Local men in need get to enjoy a Christmas Celebration thanks to City Union Mission and Graceway

WHAT

More than 250 guests of City Union Mission’s Men’s Shelter will enjoy a traditional Christmas celebration including a worship service led by Arnold Shelby with ‘Beyond the Four Walls Ministry’; along with a dinner of pineapple baked ham, hash brown casserole, green bean casserole, glazed carrots, dinner rolls, tossed salad and pies for dessert.  This annual event aims to encourage struggling guests of the Mission by celebrating the joy found in Christ during the holiday season. Graceway Church will cover the cost of the food, and volunteers from the congregation will decorate the dining room, serve the meal, and make guests feel welcome and loved.

WHEN

Friday, December 20

WHERE

City Union Mission Men’s Center Chapel/Dining Room (1108 E. 10th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106)

TIME

6:30 p.m. – Worship service (Chapel)  
7:30 p.m. – Meal (Dining Hall)

WHY

The holiday season can be a difficult time for men who are struggling with homelessness, separated from their families or facing other challenges. The annual Christmas celebration offers guests of the Mission a time of fellowship and encouragement, reminding them that they have not been forgotten. The men will also receive Christmas gifts during a separate event.

 

CONTACT

For more information, contact David Phillips, at (816) 329-1454 or david.phillips@cityunionmission.org.

Media representatives are invited to attend the event for photo and interview opportunities.

 

City Union Mission is an evangelical Christian ministry committed to sharing the Gospel and
meeting the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of men, women and children who are poor or homeless. 
City Union Mission.  Loving those who need love most.

When the campers arrived a few of them looked sleepy and we heard one first timer exclaim, “That was a LONG way from home.” The excitement was palpable as the campers made their way to lunch to enjoy the PB&J and tuna sandwiches prepared for them. We had a great week in store with much cooler temperatures and a little rain that cooled us down Sunday night. We had 40 boys and 43 girls and they arrived ready for the pool! 

Our theme this week was, “What does the TRUTH say?” The kids loved the skits and all the awesome worship songs at chapel time. Being able to participate in the skits onstage was the highlight of many campers week despite the “funny costumes,” they had a good time. One camper asked, “Why did they dress like that in the Bible?” Ha! 

Lake time was a hit for many previous campers, but for some of the newer friends, working up the courage to get into fish-infested waters would be the greatest challenge of their lives. One of my favorite friends was adamant that she would NOT be swimming, however, after two days of watching her friends have a blast, she ended up moving past her fear and with her counselor at her side, went into the water – her friends encouraging her each step she took. It took her awhile but we know she will leave camp knowing she faced and overcame her fear.  It was a wonderful thing to watch. 

The kids seemed to love all the critters of camp, at least the ones that didn’t sting. They had a ball with the bugs and butterflies.  One day a turtle wandered into the gymnasium, which caused quite a stir — they loved it! We think every millipede in camp must now have its own name and a few of them are even married, thanks to an impromptu wedding ceremony.  

Mealtime was so enjoyable and the kids couldn’t wait to see what was in store, they asked for seconds and sometimes thirds.  They were all very grateful for all the yummy food!  One of our camp favorites was hearing the camp chants and learning how to match the beats. It’s probably one of the very best parts of mealtime!

 

 

 

 

Pre-Teen-2 week of camp was one to remember! There were tremendous achievements and doors opened. God’s presence was made clearer, not only to the volunteers, but to the campers and staff as well. This week we had an astounding number of campers accept Jesus Christ into their hearts and many more were seeking Him and had all the right questions to ask. 

The heat was excruciating this week. Yet, the campers didn’t let that squash their enthusiasm to do everything just as planned. Thursday, the hottest day of the week, was our “lake day”. Guys went to crafts and cabin time, while the gals went to the lake and had a great time on the lake trampoline, boats, and battle barge — then they switched. There were several brave campers that had previously vowed they would never step foot in the lake because it was “too creepy”, however, they ended up swimming all the way to the lake trampoline and loved every second!

Ron Wilson was our wonderful teacher this week at Pre-Teen camp. In the mornings the campers watched inspirational video sermons and professions of faith from Lee Strobel, Frank Turek, Steph Curry, Omar Simpson, Lecrae, just to name a few.  Ron spoke about being sure about God’s truth and knowing how and when to follow His path, even though it may be hard. The kids this week were bombarded, in a good way, with the love and truth of Jesus. They were filled with scripture, song, devotion and God centered authority. 

The campers had the opportunity in the morning to choose between field games or swimming lessons. The intermediate swim class focused on treading water and diving, while the beginners class focused on the fundamentals of swimming, floating and stroke styles. Field games gave the kids an extra opportunity to exert some of that preteen energy. Each day they played a different game such as basketball, kickball, nuke-’em, disc-golf, football, etc. 

In the evenings, each cabin had the opportunity to choose an “optional activity”. There were tons of things to choose from, such as — Archery, S’mores, Rock-wall climbing, Canoeing, Lake trampoline, Night camp out, etc. Each one was a special experience that the campers may never have had before, which made it even more amazing to be a part of. 

God moved and worked in so many ways this week. There were a million beautiful memories made and we hope to see all the campers again next year. In the meantime, please join us in keeping each one lifted up and prayed for every day. God Bless.

 

 

 

 

 

Teen Girls week was full of firsts — a new director, a new chapel teacher, a new schedule and new activities!  There were a few bugs in the schedule (well, there are always bugs at camp….Ha!) that needed to be worked out in the beginning but with the amazing teamwork of the directors, all things turned out for good.

Monday is usually the busiest and longest day at Teen Girls. After a little cabin time, the campers are thrown into the pool, then they are thrown into the lake, then thrown into showers. Chapel was at 9:30, devotions at 10:15 and lights out at 11:00. You’d think the campers would fall into bed, asleep before they hit the sheets, however, it was their first night in a new place, so it was a while before they finally settled down.

Miss Ellen has been coming from Texas to be our Teen Girls cook for 9 years. On Friday evening before camp she found out she would be making a major shift: head cook to chapel teacher!  Ironically, she had never even been to chapel before… She did a great job teaching about the validity of the Bible and how its truths are twisted in today’s society. The girls heard that the TRUTH is JESUS!

New to this year, the campers were able to choose from a variety of skill activities for their morning rotation. For 2 hours they learned canoeing, climbing, theatre, art, dance, yoga/exercise, archery and fishing. Friday morning was the culmination of all their hard work. For canoeing they made an excursion to the Niangua River. The rock wall climbers climbed on actual cliffs near to camp. The fishing crew went to the harbor in Warsaw and caught enough fish to have a fish fry. The archers had a tournament. Paintball was another first time hit for Teen Girls this year.

Also new this year, the camp has the use of a school building which is owned by the Mission.  The exercise and theatre groups used it. The athletes ended their week on a ninja warrior course. Our group of budding actresses wrote and developed scenes which were then videotaped. They performed one of the scenes live in chapel Friday night. Our artists put their creations in the annual art show, which is an important part of the Friday night chapel activities.

The banquet Friday night was a true celebration of the girls’ beauty. They are each uniquely and wonderfully made. This year we had ten 16 year olds who said goodbye to being campers but will hopefully become future camp staff. As you can see, Camp CUMCITO gives the opportunity for many new experiences. We are praying that the girls’ lives have been truly changed by the power of the Holy Spirit! 

Junior 1 camp was such a cool week to be a part of!  We had several campers give their life to Jesus and many seeds were planted! God provided a great staff team and amazing counselors to love on the campers. It’s so powerful when someone chooses to set aside a week of their life to join other people in serving, thinking not of themselves, but just to love on these kiddos. To love when it’s going against all of the feelings in your head, to love when your feet hurt from walking to long, or just to love by giving up a weeks worth of your crazy busy life. At the end of the week counselors began to share stories.

In one cabin devotion time began to become a priority to the campers, as they were reminding the counselor to be on time for ‘devos’ and to take it seriously.

On a different note, camper told counselor that he had a dream. The dream was that he was drinking from the water fountain, but the water fountain ran out of water. The next day the camper went to drink out of the fountain and the all the water at Big Camp had stopped working. Don’t be concerned the water was turned back on the same evening!

A camper was crying one day during chapel and her counselor asked what was wrong. The camper was thinking deeply on the gospel message that had just been spoken. She felt bad that Jesus had to die and didn’t understand why someone would do that for her? She was moved by the love that Jesus so freely gave.  The counselor reassured her that it was okay, Jesus loved us so we can love others.

Throughout the week we believe God moved! He moved in the lives of volunteers and in the lives of campers! We are so excited on what God will do in the lives of these youngsters, building on the foundational truths that were shared with them this past week. We will be doing follow-up and continuing to build relationships with them. Thank you for your prayers!

Pre-Teen 1 had 53 campers this year and God’s presence was felt in every cabin and activity. Staff arrived Sunday afternoon just as the rain took a break for the rest of the week!  The morning schedule consisted of swimming lessons, field games and chapel. It’s amazing to see campers go from being afraid of the water and not even wanting to put their faces in, to being able to jump in with full abandon and come up smiling. Afternoon swim time had the boys trying to dunk staff and the girls playing games and meeting new friends. The water this week was a refreshing break from the heat. They also had craft time in the afternoon where the main craft was pinewood derby cars which they raced at the carnival on Friday evening!

Instead of pool time one day during the week the boys and girls took turns going to the lake. Some had to overcome their fear of biting fish before they plunged in! There were four rotations which included the battle barge, swim beach, boating (canoes and paddle boats), and the lake trampoline. There were some epic battles between boy campers and staff on the battle barge. The smaller boys did not give up easily. While intimidating at first, the trampoline quickly became a favorite. Swimming out to the trampoline was a challenge for some because they are not used to swimming in bulky life jackets. Some had fun just bouncing, while others went flying off the blob. 

