Easter is coming soon, and I’d like to share a special project you can be a part of if you feel led to do so.
We are calling our Easter outreach project “Rise Up, for Youth.” We will be delivering an Easter gift bag to youth in juvenile centers in Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Each bag will contain a Bible, a book called The Case For Easter, a book called The Case For Christ, and some Easter candy. These books are by former “atheist turned Christian” and former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel. Both books make a powerful case for the evidence of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I know you will agree that we are in a culture war, a war between good and evil, for the heart, mind, and soul of today’s youth. And the frontline of the battle is in the heart of our fatherless youth. Every $10 given will provide a “Rise Up For Youth” gift bag with these powerful gospel tools. Our goal is a minimum of 300 youth, and if possible, we could impact 1000 youth this Easter. We can do more as God provides through His people. To give to this project, go to https://kenturnerministries.org/give/and select High Impact Ministries and the subfund “Rise Up.”
This Easter Sunday, High Impact Teens will be delivering gift bags to juvenile centers in order to lift up struggling youth. The concept is simple; teens will receive a gift bag with a paperback Bible, a small “Rise Up Spiritual Journal” we’ve created, and some Easter candy. The Rise Up Journal will include the message of the gospel and the real meaning of Easter with an ongoing Bible reading plan and journal pages.
According to Fatherhood.org, one out of every three children in the US live in “biological father-absent” homes.
Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.
71% of high school dropouts are fatherless.
85-90% of youth in juvenile detention are fatherless.
According to 72.2% of the US population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. (National Center for Fathering poll)
Here is what we are doing in a small way to make an impact. Our High Impact Teen youth outreach ministry visits teens in juvenile detention centers across Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana. We spend time with youth who are disconnected from their fathers.
We visit them, we do Bible studies with them and we pray with them.
During this “Father’s Day Week” we are providing a special Father’s Day card for several hundred of these youth to send to their dad. For those who have lost all connection to their dad, they will be sending the card to a “father figure” who has deeply impacted their life such as a grandfather, teacher, pastor, coach, mentor, etc…
We are asking our friends to join us this “father’s day week” in the DAD Project. Here’s how you can help:
1. Take a moment each day from now through Sunday to pray for the fatherless among us. Pray especially for those who are sending theses cards and pray for the men who receive the to be moved to re-engage with their teen.
2. Share this page via email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN or any other social media platform asking your friends to commit to pray once per day through this Sunday for the fatherless. Share the photo of the DAD Project.
3. Prayerfully ask God how you might connect with a fatherless young person. James 1:27 charges believers to engage with the fatherless. Here are the specific words of Jesus, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
4. Consider a donation to help with this project. The ministry of High Impact Teens is a ministry to the fatherless. We are supported by individuals and churches who believe that a deep investment in the fatherless among us is a priority that Jesus called us to do.
The DAD Project: James 1:27
Give any amount.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 – DAY ONE OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for Dads who have a strained relationship with a son or daughter. Pray for God to heal and restore.
Thursday, June 18, 2015 – DAY TWO OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for several hundred youth today that will be mailing a father’s day card from the juvenile detention facilities in Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia. High Impact Teens provided the cards and in some cases the postage. Teens who don’t have a father will be sending their card to a grandfather, uncle, mentor, pastor, teacher, etc… Pray that God will use this connection to forge stronger bonds between youth and their father or father/figure.
Friday, June 19, 2015 – DAY THREE OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for children and adults who have been hurt by their dads. Pray for them to turn to God for healing from pain, bitterness and discouragement. Pray for them to begin to understand who God is as a Heavenly Father and understand His love for His children. He is a Father to the fatherless.
Saturday, June 20, 2015 – DAY FOUR OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray for men who are struggling to lead and protect their family. Pray for them to find courage and become courageous men of God who will stand in the gap for the spiritual, physical and emotional care of their families. Pray for God to connect them to Himself and one other man to be accountable to.
