We invited American Baptists from across the country to share their Ministry Stories with the American Baptist Family and with the world! This is a part of the Transformed by the Spirit initiative. Want to share your story? Written and Video submissions are invited at: firstname.lastname@example.org. View the full list of Ministry Story Opportunity Submissions.
Transformed by the Spirit – Ministry Story Opportunity
Flint, Michigan –Judson Baptist Church of Burton
The Thursday Boys ministry at Judson Baptist Church, which is now titled Urban Revival (UR), has experienced breakthrough! While we have been diligently working for years with this ministry, it has been within the last year or so that we have seen such change with our precious boys. Under Miss Sonja’s prayerful leadership we have seen unruly and chaotic behavior melt into kind, orderly and respectful behavior. Sonja has developed a team of people that goes far beyond the normal call of duty to reach into the lives of our boys. This team hosted swim parties, field trips, bon fires… they have celebrated birthdays, had people in their homes and just loved on them. It should be no mystery that this group boasts the best church attendance of anybody in our congregation. Our pastor says, “This is one of the most dynamic, life-changing ministries I have ever seen.”
The Urban Revival Ministry addresses three of the ten challenges discussed at the Mission Table in Overland Park in Kansas in 2013. These challenges include next generation of leaders, violence, and living out our multi-cultural/multi-ethnic reality.
We have seen that the boys respond well to small groups and one-on-one attention. As our adults lead by example, our older boys have begun to mentor our younger boys in the areas of social behavior, respect, standing up for Jesus, basketball skills, helping others, and more. They are preparing themselves to become a part of the next generation of leaders.
Some of the challenges the UR boys face include violence, poverty, gangs, drugs, living in an inner city gated community, having only one parent in the home, poor school records, and low self-esteem. We address each of these challenges throughout the year and celebrate the leading of the Holy Spirit as to when to address each one.
The youth and leaders of Urban Revival are culturally and ethnically involved in this ministry. There is much interaction with young and old alike. Caucasian and African American families are successfully working together. Racial barriers are being broken as the boys are spending time in our homes and with our families and we are becoming more and more involved with theirs. These boys have indeed become a part of the Judson Baptist Church family.
All American Baptist churches are being called to, or will be called, to wrestle with the changes that will be required if we are to seize opportunities to serve as the hands and feet of Christ in the days ahead. We must be prepared to work with those from other cultures, from other socio-economic groups and from other religions. We must be willing to get our hands dirty! We must be totally submitted to God’s Holy Spirit. We must walk in the love of Christ while ministering to each and every one that God puts in our paths.
Judson Baptist is no exception! Urban Revival is a creative ministry that is using new approaches to doing ministry, and we are seeing many positive results. Each week, we begin the evening with a lesson from the Word of God, followed by prayer, before we go into the “dining” room to be fed. Once they finish their desserts, the boys play games. Basketball and dodge ball are two of their favorites. They also enjoy playing some board games.
Many of the Urban Revival boys now attend worship services on Sunday and Bible Study on Wednesday evenings. They are also working alongside Pastor and other male mentors to earn money to purchase things they need, like tennis shoes, while learning work ethics and a variety of job skills.
We have taken the boys on several outings. While out, we have stopped at fast food restaurants for dinner. The staff and customers of the restaurants have often made comments about how well behaved and how respectful the boys were. These trips have certainly been a blessing.
It is so important to put forth incentives and to offer rewards to the Urban Revival boys. We’ve been rewarding the boys with dinner out in a “real” sit down restaurant when they bring in their report cards showing that they have earned good grades. At the beginning of the school year, some of them said that they were failing their grade levels, and struggling. Some of our volunteers have given of their time to tutor the boys, and many have brought their grades up. Last semester, we were privileged to take nine boys out to dinner. This is a victory for some and a great incentive for others.
We reward improved behavior, positive choices, mentoring others and a willingness to learn. UR is indeed ministering to the next generation of leaders in our church, our community, and beyond, as we continue to open new avenues to them.
As we grow as a ministry, the community is beginning to sow into Urban Revival. One example of this is that a local non-profit recently donated twenty refurbished bikes to us. What a thrill that was!
Several of the older boys have come forth to serve in many ways in the church including volunteering to work with Vacation Bible School, Hero’s Unmasked (a Halloween alternative), and other projects around the church and the neighborhood.
There are many things that our boys would like to experience in the days ahead. Some rewards we are considering this year include the opportunity to go swimming, play basketball at a community center, go to the Somerset Mall, and to a bounce house. Bigger incentives may include going to a professional ball game, going to Cedar Point, or taking a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
We do intend to take some of the boys camping this summer – rustic camping that is! What an opportunity for them to experience the out-of-doors in a fresh new way, learn new skills, and learn the importance of teamwork. All this, while having a great time with their friends and mentors!
Miss Sonja says this, ”After working with the Thursday ministry for the past four years, I am very grateful to be able to report that the growth is evident. We are now seeing the fruits of our labors as different ones of the Judson body have come on board to help love and nurture these boys. The boys have responded to love and attention. They are receiving the Word and even quoting scripture back to the leadership and to one another. Many of the boys have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior” and one was just recently baptized.
The Urban Revival Ministry is a success at Judson because it’s so intentional and well supported. The lives of thirty boys have been changed for the better because of this ministry. For this we praise the Lord!
Thank you for allowing us to share this Ministry Story Opportunity with you.