Adoption Blog

25 08 2016

If you didn’t know, Katie and I have a blog dedicated to our adoption process. We recently updated it. You can find it here.





Our Week at Camp

1 07 2016

Katie and I recently had the opportunity to spend a week as “adult guests” at one of Young Life’s camps. Crooked Creek Ranch is located in the mountains just west of Fraser, Colorado. It’s only two and a half hours from Colorado Springs – but it feels like a whole different world.

CCR

For anyone that doesn’t know anything about Young Life camps… they’re nice. Really nice.

Young Life camps are designed to give kids the best week of their life (it’s actually their slogan)… from their lodging… to the food… to the activities. Everything about Young Life camp is intentionally designed to help the kids have an amazing week.

Why? Just so they have a fun week that they’ll never forget?

Not exactly. It’s so there are no obstacles to the kids hearing the gospel. It’s so that kids — “the furthest out kids,” as they might say — can hear that they are loved… they are important… they matter… and that their life doesn’t have to continue as it always has before. (Many struggle with addictions, suicidal thoughts, abandonment issues, etc., etc., etc.).

As the camp speaker put it, kids are told that many of the “nametags” they wear are false names: ‘addict’, ‘unloved’, ‘worthless’, ‘empty’, ‘unwanted.’ They are encouraged to pin those false names on the cross – where they die, so that they might rise with a new name: ‘free’, ‘loved’, ‘valuable’, ‘full’, ‘wanted’… etc.

Most of these kids will never come back to camp. They’re not supposed to (unless it is to serve on the work crew – washing dishes, cleaning bathroom, and taking care of the grounds). Young Life camps are designed for kids to come only once – and then to go back home and join a ‘campaigners’ group (that’s YL lingo for ‘Bible study’). The whole camp experience is focused on outreach… discipleship happens once you get home (and beyond).

As adult guests, Katie and I (and several other great folks) had the opportunity to observe the whole week, with no real responsibilities. (We did have to be referees for a volleyball tournament… and judges for a synchronized swimming competition – but we were supposedly from a different country and didn’t speak English – that way the campers couldn’t argue with us. Also, they were told, “The judges may not always be right – but they’re never wrong!”).

So, what’s makes it such a great week (apart from hearing the gospel)?

Well…

This is where the camp is located. Not a terrible view…

CampView

There are ridiculous skits and storylines happening throughout the week (which mimic the gospel). And, of course, these include ridiculous characters and costumes…

Characters

And there was a rodeo…

Rodeo

And a pool party…

Pool Party

And lots of crazy rides…

Swing1Swing2Swing3Swing4

(Yes, that’s me on the left… and then the right on the last picture).

And there’s the camp hike up the mountain…

Hike Break

…with a pretty good view…

Hike View

…and somehow, they even managed to have the brightest rainbow I have ever seen (the pictures don’t even begin to do it justice)…

Rainbow1  Rainbow Full

It was an amazing week. Katie and I had a great time, and it was amazing to see the way so many kids were changed over the week.

And this happens all over the world.

During the week we were at camp I was also following some DGL students’ and DGL grads’ pictures from their camps. Different locations, different landscapes, and different people – but same story, same God, and same resurrection being experienced… in Colorado… in Ukraine… in the Democratic Republic of the Congo…

As always, if you’d like to support me in my role with the DGL, you can do so here:

Support Tim





Here’s the Deal: I Need Your Help

16 05 2016

Katie and I have been back in Colorado for two months now. Two months – it seems so short, yet feels so long. I suppose that’s what happens when you move back to a city where you have a history… and that’s what happens when you leave people you’ll miss more than you realized at the start. Two months doesn’t seem like long… but it sure feels that way sometimes. It feels more like it has been two years since we’ve seen some of our dear friends in Kentucky. (And it feels like a lifetime since I’ve seen beloved faces from New York, California, and Indiana).

I’ve been trying to keep everyone up-to-date with what I’m doing by keeping a blog… every week or so. If you’ve missed some of those updates, you can find them here:

At the end of my last post I mentioned that I fundraise part of my salary. The question you probably have… (which I would probably have)… is: “Why?”

The truth is that lots of people who work with Young Life fundraise part of their salary. The truth is also that most of those people are missionaries of sorts. They’ve left their homes and are living in another country so they can tell people about God’s love. Others have stayed in their homes (around the world), and raise support so that they can devote themselves entirely to sharing God’s love. …that is, they raise support so they don’t have to work another job, but can give all of their time, energy, and focus to telling kids about Jesus.

I sit in a cubicle and write lots of emails, maintain more spreadsheets than I like to think about, collect stats and data, and try to answer questions for donors, country coordinators, and other staff.

I don’t live in another country.

I don’t devote all of my time, energy, and focus to directly telling kids about Jesus.

But what I do deeply matters. My role is instrumental to the mission: Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.

So why do I fundraise part of my salary? Simply so the vast majority of money donors give can go directly to the DGL students. (And so the DGL students don’t have to find a way to raise support, be good students, and be excellent Young Life leaders all at the same time).