The choices were endless when it came to evening optional activities. This week we had camp-outs for both the boys and the girls (on separate nights of course), S’mores, archery, rock wall climbing and fishing. Even though the kids swam every day, some still chose more swimming in the evening — they couldn’t get enough!  Some campers used their pool time for swim lessons. 

With all the fun camp activities and great food, what was the favorite thing that many of the campers most looked forward to? Chapel! Mr. Tom’s teaching was about TRUTH and the truth is Jesus. He is the Way the Truth and the Life. Chapel was a time of lively and meaningful worship. Mr. Tom brought his mother’s well-worn Bible and shared how she stood on its truths while going through difficult times. Chapel also included pre-recorded news broadcasts from a real investigative reporter who just happens to be a Christian friend/coworker of Mr. Tom. She presented evidence to prove the Bible is God’s TRUE Word. On Friday she made a surprise visit to camp in person. The campers were more than excited. What a way to end Pre-Teen 1 camp 2019! 

 

Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday we got this summer started, but the calendar tells us a whole 9 weeks have passed since City Camp started. School is back in session and our kiddos are back to the daily routine that all brings. So what better way to end the summer than to celebrate a great 9 weeks than with a party? A party full of fun and friendship for the week sounds about right.

Our last Monday together, while half of our students went swimming at Platte County Community Center North YMCA, our other crews partied with some favorite foods, video games and fun in the gym. Those that went swimming, partied on Wednesday while the other students went swimming. On Tuesday, our party bounced over to Bump City (GAGE). All of our students had a great time playing in foam pits, climbing, sliding, and more. We ended our summer on Thursday, with a trip to CoCo Keys Waterpark — swimming, splashing, sliding, and generally having a great time all around. We are so thankful to each of these establishments for welcoming our group, and partnering with us over the last several years to give our students some exciting opportunities.

During our devotion time that last week, we looked at something that wasn’t a party but was and IS certainly worth celebrating! That event is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus rose from the dead, conquering sin and death — we can have hope, a confident expectation that if we’ve trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, that we are forgiven, and will have life with Him for all eternity. It was this hope that Mary was given when she saw the resurrected Lord on Easter morning and then shared with the disciples. It was this same hope that the disciples soon had for themselves. It was this hope that helped Peter and the others have boldness to share the life changing power of Jesus with others. Because of Christ we have HOPE! Now THAT is definitely worth celebrating and sharing with others!

Thanks so much for everyone who has prayed for our students, interns, and staff over the course of the summer. We are all very grateful for your support. This chapter may be closed, but more fun and growing together await us. In a couple short weeks, we will return to City Corps after school program once again with a number of these very same students. They will be coming to us for homework help, life skills, Bible Study, recreation, field trips and more. Please pray for a great Fall semester with all our students, and that we can build upon the success of the summer.

Junior 2 Camp –

As we passed over Truman Lake, nearing camp, there were screams of pure excitement “A LAKE!” they declared. For many of them, this was the first time they had ever seen a large body of water and they couldn’t contain themselves. Upon finally arriving, there were volunteer staff running alongside the bus, cheering and clapping; and for the last time this summer, Junior campers hopped off the bus at Camp CUMCITO. They ran through the staff tunnel with mixed emotions, yet excited for lunch and excited to find out who their counselors and cabin mates would be.

Our theme for the whole summer has been ‘The QUEST’. We’ve been talking about how a quest is a difficult journey towards a goal, and that our Quest in life should be to seek God and follow Him. We’ve memorized verses like Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” and Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” to further support this truth.

On the way down to the lake, one group of boys thought they saw a bear or a snake and were afraid. Their counselor explained that the lake trail is like God’s path. Even though there are some scary things along the way, if you stay on God’s path, He keeps you safe and directs you, as Proverbs 3:5-6 speaks of.  

The end of the week carnival came far too quickly, but we played, laughed, and had so much fun at the different stations. The campers got to dunk their counselors in the dunk tank, get their faces painted, eat watermelon, play limbo, and so much more! On Friday night campers received their character awards, where their counselors got to build them up, and speak life into them about who they are.  

One camper told their counselor, “Mr. C, when I first met you I thought you were big and mean, but I think God softened all of our hearts because now you’re just a big, soft, teddy bear and I love you”

Saturday was filled with tears and hugs as we said goodbye to our little family. We prayed that God would keep them safe and declare His mighty love over them.  It is so scary sending such precious and little souls back into everyday life, but we must look to the future with eager hope, knowing that our labor is not in vain, and that what God has started here at Camp CUMCITO, He will finish.   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

 

Tot Lot 4 –

The final week of Tot Lot 2018 has ended and no one wants to leave. As the campers get ready to head home, it’s hard not to think about the beginning of the week and just how far we’ve come. When asking different staff members about their favorite memories from this week, there were a few we just had to share.

Camp is a wonderful time to get familiar with kids who maybe haven’t grown up in the same environment as you. Some campers aren’t as disciplined or as obedient as you, but at Tot Lot we love to work with each kiddo on their behavior and practice being better sons and daughters in Christ. During Bible time one day, a camper who had trouble following directions, raised his hand to say, “God loves all children, even if they are bad all the time.”  Hearing that really affirmed to the staff that had been handling this campers behavior, even though the disciplinary situations aren’t always positive, our staff handled it in a way that communicated God still loves you!

One of Tot Lot’s favorite to do is to host a carnival for the kids on Thursday evening. There is a bouncy house, Merry-Go-Round, various games, and at each station there is a prize. Each camper gets a bag to fill with prizes throughout the evening, but one camper came up to her Big Sister and asked, “Do we get to take these home?”  Let’s just say the Big Sisters answer put a smile on all her camper’s faces.

During week four of Tot Lot one of our staffer’s kids (also a camper) was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia which was thankfully caught early. The next day, the Big Sister told the rest of her girls about their fellow camper. Immediately, this Big Sis witnessed the rest of her campers begin to pray for their friend. Many of them were ones who weren’t particularly fond of prayer, but when they heard their friend was sick they ignored their own wants.

It’s the things the campers learn and pick up on from the adults around them that really shape who they grow up to be. Although they don’t realize it now, Tot Lot is a profound way to begin their journey with Jesus, surrounded by people who love and support them –  That is what Camp CUMCITO is all about!

Week 8 of City Camp took us “Around the World”. We had a great time learning about other cultures and places around the globe. One of our staff, Ms. Melinda is our resident world traveler and just returned from a trip to visit a friend in Malawi. She and some friends here stateside were able to share about life and culture in African nations.  They also shared about South Asia as well.

We had a very good education session on the dangers of stereotypes. Unsurprisingly, most of our students don’t like stereotypes they may hear about themselves or others close to them, but it was good to think about others who are also stereotyped unfairly. During recreation we played the game “Around The World”, and how can we go around the world without sampling some of the food? We enjoyed sampling some cookies from Belgium called speculoos, a snack mix and samosas from India, tim tam cookies from Australia, and Pocky’s from Japan. Since we couldn’t actually travel around the world, we traveled outside our building to explore. Some of our older students went to the Nelson Atkins Art Museum while our elementary students went to the Parkville Nature Sanctuary.

In our devotions this week we continued to learn about the life of Jesus in a very different and creative way. On Monday our staff and interns performed a short play that presented the Gospel, depicting that Jesus died on a cross for our sins and that we might have eternal life and a relationship with God. As we followed the lives of our two main characters we were able to demonstrate that knowing God doesn’t come through any good we do, or by any of our own merits, but through what Christ did for us – taking all our sin, dying in our place, that we might accept this free gift of salvation. Jesus from the grave, conquering sin and death, and because He lives, we too have the promise of eternal life. As the week continued, we were able to further unpack the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and what it means for us. We had many, many spiritual inquiries and fantastic questions and conversations. Please pray for our students as they consider these truths and what they mean in their own lives. 

 

Continuing on our summer journey, week 6 was “Incredible”. The “Incredibles” happened to be our theme this week, because you have to celebrate a summer blockbuster that’s been 15 years in the making right? However, our week wasn’t just about our favorite animated superheroes, we also did some fun superhero recreation games, like Iron Man dodgeball, a long time VYC favorite. We also had an excellent education session about incredible people who also happen to have special needs. Some of our students admitted they didn’t know much about people with special needs or why they were different, but our education time gave them a glimpse into the lives of those who may be different, but are also very determined, and incredible in their own right!  To close out the week, we were fortunate to be able to take our whole group to see the movie, ‘Incredibles 2’. 

 

Week 7 was officially “Music and Movies” week. Our students enjoyed learning how to make both music and movies. We had some friends of our staff members and a few of interns come and share their knowledge about music with our elementary students. In addition to learning what it takes to play instruments and hear some great music, they also got to try out some musical instruments and have a lot of fun! They also had a little dance party by playing some dance revolution video games.  Meanwhile, our secondary students got to work on making their own short movie filmed entirely on a cell phone. They wrote their scripts, gathered props, and did takes and editing to make their movies. They were quite silly, but also very fun to watch. 

 

In our devotion time we continued through the life and ministry of Jesus. A couple of the highlights we were able to cover were talking with students about Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city, and how people were initially so excited to see Him. In very short time however, many of these same people would be jeering at him and crying out that He be put to death. Many of the people in Jesus’ day had their own idea of who Jesus should be. They wanted a political leader, or a miracle worker, or someone who fit their individual ideal. Even today, we have many people who want Jesus to conform to their ideal or fit their lifestyle. However, that has never been the way it works, which brings us to another highlight. Jesus’ claims about Himself — that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Isn’t it great that we can serve a God who came to earth to tell us plainly the way to God? Not a way, but The Way, and not a truth, but The Truth. Not just any life, but abundant life, eternal life! As we continue to walk our students through the life of Christ, would you please pray that they will have understanding, and that they will see that Jesus stands ready to save them? We have had some great conversations with the students and hope that those continue!

