Last week we had our last Zoom sessions with students. As we wrap up this time, we want to highlight some great things that happened.
In April, we started using Zoom and Seesaw to deliver our curriculum. It was an adjustment for everyone, including our staff, but the students did a great job adjusting and staying connected. We're super proud of our students for making all of the adjustments with school and our programs!
In the first week, we reviewed and wrapped up our Respect unit, which we had started before our in-person programs shut down. Students submitted work demonstrating how they could honor people in their households and what respect means to them.
Next we focused on Peace. What is peace? How can we have it? What does God have to do with it? Psalm 91 has been an encouragement to all of us as we've been dealing with all of the issues going on in our country. If you haven't already seen it, you can check out the video we made here.
We were able to have some great conversations with our students about having peace in uncertain times and how Jesus is with us always and cares about all of our problems. We had lots of fun on Fridays we played games, watched movies, and even had a talent show. It was great to see all of our students each week and continue teaching them about how much God loves them.
We ended the year talking about responsibility. What does it mean to be responsible? How can we be responsible? Why should we be responsible? With all of the online learning and being at home, students have had to take on more personal responsibility. The unit was right on time to help them process how to manage all of the new things they were having to deal with.
Throughout our time online with the students, we did skits, watched videos, had discussions and did many other activities. One really cool thing that came out of this time happened when we did a skit about responsibility. In the original skit, a boy made a really poor choice and had to deal with the consequences of his actions. When we finished the skit, some of the students asked if they could rewrite it to show the boy making the right choice. We spent time during the next several sessions rewriting the skit and discussing the consequences of doing the wrong vs. the right thing. They had ideas about how to be responsible that were creative and inspiring! (We recorded both skits and will be posting them to Facebook soon.)
Overall, while online programming isn't what we wanted to do, God used it to continue to speak to the students and several students accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior over zoom! We're excited to see what God is going to do this summer as we move out of online programming and back into our in-person Camp Noah.
We recently wrapped up our YL weekly sessions for summer break with a great Zoom session filled with games and prizes. Many of our students finished as winners. We want to congratulate our 2 high school graduates! Continue to keep them in prayer as they move on in life and continue to keep God's Holy Word in their hearts.
Summertime normally means a break in programming for our YoungLife students due to staff being busy with Camp Noah. This summer, we're trying something different to stay connected and keep developing disciples. This summer we're excited to announce our YL Summer Mentoring program. Our YL volunteers have been paired up with one or more students. They'll be checking in with their students at least once a week and regularly discipling them throughout the summer. This new program will keep HCM connected will all of our high school students throughout the summer, not just the ones on staff at camp. Volunteers and students are excited to stay connected in this way!
We're excited to announce that this summer's theme will be: Walk in His Authority! In the uncertain times that we live in, it is important to remember that we are walking under the authority of Christ. He's the one we need to trust. Not in systems or governments or man. Throughout the summer, our main topics will be:
We hope that you will join us in praying for Camp Noah this summer. If you aren't sure how to pray, here are some specific things you can pray for:
Camp Noah is going to be very different this summer, and we believe God is going to use it to do something very powerful in the lives of our campers!
As we are continuing to adjust to "distance learning", we are encouraged to continue to work with our Young Life students and volunteers. The volunteers have done an amazing job remaining engaged and continuing to build relationships with our students. We will continue to cultivate those relationships and encourage opportunities for prayer, discipleship and fellowship.
This week at Young Life, one of our students, Kody, shared a gospel message about having hardened hearts. After the message, students and leaders felt led to share their testimonies about how God has worked in each person's life and how each person's relationship with Christ is different. The Bible says that we will overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimonies (Rev. 12:11). Each one of these student and leaders' testimonies will serve as a catalyst to encourage each other to trust in God. That even when we're apart from each other, the word of God is still powerful and true. Take time this week to share a testimony with someone in your circle to continue this practice of encouragement and evangelism.
As we were praying about what unit we should focus on next with our After School Students, we felt led to one of the fruit of the Spirit: peace. So many things have changed and it's been a difficult transition for a lot of us. Our kids feel it too as they are adjusting to doing school online, not being able to see their friends, and being stuck inside. Now more than ever, we need to remember that "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard (our) hearts and (our) minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, NIV)."
True peace is knowing that God is in control of everything and trusting that He is good. Sometimes we struggle to remember that God is good when difficult things are happening. Whether we know people affected by the Coronavirus or who are struggling with job changes or loss, it can be hard to remember that God is good and that He's working everything out for good, even in this.