Sunday, June 21, 2015 – DAY FIVE OF THE DAD PROJECT
Pray to God today, thanking Him for being a loving heavenly father. Ask Him to work miracles today in the hearts of dads and children to reconnect and start a new foundation of love and trust. Be sure to thank Him today for your own family. Also, ask Him how you might invest in a fatherless child moving forward.
Jim and Jan met in college and got married after graduation. They had a couple of kids and eventually were introduced to a growing church in their community through some friends they met through their kids soccer team. Neither Jim nor Jan grew up in church but they were beginning to grow more curious about it and knew they wanted to raise their kids with strong values. After attending their friend’s church for a while they grew to understand the meaning of a personal relationship with Christ and both of them eventually accepted Christ and began to grow as new Christians. It wasn’t long before they were introduced to the concept of “ministry involvement.” People would ask, “Have you found a ministry yet in the church? What ministries are you guys interested in here at the church? Hey, you guys know that we need lots of help here in several ministries at the church!” So they went on a quest to learn about all the “ministry needs” in the church and picked one.
Fast forward a few years and catch up with Jim and Jan… the faithful church attending Christian couple who have been integrated into the church for several years now. They have a nice home in a safe neighborhood, they have some good friends with kids the same age as their own with similar values, and they have faithfully served in various ministries in the church. But something seems to be missing. They have created a safe haven for themselves and their family but they sometimes just feel so worn out running back and forth doing so many things at church in the name of ministry. And there’s another problem… they long to be connected to something meaningful. They can’t put their finger on it but there is an unrest and they dream of being able to do something that would be impactful, something that would be life-changing, something that feels really fulfilling and looks like things they read about in the Bible.
Sound familiar? Now, I’m not knocking the genuine needs for workers to function in many ministries within the church. I’ve been in full-time ministry myself since way back in the late 80’s. After all, I did a quick web search and found a long list of ministries listed on a few church websites. Each one of these ministries need workers.
Here are a few ministry opportunities that were listed on just a few church websites…
Welcome ministry, Worship ministry, Children’s ministry, Youth ministry, Usher ministry, Greeter ministry, Cleaning the church ministry, Set up crew ministry, Men’s ministry, Women’s ministry, Prayer ministry, Bus ministry, Kitchen team ministry, Counting the money ministry, Grounds crew ministry, Visitation ministry, Sunday school teacher/helper ministry, Nursery ministry, Deacon ministry, Choir, Orchestra, Singles ministry, Couples ministry, Senior saints ministry, College ministry, Small group ministry… well, you get the picture.
Here’s a thought, “What would happen if every Christian found a way to to have DEEP MINISTRY IMPACT in their community while still meeting the needs of their local church?” I don’t think it is an issue of serving in the church OR serving in the community… I think we need to make room for both.
Most of my readers know that I spent about two decades in church youth ministry and a few years ago God led me to begin a youth outreach ministry to unchurched youth. If you aren’t familiar with the story about how God redirected my ministry you can listen to an interview I did with Wayne Shepherd here https://kenturnerministries.org/radio-interview-first-person-wayne-shepherd/ on Moody Radio or read more about it here. https://kenturnerministries.org/a-window-into-juvenile-detention-ministry/
Here are a few rewards I have experienced by opening up to ministry outside the church:
My Christian Life Has Been Rejuvenated. Ephesians 2:5 mentions how we are “quickened” or made alive as a result of our salvation. By ministering to those who don’t know Christ, I find great excitement in talking to them about who He is and how He has changed my life.
There’s Not A Lot Of Competition. You will notice an unusual phenomenon in the church… sometimes several Christians are competing for ministry opportunities. “When will I get asked to sing, teach, lead, chair a committee, serve as a deacon, plan an important event…” Sometimes these thoughts literally steel all the joy from our Christian life! But there are so many needs outside the church and there’s room for many more people to connect and serve.
