Yes it’s Early but it’s Time for Our Backpack/Uniform Drive

July 16, 2014

Backpack Drive:back-to-school-drive-100x11

We know the thought of heading back to school conjures up a lot of emotions; there is excitement, anxiety, tighter schedules, and the fun of reuniting with classmates and friends. However, in the inner city, it often also means financial concern about being able to even afford one new uniform, or finding money to purchase a backpack or notepaper. If surprising a child with a backpack full of beautiful, new, school supplies sounds like a fun way to bless a student, we can connect your gift with kids who really need it!

This is your chance to shop for a cause! While you’re out buying school supplies for your own children, consider picking up a few more items to be passed on to less fortunate students from one of our many partnering inner city schools (KIPP Middle & Elementary, Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary, and Humes Middle) who have helped us formulate the school supply lists (below) for various age groups.  It takes a little effort but makes a big impact!

Backpacks of supplies can be dropped off at Hope Presbyterian Church from now until July 27th; look for the bins/carts that say ‘Backpack Drive.’

If you would like us to do the shopping for you, you can donate online or make checks payable to Hope Church and write ‘Backpack Drive’ in the memo.

Uniform Drive:

We often know kids who have one uniform to wear at school, as well as throughout the summer. We’d love to send these kids to school dressed in NEW uniforms!  This year, our neighborhood schools have asked for help in stocking their depleted school clothing closets, so that students are able to get items that they don’t have. Your monetary donation (donate online) will enable us to “shop in bulk” to help out these students and the school clothing closets.

If you would like more information regarding this ministry, contact Di. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.




6 pocket folders
1 glue stick
1 bottle of Elmer’s glue
2 boxes of crayons-8 count
1 pkg washable markers
1 pair scissors-Fiskar blunt tip
12 #2 pencils
4 fat pencils
2 Kindergarten tablets
1 pkg 3×5 index cards
1 bottle anti-bacterial hand sanitizer

Grade 1

4 folders with pockets
4 folders with pockets and brads
2 glue sticks
1 bottle Elmer’s glue
1 box crayons-24 count
1 pair scissors-Fiskar blunt tip
24 #2 pencils
6 1st grade tablets
2 black/white marble composition books
1 pkg washable markers
2 pink erasers
1 spiral notebooks
2 steno pads
1 bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer

Grade 2

Backpack (no rolling backpacks please)
1 box of crayons (no more than 24 count)
24 #2 pencils
2 glue sticks
1 bottle Elmer’s glue
1 pair scissors
1 3-subject composition notebook
2 70-page spiral composition notebooks
2 boxes of Kleenex tissues
1 box of gallon size Ziploc bags
5 2-pocket folders (no prongs)
1 box of markers, thick point
2 soft vinyl 1-inch 3-ring binders
1 Steno notebook
1 pkg wide-ruled notebook paper
1 spiral notebook
1 Steno pad
1 bottle of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer

Grades 3, 4, 5

24 – #2 pencils (wood only)
2 glue sticks
1 box colored pencils
1 pair scissors, Fiskar
1 box crayons, 24 count
1 pkg ink pens (blue, black & red)
1 pkg washable markers
3 spiral notebooks
2 pkgs notebook paper, wide rule
8 folders with pockets & brads (assorted colors)
1 ruler with inches & centimeters
2 composition books
1 box Kleenex
1 bottle anti-bacterial hand sanitizer
1 box Ziploc bags (gallon or quart size)

Grades 6, 7, 8

24 – #2 pencils (wood only)
1 eraser
1 pair scissors, Fiskar sharp tip
6 spiral notebooks, 1-subject, wide rule
8 folders with pockets & brads
1 bottle of glue
2 glue sticks
1 box colored pencils, 24 count
1 protractor
2 red ink pens
1 pkg blue ink pens
1 pkg black ink pens
1 pkg colored markers
2 pkgs notebook paper, wide-rule
1 ruler with inches and centimeters
1 Steno pad
1 3-ring binder 2″
2 pkgs dividers
1 pkg 3×5 index cards

