Throughout every stage, and for each individual child, there are those moments and memories that we will remember with happiness. There are so many special times, when we know that God has blessed, led and grown our children, in spite of our shortcomings and mistakes. 3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” What a blessing and unmatched joy that truly is. I can claim that same joy, with all of my children and it is by no credit to me or my husband, but by God’s overwhelming grace. It is with great delight, then, that I share the following letter with you. It is from our third daughter, Jenna. I ask that you would prayerfully consider her words and join me in praying for and supporting her in this adventure that God is sending her on.
With love and great appreciation,
I’m Jenna Embree, and I want to share a bit with you about what God is doing in my life.
For a year-and-a-half, now, I’ve been staying busy, working at a chiropractic office in good old Seward, NE. It’s been such a blessing to work there. But for the last several years, I’ve felt the strong desire to work in youth ministry. So when I’m not busy at work, I’ve been trying to get involved with youth ministry, wherever I can. I was able to help out with VBS – as well as help a friend teach 1st grade Sunday school, last summer and both were an adventure. :) Through most of high school, I helped out with the AWANA program at our church – but this past year, after a lot of prayer and consideration, I decided to take a break from that, and I’ve been helping with the Jr. High ministry, working as a youth leader. It’s been awesome to work with the Jr. High students and see God working in and through them. I’ve learned so much about working with youth, and now, an exciting mission’s opportunity has come up working with youth in New Orleans alongside Urban Impact Ministries!
Urban Impact Ministries was founded in 1989 by Glen Schrieber, who followed God to minister to the youth and families of Central City New Orleans. The initial recreation outreach to kids in the housing projects quickly sparked a Bible study for junior high students and then high school students. Pastor John Gerhardt and his wife, Wendy, joined the ministry in 1991, and in 1998 ministry to whole families became more prevalent when Castle Rock Community Church was founded.
Pre-Katrina, a few of the things the ministry offered were an after school reading program, growing youth nights for junior high and high school students, youth drumline and Wednesday night Bible study for adults. Following the storm UIM partnered with EFCA Touch Global to work to rebuild the city. Now the ministry offers Tuesday night homework help, youth nights and open court every Friday and Saturday night.
I had heard a little bit about Urban Impact through people in our Church who had personally been involved with the ministry, but I didn’t really know what it was, until the summer of my junior year when my youth group was able to go to New Orleans for a week. I fell in love with the ministry and people right away. It was an awesome learning experience. We were able to serve in a lot of ways, but the main ones, were helping with VBS and Challenge Circle. For Challenge Circle we’d go out to the projects, and kids from the neighborhood would come out and we’d play games, much like AWANA games. It’s an awesome outreach tool and each game has cheers to go along with it, which teach the kids about Jesus, without them even realizing it. If you aren’t familiar with AWANA, it’s a fun club for the kids to come memorize Bible verses, play games and learn about Jesus.
Becoming an intern was on my mind as soon as we left New Orleans, that summer. My friends and I were all pretty pumped from the trip and talked about a lot of us going back, as though it were a sure thing. But I wasn’t quite old enough yet, and by the time I was, the part of me I like to call the “realist” had kicked in. Now that the hype was over, I spent a lot of time making excuses as to why I shouldn’t go back to intern — the time – the money – I wasn’t really sure how excited my parents would be about the idea - I wasn’t sure what that would mean for my job – I was worried I wouldn’t do well in a leadership position… etc. I spent a lot time praying my senior year, that God would take my will and make it match His, and that I would desire the things He desires for me.
After that, New Orleans started popping up everywhere in my life. People would randomly ask me if I was interning or tell me that I should, for no apparent reason. I followed the blogs of a couple guys from our church, who had gone down to intern that summer and kept up to date on what was going on with the ministry all summer long. I remember seeing the pictures that the intern’s would post of the kids and being so excited to see that some of them who had maybe thought they were too cool for it the year before, had actually decided to continue. To see the kids in their videos singing and saying cheers and learning about God, really touched my heart. And with a lot of prayer and wise counsel, I decided that this might be something that was on my heart for a reason. And that if this whole time I’ve praying that God would make my desires match His, that maybe, if I desire to do something to honor and serve Him, I should probably jump on that. I needed to learn to have more faith, risk things for God, and be willing to be stretched out of my comfort zone. God has really blessed me a great deal since coming to that realization. For instance – my parents ended up being very supportive, my boss also ended being very supportive and I’m actually going to have a job when I come home, (which is awesome, and something I wasn’t really counting on.) Plus, I’ve had numerous opportunities to work in ministry this year – like getting to work as a leader for the Jr. High kids in our church. It’s given me some of the experience and confidence I need to go serve in New Orleans.
I hope to not only share the gospel with the kids from New Orleans, but also with the high school groups that will come down to help us out. Having been part of one of those groups, myself, I understand how much they’re going to learn and how life changing it might end up being for some of them. I’m excited to learn more about working in a leadership position and hope to bring a lot of what I learn back, to use within my own Church. I know that many of these kids just need to be shown the unconditional love of Christ and I’m hoping that God will use all of us working down there this summer to show them just that. I remember going to the park for challenge circle and watching a 6 year old take care of a 2 year old. I just couldn’t believe anyone would send a 6 year old out on their own to go play with a bunch of strangers, much less put them in charge of an even younger child. There were so many little people who were just too mature for their own good, so many different kids from different backgrounds — some backgrounds worse than others, but they all just really need someone to let them be a kid and love them. It’s amazing how much you can light up their life by just giving them the time of day. They all love anyone and everyone. No questions asked. And the relationships you develop with the kids are just another way God uses those working down there to share his love and the gospel with them.
I’m not certain what all God has planned for me this summer. I know there are a lot of things that will take me pretty far outside of my comfort zone and that the work won’t be easy, but I’m excited to see the ways He plans to use them to help develop me as a teacher and a leader. I want to be stretched in my faith and grow in my relationship with God.
Now on to the point – Why am I telling you all this? I’ve been asked to raise $5,000 to cover my expenses, as well as my salary, during this summer internship. If you are interested in supporting me financially and/or prayerfully – I would greatly appreciate it! I’ve already been so wonderfully blessed and have been able to raise $2,168.33 of the $5,000 of my support money, and I’m SO very thankful. But, I still need $2831.67 to be able to reach my goal. Please don’t feel any obligation to give. I definitely don’t want to guilt anyone. But I do ask that you’d pray about what the Lord might have you give or not give. It says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give. Not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
But more than anything – I ask for your prayer support. I know I’m going to need it. : D
In order to be able to accomplish my goals for the summer, would you prayerfully consider two things?
- Becoming a faithful prayer supporter.
- Becoming a financial partner.
I have attached a link to the response card, pictured below, which you can use to partner with me. Clicking the picture will open a printable pdf file. All financial gifts are tax-deductible, checks should be made payable to Urban Impact Ministries and please write Jenna Embree on the memo line of your check. You can click the picture, print it out and send it along with your check to…
Urban Impact Ministries – P.O. Box 50223 – New Orleans, LA 70150 – 504-523-5556
If you have any questions, or would like to know more about what I’m going to be doing this summer, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 402-641-8457 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you’d just like update on what’s going on this summer, send me your email and I will try and a get a newsletter sent out a couple times during my stay.
Thanks so much for your time, love, and support!