It’s always amazing to watch how God brings all the right people together to work a week of camp.  With the rain and different personalities and temperaments, Tot Lot 3 may not have been the easiest week of camp, but we have saw how this body of Christ came together to fill in gaps to make each day work.   One little guy asked the teacher why Jesus loved him. If all he learned this week is that he is loved by God, as well as those of us at camp, that will be enough. That is why we are all here.

The Pre-Teen campers spent the week learning about the life of Moses, from the time he was a baby in a basket to when God parted the Red Sea to help the Israelites escape slavery. After hearing about the parting of the Red Sea and that they had found Chariot wheels buried in the sea floor, one camper asked a counselor how there could be wheels if it hadn’t happened. “That’s exactly right,” the counselor told him “the wheels help prove that it did happen.” The camper then realized that what he was hearing at camp was true.

Although it was a rainy week the campers still had plenty of time to enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming, archery, and time in our new ball pit. We had a lot of returning campers and it is so great for us as staff to be able to see the growth that has occurred and the fruit that comes from all those that have poured into the campers lives over the years. One camper got off the bus eager to let staff know that he hadn’t been in as many fights at school and that he was getting baptized soon! Sometimes the rain changed the schedule a bit and we were so grateful that we could have indoor activities at the Ridge. Another fun, indoor activity was movie night in the Chapel!

As the Teen Girls arrived on Monday they headed right to the pool and later to the lake with a cookout to look forward to.  Chapel doesn’t happen until 9:30pm and the skit begins. Our teacher Miss Ko presented our theme for the week “The Quest” — are we on a quest to follow God or going our own direction?

It’s hard for the teen girls (TG) to leave their cell phones behind in the city, however they are kept so busy that phones are soon forgotten as the fun begins!  

Tuesday began the daily morning rotation which included crafts, trust activities, dance practice and circle time.  Circle time is unique to teen girls camp.  It’s a small group time with one of our experienced staff where the girls pour out their hearts and are able to ask some hard questions.  Tuesday night was the TG egg war!  Most of the girls participated after covering their hair with plastic bags and putting on goggles.  The teams head into the woods and the eggs start flying!

Wednesday and Thursday nights the girls participate in optional activities such as archery, riflery, camp out, s’mores, rock wall, fishing, boating and more.  The girls are allowed to pick activities individually rather than as a cabin group, giving each camper the opportunity to have their own unique camp experience. Wednesday night ends with ice cream floats and a night time swim.  This year there were even light up balloons!

Friday is a special day at TG camp.  The craft hall is decorated for an art show where the girls’ creative crafts are beautifully displayed.  The dining hall is turned into a banquet hall.  The cooks prepare a special meal of fried chicken with all the fixins!  The male staff members serve the girls and female staff.  All are made to feel pampered.  The girls spend the afternoon getting ready, painting nails, putting on makeup and doing hair.  Each girl is looking her best and it’s a time for them to feel beautiful as God made them each unique and special.  A special chapel time showcases the choir and dance teams that have been practicing all week.

It’s hard to say goodbye on Saturday morning but we know God has planted His Word deep in their hearts.  Our theme “the Quest” means that God has a unique plan for each one of their lives.

Hope to see you next year, beautiful teen girls!

 

TOT LOT  –  On Monday the campers arrived and piled off the bus, they were here to begin their “Quest,” which was the theme for the week. We all piled into the cabins common area where every camper was assigned their “Big” (the counselor that will be with them all week long).

Once everyone had their group assignments, they headed out for the important stuff – lunch!  The Bigs serve their “kids” family style and start bonding with each child.  All of the children were super excited and the camp food is very tasty!

 There are many activities that the kids get to participate in and this starts on Monday after lunch with free play on the playground, then a tea party and a trip to the pool.  The children get to enjoy these activities every day and they never seem to tire of them. They also get to enjoy horseback riding, baby goats, water balloon games and many other memorable activities.

While we are all about having fun at camp, the main thing that we focus on is the love that Jesus Christ offers them and how we love these children because of the love that He has given us.  We try to teach the children about boundaries, how to interact and play with their friends and that God loves them and has a purpose for their lives. This training is accomplished with daily Bible teaching, drama, Bible stories and hands on counseling.  This week was particularly tough and we had a lot of campers who struggled with following the rules. Never the less, we saw many children who realized a deeper understanding of who God is and His love for them.

On Thursday we had a carnival for the kids.  This included a bounce house, fishing for prizes, merry-go-round, bean bag toss, etc. All of the kids had a blast and walked away with a bag full of loot to take home.  Friday brought us a special awards banquet. At this banquet every child received an award that exemplified what their special character trait was this week — We had Bible Man, Loving, Caring, Friendly and, my favorite, Determined, to name just a few of the positive traits that were recognized.

When the campers load back on the bus and head home, we will miss each of them and their precious smiles.  We are praying that they will have made many memories that will last a lifetime, but most of all we pray that they will always remember the love of God and allow Him to guide their steps.

JUNIOR 1  –  At Junior 1 camp this year, we also focused on the campers’ “Quest,” as the theme through studying the life of Moses. During the week, the chapel staff helped campers understand about God’s Plan, God’s Purpose, God’s Promises and God’s Presence through drama, puppet plays, Bible teaching and memory verses. The concepts were reinforced by their counselors in nightly devotions and prayer, through related crafts at craft time and through conversations sprinkled throughout the campers’ day. Whether playing on the lake trampoline, fishing, hiking, canoeing, swimming, or just resting in the cabin, the counselors and staff attempted to use every opportunity to share God’s love with the kids and help them understand more about him.

One day a counselor observed one of her campers going off by herself and was worried she was feeling left out. When the counselor approached to ask if she was doing OK, the camper answered that she just wanted some time to pray.  Another camper asked in devotion time how he was supposed to hear God’s voice. When the devotion leader explained that we hear God’s voice through our hearts, he answered, “I haven’t gotten very good at hearing through my heart, yet.” Some of the campers made decisions for Christ during the week, and many others asked questions and made comments that showed they were growing in their understanding of God, which is what Camp CUMCITO is all about–no matter where we are in our Quest for God.  

Our first week of camp was a whirlwind of emotions and sweet moments.  When campers hopped off the bus Monday there was a mix of excitement mingles with some anxiety for the week ahead.

Tuesday was rain, rain, rain. It was muddy and wet all day, but our hopes were high to see how God would show up.  During Chapel, Mr. B talked about our QUEST in life and what God has designed us for (Ephesians 2:10). This sparked questions and conversation during devotions of how we are saved by FAITH, but how God wants us to be like Christ and do good works.

Wednesday was hard, as Wednesday’s usually are, because everyone is tired and desperately in need of a nap. Despite this tiredness, Camper N was vigorously taking notes during every devotion and chapel. He eventually approached Mr. T and asked him if God’s love is real and “what happens if we give our hearts to Him?” Mr. T declared YES!  God’s love is real and proceeded to share his testimony with him. N responded saying, “Wow! Thank you for telling me that Mr T! I’m really thankful”

Thursday morning Mr B asked the question, what do you love the most? He stated that, what you love the most, you will worship. During this chapel time, one camper challenged the teaching and was flipping around, searching in his Bible for the scripture Mr B gave. Upon finding it he exclaimed “Whoa it really is there!!”

Emotions were high and eyes were full of tears on Saturday as we said goodbye to our precious little ones.  We prayed over them, asking God to give growth to seeds that were planted, yet knowing that even if growth does not happen, our labor is not in vain, as 1 Corinthians 15:58 states.  God promises that “in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9) and that is the promise we hold onto. Through prayerful tears, we hope in God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday of Tot Lot 1 was an exciting day! It was the first time in a year that these bright little humans arrived and trampled the grounds with their little feet and big personalities. Everyone buzzed with excitement and wonder at what the week would bring.

Tuesday it rained from start to finish, and while the children couldn’t ride the horse or merry-go-round, or swim or play on the playground, they were able to play house or with Legos on the covered porches, play indoor games, listen to stories and teaching from the Bible, create a colorful picture frame in crafts, play more indoor games with the Rec director, and as a special treat, to watch Joseph the King of Dreams with popcorn!

On Wednesday SUNSHINE happened and so did all the outdoor fun!  It was special tea party day involving princess capes and fancy tea cups for the girls, and warrior capes and bubble swords for the boys.  The girls heard the story of Gigi, God’s Little Princess and The Royal Tea Party, and the boys listened to Will, God’s Mighty Warrior. It’s a sight to see the girls in their royal capes and swimsuits and boys charging through the trees, bubble swords held high, capes flying behind them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bible verses for the week were “Walk in love,” “Be imitators of the Lord,” “Be kind to each other,” and ” Jesus loves you and gave himself for you,” — all from the book of Ephesians. The children learned the verses very well and most importantly, were taught by word and deed how to live them out.

It’s always hard sending campers home, not fully knowing the situation they’re going back to, but we cling to the hope that Isaiah proclaimed: “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.“ (Isaiah 55:11)
We cling to the fact that our God is a god who cares and who loves His creation deeply, knowing that in due season He is preparing some of these little hearts to receive His Word. 

