Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Joseph and the Dinosaur

By Brad Mowry

My friend Scott is a Regional Director for Young Life and a relatively new Capernaum leader. He is developing Young Life in the entire state of West Virginia. This past week, however, he was serving in a different role. He was at camp with a friend named Joseph. Joseph had never been away from his parents overnight, and on day one was really struggling. When I saw Scott on night one after campers went to their cabins to go to bed, he said Joseph had cried for four hours and wanted to go home. Scott had called Joseph’s mom and in order to comfort Joseph, they were considering having his brother travel to be with him at camp. We sent out a prayer request for Joseph - and also for Scott for endurance, creativity, and patience. I was seeing Mark 2 in action - a group of friends uniting together to bring another friend to the feet of Jesus.

One thing Scott knew about Joseph is that Joseph loves to create with clay. So a camp staff person went into town and bought clay so that Joseph would have something to look forward to doing the next day - something that he would love!
On night 2 campers are invited to perform on stage with the areas they are at camp with for “Rockbridge’s Got Talent.” Some do preplanned talent performances and some dance to a song they picked that afternoon. They so enjoy being on stage and in the spotlight. What a joy to give our campers - most of whom are overlooked and ignored back home - a chance to be on stage and to shine in front of hundreds of people.
Joseph’s clay creation was so awesome that we showcased it at “Rockbridge’s Got Talent.” Attached is a video of Joseph using clay to make a dinosaur. Brad Mowry filmed a time-lapse video of him working on it, and he was able to show the dinosaur on stage with the video. Joseph was very proud!
That day our friend Scott and his friend Joseph turned a corner. We caught Joseph smiling during the Disney games and singing “Let it Go” with the rest of camp. His brother had arrived and Joseph had decided to stay at camp! (He did grab Brad's hand later and say, “Next year I don’t need to come to camp. My family is at home and I will stay there.” We have a year to convince him otherwise!)
How grateful I am for the examples I see in Young Life of our staff and leaders living out Mark 2, breaking down barriers that might keep kids from experiencing all that God has for them, making sure that every camper knows that they are loved and valued by their YL leader and by the God who created them just as they are!

Here is a link to the movie of Joseph molding the dinosaur

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Solveig and Lily

Do you remember our friend Solveig?! She had the opportunity to do Summer Staff this summer at Carolina Point alongside her friend Lily. Together they served in the store as well as at the bead cart. Take a few minutes to enjoy a little bit of their story!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sharing the Gospel Through Service at YLives Camp

By Candace Conglose

My week at YoungLives camp was nothing short of a real sweet glimpse of the Kingdom. 

My friend Caitlin, a graduated Capernaum participant, and I traveled to Carolina Point to serve on the Child Care team at YoungLives camp. This was no spur of the moment decision for Caitlin to serve- she spent 3 years serving at her local YoungLives club in Nashville, served at a YoungLives weekend camp with her local area, put on a fundraiser, collected over 25 packs of diapers and wipes for camp,
and spent time praying and preparing for camp. 

On Sunday we rolled up to camp alongside 129 other child care workers for training. She sat, along side others eager to serve, and learned of what this week meant for us as well as the Mommy’s. We bunked with 3 sweet grandmothers, 9 high school students, some young professionals, and another Capernaum friend- all with different stories, all equally equipped and called to serve. 

Logistically- child care feels like a delicate fit for our friends with differing abilities. I would be sugar coating it to call the week anything but a “challenge”. The hours alone for any child care worker certainly take it out of you (I am still hearing the sweet babies in my sleep) but Caitlin did it and did it well. She woke up in the morning with the reinforcement of getting to hold the children. She powered through the long days, she rocked and fed the happy (and fussy) babies, and even got to experience earning the trust of Mommy’s who may have never handed over their little ones to strangers before. 

In our devotional together I asked Caitlin what the Lord was teaching her this week, she replied back “I can do anything I decide I want to”. The work crew coordinator shared with us the story of Jesus
feeding the five thousand on the first day. With the message of we are only asked to give what we have and the Lord will surely multiply it. Caitlin gave what she had and the Lord did just that. 