This week we focused on Psalm 91:1-2 "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” It's a great reminder that God doesn't leave us alone when things are difficult. He's right here with us during this time. God is using this time to draw us closer to Him. All of our normal distractions are gone, stress levels are high, and God is waiting for us to draw near to Him.
In His presence is where we can find all of the comfort and peace that we need. Join us as we seek to draw near to God and remember that even when we can't see it, He is still moving!
Last week, Hartford City Mission started our online learning curriculum. We were able to spend some facetime with our students and provide some fun, interactive assignments to help them engage with what we're learning about. We spent some time getting settled into the software with some fun games and activities. Look at the pictures below for some highlights.
Join us in continuing to pray for and support our families during this week. Hartford has spring break this week, so online learning is paused with the schools, some services will look different this week. We are planning to celebrate Spring break with some fun virtual games during the week.
Hartford City Mission, has been looking for ways to continue to deliver excellent God-centered programming to our children and their families while keeping everyone home and safe. We're excited to announce that, beginning on Monday, April 6, Hartford City Mission will be providing face-to-face Bible Lessons and check-ins with our students via Zoom as well as offering interactive activities through an app called Seesaw.
Each day of the week, our goal is to have a face-to-face interaction with each student, to continue with our Bible-based curriculum for this year, and providing meaningful opportunities for students to engage with what they are learning.
One thing we know for sure is that God is still working. He doesn't keep his distance from us. In fact, He's just waiting for us to seek Him in this time where distractions and excuses have been removed. We hope that you will join us in drawing near to the Lord at this time as we continue to introduce our families and communities to the Great Physician during this time of crisis.
Stay tuned to our social media pages for updates on how our virtual, interactive programming is transforming the lives of our children and families.
If you don't already know, Young Life is a weekly youth group program for our high school students. Each week Mr. Jarrad, along with a group of wonderful volunteers, play games, eat a meal, and bring a message from the Bible to share with our students. Since the fall, more than 20 students have attended Young Life and heard the Gospel message. Recently, three of those students decided to receive the message of salvation and accept Christ into their hearts. Join us as we celebrate and praise God this victory at Young Life.
Along with sharing the gospel message, our staff and volunteers spend time discipling the students and helping them process how the Bible applies to their everyday lives. Students have a space where they feel comfortable to share real things that they are dealing with and get Biblical advice and encouragement on how to move forward. Continue to lift up our students as they are facing many difficult issues and are learning what it really looks like to be a Christian.
What do you think of when you hear the word kindness? Maybe you think about paying it forward, or about a time when someone was kind to you. At our after school programs, we’re learning that kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. We’ve given the students the opportunity to shout out their friends, volunteers, and staff when they see someone being kind and it has been extremely encouraging to see all of the little ways that people are kind every day. Sometimes it can be so easy to get caught up with negative things. To think about times when we're treated poorly or something that isn't going right in our lives. But this simple act of giving a shout out to people who are kind changed that for us at Noah After School. For at least a few moments each day, we spend time thinking about how we could encourage someone else.
God is always on time with each of our units, As a staff, we frequently talk about how God has us teaching each unit so that we would have to learn or practice the qualities in a deeper way in our own lives. Our goal is to help each student grow as a child of God, which involves allowing the Holy Spirit to work in each of our lives. If we as staff aren't practicing what we're preaching, the students are quick to point it out. So as we teach, we're growing too! As we watched students thoughtfully create kindness cards and think about ways that they could do random acts of kindness each day, I was encouraged to be more kind in my everyday life. What is one way that you could be more kind today?
We are excited to welcome Victor Rush as the new Executive Director of Hartford City Mission! No stranger to HCM, Victor has served on our Board of Directors since 2017, and the church he pastors, Ebenezer Temple, has graciously hosted one of HCM's Noah After School sites for the last four years.
Victor Rush is a native of Hartford where he was raised in a Christian home and committed his life to the Lord Jesus at the age of 18. He attended Hartford Public Schools and graduated from Weaver High School in 1980. Victor continued his studies at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy in 1984. In May of 2018 Victor graduated from Hartford Seminary with a Master of Arts Degree in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality.
For the last 35 years, Victor has served the people of Hartford and across Connecticut through simultaneous careers in pastoral ministry as well as banking and public housing. Victor's ministry, business, and non-profit leadership experience in our city as well as his sincere commitment to winning the world for Christ make him an ideal leader for HCM.
While Victor's last day as Managing Director with the Connecticut Housing and Finance Authority is June 3rd and his first official day with HCM is the next day, he is already working alongside our outgoing Executive Director, Dave Ambrose, and our Board to seamlessly transition into leadership.
Keep a watch on your mailboxes later in May for our upcoming newsletter, where we will take more time to introduce you to Victor!