 

 

During week-4 at City Camp, the theme was “Animal Planet”, where we took a look at many different types of animals in our world. We quickly learned that some of our students prefer furry friend animals like dogs and cats, while others prefer more exotic animals such as tigers or bears, and yet others – creepy crawlers like snakes!

We were fortunate enough to have some animals come visit us this week from the Kansas City Zoomobile.  Students were introduced to a variety of animals from a soft, furry chinchilla, to a scaly South American constrictor snake, and a beautiful, brightly colored macaw.  Zoo staff told us about their natural habitats, and how the zoo works to protect these animal species.

Truly, animals are amazing creatures and come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. It’s also true that they are the handiwork of God, and created for our enjoyment and to point us back to Him. While I’m much happier and safer running and playing with my Chihuahua doggies at home than I would be for example, running from a charging rhino on a safari gone wrong, it is easy to see and appreciate the uniqueness and abilities that each animal species possess.

Later in the week, we were able to explore some of those more exotic animals like the rhino on our visit to the Kansas City Zoo.  One of our group’s favorite field trips!  We can’t thank the Kansas City Zoo enough for welcoming our group as we enjoyed the park again this year.

In our devotions we continued learning about the life of Jesus, and specific statements He made about Himself and the miracles He performed. Jesus demonstrated His divine power over creation, and performed miracles to demonstrate that power, and point people back to God the Father. Jesus stated that He is the “Bread of Life” and then fed the 5,000, starting with just a couple loaves and fish. Jesus said He is the “Light of the World” and healed a man born blind. He opened the eyes of one who could not see! He stated “I Am the Resurrection and the Life”, and raised his friend Lazarus from the grave. Though Lazarus had seen death, he lived again!

The same Jesus who performed those miracles through His divine power, is still powerful. He too, provides for us. He wants to open our eyes to see light, and as He has conquered sin and death, He offers us new life, though we were dead in our sins.

Finally, we also learned that Jesus spoke of Himself as the “Good Shepherd”. Sheep are interesting animals, and we know that without a shepherd they are left defenseless and without direction. We too can lose our way and are like sheep in a sin filled world that is full of dangers, troubles, and snares. But like sheep with a shepherd, Jesus offers to be our Good Shepherd, willing to lay down His life for our sake, to lead us to green pasture. Simply, Jesus wants what is best for us. That’s the gift He offers, and much like sheep that can find contentment and joy in a shepherd that cares for them, Jesus offers us contentment and joy when we choose to follow Him.  

For week-2 of City Camp our theme was “Superheroes”. Who doesn’t like a good superhero? In some ways, they embody what most of us, if not all of us, want to be in some way – A person of great strength, courage or valor; a person who saves the day; who will stand up for those who can’t defend themselves; or a person who serves others.   For our superhero week, our campers were able to go see some real life heroes who serve our community daily.

Our elementary group visited Kansas City Fire Department, Station 23. We were given an outstanding tour of the firehouse and their hook and ladder trucks — they even let us try out the fire hose! Meanwhile, our secondary students got a chance to tour the Kansas City Police Academy. They toured the facility and learned about the training and testing it takes to be a police officer. We are so thankful for all the men and women who took time to share with us and for their service in our neighborhood and community. 

In week-3 of City Camp our them was “Science!” and featured a number of cool experiments — including a rocket launch, various egg drop experiments, and a run across “oobleck”, which is a non neutonian fluid that when pressure is applied acts like a solid (it’s so cool!). We concluded the week with a trip to Science City where we explored many interactive activities that taught us more about science from wind, to water, to gravity and more. We’d like to thank Northland Baptist Church for making such a fun trip possible. 

We also continued our study through the life of Jesus. First, we learned about His childhood — from being presented at the Temple, to a visit from far off eastern magi, to His teaching as a boy in the temple, we saw that Jesus wasn’t just any ordinary child. We tried to imagine what Mary and Joseph might have thought about all these things being said about their son and what the experience of trying to raise the Son of God must have been like.  If we marvel just reading of these things, how they must have marveled experiencing them? Then we learned about the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, the calling of the 12, and his compassionate ministry towards the people he encountered. The campers learned that Jesus is unlike any other. He spoke like no one else. He taught with authority in ways no one else could. He performed miracles that people saw and could not believe. He reached out to those no one else would. Jesus was more than a superhero, He came to be our Savior and to show us who God is. Just as He was 2000 years ago, Jesus still stands in the gap for us, meets us at our need, calling us to follow Him, and to be His disciples.

 

City Camp kicked off on last Tuesday, and we were thrilled to welcome back many returning students, as well as many new students. Our crews spent the week hanging out and getting to know each other through games, team building, and activities during this week. We got to learn some fun and interesting facts about one another and students used their unique skills to accomplish tasks and challenges together. 

One of the highlights of our week definitely came in devotions where we began our journey through the life of Christ. Students learned this week that the coming of Jesus Christ to this world was spoken of long ago in the words of the prophets in the Old Testament, and foretold to Mary and Joseph by an Angel of the Lord. The saints of old, and the faithful of that day looked forward to this long promised Messiah. When the Angel spoke to Joseph about Mary being with child, we learn that Joseph listened and ultimately trusted God about what was to happen, and what He should do. Our oldest students in red crew walked through the passage with their leaders using the acronym HEAR – (Highlight, Explore, Apply, and Respond). It was exciting for their crew leaders to explain this method, and students on their own, apply, and individually conclude that just as Joseph trusted God, and counted on His promises, they too can trust God and His promises in their lives. 

A funny story was a couple of students trying to guess each others age on our van ride. There were several guesses back and forth when one of yellow crew (our youngest group) students said to a student clearly much older than he, “you look like your 1 year old!” to which the older boy responded with much enthusiasm, “Impossible!” The entire van busted out in laughter as they continued on down the road. Week one was a blast, and we look forward to continue building relationships with our students and getting to know them, and having a lot of fun this summer. 

 

School is out!  Memorial Day is our unofficial start to summer and that means our summer interns have arrived here at City Union Mission. It also means we are gearing up for another exciting summer of City Camp in the Vanderberg Youth Center.

For the next 9 weeks our halls will be filled with students engaging in recreation, life skills, education and devotions. This week though, is all about our interns. We have four incredible college students with us this summer to minister to our students, build relationships, and continue to hone their leadership skills. This past week they, along with eight other interns serving at the Mission joined our staff and took part in a training week to help prepare them for this summer’s ministry. Part of that training includes a retreat to Camp CUMCITO in Warsaw, Missouri where we better equip them by doing some team building and discussing different aspects of ministry and serving others. It also includes a lot of fellowship, and definitely prayer. It was during prayer one morning, one of our interns mentioned the word “impact” that got my head and heart racing. We all have an impact. Whether we realize it or not, whether its our intention or not — we all, in our words and actions have impact. It affects us, those closest to us, those we contact on a day to day basis. Like a pebble tossed into a pond, there is a ripple effect that is made when the pebble hits the water. Many of us desire to have impact in positive ways to leave a mark on this world and others. Simply put, we want to make what we do, count. As a Christ follower, I can think of no greater way to have impact than to live and love in a way that reflects Jesus. It’s not about us, its about Him!

When I think about City Camp this summer, I can’t help but conclude this is the heart attitude of our team. From way back in September when we started planning for this summer, through the hours of planning activities, writing curriculum, and pouring over what we make up our daily devotions this summer we wanted it to make an impact. That said, while we undoubtedly spend the summer having lots of fun with our students swimming, playing, hanging out, and enjoying the days, what excites us most is the opportunity to give words that make an impact that is transformational. We will be studying through the Life of Christ this summer with our students. From His birth, through the impact of His earthly ministry, and to His death, burial, and resurrection we want to examine the life of Jesus. We want our students to get a full picture of the Savior, and to be impacted by what He has said and done. As we have been impacted, as we have experienced transforming life change, our great hope is that our students will hear and respond to the message of Jesus.

As we prayed that morning, a passage came to mind. In John 6, Jesus had been sharing with the crowds, some of whom had left Him after hearing His message. He turned to His disciples, and asked if they too, would be leaving? Simon Peter responded in verse 68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know you are the Holy One of God”. What a statement of impact that Jesus life and words had on the life of Peter! 

Pray for our interns and staff this summer that we would maintain our focus, and that our desire to impact would be Christ centered. Pray that we can build and build upon meaningful relationships with our students. Pray for our students that they would come in contact with the Jesus of the Bible and they too would be impacted and transformed by Him. 


The atmosphere at Junior 2 started out pretty rocky with quite a few disciplinary issues, but by the grace of God we made it through until the end of the week, and He did lots of great things in the hearts of campers and staff.

On Monday we sorted out all 60 campers into their cabins and marked clothes, followed by “get to know you” time and swimming!

The theme this week was “Represent.”  Scripture verses, puppets, songs, games and a skit were used to help teach the kids how they can “represent” in their everyday lives when they get back home. 

On Tuesday the boys went to the lake for the first time and got to do boats, the battle barge, and the lake trampoline. A counselor shared that watching the boys try to catch fish with their bare hands was hilarious and probably the best part of the trip!

Our crafts for this week were self-portraits (to symbolize how we are made in God’s image), nail and thread crosses (to remember Jesus’ sacrifice), and homemade fishing poles (to remind the kids that we are called to be ‘fishers of men’).

Wednesday was the girl’s lake day. As we walked down the trail in the woods we talked about siblings, best friends and our middle names. When the girls saw the lake they gasped, and one camper said “Wow! That’s big and deep! But I know that God is bigger! I’m scared to get in the lake, but I know God will help me.”

During evening devotions they talked about the Holy Spirit and the power He gives us to walk with God the Father. A camper asked her counselor “Do you have the Holy Spirit Miss Sierra?  Yes, I can tell that you do because you love us so much!”