The interactions between her and the Mommy’s during free time was priceless. Her ability to meet a baby’s physical needs was empowering. And her ability to interpret the gospel in her own words through her experience was beautiful. Caitlin formed meaningful relationships with the Mommy’s, their babies, and the fellow child care staff that we desire for all of our friends and ourselves. She stacked hands with sharing the gospel through serving and I was honored to be in the huddle with her.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Sam and Logan

Sam and Logan hail from Knoxville and had the privilege of spending a month together at Carolina Point on work crew. This was Sam’s second experience on work crew and he continues to grow mightily in his relationship with Jesus and others. Take a few minutes to enjoy a snapshot of their time together.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Progressive Halloween

Halloween can be a tricky (no pun intended) time of year for our friends with disabilities. Finding something safe, and age appropriate can be quite a challenge for our friends and their families. Our friends…along with myself…love dressing up for Halloween, but typical trick-or-treating is not
always the best option so I came up with this idea of a Progressive Halloween.

I contacted a few of my leaders (or great for sub-committee members or donors) and asked if we could use their houses to stop at throughout the night. Each house provided us with candy, appetizers, dinner, or dessert. Mapping this out was very simple thanks to the internet! There are a lot of great, free sites where you can input multiple addresses and it tells you the best route, as well as how much time between stops so that you can plan to tell your leaders what time you will get to their house (I used RouteXL but there are many others). Our night was from 5:30-8:00 so I had to calculate the best routes and stops for that time frame (stops typically took 15 minutes). I gave the leaders and parents a printed out list of our stops with addresses and times so that they knew when to expect us.

            5:30 (Start) Smith house – 123 Happy Ct.
            5:50 Jones house- 456 Smile Dr. 
            6:15 Roberts house – 789 Laugh Lane

We all met up at our first house, all dressed up, took pictures, and then loaded in the van. You will want to ensure that you have plenty of leaders in the van(s) with you for fun, relationships and safety. Being in the van was honestly my students favorite part of the night (although the food was a close second)! As far as the food went we had small snacks and finger food, and of course candy at a majority of the houses, and then had a sit down meal at one. Don’t forget to take pictures with each of your hosts as you stop for memories and because they serve as great thank you notes after!

Our night was a huge success and parents have already asked that we do this for years to come!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Caroline and Taylor

Caroline and Taylor live in Memphis, TN! They are friends at home and chose to serve together this summer at Carolina Point. Together they were a part of the GoKart team! Enjoy a few minutes of their story and their time together at Carolina Point!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Disability to Disciple

by Kaitlyn Goehringer
Also, check out this video of Kate talking about Capernaum Friends Serving On Summer Staff and Work Crew

A tie-dye cat t-shirt, a bright pink backpack – straps pulled tight - resting uncomfortably high on her back, a contagious smile that makes you wonder what she’s thinking– Although she is surrounded by a sea of her peers, I can spot her almost immediately as she exits the school building. At first glance you might use a lot of words to describe Liz – joyful daughter, unintentional comedian, intellectual disability, but if you’re anything like me when I first met Liz, the word “disciple” probably isn’t one of them. I am ashamed to admit that for almost two years my self-righteous heart had kept me from
seeing the disciple in Liz and so many others with disabilities like her. My prayer is that as you continue reading you will hear both the honest confessions of a self-righteous heart and the invitation of our gracious Father into the very depths of the Gospel through people with disabilities.

Self righteousness is our attempt – misguided as it may be – to try and earn or prove our rightness before God and others and even ourselves apart from the finished work of Jesus Christ. In all honesty, I live as if my own performance and abilities are somehow capable of earning or proving my worth to the world and to God. I live this way because at my core I want to believe it. I hate the thought that I can’t earn my own merit, because if I can’t earn it, I can’t control it, and I love being in control. What does all of this have to do with Liz or disabilities? Everything. You see, the way we view people with disabilities is a very clear window into the self-righteousness of our own hearts. Nothing diagnoses a self-righteous heart better than a poor or absent vision for people with disabilities in the Kingdom of God, and this is the very tool God used to begin to uproot the deep-seeded self-righteousness in my own heart.