Grades 9, 10, 11, 12

Draw string backpack or regular backpack
24 – #2 pencils (wood only)
1 eraser
6 spiral notebooks, 1 subject, college rule
8 folders with pockets & brads
1 box colored pencils, 24 count
2 yellow highlighters
1 protractor
1 pkg red ink pens
1 pkg blue ink pens
1 pkg black ink pens
1 pkg colored markers
2 pkgs notebook paper, college rule
1 ruler with inches & centimeters
1 steno pad
1 – 3 3-ring binder, 2″
2 pkgs dividers

Shop at Kroger; Donate 5% to Oasis Without Writing a Check!

July 14, 2014

kroger-logo-110x116Old concept; quicker process!

It may seem like a small act, but it’s a huge help! Designating Oasis of Hope on your Kroger card allows you to donate 5% to our ministry each time you shop or buy gas without even sending us a check!

For example, if 2,500 people spend $100, Oasis would receive $5 from each purchase, or a total of $12,500!

We can do a lot of ministry with that!

It takes about 3 minutes and registering your Kroger Plus Card is now easier than ever:

  1. Go to
  2. Create an account & follow the prompts to enter your email, password, & address. You can even request a digital Kroger Plus Card.
  3. Designate Oasis of Hope as your Community Rewards recipient by typing our name in the Search box (or #80469)

If you already have a Kroger Plus Card, it’s even quicker:

  1. Go to
  2. Sign in to your account and view your reward details.
  3. Edit Community Rewards and designate Oasis of Hope as your Community Rewards recipient by typing our name in the Search box (or #80469)

That’s it!

If you believe in what we are doing in inner city Memphis, this is a valuable way to support us. If you’d like more information about our programs, please check out our website, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Impact a Life; Volunteer with One of our Youth Programs

July 12, 2014

2014-read-to-succeed-100x11Probably the biggest need in our city is for your young people to have more positive role models in their lives. You can have a great impact by simply spending a few hours a month with one of our kids. We’ll make it easy; all you have to do is show up and befriend a child.

Children’s Opportunities

Opportunities at Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary (951 Chelsea Ave): In-School Tutoring – various times during the week

Opportunities at “The Cut” (932 N 6th St): Read-2-Succeed (one-on-one reading with elementary students) – Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 4:30-6 pm

Youth Opportunities

Life Builders High School & Pathfinders Middle School Mentoring Groups (Dramatically impact the lives of young people in the pivotal teenage stage of life by joining us and providing encouragement, support and spiritual guidance) – Monday & Thursday evenings

Warrior Princesses (9-12 yr old girls) – various Saturday mornings throughout the year

For more information contact Brenda (496-5516, or Martell (246-6010, Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.

God Made a Way for a Last Minute Fill-in to Attend Camp

June 30, 2014

kaa-summer-bible-camp-2014-2014 KAA (Kids Across America) Bible Camp Theme – “Redeemed”

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” – Luke 1:68

View Camp Photo Album

June 29, 2014 - It’s hard to believe a week ago today we were just arriving at Kids Across America. Our time on the mountain seemed to fly by, and yet in some ways because of all we experienced over the past seven days, it feels like longer ago. This year we were blessed to be able to bring 28 young people and 6 adults, and for many of them, this was their first time going to KAA.

Kids Across America is a Christian sports camp for urban youth located far from civilization in the Ozark Mountains near Branson, Missouri – but the place itself is anything but dull and quiet! The camp is literally filled with sounds of Christian hip-hop music, laughter, dancing and cheers. Eating in the dining hall alone is a unique experience (see video). As one KAA staffer explained, “It’s definitely not your grandma’s kitchen!”

