Tuesday, June 18, 2024

How Touchdown Camp Got Started

When I look back twenty years ago to our first Touchdown Camp, I realize that the key ingredient was faith. It took faith for Patty Cardona and me to move in action and try out this new camp which would reach out to vulnerable kids in Redwood City, CA. 

Camp had been funded by a faith initiative by Doris Bates who took one hundred dollars and asked her friends to match it by giving another Hundred. So when she connected with me and asked what I would do with it I said, "Open Touchdown Camp."

Well there were lots of pieces. I had no idea what I was doing, but I proceeded in that direction anyway enlisting people who worked in the missions area to come and help. Of course there were many people praying for this new venture and we never underestimate that without the flame generated by faithful prayers going on, we never would have made it.

Then we were off and running with two weeks of camp and 40 children who wanted both sports and crafts so overnight we had to change the entire program. That was a spark of faith. It worked because we were learning that camp was for kids and, the kids knew what they wanted!

So the children came every year, and some of them came back as teens to volunteer. The success was not due to any one person, but everything was underwritten by God, and we learned that He was in control.

By God's grace, prayers and work in communities, lasting change can be achieve, in each cities and churches.

Sparks that are seperate, but when they are laid down together, they have the possibility of creating a fire of change that brings light in the darkest of places.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Help with Homework

For a moment, cast your mind back on being a child bringing home your homework. In the past, books in various subjects were lugged by you. You might recall a time where you struggled in a subject. Maybe you didn't want to ask for help but then you did. Most likely this help came from a parent or a sibling. You were lucky.

What if there had been no one to help you day after day, you struggled, and were bullied because you couldn't read or speak English or do math? This is the sad true situation for thousands of elementary age children who will never get the basics they need to succeed in school. More than 13 years ago, in Redwood City, in Verbo Family Services church, a small after school tutoring program started inside the church.

Volunteer adults sat one to one with their child who needed help. It wasn't all work because there were snacks and games and a welcoming environment in a Sunday school room. Children were recommended for this help from a nearby elementary school.

This Redwood City program birthed a new help with homework program under Glenn Inn, a deacon in a Korean church in San Jose. This man, who worked full time, had a mission heart to reach out to the Hispanic children in apartments surrounding the church. Why did he do this so well and succeed? Because he had come to America from Korea with his family as a child and been bullied.

It is a terrible thing to mark a child with ridicule and hate because they do not conform. Children can be mean and judgmental. They can hurt a child so badly they hate school and stop trying.

Inside a church is an ideal place to provide homework heloers. The church provides the structure, the space, the times and has staff during the tutoring. We encourage men to participate as leaders because In so many of the families we serve, there is no dad there.

Does this make difference? We know that it does. When a child feels he has someone who can help he will get a shot of encouragement. The adults in the room make sure each child gets celebrated. Frequently, there is a party at the end of each term.

As an educator I can only say that if you had just a few hours to give and get the most joy, serve a needy child. Will you stop right and pray now in earnest from your heart about becoming a homework helper?

Will you ask for prayer from your church to consider such a program?

Thank you for sharing and becoming a part of something that will give a child hope and a future and bring families into the church. God hears the prayer of the poor and him who has no helper.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

What is it that is so good about the sight of roses in winter?

In most places winter is a dormant time for rose plants. What was beautiful in summer is only a dead looking plant in a garden. And so, this time of year, a bouquet of roses is a shot of life and hope that spring will come. Newness and life will arise!

Roses in winter lift our spirits and make us smile and dance. If we are recovering from illness, the fragrance of roses may make us sit up and take a sip of water or endure the time we are in with a modicum of courage.

Roses have messages. Colors of roses mean different things. Red roses signal romantic love. These are huge around Valentines Day. Lavender roses symbolize love at first sight! Yellow roses symbolize joy, friendship and optimism. White roses symbolize purity and innocence. Roses seem to be a vital part of every florists mixed bouquets.

I was recently told here in Idaho that roses were no longer being bought from fields in CA because the fields are now being used to grow marijuana. What does this say about our priorities? Is making a profit more important than growing a crop of beauty and hope? Where did this crop swap out come from anyway? Does this new crop grow life or death for people?

A winter without roses, is a day without sunshine that is endless.