It Feels Like I’m Doing What Jesus Was Talking About. James 1:27 says it plainly that pure religion, or could we say authentic faith, looks more like this… visiting the fatherless and widows in their time of need and keeping ourselves unstained from the world. There’s something very rewarding about knowing we are lined up with Jesus priorities of ministry.
It Brings New Purpose To My Spiritual Growth. When you are talking with people regularly who don’t know much if anything about God or His word you are forced to answer their questions. Questions like, “If God really loves me then why is this happening in my life? If He is really real then how do you explain this? Can you tell me what God is really like? How has He changed your life? Why do you believe in Him?” Now, don’t let the questions scare you… I’ve found people really want honest answers but they don’t expect us to have ALL the answers all figured out. They just want honesty in a Christian friend who really cares about them.
It Makes Service Within The Church More Meaningful. I promise you that you will sing with more joy in the church choir, you will bring greater enthusiasm to your role as a greeter, you will greet all your duties within the church with more heart if you are serving Him outside the church in a meaningful ministry.
Give me your feedback. What have been some of your greatest experiences in finding fulfilling ways to do ministry for the Lord? I’d enjoy your feedback in the comments section of this article. Like and share it to invite others into the conversation!
Our son Brett graduated from high school on Friday evening, May 16 and we had a few friends and family over following graduation. We made it to bed around 1:30 am and got up at 4:30 am to make the drive to Atlanta where we would catch a plane to fly to Lima, Peru for a mission trip. We made it to Lima around 10:00 pm local time and joined our group of about a dozen men. We hit the ground running Sunday morning with the group splitting up into teams and covering 8 church services by days end. I had the chance to speak in the Sunday morning service and teach the youth in Sunday school and preach again on Sunday night in another church. Brett was able to share a testimony several times in services throughout our trip. We felt an immediate connection with the Christians in Peru.
After the Sunday morning service several ladies made lunch for us. I’m not exactly sure about all thefood on our plate but it was tasty and no one got sick! A 14-year old girl was in the Sunday school class I taught and shared with me how she recently was diagnosed and treated for leukemia. She has undergone all her treatments and currently is in great health according to her doctors. The people of Peru, much like many parts of the world, take seriously God’s power to heal. I have to be honest and admit I haven’t thought much about that for a long time. I’ve had challenges in my life but my health has always been good. Maybe that’s why I haven’t thought much about so many people in the world that don’t have access to doctors and the only hope they have is to call upon God to heal them in times of illness, injury or disease. She certainly was thankful for her doctors but the greatest part of her gratitude was to the Lord for healing her body. That was sobering to me. How often do we forget to thank God or acknowledge Him for taking care of us physically, mentally, spiritually and socially.
While eating lunch a couple ladies told us about several visitors who had been with their church family for a month and just returned back home a few days before we arrived. These special guests were from a primitive tribe in the jungles of Peru. They had come to the city of Lima and stayed at this church for the purpose of learning Spanish so they could read the Spanish Bible and translate it into their native tongue in their village back home. They talked about how determined these men were to learn all they could in 30 days and get back to their village with a system in place to communicate the word of God to their own people. Most of the people in their village don’t read so they would have to teach them to read first, so they can accomplish the ultimate goal of getting the Word of God into their lives. They described the pages and pages of papers these men wrote and before they left to return home they piled all their papers on a the very table we were eating lunch on that day and dressed in their native apparel and had a ceremony to give thanks to God for what he had allowed them to accomplish toward translating the Word. The color for Peru is red so they painted their faces red for the ceremony and before they left they hugged everyone. The ladies talked about all the children who had smudges of red on their cheeks from hugging these men. Then one lady made this profound statement, “When we saw the red paint that was smeared on the cheeks of our children, we realized these men had left a part of themselves with us… they left their mark.” A lot of the children were wiping the cheeks of other children trying to get more red paint to put on their faces and arms. What would it look like for us, here in America, to have such an impact for Christ on our youth that they wanted to smear our testimony all over themselves. What a powerful picture.