Unfortunately I don’t have a sexy job. If you choose to support me in some way (which I hope you will), you won’t be able to brag to your friends and family that you are supporting a missionary in an exotic location. I won’t be able to tell you amazing stories about encounters with the locals. (Unless you count my encounters with folks at the Service Center in Colorado as “amazing” — which I probably would not).

But, if you do choose to support me, I am happy to say that YOU will be playing an important part in the mission of Young Life and the Developing Global Leaders program. You can join with me… as I join with staff and leaders around the world… to help introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith. You can help under-resourced, bursting-with-potential, eager-t0-serve, Christian leaders get a college education, receive leadership training, and embrace a mentoring relationship (all in their own country)… so that they can be leaders in their own neighborhoods and countries.

Let’s be honest about this: I hate asking for money. If I could, I would open a lemonade stand to raise the money to support myself.

But… that would take away the opportunity for YOU to join me.  …it would take away the chance for you to join what God is doing through the DGL program. (Yes, I actually believe that).

If you would like to support me, you can do so by clicking below:

Support Tim

If you choose to support me, you can do so with a one time gift… with a recurring monthly gift… or with a quarterly gift. (It’s pretty easy – you can use a bank account or credit card).

If you choose to support me, you can give as little or as much as you’d like.

  • $10/ month? Great!
  • $50/month? Great!
  • $100/month? Great!
  • $250/month? Great!  (I don’t think I know anyone in this range, right?)
  • $1000/month? Great! (Ok, that was a joke).

If you choose to support me… whether for $10 or $1000, I’ll buy you coffee or dinner sometime, and I’ll tell you all about the DGL programs and some of the stories of DGL students.

If you have any questions or concerns about giving… or if you’d just like to hear more before you decide if this is where God is asking you to spend some of your money… please don’t hesitate to call, email (tim.founds@gmail.com), stop by the house, or leave a message (here or on Facebook).

If you feel like this is NOT where God is asking you to invest some of your money right now – that’s ok. Really.

Thanks friends!

Grace and Peace and Love,

Tim





Connecting the Dots

7 05 2016

The next class of DGL students is currently filling out applications, obtaining references, and – hopefully – getting two, non-pixelated, up close pictures. (I can almost guarantee there will be more than one picture that looks like a mugshot – facing straight toward the camera, no smile, and a white background). Students from all over the world will be submitting applications.

The good news for those submitting applications (though they may or may not know it) is that they’re almost guaranteed a spot. That’s because they’re only asked to submit an application once local and country leaders have recommended them, Young Life executives have fought for them, and they’ve been awarded one of the available spots. I say that the executives fight for them, because there are only 100 spots available with each class… and they’ve seen the difference past and current DGL students have made in their communities and countries… so they want as many spots as possible.

Once all of the applications are in and everyone has been officially approved for the program, we’ll begin seeking funding for the new class (each student needs $275/month for four years). Each student will have a blog on the DGL website – and every other month they’ll be asked to answer a few questions about themselves and their experiences. Sponsors of students (whether they donate $5 or $275/month) then receive email updates so they can follow their DGL student… and they can leave comments and communicate with them.

Once the student begins the program they’ll be working with their area director, mentor, trainer… and, of course, the youth of their community.

There are so many people involved in the process of a student entering the DGL program – from country leaders and Young Life executives to donors and kids. My job (and that of the amazing folks I work with) is to help connect the dots. (To make sure the right people – whether DGL student, YL exec., country leader, or donor – get the right information… so that kids all over the world get to hear about Jesus and God’s redemptive love for them.  …from people in and from their own country.

Next time: In order to make sure a vast majority of a donor’s gift actually goes toward their student, I also fundraise part of my salary. If you’d like to help connect the dots, you can do so here. (Or wait until my next update).

As always, I’d love to hear any feedback or questions – either here, on Facebook, via email or phone, or in person!





In Their Own Country

27 04 2016

In my last blog post I mentioned that every day I get to work with people all over the world. I also mentioned that, even though I sit in a cubicle all day, I’m still in youth ministry.

So, what do I do?

I’m the admin for a program at Young Life called Developing Global Leaders (DGL). I’ll explain a little about what it is, but if you have some free time, click on that link and explore it a bit for yourself. (There are loads of student bios/stories you can read).

Here’s the quick story on DGL:

We believe that many countries around the world not only suffer financial/material poverty, but also a poverty of leadership. (And, let’s be honest… when there are young leaders, they often leave the country for greener grass elsewhere). So, the DGL – in our small way – is trying to invest in the leaders and potential leaders in those countries…  something like 45 countries right now.

We’re investing in these DGL students in three main ways:

1. We provide a scholarship so they can go to college. …in their own country.

They can study pretty much whatever they want, as long as they have a good reason and a plan for how to use it. Some students study theology… many study languages… or business… or computer science… or engineering… or medicine… or…

2. We provide four years of leadership training. …in their own country.

They’ll learn about speaking the truth in love. They’ll talk about managing money and setting priorities with time and people. They’ll explore leading a team of volunteers. Etc.