Thursday we got some rain so things were a bit muddy during activities, but attitudes were good nonetheless.  One counselor hurt her knee during the week and had it wrapped up, when a camper saw this she walked right up to the counselor, placed her hand on the knee and said “May God heal your knee.”

Friday was carnival day!! The campers did all kinds of fun activities and games like jumping in a bounce house, water games, face painting, and disk golf.  For evening devotions the counselors gave out character awards (joyfulness, Bible enthusiasm, kindness, forgiveness, etc… ) to the campers and explained how they represent God and the importance of growing those characteristics.

Saturday was bitter sweet with lots of tears and goodbyes. We’re praying that God continues to grow the relationships that were formed, and that His Word will remain hidden in their hearts.

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”  – Philippians 1:6

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the  grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” – 1 Peter 1:13

The mood at Teen-girls camp 2017 was ‘chill’ despite the extreme heat.  As the temperatures climbed throughout the week, spirits remained high!

Our first day with 38 girls was spent getting to know each other. After marking clothes, the pool provided a refreshing break. From the pool, the entire staff made the trek to the lake for a cookout and enjoyment of all the lake activities, including the battle barge and lake trampoline.

The skit and chapel time messages were centered around our theme “REPRESENT.”  The chapel teacher, Miss Ko, shared her testimony and touched the hearts of many girls. She did a great job of representing Christ to the girls.

Tuesday night was the annual TG egg war!  Staff and campers didn’t seem to mind the gooey mess too much!

Everyday electives included options such as dance, trust activities, swim lessons and choir. Circle time provides an intimate small group time for campers to go deeper with an encouraging staff member.

During free swim time the Opportunity Farm guys provided large ice blocks that were placed in the lukewarm pool .   It was amazing how fast that block melted with ten or more girls trying to sit on it and push it to the bottom of the pool!  Also, unique to TG is the late night swim and ice cream floats.  It was a time to relax after a long day and slow down enough for evening devotions and bedtime.

At TG, campers are able to choose optional activities individually. They either picked their favorites or opted to try something new. Some of the activities chosen this week were archery, camp out, climbing wall, fishing, and of course S’mores.  Several girls chose to fish and were led by the infamous Mr. Jon.  They caught some really big fish and the next day cleaned them and cooked them over an open fire.  It was the highlight of their week.

During the afternoon the craft hall becomes a hangout where the girl can be creative, do nails, or just talk.

Getting ready for the Friday night banquet takes most of the afternoon.  There are stations set up for hair, nails, and makeup. The girls love dressing up and feeling as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside.

The actual banquet meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and all the fixins’ is served by the guys on staff and the girls are treated like the young ladies they are.

Chapel on the last night includes showcasing dances, the choir and spoken word which the girls have practiced all week. The 16 year old girls have the opportunity to share what camp has meant to them. Their testimonies always include tears but we hope to have many of them come back as staff next year! The only word to describe what happens in Friday night’s chapel is JOY!

Until next year…

Snapshots of PreTeen2 Camp:

A camper gets off the bus on Monday. It’s her first time at Camp CUMCITO, so she’s a little unsure of what to expect. She made a friend on the bus and hopes they’ll be in a cabin together. At lunch she meets a few more people and hears about the fun things they’ll do during the week.

The boy cabins get the first turn at the pool. It’s so hot, and the water feels great. After passing the deep end test, one boy gets in line for the diving board. He learned how to dive last year at camp during swimming lessons, and he’s excited to dive again.

The kitchen staff wakes up early every morning to have breakfast on the table for the whole camp. Walking across camp from their sleeping quarters to the dining hall in the Ridge, one person pauses to listen to the birds singing in the trees. The campground is so quiet until the campers emerge from their cabins after the “Rise & Shine” bell rings.

Campers choose electives to do in the morning sessions, getting to pick from swimming lessons, kickball, archery, or disc golf. One camper playing disc golf threw her disc on a rock, then suddenly called out, “That rock is moving!,” followed by, “ No wait, that rock is a turtle!” and “Can we keep it?”

In Morningstar Cabin, a counselor who used to be a camper has now been coming back to serve on staff for five years. Remembering what it was like as a camper has given her a special compassion for the campers. She still has those moments when it seems like the campers are not listening, and feels as if she’s wasting her breath trying to share the gospel during devotions. A camper suddenly surprises her by repeating back to her exactly what she thought they weren’t paying attention to: “Jesus came down to earth from heaven, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again on the third day…”

On the other side of camp is a counselor who came to camp pretty empty from his own struggles. He confessed his weakness and weariness to other staff during the week, asked for prayer from others, and continued to push through leaning solely on God’s strength. What a reward when he later saw God work in big ways with his campers on the last night of camp!

In crafts there’s a first-time staff person, who came after her husband shared his challenging, but exciting experience last year. She enjoyed working on craft staff, helping the boys put together their pinewood derby cars. She “adopted” a girl cabin and went to their devotions, but was afraid she wasn’t getting to know them or impacting them. But on the last day of camp, they came up to hug her goodbye, asking to stay in touch.

When asked what she would say to someone considering working at camp, she said, “First pray about it, because you need Christ’s guidance. It’s an awesome experience and I would recommend it to anybody, because you learn so much from everyone here and the campers that come to camp. You learn about different lifestyles and techniques for dealing with children.” Summing up her camp experience after the campers boarded the buses to head back home, she said, “I am physically exhausted; my body hurts, but my heart is happy.”

This week was our first week for pre-teens and 2nd week.  We had a few rainy days, but all-in-all the events during the week went smoothly and the campers had a great time.

One intern shared how he was approached by a camper who told him that she remembered that his sister was her counselor four years ago, and how she was impacted by her.   This was a great reminder to the counselors of just how important camp relationships are and the effect that staff can have upon campers.  The memories made, lessons learned and relationships forged can impact lives well beyond that one short week. 

God has called us to love others and to make disciples by the power of His Holy Spirit.  We are the vessels He uses to plant seeds and to sow into the hearts of others.  But in order to fulfill this command, we must keep pouring into those that God places in our lives. God is moving even when we can’t see the evidence and He has great things planned!

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”   (Galatians 6:9-10 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great week at Junior 1 camp and Tot Lot! The weather was beautiful with just a few well-timed thunderstorms. At Big Camp, kids enjoyed a full week of camp activities, including boating, pool and lake swimming, making s’mores, shooting sling-shots, trail hikes, fishing, and crafts. The boys of Pin Oak Left were particularly excited when they were able to go out with Rec staff in one of the new Dragon boats (canoes that can hold a whole cabin-load of kids at one time). The Friday-night carnival was also a big hit with face painting, bounce house, sack races, disc golf, dunk-your-counselors tank, dance-offs and bean bag tosses. The counselors have spent the week building relationships with the kids as they walk through each days’ activities with them, eating meals together, leading them in devotions and praying with them before bed.      

 

At Tot Lot, the children have been loved by a team of “Big Sibs,” who pour into the children to provide for physical needs, while prayerfully and empathetically caring for emotional and spiritual needs. A memorable time at Tot Lot was the much-anticipated mid-week, very special, tea party that celebrates the unique traits that God has instilled in the hearts of his sons and daughters. The girls were taken inside where they sat upon a purple “royal” tapestry and drank their tea (Kool Aid) out of fancy glass teacups. They were fitted with flowing princess hats and listened to a story about God’s big love and incredible purposes for them as daughters of the Most-High King. The boys’ tea time looked starkly different as they embraced “roughing it” outside, but they too learned about God’s plan and purpose for them as royalty and mighty warriors in the Kingdom of God. They were cloaked in heroic capes and sent charging forth with their (bubble) swords raised high.

 

 

At both Big Camp and Tot Lot, everything is about changing lives through introducing kids to Christ. One girl camper at Junior 1 camp this week asked her counselor to pray with her to invite Jesus into her heart. Just as they started praying the girl suddenly called out in alarm to stop. “Wait!” she interjected. “I can’t invite Jesus into my heart yet because it is all dirty!” The girl then asked Jesus to forgive her to make her heart clean and then invited him to live there. In one of the boy cabins this week, a camper who had a lot of behavior problems and had previously treated many of the other campers badly, prayed to accept Christ during devotions on Friday night. After that, on his own initiation, he apologized to the other boys for bullying them, mentioning with tears in his eyes specific instances for which he was sorry.

 

Chapel time is a huge part of teaching kids about Christ, but camp staff does everything they can to weave the story of Christ into every part of the day, whether it be crafts, nature walks, or just daily interactions between the kids learning how to “represent” Christ, as is our theme for camp this year, and be like Christ as we live a life of love.

 

 

 

Media Release:   February 3, 2017



Super Bowl Sunday Brings Fellowship and Fun to City Union Mission
Homeless Guests and Program Participants

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—On Sunday, February 5, City Union Mission will host a special viewing of the Super Bowl game for an estimated 250 guests in their men’s emergency shelter for guests and participants of their long-term Christian Life Program.  The event will take place in the dining room at City Union Mission’s Men’s Center at 5:30 p.m.

“So many of us are looking forward to the big game with anticipation and excitement—especially the men in our care,” shares City Union Mission Executive Director Dan Doty.  “The majority of those staying with us struggle with difficult life situations and something as simple as watching a football game can lift spirits and bring a sense of normalcy to their lives.  It’s also a time for our men to relax and enjoy each other’s company as they cheer on their favorite team.”

Mission residents and guests will enjoy dinner in the Men’s Center dining room followed by the viewing of the Super Bowl game.  Additional refreshments including candy, chips, soda and other snacks will be provided by Graceway church.  During halftime, the men will watch “Football Sunday”, a 30-minute video event that plays across America on the day of the football championship and features exclusive interviews with professional football players like Benjamin Watson, Anquan Boldin, and Brandon Marshall as they share how Christ has helped them be overcomers.