Liz is 22 years old and was born with an intellectual disability. Make no mistake about it, Liz was created uniquely and purposefully this way to bring something to this world that I believe she could not bring if she fit our definition of “normal”. Liz lives life with an honesty and realness that I deeply crave. Nothing is fake with her and she doesn’t even have to try – it’s just who she is. When Liz prays, it is as if God himself is sitting right next to her, holding her hand and hearing her prayers. Liz’s relational lifestyle is one big, bold, risk – and so is her ministry. It doesn’t matter who you are – the grocery store cashier, a friend at school, the bowling alley attendant, the CEO of a fortune five hundred company – Liz will proudly and boldly share with you what she refers to as the “Gossip” of Christ. At this point I’ve lost track of how many people Liz has directly impacted with the Gospel. “Before I met Christ I struggled with my anger so much that I had to go to Shepheard Pratt Hospital for 10 days. I felt sad and worried and depressed. I didn’t believe in God or think he could help me with any of my problems” Liz would share. “I learned that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and came back to life. I decided I wanted a strong relationship with Jesus. I am more happy now that I have a friendship with Jesus. If you have a disability or don’t have a disability, God loves you the same. Don’t be shy about your disability. I thank God for giving me a disability because he made me special and he made you special too!”

Liz doesn’t know anything about theology. She doesn’t know the books of the Bible in order, or any old testament characters. She knows only one Bible verse by heart which took us almost 5 months to memorize. But Liz exemplifies this verse better than any person I know: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” NOTHING. Not a single thing. Except Jesus. Liz may not know the definition of sanctification or even that a word like sanctification exists, but Liz knows and lives the only thing that matters –Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection, and that he changed her life. For a very long time I had a very limited vision for Liz and her faith, because to be quite honest – she has limited abilities. The extent of my vision for Liz was congruent with the extent to which I believed her abilities could perform – in life, in relationships and in God’s Kingdom. Essentially what I was living and believing in relation to Liz was that our abilities determine our usefulness in the Kingdom of God.

By sheer grace God began to reveal to me both the simplicity of His Gospel and the self-righteousness of my own heart through my relationship with Liz. Each day I would preach the Gospel of “justification by faith alone” yet live something completely different, and the more time I spent with Liz, the more this became glaringly evident. If I really believed that my faith is grounded and rooted in Christ’s performance and not my own; if my power and goodness and usefulness comes from Jesus Christ and him alone – what makes me any more “useful” to God in his Kingdom work than Liz?

This past April, after a year of leadership training, Liz was placed as a leader on our Capernaum team. My biggest fear for Liz as she entered into our leadership community was that she would be viewed as a “nice addition” to our team – that she wouldn’t be taken seriously or that people’s automatic reactions would sound something like “Aww, isn’t that sweet…” – like we somehow did Liz a favor by letting her become a leader. Let me be blunt: Liz does not need our sympathy. She has everything you and I have that matters: Jesus Christ. Our Young Life community in Baltimore desperately needs Liz. We need the picture of the Gospel that she provides. We need her unique gifting. We need the freedom she offers each of us as she reminds us daily that nothing can earn our place in God’s Kingdom. Our community is more complete because she is a part of it. Don’t get me wrong, training Liz and finding ways to uplift her special abilities was not and still is not easy. It certainly isn’t convenient or efficient by any means, but it is necessary. I am thankful to say that our leadership has welcomed Liz and sees her as an integral part of our community, but this was not by happenstance. A community-wide theologically correct vision for Liz took great intentionality from myself and from the area director with whom I work. While people with disabilities do not need you and I to pity them, they do need you and I to advocate for them. We need to be the people who are willing get our hands and knees dirty as we bend down on all fours and invite them to stand on our backs. This is the position of true humility, and it is the very position Christ willingly took for us in order to restore our dignity and bring us to himself. Jesus saw us as disciples long before we could do anything to earn it. Do you want to walk in the way of the Cross of Christ? Start by choosing to see a disciple, not a disability.