At KAA the kids get to participate in lots of fun activities like archery, art, basketball, baseball, cheer, dance, football, golf, gospel rap, ski tubing, spoken word, swimming, tree-tops, zip-line, and more. Many of these activities also challenge the kids and help them overcome fears and anxieties. It’s awesome to see the look of amazement and pride on their faces when they accomplish something that they thought was too hard for them.

The best part about KAA, though, is the way the kids are loved on and poured into spiritually by their counselors – young Christian college students who are on fire for Jesus. The theme this year was “Redeemed,” based on Luke 1:68, and the campers learned that with Christ in their life they can be set free from the guilt and shame of sin. Our challenge going forward will be to help these young people learn how to “walk this out” as they return to their everyday lives.

Just one of the many highlights for me this week was seeing how God worked in the life of a 17-year-old boy who came along with us. You see, this boy was literally a last minute fill-in. In fact, two people had to drop out before he was able to get the spot. But God knew all along that Mario was supposed to be with our group because of the seven teens we took to KAA 3, he was the only one who stepped forward and committed his life to Christ for the very first time. God is so good!

Thank you so much to our many faithful sponsors and prayer warriors for your continued love and support. With your help, lives are being transformed!

KAA Camp Reflections, Part 2; July 1, 2014 - Now that I’ve been home from camp for a couple days, I am continuing to process all that happened during the week for our young people. There were so many “God moments.” It is always special to witness a camper making the decision to ring the camp bell as a sign that they are accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and in addition to 17-year-old Mario, we had several of our young people who did this last week. But what was also encouraging was seeing the number of our youth who rededicated themselves as a personal commitment to continue working on their Christian walk.

One particularly emotional “God moment” for me happened on the night of “Cross Talk.” This is a special evening when the campers gather outside to watch a dramatic reenactment of the crucifixion and hear a message about what this means for them. Each camp has its own presentation geared for the age group of the campers there, and towards the end they are given the opportunity to step forward to dedicate their lives to Christ if they feel they’re ready. In KAA 1, where the younger kids are, campers are usually taken to their cabins right after this so that the counselors can talk to them and answer their questions. This year for the first time, though, the campers were able to pray with their adult leaders before they went to their cabins. I will forever remember and treasure in my heart that moment when 10 of our 12 kids came running up to us to cry and hug and pray. It was so special to have the opportunity to be a part of this important milestone in these young peoples’ lives. And how exciting it will be to walk with them and help them grow in their faith in the upcoming years! Just another reason why I am extremely thankful for our volunteers and donors who make it possible for us to take our young people to KAA each summer.

Brenda Lampela, Youth Director

How Can Selling Appliances Be Considered Ministry?

June 18, 2014

2013 11 new arrivals web300 (14)Effective ministry often begins by providing a practical, physical solution to someone who is struggling.

The idea of Oasis Appliance began as we tried to bridge the gap between families we worked with in North Memphis who needed help finding basic, affordable appliances/furniture and Hope Church members who had used items to pass on. Initially this process took up a lot of time on our already-taxed small staff to coordinate picking up items, identifying families to receive them, and then making the deliveries.

We definitely realized this was a huge need, however, there was way more demand than there was supply … until Mid-America Apartment Communities generously contacted us in 2008 with an amazing offer to donate their used appliances when they were upgrading entire apartment properties!

This solution of corporate donations set into motion the creation of a business plan, securing a store-front, and with much anticipation, opening the doors to the public in 2009. Our mission reached far beyond the goal of simply starting a new business, but rather providing a needed product at an affordable price with a warranty, as well as providing job training, employment and to further our reach to people living in the neighborhood. We had already developed relationships with many families who trusted us, and now we had a more dependable way to solve the need for these homes to have reliable appliances.

We quickly outgrew our initial location and were offered a great deal through Belz Enterprises to move into a much bigger space at our present location, 1294 North Thomas Street. Since opening our doors five years ago, Oasis Appliance has been a self-sustaining ministry that currently provides part-time employment for three local men who are learning appliance repair, customer service, and truck delivery. Gratefully we have expanded our corporate donations and currently receive used appliances from the following apartment companies: Mid-America Apartment Communities, Alco Management, Wesley Senior Housing, Fogelman Properties, Estates at River Pointe, and Island Park & Harbor Town Square, in addition to Hope members.