One morning our mission team met with a group of local pastors as they shared with us about their current ministries. They shared how they had been led to start the specific ministry they are in right now and how they were going about reaching people. One pastor was in a community infiltrated by terrorists. He told about the terrorist storming in to his church and running to him while he was in the pulpit and threatening with guns to kill him. He stood courageously and told them he had nothing to fear because he was a child of God and if he died he would be with God in heaven. He went on to tell them they were seeking to control the city by inflicting fear on others but in reality they should be the ones who were afraid because without God they were on a path of destruction with no hope. The terrorist are now born again Christians and come to stand guard outside his church to protect them while they worship the Lord. This pastor’s faith was incredible and to hear of his unwavering commitment to take the gospel to dangerous places was a huge inspiration to me.
The day we visited the school of orphan children in the mountains of Peru was a highlight of our trip. I grabbed some boxes of supplies and headed up some stairs to an upper floor of the building. I lost track of a couple guys I was following so when I hit the landing I was caught off guard to see a swarm of kids around 5 years old running like a mob to ambush me. They were laughing, screaming and hugging me around the knees until I just about fell to the ground. They knew some “Americans” were coming to visit and they were people that cared for them so they were ready to show how much they were excited to see us. It was an incredible experience I will never forget. We split into teams at the orphan school and three of us were asked to be in a prayer/counseling room. Children were told that they could come talk to us for prayer and counseling. I sat and listened to stories of small children whose parents have died, who’ve been abandoned and abused. We prayed over children who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse and even a boy whose cat died. Several children prayed to receive Christ and by the time we left it was as if we had stood on holy ground.
All the men on our mission team invested deeply in ministry to the Peruvians through sharing testimonies, preaching, teaching and giving of themselves through friendship that comes from a realization that Christ lives in us and we are used of Him by investing in others.
Pray For The Following Youth Outreach Ministry Projects:
Mountain View Youth Development Center, Knoxville, TN – We are now in this facility regularly with a ministry to 100+ youth.
Marion County Juvenile Detention Center, Indianapolis, IN – We are in the process of launching a new outreach team in this facility with up to 100 youth.
Spring Brook, Traveler’s Rest, SC – We have been invited to place a ministry team in this facility to do regular youth worship services.
Gainesville Youth Development Center, Atlanta, GA – We have meetings with the staff of this facility on Friday, June 6 to launch a youth outreach program.
Midtown Educational Center, Harriman, TN – We are in this facility regularly doing a mentoring program with as many as 24 students per visit. Pray for these students on summer break.
Teen Haven Youth Center, York, PA – We have been invited to take the Teen Haven Youth Center in as a part of our ministry and serve as the parent organization for them. Pray for wisdom as we explore this opportunity. Pray for Alex Mikusow who has led this ministry for 20 years faithfully and would be a member of our ministry team as he continues to serve these youth for years to come.
The Franklin Table, Franklin, TN – Pray for this vital ministry to the poor in the community of Franklin, TN led by Scott Roley. The Franklin Table operates under our “ministry umbrella” and is doing a great work.
Join us Monday night March 10 and Monday night March 17 from 6:00-7:15 PM for a special session for parents of teens.
Are you struggling to teach your teenager “right from wrong?” Are you feeling the pressures of friends, neighbors, media and society to be permissive, give your teen more space and give in when your heart tells you that you need to be more engaged as a parent in your teenager’s moral and spiritual character development.
Come join us for an open, honest look at a Biblical approach to parenting your teenager. Come find the courage you need to teach your teenager “right from wrong.”
After twenty-one years in church youth ministry I established an outreach ministry in 2008 with a key focus on reaching troubled youth in the community of Indianapolis, Indiana. Our ministry moved to Tennessee in July 2010 and I continue to minister to high-risk and fatherless youth.