place with God. The team has been hard at work creating an awesome environment for kids to have an awesome summer experience and I'm confident it is going to have a huge impact in the lives of our kids.
Almost as soon as Summer Jam ends, we'll be right into the next major summer event as Bryan leads a team of youth and youth sponsors on a missions trip to Tucson, Arizona. The team leaves at 8 AM this coming Sunday (June 15th) and will spend the week ministering to refugees from Nepal and presenting the gospel to local children in a one day Summer Jam like event they will be leading while there. Stay tuned to this blog as beginning Tuesday and continuing through the week as we will be working with Bryan to post trip updates, sharing the experience the team is having and how you can be supporting the team in prayer.
We haven't even begun to hit on the various Summer Camp for 4th-6th graders, the MIX conference for Junior Highers, and the Move conference for High Schoolers, all of which we'll be posting updates about here on the blog. I'm particularly excited about the upcoming teaching series in which we'll be exploring what the book of Ephesians has to say about a person's identity in Christ, so we'll have a bit of a sneak preview of that as it gets closer. We'll also have some exciting news on cool new online "stuff" coming for the VVCC community, and a few more things that I think I'll keep a surprise for the time being (because aren't surprises part of the fun of summer?)
We're looking forward to a great summer at Victor Valley and hope you are excited to be a part of it!
By Bryan Ewing
On May 2nd from 7 to 8:30 pm Victor Valley's Student Ministry will be hosting a Youth Worship night as part of this year's 30 Hour Fast activities. The idea is to provide an evening where youth from around the valley can come to enjoy a time of worship and prayer. We have invited several youth groups from churches around the High desert to come and experience a worship concert led by VVCC's youth worship team. We have also invited another local youth pastor to lead a time of prayer where we will specifically focus on praying for the safety of our schools, the salvations of the students that attend those schools and for the families represented by those students, that they may find a local church to speak the gospel into their lives.
The music featured during this evening will be contemporary Christian Rock and worship music that will provide an exciting atmosphere for students to center into a time of worship and to have a good time together.
Feel free to plan on joining us as we launch what we hope will be an exciting worship event that could possibly take place several times a year at various locations throughout the High Desert.
Download the event flyer here
From upcoming events to random thoughts, each week this is the place to hear from a staff member or guest writer.