 “We are grateful for the support of Graceway and our donors who generously give so that our men can experience special nights like this,” Doty said. 

More information about the Mission’s comprehensive programs and services to the homeless and hurting can be found at cityunionmission.org.


City Union Mission is an evangelical Christian ministry committed to sharing the Gospel and meeting
the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of men, women and children who are poor or homeless.

City Union Mission.  Your City.  Your Mission.

 

Media Release:   January 27, 2017



City Union Mission Requests Final Push to Meet $6 Million Campaign Goal

 “I have every ounce of faith in God and this community that we’ll close the gap before the campaign deadline on January 31.  What happens in the next few days will impact our ability to serve our neighbors throughout the year.”  —Executive Director Dan Doty. 

 KANSAS CITY, Mo.—With only four days left before the close of their biggest fundraiser of the year, City Union Mission officials are asking the community to be extra generous with their financial support.  The Mission’s 2017 CELEBRATE HOPE; Reach Out to K.C.’s Poor and Homeless campaign began October 1 with a goal of raising $6 million in a four-month period ending Tuesday, January 31.  As of today, the Mission has secured 92 percent of its goal – leaving close to $460,000 yet to come in.

The campaign seeks to raise a significant portion of the Mission’s annual operating budget to ensure the organization is prepared to care for the needs of Kansas City’s homeless and less fortunate in the winter months and throughout the year.

 Contributions are used to provide basic necessities including food, shelter, clothing and medical services—along with counseling and long-term recovery programs, career-development and job-placement assistance—to hundreds of men, women and children each day who are battling addiction, have fallen on hard times or are victims of generational poverty.

Doty explains the community’s generosity and partnership are also especially important right now as the Mission seeks to expand their services.  “As we grow our bed capacity and programs to care for homeless men struggling with aging, disability or mental illness through the opening of our L. Minor Care Center, we anticipate an increase in our daily operational expenses,” he said.  “Proceeds from this campaign will help fund our expansion efforts in addition to supporting our existing recovery and outreach services and programs.”

Doty hopes that as Mission friends and partners become involved in activities of the new year, the needs of their hurting neighbors won’t take a back seat. “I have every ounce of faith in God and this community that we’ll close the gap before the campaign deadline on January 31.  What happens in the next few days will impact our ability to serve our neighbors throughout the year.”

Those who would like to contribute toward the 2017 CELEBRATE HOPE: Reach Out to K.C.’s Poor and Homeless campaign can do so 24-hours a day at cityunionmission.org, where additional information on the Mission’s programs and services can also be found.


City Union Mission is an evangelical Christian ministry committed to sharing the Gospel
and meeting the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of men,
women and children who are poor or homeless.

It was a good week at camp.  Not always easy, and certainly hot, but definitely good.

Tot Lot campers enjoyed a princess tea party (girls) and a heroic quest (boys), a carnival with prizes, and jumping into the swimming pool…gasp!…with their clothes on!  They also basked in the love of the caring staff for a week.

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Big Camp kids enjoyed the wide range of activities that were offered for them.  Male counselors were definitely targets in the swimming pool, with hordes of campers trying to take them below the surface, usually unsuccessfully.  Girls and boys alike showed their diving skills with flair.  At the lake, there was boating, the trampoline, and of course, the battle barge.  Some kids camped overnight in tents by the lake – girls one night, and boys the next.

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Finally, we know of at least one young man who gave his life to Jesus Christ at camp.  Praise God for this victory by His Holy Spirit speaking through the teacher, the counseling staff, and all the others who poured out love on these great kids all week!

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(Submitted by Stan Rice, Camp Journalist)

It’s a good thing God has plans that we don’t know about! We started the week of Pre-teen 1 short staffed especially in the kitchen and on craft staff. Many have pitched in and filled the gaps and gone above and beyond their job descriptions! The unity of our staff at Big Camp and Tot Lot has clearly been God ordained.

Tot Lot 2 has provided the opportunity to lavish extra love on the fourteen little campers there this week. The smiles and excitement at all the new activities was contagious and the staff joined in with abandon!

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The weather was a factor with rain on many mornings and steamy sunshine in the afternoon. Activities at the lake and swimming pool were definitely the highlights. The new path through the woods to the lake is incredibly peaceful and more importantly a lot less steep for our campers to navigate.

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IMG_3894The Big Camp campers enjoyed learning and rehearsing their skit in chapel each night. At the conclusion of Thursday night’s action, they didn’t want it to end. They started chanting, “Skit, skit, skit!!”

 

On Wednesday night during devotions, a girls cabin started with aIMG_4024 discussion about heaven. A camper asked how she could become a Christian. The counselor shared the ABC gospel booklet. The camper asked if the counselor would say the prayer for her. The counselor explained it has to be an individual decision and personal prayer. She guided the campers through a prayer and six girls are new baby believers! The next day there were issues in the cabin (because Satan wouldn’t leave them alone) but they are still asking questions and our God will never leave them or forsake them!

 

(Blog post submitted by Nancy Todd, Camp Journalist)      

Road Trip!  When I think of summer, one of the things I think about is rolling down the road in my car with the windows down, listening to some music, and enjoying the journey as mile marker signs pass by. Whether it’s a short journey or a long one, no doubt, I love a good summer time road trip. This was a fitting theme brought to us by some great friends at Green Acres Baptist Church Youth Ministries from Tyler, Texas. This group of friends has spent a week with us for several years of City Camp and we welcome their enthusiasm, energy, and fellowship as they serve here in Kansas City. In addition to our normal City Camp activities of crafts, devotions, and recreation, Tuesday night Green Acres hosted a neighborhood carnival in our parking lot full of games, activities, and hot dogs for local children and their families. A great time was had by all. Our Texas friends treated us to a great field trip, and some awesome laser tag at Jaegers.

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Our key verse for the week was Romans 8:39 “…nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Much like a road trip, life is a journey. Hopefully, it’s a journey toward God and with God.

On a road trip, inevitably one is going to encounter some obstacles in the road – traffic, potholes, and in my experience growing up in Ohio – seemingly endless miles of road construction punctuated by bright orange barrels that restrict efficient travel to seemingly any and every destination. The same is true in life, where we encounter trouble in the form of day to day concerns, getting caught up in the gridlock of our busyness, or those outside forces that keep us from getting where we think we need to go quickly.

On a road trip there is always the matter of which way to go. Do I take the interstate or maybe traverse the state routes? Who is going to help me make sure I’m on the right road? The same is true in life, we have many options, that may seem good, but how can we know for sure? Who is going to help us figure it out? Fortunately, for those who know Christ as Savior we have the ultimate help in navigating the paths of life. We have a road map called the Bible that can teach us the best routes to take. We also have the promise of a constant Helper, the Holy Spirit that is better than any 24 hour roadside assistance service could hope to be.

Our students learned this week about journeying with God through this life. Our hope is that you too are making that journey with Him. We can certainly choose to road trip it alone, but we can also choose to journey with others. We can choose to reject Christ as well, but  there is no better way to travel, no better navigator, and no better companion than to journey through life with Jesus Christ, Savior and Friend. It’s a journey worth taking, and the ultimate destination is one that lasts for all eternity.

 

(Blog submitted by Scott Wilson – Youth Activities Administrator)

The theme for week 4 of City Camp took us to National Parks. We explored through our education and reading time some really interesting things about the great outdoors. We learned about sled dogs and how they work together in teams under harsh conditions and perform in unison to do amazing things. We also got to try that out in one of the craziest gym games we’ve ever done, where teams of students pulled another student on some flexible mats across our gym floor in “sled dog racing” style. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen our students have so much fun and laugh so hard during a gym activity. You know they are having fun when they literally cannot pull their sled because they are laughing so hard! Another great activity was building volcanoes and how they interact with glaciers, like at Mt. Rainier. Our students worked in teams to build volcanoes, and then covered them with ice cream and then observed what happened when they erupted. One huge mess and a lot of fun learning make for a winner of an activity!

We were thankful for the opportunity to visit Antioch Urban Growers where we learned about all sorts of container gardening, bees, and more.  We also had some very special guests – Carl and Andrea Stafford of Speaking It Real who came and did a 2-day communication workshop with our high school students. Carl is an engaging speaker who connected with our students through his own story and through the practical, on-point tips about meaningful communication.

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Of course, as we think about the beauty we can see in our National Parks and in our world, we cannot help but think of the God who created it. Our key verse this week was Romans 1:20 “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”IMG_0626IMG_0633IMG_0647 

 

      IMG_2095Our whole team agrees that when we look at creation we cannot help but see the hand of God who created majestic beauty, awe inspiring mountains, impeccable sunrises, stars that shine forth in the night, all to point us towards him. We also cannot help but recognize that as beautiful as our world is, it is also marred by sin, imperfect, broken, and often chaotic. Creation cries out that there is a God. That same God who created all the beauty we can see, also created us and longs to have a relationship with us. The Creator of the Universe wants to know us! However, as we can observe in our world imperfections, brokenness, and chaos – we can also look at our hearts and see the same. We are marred by sin, separated from God. But God sent His Son to enter into this broken sin cursed world, to take sin on Himself, dying for us, and 3 days later resurrected to life eternal. To know God, we must act in faith, and trust in Jesus death on the cross for our sins to have that right relationship with God. This message was shared with our students throughout the week in our devotional times and at the end of the week when one of our staff members was able to share about her personal journey to knowing God. 