Last December we reorganized the appliance showroom and expanded our furniture show room in order to accommodate additional furniture, household items and electronics as well. This allowed us to not only offer a larger variety of low cost items to people in the neighborhood, but also to utilize furniture items that were donated to our newly opened partner boutique in the suburbs, Hope Again, that would not sell in that location.

If you are interested in supporting this ministry, there are 3 ways to get involved:

1) Donate your used appliance.

Although we have expanded our product stream, there is still more demand than supply and we are always looking for more partnerships willing to donate to our non-profit (tax receipts provided)! We are especially in need of washers and dryers. If you or anyone you know might be interested in making a donation, please email Deborah. We generally arrange pick-ups on Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays. Simply provide us your address and phone number and we’ll gladly remove your unwanted item.

2) Shop in our store.

We are open Tuesday/Thursday from 10am-2pm and Saturdays from 10am-12pm. We are located in North Memphis at 1294 North Thomas Street (click for directions). Phone 901.577.0013.

3) Volunteer in our store.

There is always work to be done! We could use help selling in our showroom, picking up donations or cleaning appliances.

Oasis Appliance is just one of the many ministries through Oasis of Hope. If you would like more information regarding this ministry or to get involved, email Deborah. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.


Oasis Bike Shop Featured in Commercial Appeal

June 16, 2014

2014 6 commercial appeal Setting the Path

by Robin Gallaher Branch … Commercial Appeal June 21, 2014

At Hope Presbyterian bicycle ministry, values for life are along for the ride.

Yes, Oasis Bike Shop gives away bikes – but rarely.

“No child is ever denied a bike,” said Bill Jurgens, who finds and repairs bikes for Oasis Bike Shop. “However, the most likely way a child – or an adult – gets a bike is by working for it.”

“Earning a bike provides value for it. It gives them a sense of ownership,” said Jurgens.

The program started with Jurgens volunteering in a reading program at Oasis of Hope, a ministry of Hope Presbyterian Church. “I was reading with children after school and became involved in the lives of a family of four and others. Another volunteer donated two bikes to some children, but the bikes were quickly stolen,” he said.

A short time later Jurgens picked up some bikes at a yard sale, fixed them, and gave them to children in the family he read with. “I’ve always been good with my hands,” he continued, “and I figured out how to repair them.”

However, right after those bikes were repaired around Christmas 2010, three of the four were broken. “I went home discouraged.”

Nowadays, bicycle recipients do 10 hours of volunteer, service-oriented labor. “For example, an adult can supervise children in a neighborhood trash pickup campaign,” Jurgens said.

The bike program, which started in 2011, operates out of Oasis Appliance on Thomas Street in North Memphis. Also a ministry of Hope Presbyterian Church, the store offers refurbished appliances at discount prices.

Jurgens feels he was led to do this ministry by the Lord, and points to the “coincidence” of reading and entry in The Upper Room, a daily devotional magazine. The entry said that children prayed and thanked God for lots of things and ended with God for bikes.

Shaking his head, he laughed at the memory. “It was as if God was telling me something. It really hit me.” From there on, he became intentional about a bike ministry.

The program developed one bike at a time until a warehouse was required. Now hundreds of bikes, in various states of need and repair, hang on hooks by their wheels in the storage area.

Other people heard about it and contributed. An anonymous donor from First Evangelical Church contributed $10,000 for a trailer. This has meant that up to 40 bikes can be transported, so children can enjoy bike outings to places like Shelby Farms Park.

With the process of matching a child or an adult with a bike come lessons in maintenance, bike repair and safety. Children age 16 and younger receive a helmet, because the law requires children to wear helmets. All recipients get a cable to lock up the bike.

