For teens, summer is a time of swimming, spending time with friends, and going on vacation. For 21 Xenos high-schoolers, this summer has also included a week away from home on a missions trip, serving a group of under-privileged kids in the Dayton area, sharing the gospel and operating a sports camp for them.
The camp included Bible teachings and discussions. Trip director Shane Coulter says it was the first time our high school group has done this particular trip and they did not know what to expect. The response was tremendous—over the week nearly 80 different kids showed up, many more than expected.
Shane says the high-schoolers did a great job in what was, at times, a difficult situation. “The kids all came from broken homes and were often super unruly. But our team was patient and worked hard to make it a great week. Our high-school students killed it. They ran activities, put on skits, gave teachings, led discussion groups and helped manage the camp.”
The spiritual response to the week was outstanding—at least 28 of those attending the camp prayed to receive Christ. Among those, Shane says, were some of the most unruly kids, a tribute to the love and patience shown by the high-schoolers.
Blowout Camp is Xenos' annual camp for middle school students. In the weeks leading up to camp, junior high leadership had regularly been praying through a list of dozens of students whom we didn't think were Christians. With some, we just weren't sure because they didn't have a clear testimony. The counselors and mature junior high students were very focused on making sure these students understood the gospel message. At camp, four of these students prayed to receive Christ! And for the others on our prayer list, we found that fourteen had prayed to receive Christ prior to camp. These confirmations are exciting. Continue to pray for the remaining students that the seeds planted there would bear much fruit.
A number of cell group leaders reported that students were taking major steps forward in their desire to know God better, serve others, build spiritual friendships and share Christ.
Junior High Ministry Assistant Director Brad DuFault says the teachings, testimonies, discussion groups and morning devotions were great this year. The student testimonies were especially powerful and the discussion groups had better focus and openness than in years past.
“Fighting For Delight in God's Word by John Cleary was inspiring and comforting. It reminded me that God's work doesn't have to be a chore and it’s really something to we can delight in,” said Hannah Martino, from Michigan. This was one of the breakout sessions that she enjoyed the most.
About 3,600 people attended the Summer Institute, of which hundreds were guests. We had nearly the same number of guests as last year.
The most heavily attended plenary session was the Thursday evening teaching by D. A. Carson, Understanding for the Simple, out of Psalm 119. The breakout sessions were also very popular with no major overcrowding in the classrooms. Hannah’s brother, Brett, attended his first XSI and said, “It was an amazing answer to prayer! God spoke and it wasn't a whisper!”
On Saturday, May 13, more than 350 adults and youth attended a celebration of Harambee Christian School's 20th Anniversary. The carnival-themed event included a bounce house and dunk tank, as well as caricatures, face-painting, cupcake decorating, a magician and hip-hop dancing. Volunteers grilled and served the food. And parents who were interested in learning more about the school took tours of the facility.
A special plaque was awarded to Executive Director & Principal, Alex Steinman, for his 20 years of leadership and excellence.
When people we care about are going through painful circumstances sometimes it's hard to know how to help. The biblical counselors at Xenos offer the following advice.
Bev DeLashmutt says when we have a friend who is hurting and we can't relate to their pain that 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 is a good place to start. It states that, "...the God of ALL comfort who comforts us in ALL our afflictions so that we may comfort those who are in ANY affliction..." Bev said she has learned from this verse that it is more important to teach someone how to receive God's comfort than be able to relate to their experience. She tells them the many ways that God has comforted her and assures them that God wants to give comfort in their time of need also.
“Learn to laugh at yourselves and practice the 'one another commands' at home and in ministry,” Bev DeLashmutt suggests.
Connie Rue likes the idea from The Relationship Cure by John Gottman - you learn to recognize when your spouse is bidding to be connected to you (hint: it may not always be something that you immediately recognize). Once you notice their bids, you can practice turning towards those bids to connect with each other.
Ben Foust reminds husbands and wives to have the phrase “I was wrong” in your marriage toolbox and to use those words to repair when you’ve messed up.
“Practice gratitude for your spouse. Even their weaknesses are God’s blessing to you and part of his plan for your continued maturity,” Chris Risley reminds. She also suggests turning off the TV or closing the laptop/tablet to spend time relating to each other.
We know it’s important to spend time with God: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), and “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). And yet it can be really hard to consistently spend time focused on God and to protect against legalism during that time.
We asked Xenos church leaders what they do to keep their quiet time with God fresh.
Gary DeLashmutt, lead pastor, says he begins by asking God for open eyes. And he mixes things up. “Sometimes I read through a book of the Bible. There are times that I read a smaller passage for several days and try to memorize it. Or at times I get arrested by a Biblical theme and look at different passages on that theme. When I’m feeling depressed or under accusation, I just read passages about God’s love and promises.”
You can have an important job from the comfort of your home. That sounds too good to be true, but it is! We need prayer warriors for the Xenos Summer Institute.
Kim Van Keuls, External Relations Director remarks, “Every year we see God come through in jaw-dropping ways. I’ve been involved with XSI for about 10 years. The one thing we can count on is that things do not go perfectly or according to plan. What I hope is that our team would be quick to seek God in our ‘moment of need’ because no one has a more invested interest in using this event to equip people for ministry than God.“
We heard advice from several Xenos Biblical counselors last week on how to build friendships.
Friendships are vital to our fellowship as we seek to live out an Acts 2:42 lifestyle.
Veteran counselor Bev DeLashmutt says, “Those who go out to find a friend, often do not find one. Those who go out to be a friend, find many.” She suggests reviewing the “one another” commands and being committed to practicing them with all the people in your life, whether they are friends or not, or whether you like them or not. Loving God’s Way by Gary DeLashmutt is a great book about applying the one another passages in community.