The Lord Restores Teens' Identities at a Recent Retreat

Written by Brooke Coon, Teens Adelante leader

There is something about being outside of my comfort zone that has always appealed to me. Over time I realized that it was because I draw nearer to Him out of my fear of the unknown territory. In the same way, eleven of our Teens Adelante members signed up for a weekend retreat two weekends ago into uncharted waters. They agreed to give up their weekend to stay at a church in Liberty, with another teen group they hadn't met before, to support a service project and spend time learning about their identity in Christ. I could sense their fears as they asked many questions about it. One of the girls was calling me in the final two days leading up to the retreat, backing out, then changing her mind, then finally admitting that there was something spiritual that she was afraid of. She ended up facing that fear.

The heart of the retreat was Saturday night. It is what we were all afraid of: the moments when Jesus punctures our hearts to let the brokenness out. We each traced our body on a big sheet of clean white paper, and filled it in with our responses to statements about ourselves. “I feel most free when... What I hear in my head when I am all alone is... I feel most like hiding when...”
We split into our committed discipleship groups to discuss what we had drawn. The statements were shining a light into dark, crippled places. I was amazed at the honesty I saw in their responses. Some were joyous. Many were painful.

When we got into our groups we began to talk about which statements were the hardest to finish. The tears began to flow as the Lord was pulling things out of the girls, into the light...memories, along with the lies the enemy encrypted in them, and the fears that they formed. They were ugly and heart-wrenching to hear. But what I realized in that very next moment, was how blessed they were that the Lord wants to heal these scars and the behaviors and beliefs that they have adopted as a result. At their young age, he is cleansing them to keep them from claiming those memories as a part of their identity; to take away the crutches and let them walk healed.

Sometimes it takes years to let Jesus into certain areas of pain, but Saturday night felt like an aggressive outpouring of grace. He wasn't going to wait anymore. He dove straight into the hearts of those girls to retrieve what is His; their whole hearts, free of pain and fear. It is a gift to feel the compassion that He feels for them, and to realize that He feels that same way for me. It is like learning in reverse; to see the way the Lord loves them, to feel the way my heart aches for them, and know that it is from the Lord, the same ache he has for me, and for all of us.

The Lord blessed our retreat. He blessed my group for facing their fears and drawing near to Him. He blessed their desire to complete those piercing statements about themselves in truth. The Holy Spirit gave them courage and support around them to go to those places. It was their choice to go into the unknown, and it resulted in a big victory for His kingdom. He exposed darkness in their hearts, allowing space for the Lord's feelings about them. There is now an honesty I see among my group; open hearts. After that weekend together, I have seen their relationships deepen, and I sense the joy that comes from the hope we have in healing; the truth that will continue to transform these girls and the rest of Teens Adelante this trimester.

In other news:
  • Our weekly Latino church service has an energetic atmosphere, with at least 40 adults consistently in attendance.
  • Our ministry connection in Qba is four weeks into a training program to equip 20 enthusiastic new disciple-makers.
  • We welcome Courtney Colin from Westside Family Church, our new intern in the Latino kids outreach.
  • Seth Sears, former Mission Adelante apprentice and missionary to Costa Rica, has just arrived back in Kansas City for about a month to work on fundraising.
  • Sargent Smith of the Kansas City Kansas Police Department will present a seminar on October 9 on gang awareness and prevention in our neighborhood to educate parents and volunteers.
Prayer needs:
  • We're praising God for a wonderful Five-Year Anniversary Open House last Saturday. At least 180 people came in spite of the rain to help us celebrate all God accomplished in the first five years of Mission Adelante's ministry.
  • Praise God for Musselman & Hall Contractors, who patched big crumbling areas in the pavement on our driveway.
  • Please ask God to grant us wisdom in planning our goals and priorities for 2011.
  • Help us pray for a strong financial finish to 2010 for the general fund and staff accounts.
Current needs:
  • Kids and adults winter clothing and outerwear and kids winter shoes to make available in our resource center as the weather changes.