Teen Challenge brought everyone together on Good Friday morning for a communion service and to go over the last seven sayings of Christ from the cross. There were seven of us who shared and I was given the saying, “Mother, behold your son……” I felt led to share how the guys in the program may have had people taken out of their lives (like Jesus was taken out of his mom’s life) but the Lord will use someone else to fill that need.
Erick Quezada was in Juvenile Hall eight years ago and I was able to meet with him for awhile after his release to see him get off probation and graduate from Bible College. Today Erick is on staff at Canyon Hills Calvary Chapel. He gave his testimony and did a painting at the Joplin and Youth Guidance Center’s Easter Outreaches. Erick started with the picture to the left and proceeded to turn it into what looked like a stained glass window. One of the minors asked if he could take it home with him.
It’s been awhile since I have been in a 5th-6th grade Sunday School class but I was recently invited to two at St Andrews Presbyterian Church to talk about what I do as their missionary. These were the kids who made Easter Cards that I handed out on Easter Sunday at each of my church services so I was able to thank them in person and tell them that one of the guys at Joplin said, “Tell Grace (the girl that signed his card) that it feels good to be loved like this.” I told both of the classes that morning that I didn’t know what a chaplain was when I went to church at their age and to be open to how God may want to use their lives.
On February 24th, PYCM and CMCA co-sponsored a “Correctional Ministry Matters” Conference held at Coast Hills Church in Aliso Viejo. We had about 100 leaders and volunteers from several correctional ministries around the state. I think the attendee who came the farthest was from the Bay Area. It was encouraging to see trainers with a national presence as plenary speakers and as workshop instructors.
Pastor Bryan from River47 Church in Orange asked me to fill in for him on January 21st while he was away at a meeting in Chicago. I was able to adjust my schedule to be there and began to pray about what to share. At the end of December I was briefly going over Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 with a young man in the Youth Leadership Academy when the Lord began to give me insights on how to teach this passage. The title of my message was “What Time Is It?” and another youth who recently got out of YLA was able to join me.
I was blessed to be able to get a free room at Ayres Inn for a reflection day. At the beginning of another year I really enjoyed being able to get alone with God and reflect on the past and ask him questions about the future. I left the time realizing that the Lord isn’t that concerned about my ministry as much as he is about my own personal fellowship with himself.
Chaplain Steve and Jan Lowe hosted our annual Christmas Luncheon with the team from Orange County, Chaplain Charlie Corum (front left) from Los Angeles County, and retired Chaplain Jess Frey. Charlie shared that 24 churches had donated 2000 gift bags for every incarcerated youth in the LA probation facilities!
I got to attend the Calvary Chapel Mission’s Conference for one day only this year and heard missionary and author Patrick Johnston speak on discipleship. Discipleship is establishing a relationship with another believer to teach them to do what you do and then allowing the Holy Spirit to continue the work. Patrick teaches that we are living in a 6th Great Awakening that has been occurring in Africa, Asia, and South America since 1964. In the 1990’s over a hundred million believers were added to the kingdom. He became a missionary in South Africa at age 24 and the mission organization had a policy that you couldn’t marry for six years. Patrick wrote the book Operation World and The Church is Bigger Than You Think. At 79 years of age he is still going strong.
Northeast of the Well is a ministry started by a PCM volunteer (Laura Suk) and works with women in fifteen different county programs. They recently received a grant that will be used to start a social enterprise and will allow the women they work with to become employed. I was asked to be on an advisory board to help put a plan in place. We have met twice to gather ideas and have visited other sites doing a similar work.
I remember meeting with Valentin Garcia over twenty years ago and he recently called our office to see about ministering to the youth. We met for lunch and got caught up on how the Lord has been working in his life. I was able to get him cleared to attend my 19th Annual Retreat at YGC and the picture is when he shared his testimony. He texted me a couple days afterwards to thank me for the opportunity to serve. The next time he’ll be back will be for the YGC Christmas Outreach.
Omar at Boys Republic invited me to their 110th Annual Awards Ceremony where youth at various stages of the program received twenty-eight different scholarships to help them continue to make progress towards their goals. The ceremony was held in the chapel and the guest speaker was State Senator Connie Leyva. A few of the scholarships were to past graduates who have transitioned successfully into a life out of the system. One of the board members who was there has been on the board since 1949!
With the help of family and a lot of friends, the Johnson Ranch Estate Sale was a success! My mom had already given away special items to friends and family but we still made $1500 on other stuff. The Lord totally blessed the weather and attendance was pretty good. It was hard to see sixty years of memories leaving the farm.