It’s easy to describe a bike as an essential element of childhood. “Bikes help children live up to their potential,” Jurgens said. “Bikes give children mobility. Without a bike, they’re not keeping up with their friends.”

A bike can be an essential for an adult, too. Larry Watt earned a bike with 10 hours of volunteer service in the bike shop. He finds his bike helps keep him fit and mobile.

“It means good health,” said Watt. “It’s everything. It’s helped me lose weight. It keeps me young. It ought to be mandatory for everybody to have a bike.”

Around 400 bikes are in stock. International Paper recently gave 10 new Schwinn bikes valued at about $220 each. But most bikes are donated or are “finds” rescued before a trash pickup.

“It takes somebody who knows how to repair a bike 10-12 hours to make it safe and roadworthy,” Jurgens said. He credits the work of volunteers like Bobby Blackmon and Ted Partin for manning the shop. Oasis Bike Shop also provides part-time employment for two Manassas High School students. “They learn business skills,” Jurgens said.

A former Marine who works as an arborist, Jurgens often drops by the bike shop between appointments to look at trees around town. “Memphis is a tree city,” he adds.

He attends Hope Presbyterian Church, and has been influenced by Eli Morris’ urban ministry. Morris said he has watched the bike ministry grow and admires it for its stability.

“Bill combines Christian compassion and a business plan,” Morris said. “He intersects faith and business. That’s a valuable combination. Bill connects well with people living on the ragged edge of life.”

Jurgens shakes his head at the praise, saying, “I like doing things for people. I want my life to count.”

The ministry is in the process of rebuilding 29 bikes for Binghampton Christian Academy for the children who live in the school’s dormitories.

Jurgens and Syd Lerner, Executive Director of Greater Memphis Greenline, sometimes partner in their civic outreaches.

In this case, Oasis Bike Shop supplies the bikes and Greenline the helmets, Lerner said.

Lerner calls Jurgens “an interesting combination of a Christian spirit and a true business guy.” From their work together, Lerner notes Jurgens’ consistency of character: “The way Bill serves God is by serving others.”

For more information, see the website,

Young riders learning about bicycle safety, maintenance

Syd Lerner, Executive Director of Greater Memphis Greenline, and Bill Jurgens, Director of Oasis Bike Shop, recently conducted an introductory bike safety and maintenance session for a bevy of 8- and 9-year-old boys, all dormitory residents at Binghampton Christian Academy.

During the lively session, Lerner drilled them in the ABCs of bike maintenance: “Check the air, brakes and chair before each ride,” he said with emphasis.

Singling out a child in an orange shirt, Lerner said, “Orange is a good color to wear when riding a bike. The people in cars aren’t thinking of you. So you have to think about them” by being as visible as possible.

The children brainstormed about why they have to wear a helmet. “It prevents brain damage,” one energetically said. “Right,” Lerner replied. “And it’s the law for children 16 and under.”

The children tried on helmets and learned how to adjust them. Jurgens and Lerner taught them to two-finger technique for wiggle room at the eyebrow and ear.

Displaying a bike from Oasis Bike Shop that needs repair, Jurgens patted the seat and said that a bike should be kept in a sheltered area like a shed.

A child raised his hand and asked, “What if pieces of your tire are coming off?” Jurgens smiled and answered, “That means your tire has dry rot and you need a new tire.” A bike with a bad tire is unsafe.

“When is it NOT your fault if you have a flat?” Jurgens asked the boys.

“When you run over some glass!” the children exclaimed!

“Right!” Jurgens replied. Then he told the children how necessary it is to check the air in the tires and displayed the “pinch test.” He squeezed the back tire in the display bike and found that his fingers met in the middle.

“Flat tire!” the children squealed.

He warned the boys that low air can lead to major repair and maybe injury.

Oasis Bike and Greenline are partnering in donating 29 bikes and helmets to the dormitory residents of Binghampton Academy. Additional sessions on bike safety and maintenance will follow this summer.

