by Jarrett Meek, Founder/Pastor/Executive Director
A decade ago, on a September day much like today, I was running through our Kansas City, KS neighborhood. It was part of a systematic little endeavor I had begun a couple months earlier with the goal of running each street and side street in the neighborhood and marking them off on the map I had printer out. It was a dense urban residential area of about 2.25 square miles with a high population of people from all places, but especially Latin America. As I ran, I prayed and soaked in my new environment, new smells, new sights, new noises. The hills in northeast KCK were steep! And there were a lot of stray dogs trotting along and sometimes lurking behind not-so-sturdy, low, chain-link fences, ready to give me a death scare. I noticed homes and prayed for the people who lived inside. I looked at every commercial building, old schools, and abandoned churches, wondering if God might someday provide a space for the ministry dream that was Mission Adelante. I prayed for so many things I longed to see happen in this place. That was 10 years ago.
September 15th is my birthday. It's also the day that many Latin American countries celebrate their Independence Day. On September 15, 2005 a team of eager volunteers who had covenanted together to launch a new ministry that would serve, share life, and share Jesus with people from other places prayed in our KCK home and waited for our very first ESL students to arrive: a few neighbors from 16th street, a family we had met at an Ice Cream shop, anyone else who might have seen the flyers we had distributed at businesses and restaurants along central avenue. Much to our surprise, by the time 7:00 rolled around we had ten adult students around our dining room table and Mission Adelante was born!
Last week I was sitting in a coffee shop writing a recommendation letter to the KU School of Nursing for an amazing young lady from our neighborhood. I held back tears as I reflected on the nine years I've known her, since age 11. She is a girl of firsts. Participating in our first Leaders-in-Training program for kids, the first kid from our community to become a volunteer, one of a few student-leaders who helped start our Latino Teens ministry, part of our first-ever summer internship for youth from our community, and the first member of her family to ever attend college. As a U.S. born child of immigrants, she would pave the way for her younger sisters into a world that her parents had not been able to fully access. She would break through language barriers, cultural barriers, economic barriers, academic barriers and blaze a trail to college and beyond that every future generation will have a new opportunity to follow. And, she would begin the kind of personal relationship with Jesus that will not only impact her eternity, but will ripple into the lives of everyone she meets. Her life represents the immeasurable value and potential that immigrants and their families possess: value that impacts their communities, and value endowed by their Creator.
There's something special that happens when you invest for a long time in one place: you get to see and experience long-term relationships, life-change, community transformation. As we approach the 10-year mark of Mission Adelante, I praise the Lord for His grace to persevere, and for the great encouragement He has given our community through the lives of so many remarkable people He has brought to our city from all around the world. And, so that 10 years doesn't go by without the kind of celebration it deserves, we invite you to pencil in the evening of March 10, 2016 as the date of a grand celebration that will be fitting for such a beautiful work of God.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The Latino church community had an awesome day of fellowship grilling, swimming, playing volleyball, and enjoying the beauty at Hillsdale Lake Park the last Sunday in October.
- Please pray that the Lord would provide the volunteers and resources necessary for our expanding ministry programs to function well this trimester.
- The Bhutanese teens ministry is looking for donations of gift cards for rewarding students for hard work and good behavior. To find out how to donate one please contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Latino LIT program, in an effort to begin some creative activities with the kids, is looking for 15 new sketch pads from Hobby Lobby by September 14. Click here to view. Please contact email@example.com if you would like to provide any of them.
- Are you handy with a hammer? We need someone to help us hang hooks and assemble shelves to get the lighthouse ready for fall programming. This is a quick one-day project. If you can help, please contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Volunteer Training: Saturday, September 12, 9:00-1:00 All volunteers should attend this training once at the beginning of serving with Mission Adelante. It's also a great way for someone who is curious about what we do to become familiar with Mission Adelante's ministry. If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about what we do, and about our volunteer opportunities, please plan to attend/encourage him or her to plan on attending this informative training, and to contact Morgan at email@example.com for all the details.
All Volunteer Huddle & Dessert: Monday, September 14, 6:30 p.m. We encourage everyone that will be volunteering with us during our Fall trimester to attend so we can prepare for a great launch!
- Fall trimester programs launch: Week of September 14