 

(Blog post submitted by Scott Wilson – Youth Activities Administrator)

Sometimes, you just need a break from the normal routine.  ‘This and That Week’ was a breath of fresh air in the midst of the summer.  Normally our campers go through rotations of reading, devotions, recreation and a team time every morning. Afternoons are also scheduled out and full of routine.  But, this week, we decided to step back and take a break from the normal.    

Our campers went by crew to the Central Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.  We also enjoyed a hot afternoon at Deanna Rose Farmstead where feeding the goats and playing in the water thrilled our children.  We had water games outside with crew to crew competitions.  Devotions consisted of music themed hooks and the gospel being preached.  If you haven’t listened to ‘Flame, Start Over’, you should!  

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Week three was fun, crazy, different, and a much needed chance for our crew leaders to step back and enjoy their campers through fun activities.  Crew leaders were able to play games alongside their students while engaging them in conversations that lead to a deeper understanding and relationship between the kids and the interns/staff.  Large game battle ship, water games, crew to crew competitions and some fun large group games filled the week with exciting times! 

     We ended the week at Concourse Park, sliding down the large slides, playing in the fountains, and having an all-around good time!IMG_0488IMG_1782IMG_0430

 

(Blog post submitted by Stephanie Ryherd – VYC Assistant Administrator)

shutterstock_208800748Today was anything but easy. My to do list is longer now than I have time for in the next week. Our kids were on the wild side. They behaved poorly. They hurt others. They hurt us. If I’m honest, it just wasn’t our best day ever. And if you saw our weary faces, saw the effects of a rough and tumble day, heard the stories of our kids, you’d probably wonder “Why do this”? You might ask, “Is it worth it?” Are these kids worth it? And honestly, sometimes we might be left asking ourselves the same thing.

Many interns and staff walked away from kids disheartened and discouraged. And after today, who could blame them? Because today we faced the physical, mental and emotional realities of the broken world we live in. We faced the hard hearts of our campers. We saw and felt the pains of a world that is wasting away, living out the effects of a forgotten city and forgotten children.  The devastating realities of sin robbed us of our smiles as we fell into places that tried our patience time and time again.

But when I look back at what happened, God continues to remind me of a few brutal truths. Today, we talked about the word relentless. We discussed how our God is in relentless passionate pursuit of us. When we fail, when we break God’s rules, when we don’t live up to the standard set for us, He is there. Chasing. Patiently, lovingly, relentlessly calling us to His truth. The truth is, when it comes to my walk with God, I am often no better than our campers on their worst days. I disobey. I run. I hurt the people that my God created. And yet, the relentless and faithful God that is working to change me, is using me to step into dark, ugly places to speak truth and to point others to Him.

18 jockeyyI am continually reminded that on some of our toughest days, the Gospel shines forth the most. On toughest days, we get to share patience with our campers and we get to point our campers to a God who is far more patient than we will ever be. We get to live out forgiveness to our campers. We get to share the gospel with campers who just lose their cool in unspeakable ways. We get to be real with all of City Camp in memory verse challenge and own that today was just not up to par. And then, we get to sit with 85 campers that have been beyond a mess and share the story of a God and His unthinkable plan to rescue this mess that is the human race.

In the midst of all the trying moments of today, hope can be found. You see, in spite of the fighting, the disappointment, the ugly words and the exhaustion, hope exists because Christ made it so. We get to be messengers of such hope! 

10 smileThere is joy in listening to crew leaders share the word of God with students. Joy in speaking truth to 85 campers who desperately need Him. Joy in having a rough day that forces us to rely on God’s strength rather than our own. Joy in hearing the stories of teens that we know are very connected to the street life being convicted by God’s word. Joy in watching interns care and pray for one another. Joy in a God who promises this is not the end of the story. Joy in the cross. Joy in the resurrection. And joy in the reality that God is sovereign over all.

I heard the Gospel shared more today than any other day this summer. And so, when I start to ask why, I can confidently say it is because Christ is in control. He reigns. And he cares…about messy campers…about messy interns…and about messy me. And He is relentless in His love, and abundantly gracious in His forgiveness. That, yes that, is why we do this. These kids are more than worth it!

 

 

(Blog post submitted by Stephanie Hindman, VYC Assistant Administrator)

 

2016 City Camp Wk 1:  Monster Rally

This year, we kicked off City Camp by rallying all our little monsters for a fun filled week of devotions, crafts, fun games, reading, swimming and a trip to Concourse Park. 

City Camp wk 1 (5)During devotions we learned that there is a monster in disguise (Satan) who wants to lure us away from the truth.  God’s great love for us and His sacrifice on our behalf is the only thing that can truly satisfy us, which lead to how David conquered His monster (giant) by trusting in the Lord.  Day three devotions were all about how Goliath did not win and neither will Satan.  The monster is up against a great, powerful and loving God against which it cannot and will not win because Jesus secured the victory through his death on the cross!  On Friday, we took a little different spin on the monster theme and dug into the truth that without Christ living in side us, we are letting our monstrous flesh rule and reign over our decisions.  And, if we are trusting in Christ, we talked about recognizing that we are a new creation, but the monster in us (our old self) sometimes wants to rear its ugly head. 

Reading activities were fun and engaging opportunities for campers to learn about point of view and to enhance their letter writing skills.  It also opened the door for conversations about fears and gossip.  While team time allowed for the students to make the crew leaders a monstrous mess!  The campers had so much fun cheering on their favorite crew leader in the pool noodle soda pop competition, which is a battle of the strongest lungs!  The loser ends up with a face full of orange soda! YUCK! J

 As it is every year, our students’ favorite time of day is swim time!  We cannot say thank you enough to the North Platte Community Center who has taken on all of our campers and crew leaders this year!   They provide swimming lessons and free swim to our students and their generosity is beyond amazing!  Thanks to Ms. Erin and Ms. Alicia who organize and schedule all of our swim times and whom have gone above and beyond to help us out!

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Camp CUMCITO – Week 6 – Teen Boys

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The first things the boys participated in at camp were skilled activities such as archery, fire building, canoeing and craftsmanship, followed by a time to cool off in the pool where the dunking wars started! After dinner the boys were refueled to tackle rock climbing, basketball and the infamous egg war! They all needed to head to the showers to get cleaned up before chapel, where they dug into the power of Christ and how he can take away our sins!

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One afternoon the boys had a lot more freedom to do what they wanted. Some of them worked on new crafts like tie-dying some shirt, while others swam in the pool. However, the biggest group of teens was on the basketball court challenging the staff! They have yet to beat us but they get really close every time! collage at archery & fireWhen evening rolled around, many of the boys went down to the lake for boating and fishing. They caught some really nice fish and a great time. In chapel that evening the boys got to experience communion and it was really cool to see them participate in that.

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Camp CUMCITO – Week 5 – Junior2

DSC_9371-smAt camp a staff member was asked to sit with a small girl that was having behavior problems in the chapel service. The camper squirmed in the pew, sliding all the way down where she couldn’t even see the teacher at the front. The volunteer tried to encourage the camper to sit up and listen, but the camper just stared at her indifferently. Then the program came to a part in a skit when a huge box lit up in the back of the chapel. The chapel teacher pretended that the box was a time machine and that she was using it to attempt to bring Peter to our time from Bible times to tell the kids about his firsthand experience with Jesus. The kids whispered excitedly as a man dressed in Bible-time clothes came out of the box.

The squirming girl in the back pew hadn’t listened to the explanation, but she bolted upright when she saw the man come out of the box. “Is that the REAL Jesus?” she whispered to the staff member beside her. The staff member explained that it was just a man in a play pretending to be Peter from Bible times to tell us about Jesus. Not only did the girl sit up and forget her bad attitude, but she stood up to be able to see better and her eyes never left “Peter” as he spoke about Jesus and his love.

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The chapel staff uses many different teaching methods, including puppet shows, object lessons and skits in order to get kids’ attention and help the kids understand about Bible truths. The truth focused on in this lesson was that Jesus loves us no matter what, even when we do things wrong. And thanks to a pretend time machine and a volunteer dressed in a robe and beard, a little girl that was determined not to pay attention, heard that message loud and clear.

The new rotating schedule at camp guarantees that each child has the opportunity to experience all the different camp activities, to include pool and water games, the climbing wall, s’mores campfire, sling shot shooting range, forest exploration, lake trampoline, swimming and boating. Camp CUMCITO is often the only place these kids have the opportunity to do these types of activities. This aligns with Camp CUMCITO’s desire to encourage kids to try new things and explore lots of different camp activities,

100_3725-smThe kids at Tot Lot really enjoyed the pony rides in the mornings. Oreo, the black and white pony, takes the kids one at a time for ride around the yard. Many of the kids have huge smiles when they sit up on the pony for the first time. The playground provides the children with swings, a merry-go-round and a train and boat to climb on with their camp friends. Of course swim time is always a favorite, especially on the hot, steamy days. And after nap time each day they participate in an afternoon “Tea Party”.

Camp CUMCITO – Week 4 – PreTeen2

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This was the 2nd Pre-Teen camp this summer, and although the kids get a little bit more tired, there is also an excitement in the air – it’s almost time for the carnival! There have been a lot of friendships formed and friendships strengthened, and knowing camp is coming to a close is bittersweet for many.

Earlier in the week one of our boy cabins was having many problems. On Tuesday night they headed to the lake to fish. All the fish were biting and this group of boys, who hadn’t been getting along, were now encouraging and cooperating with each other.