If you would like more information regarding this ministry, email Bill. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.

Summer Baseball Teaches So Much More Than the Game

June 14, 2014

oasis-summer-baseball-100x1 Briarcrest Christian School graduates and former baseball players, Tyler Moore and Colby Herndon are committing another summer to invest in relationships in North Memphis by coaching kids in the sport of baseball. Also sharing their time and talents are two men from the neighborhood, Coach Barry and Coach Cleo, who will also be helping out.

Kids from the neighborhood, ages 4-16, are invited to participate Monday-Friday for no fee in Oasis’ Summer Baseball program. They are divided into teeball, coach pitch, and kid’s pitch categories to teach appropriate skills and provide needed encouragement.

But we all know we’re not doing this just for the love of the game.

So much more is at work here: We want kids to bond with coaches and volunteers, develop meaningful relationships, provide healthy activities, get kids moving, bring a variety of ages together, offer healthy food, and even more.

Even if the scoreboard never shows a win, this ministry is a home-run!

WHO: Kids ages 4-16 or volunteers of any age
WHEN: M-F from 9a-1p
WHERE: Bickford Community Center Ball Field

Watch the website if you would like to come to a game!

If you would like more information regarding our ministry, email us. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.

New Tracking System Assures Us that R2S is Working!

June 12, 2014

web-read-to-succeed-100x116Our Read-2-Succeed (R2S) team – students AND volunteers – worked hard and played hard this year, and we have the results to show it! 20 Oasis students completed the 9-month program, along with 20 volunteer “coaches” who met weekly with the students. Talk about a dedicated bunch of people!

This year’s program was developed by another one of our awesome volunteers, Donna Young, to correlate with the school system’s “Team Read” tutoring program that’s being used by Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary school (where most of our students attend). Our reading goal at the beginning of the school year was two-fold:

1. Students will acquire 200 new FRY sight words by the end of the school year.

2. Students will score at least 80% accuracy in reading comprehension by the end of the school year.

Here are the results:


- 85% gained 200+ words from baseline with the majority acquiring words well about grade level

- 70% of all students gained 400+ words to levels above grade level

- 15% gained 150+ words rising to grade level


- 70% achieved reading comprehension accuracy ranging from 80-90% at their grade level

- 30% scored below 80% as follows:

• 2 students: 71-78% avg.

• 2 students: 62% avg.

• 1 student: 40% avg.

These results speak for themselves – this program truly IS making a difference in our children’s lives! What can’t be measured with numbers, though, are other ways their lives were touched. To watch relationships develop between students and their coaches is absolutely heart-warming, and in fact, usually coaches AND students want to stay paired together as they go from year to year. Not only that, but the children learned to pray with and for each other, as well as memorized weekly Bible verses. Most students memorized 15 or more passages of Scripture, with two students learning 26 and 28 verses by heart!

The results also show however, that we still have much work to do. In fact, this program has developed such a reputation in our Oasis neighborhood that we have parents calling us all the time about openings, and already have a waiting list of students. The need is there, but we can’t grow without more volunteers. Please consider joining our team for the 2014-15 school year – we need you! Contact Brenda at to learn how.

If you would like more information regarding our ministry, email Brenda. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.

Pray for our Teens This Week at KAA Summer Bible Camp

June 01, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but June is almost here, and the school year is beginning to wind down, and we are gearing up for our summer Bible camp season! In fact, we’ve been making our plans and praying about the children that God would have us include this year, and have our reservations set for 2 camps coming up soon:

UYI Student Leadership Camp – May 30-June 1 at For The Kingdom Camp, Memphis, TN; Theme: “Road to Riches” – Matt. 6:33

Kids Across America – June 22-28 in Golden, Missouri near Branson; Theme: “Redeemed” – Luke 1:68

Last year I received a letter from one of the KAA camp counselors. It really touched my heart, and I want to share just a portion of it:

“I have greatly enjoyed getting to know Marquisha & Mykah the past 2 summers, and I continue to pray for them, as well as the other campers you’ll be bringing this summer. Camp has changed my life and I hope it’s doing the same for them. Thank you for all you do. In Christ’s love, Miss Gil – Galatians 6:10”

That’s the kind of positive role model behavior and Christian love that our children get to experience when we take them to camp, and you all are a vital part of that!