3. We team them up with a mentor. …in their own country.

Over their four (or more) years in the mentoring relationship, they’ll spend time talking about character development (e.g., integrity, perseverance, and dealing with failure)… personal development (e.g., learning as a lifestyle, effective study habits, and reading good books)… spiritual growth and leadership (e.g., having a consistent prayer life, spiritual disciplines, and consistent church involvement)… and ministry leadership (e.g., evangelism, discipleship, and leading effective small groups).

The hope is that these DGL students will become (or continue to be) leaders in their own countries… leaders in Young Life, in government, in the marketplace, in the education system, in their churches, in ______________ (wherever). Our hope is that every student will graduate and remain in their own country – that they will change their communities and countries (for the good) from the inside.

One question you might have: How is that youth ministry?

Great question!

So, here’s the deal. We invest in the DGL students through the scholarship, leadership training, and mentoring.  …but it’s not all a “free ride” for them. One of the requirements of the program is that they must continue to be excellent leaders in their local Young Life programs. They have to keep investing (through their time and energy) in the next generation. They’re leading “clubs” (like youth groups) and Bible studies and camps. Also, they’re asked to be praying for and recruiting new (volunteer) Young Life leaders.

Which means there are more leaders… investing in more adolescents and telling them about Jesus and God’s love and his redemptive plan for them and the world.

It’s pretty cool stuff.

So, that’s the really quick story of what DGL is. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts or questions. Please leave a comment or email me (tim.founds@gmail.com)!

Side note: When I say “We invest” … what I really mean is that our amazing sponsors and supporters invest… we just connect the dots.





My New Job

20 04 2016

I’ve been in my new job for five weeks now.

For the past five weeks I’ve come to this building:

YL Service Center

Every day for the last five weeks I’ve said good morning to the receptionist inside the front door. I’ve climbed the stairs to the second floor. I’ve used my badge to get through two security doors. And I’ve come to my cubicle:

Cubicle.jpg

After the first few days it was actually labeled as my cubicle:

Name Plate.jpg

I’ve never had a cubicle before.

I’ve never had a desk job before.

…but now I do. And I love it. (At least most of the time).

Let me tell you why.

I work at an organization called Young Life. Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith. This is important to me. I believe the way of Jesus is the best way. I believe the life that is possible through Jesus is the best life possible. I’ve felt that way for a long time. It’s the reason I got into youth ministry in the first place (though maybe I wouldn’t have said it that way in the beginning).

I’m still in youth ministry.

I might sit at a desk in a cubicle in a building all day… but I’m still in youth ministry. I might “just” be an administrative assistant… but I’m still in youth ministry. I’ve just got a different role for this season. (Let’s be honest… I was growing frustrated with church-based ministry – again – so this is probably a good change for a time).

In my role as an administrative assistant I get to play a support role. From my place behind the scenes I get to support and serve those that are “in the field.” …those that are more actively interacting with adolescents. I spend my day on the computer with spreadsheets and databases. I send approximately one million emails every day. If I’m lucky, I answer one phone call… a week. (I really, really don’t like phone calls).

But here’s the really cool thing – at least as far as I’m concerned. The people that I email every day… the people that I get to support and encourage… they live here:

Central and South America

And here:

Africa and Middle East

And here:

Asia

That is, I work with people ALL OVER THE WORLD. Every day.

More about that next time.





Kentucky to Colorado

13 04 2016

We’ve been back in Colorado for almost a month now.

In many ways it doesn’t seem like it has been that long. It feels like it was only a few days ago that we loaded up our moving truck and headed across the country. I can still picture Harrodsburg Christian Church as if we were there this past Sunday. I feel as if I could walk down the street to get some ice cream at the Fudge Company… or make a quick trip to El Charro to grab some fajitas. I’m anxious for the weather to warm up so we can hop on our bikes and ride the rolling hills of Kentucky. (…only we don’t live in Kentucky anymore).

I’ll miss those rolling hills… and I’ll miss ice cream from the Fudge Company… and fajitas from El Charro. But mostly I’ll miss the people of Harrodsburg Christian Church. I am so thankful for the blessing they were to Katie and I for two years. They became our family. They supported and encouraged us when we most needed it. They accepted us just as we were.  …heck, they even let us preach together a couple of times!!!

We’ve been back in Colorado for almost a month now.

In many ways it seems like it has been much longer. This place is so much home for us it almost feels like we’ve not been gone. In the four weeks that we’ve been back we’ve had dinner at friends’ houses at least six times. We’ve already had friends over to our house multiple times too. We’ve been hiking in a few of our favorite spots, explored the bike path that runs by our house, and revisited some of our favorite restaurants and coffee shops.

It’s good to be home.

We’ve been back in Colorado for almost a month now. In that month I’ve been busy learning and growing into my new job… my new role… my new ministry. More about that next time.