This year we are planning to take a total of 36 young people, and 6 adults, and we humbly ask that you might consider sponsoring a child. $200 will cover their registration and transportation fees ($7,200), but any amount would be greatly appreciated (donate online). In addition, we are asking for prayers for the children.

KAA-camp-web100x116Here are some of the students that are going:



Thank you for all you do to support these children and their families!
Very sincerely, Brenda (Children’s Developer)

If you would like more information regarding this ministry, email Brenda. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.

Our Heros Don’t Wear Capes-Middle School Mentoring

May 28, 2014

superhero-cape-100x116Pathfinders Mentoring Program: End of the year article
by Martell Hixson, Oasis Youth Developer

“[Our] heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes…their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. [Our] heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could [still] untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.” ― Jodi Picoult

The Birth of a Mentoring Program

At the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, the Oasis of Hope Youth Staff begin to reflect on Jesus’ love for young people. We concluded that Jesus’ concern for them gave validity to our efforts as youth workers. As we discussed how we might best serve the kids in the North Memphis community (an at-risk, under-resourced part of town), we made an amazing discovery: we began to see that Jesus taught the importance of not only making disciples out of young people, but also learning from them! This made us shift from simply preaching to them to something a little more dignifying. We had to find a way to walk more intimately with the kids. As we talked about the changes that needed to be made, it became clear that our Pathfinders Middle School Bible Study needed to evolve into something more. This gave way to the birth to the newly formed Middle School Mentoring Program.

Embracing the mess!

We planned the details for the first year of our mentoring program and fanaticized about kids coming to Jesus and becoming great leaders! We reflected on their needs, hurts, and struggles, knowing that God could use us to change their lives! But the one thing we overlooked as we planned was that life’s not that neat…it’s messy!!

2014-pathfinders-web500Each week of our Pathfinders Mentoring Program we endured organized chaos. The kids didn’t answer our questions in “the right way.” They complained about the food and activities. Some kids didn’t know if they could trust Jesus because their lives were so hard. In all this, we kept moving forward. We were shocked that the more we worked to make a mess-free program, the harder it became to see what God was doing. We mentors thought that the kids needed us, but we found out that actually we needed them too. And more importantly, that we all needed God! The more we were honest about out brokenness, the more the kids admired our leadership in their lives. God was creating a sense of community that crossed age, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds. He was teaching us to love one another despite our differences!

Looking back over the year

When the Mentoring Program ended this year, we asked the kids and volunteer mentors for feedback concerning the program. We found out that the kids felt blessed to have older men and women spend time with them. They wanted more of the activities they complained about! They wanted more encouraging conversion about life and Jesus! One student in the program even said they wished there was a nearby church they could attend to spend more time with their mentors and friends from the program! The kids desired to be a part of community, to be loved, and to be challenged!

2014-pathfinders2-web500Of course none of this would have happened without our amazing volunteers who were willing to give away the most cherished gifts of all: their time and love. Many of them made small but significant sacrifices to be involved in the kids’ lives. One of the mentors, an Anatomic Pathology Specialist, asked her employer to rearrange her work schedule so that she could be a small part in the lives of the girls she mentored. She said connecting with the kids in simple ways gave her confidence that God could use her to impact people for Jesus! Wow. These guys made a DIFFERENCE!

So here we already are, at the end of another year and will soon be planning to kick off another school year in the Fall. If you are interested in joining us to make a simple, but deep impact in the lives of our middle schoolers, please considering joining our team!

“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

If you would like more information regarding this ministry, email Martell. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.

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