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Camp CUMCITO – Tornado! – A Camp Volunteer Reflection

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We knew a storm was headed our way last Wednesday, what is now a night for the camp history books. Staff were watching the radar and following the weather alerts so we would be ready. The decision was made to start chapel early so everyone would be inside. It ended up being a great chapel time. Campers viewed photos of themselves taken earlier in the week, sang songs at the top of their lungs, watched the skit (with audible frustration when the scene ended with a cliffhanger to be continued the next night), and listened in silence to the teaching. The chapel teacher shared the gospel story, telling the campers about the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins, providing the only way for us to reach God.

After chapel, the skies were cloudy, but with no rain, we got everyone to their showers and then back to cabins to start devotions.

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It will be a long time before any of us forget that night.

We got word of the tornado warning for our county. Cabin by cabin, campers were guided through blinding rain to the safety of the chapel basement. In a short period of time, everyone at camp was accounted for in one of two basements on the campground.

Campers and staff held hands in a huge circle and prayed to God for safety and to calm our fears. We started singing camp songs together, while counselors comforted their campers. In time, the singing turned more joyful.

While the tornado warning lasted, Cabins grouped together to pray and finish their devotion time, and then a movie was put on before we were able to send everyone safely back to their cabins to sleep, thanking God for keeping us safe that night. We found out later that one camper accepted Christ as his Savior during devotions before the storm, for which we also give thanks.

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(Submitted by Janice Seagraves, Camp staff volunteer)

City Camp Update! – Week 3

Game Show Week:  Thank You Jesus For Our Sins…

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The only price that is right is the one that Jesus paid on the cross.  That is true yesterday today and tomorrow.  When it comes to City Camp, that’s the message that we hope our campers hear day in and day out.  That’s also the message that we hope we hear from God day in and day out because it is a message that is stocked with truth.

This week at City Camp, our activities were centered around various game shows.  I could tell you about education through play Jeopardy, or fun times competing in Minute to Win It Challenges.  I could tell you about laughter during gym time. Teams playing The Price is Right Tag or Family Feud themed recreational games.  I could tell you about swimming at the YMCA and Sherwood Bible Church.

I could tell you lots of heartwarming stories of kids growing together, struggling together, and learning together, but I won’t. I’ll tell you how every morning, at 8:45, we have opening meeting in the gym.  Our kids sit with their crews and listen to the rules.  They hear important information from the day.  Then, one of them or a crew leader prays for our day.  Normally, the students say a prayerMarkili Leavy-Blue Crew-Minute To Win It asking for us to have a good day and thanking God for their mommas and their crew leaders.  It’s heartwarming to hear our toughest campers break down their requests to God for their friends, crews and families in front of everyone.

So, when I asked a Blue Crew camper to pray and he started off ‘Dear Jesus, thank you for our sins…’  you can imagine my shock.  As I listened to the snickers of students who caught on to the beginning of this prayer, many thoughts crossed my mind.

Thank you for our sins… maybe not the best way to start a prayer.

Thank you for our sins… should we really be thankful for those?

Thank you for our sins… this kids never gonna live that one down.

Thank you for our sins… Good thing Christ is our mediator.

Thank you for our sins… Oh boy… maybe I should explain to him why this isn’t how we start our prayers.

Thank you for our sins… Really!?  I’m not grateful for mine.

Thank you for our sins… Remember not to let him pray again.

Thank you for our sins… He didn’t really mean that.

Thank you for our sins… I’m glad only a few kids heard that statement.

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And then,  City Camp was up and running and all my thoughts were left in the gym until the next day.  ‘Can I get a volunteer from the Blue Crew to pray for us today?’  I asked.  Immediately a hand shot into the air and I called out the name.  The boy stood up front and began to pray, ‘Dear Jesus, thank you for our sins…’ Snickers arose from various corners of the gym.  And my thoughts started up again…

Thank you for our sins… AGAIN!?

Thank you for our sins… Why did I ask the same kid to pray?

Thank you for our sins… How did I forget that he prayed yesterday?

Thank you for our sins… Good thing Christ is our mediator.

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On and on went the thoughts.  They didn’t stop with City Camp, but continued late into the evening.  And that’s when I realized, while I’m not grateful for my sins, my sins are the thing that point me to my need for rescue.  My sins reveal God’s grace.  My sins reveal my need for Him.  My sins reveal my failure to be able to handle life without Him.  My sins reveal His goodness to me.  My sins remind me that I have a Savior that speaks on my behalf.  While I am not grateful for my sins, I thank God that the law exists to point me to my need for Christ.

“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24) I am not justified by doing what is right, but by trusting that the right price was paid at the right time.  Jesus died on the Cross to fix the feud that I was having with God.  He is the mediator who stands in my place.  So I can thank God that my sins exist to point me to Him.  And I can thank Him that He covered my sins on the Cross.

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  That’s the story we live to tell our campers.  And that’s what we hope you will pray for as you pray for City Camp this summer.  We have a Savior who speaks on our behalf, and who paid the right price to set us free from all our sins.  His love never fails. Through Jesus’ death, the price was right to end the family feud that exists between us and our creator.

Camp CUMCITO – Week 2 – PreTeen1

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At Pre-Teen camp, our purpose statement is: To guide campers through rites of passage as they grapple with their personal ownership of decisions (sin, forgiveness, salvation, character, behavior, etc.) and their understanding of how God values people, affecting the value we place on others and ourselves and affecting our interpersonal interaction. (Appropriate male/female relationships, etc.)

One way we address that is by having a special chapel session where we separate the boys and girls for gender-specific conversations.

Mr. Brett, the teacher for the week, gathered the boys at the front of the chapel and talked to them about the lies they hear about what it means to be a man, and how Jesus shows us what love looks like through His sacrificial love. They don’t have to be the man, but they can rely on Jesus and show His sacrificial love to the people around them.

Miss Angie, one of our chapel assistants, sat in a circle with the girls in another room, and they talked about how they are a valuable masterpiece that God has created. She encouraged the girls to protect God’s masterpiece by not allowing boys to get smudges and fingerprints all over His painting. To know that a boyfriend won’t make them feel loved and valuable, but that they are loved and valued by God.

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Mission founder’s granddaughter, Beth Liebling, reads to the little campers at Tot Lot.

The Tot Lot purpose statement is: Under God’s authority, to weave the truth and love of Christ into all camper experiences so that each child has wonderful memories – spiritually, physically, mentally, socially, or materially – and attaches all to Jesus Christ.

In the evenings at Tot Lot, after the tots shower and brush their teeth, they go to Twilight Hour. During Twilight Hour, they are learning about the Good Shepherd through the adventures of Snowflake, the lamb puppet. The children called Snowflake’s name and “baa”ed with him when he wandered away and got lost. They were so happy to hear that the Good Shepherd searched for and found His lost lamb. They are learning that God, the Good Shepherd, will help them to obey and be good boys and girls.

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At the end of the story, the tots sing a Goodnight Song, and then each Big Sibling prays with his or her children, in groups of three or four. After their prayer, they go to the dorms to get tucked into bed, often with a staff member singing a quiet song to help them fall asleep.

Camp CUMCITO – A Visitor – A Camp Volunteer Reflection

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My husband and I have volunteered at Camp CUMCITO for a number of years. We always leave camp talking excitedly about the next year, even as we replay some of the hard or funny aspects of the week together. In looking forward to this summer, I was anticipating building on relationships that had begun last summer.

Monday afternoon, a truck towing a camper pulled into camp, with a very precious visitor. A couple, who live in California, happened to be visiting friends and family in Missouri and their destination took them down the highway by camp. Seeing the sign for Camp CUMCITO, the wife insisted that her husband turn in.

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You see, in the 1960’s, this woman was a camper at Camp CUMCITO. She attended for 3 summers, when she was 10 to12 years old, the very ages of this week’s campers. Her family moved away from the Kansas City area after that and she never knew where camp was until yesterday when they drove by. She relayed to the camp administrator how much camp meant to her as a child and how much of an impact it had on her, something she still remembers nearly 50 years later.

I had tears in my eyes when I heard about her visit, and I have tears again as I type this. We may think our volunteering doesn’t have an impact on a camper, but the culmination of every person on staff here working together is creating lasting memories on our camper’s hearts.

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You may think your donation to Camp CUMCITO or City Union Mission is trifling and not going to change anyone’s life, but the combining of everyone’s generosity has made and continues to make lasting impacts on individuals and families and in Kansas City.

The motto at Camp CUMCITO is, “An Opportunity for a Changed Life.” The work we do today will result in lives changed for God’s glory even 50 years from now.

(Submitted by Tom and Janice Seagraves, Camp staff volunteers)

City Camp Update! — Week 1

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If you asked our campers what they like most about City Camp, many would say swimming, some would say recreation time, others might say meal time, and some might say devotions. All of these are important elements to our City Camp and to our campers. The kickoff week of City Camp was ‘Survivor Week’, taking nearly 70 campers through “Survivor” themed games, activities, and education. In education time, we learned about men and women who overcame incredible circumstances to survive the elements, difficult places or situations, against all odds. We also did some surviving of our own, since a number of outdoor activities were scuttled by the epic rainfall in Kansas City this past week! We still managed to get some swimming in, thanks to our friends at Platte County YMCA and Sherwood Bible Church. We also were able to take some of our younger campers to Kaleidoscope & Crown Center, while our older campers took in a photo scavenger hunt.

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Our theme verse of the week was Daniel 6:21-22, which says “Then Daniel, said to the king, ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also you, O king, I have done no harm”. It’s fitting to have this verse as our theme, speaking of the prophet Daniel, who survived a den of lions. Daniel, while not a perfect man, lived blameless, or righteously before God. What a prayer for all our campers, that they would desire to be blameless before God! Even more, we want our campers to know how to be a survivor spiritually. This week and in the coming weeks as well we spent some time talking about the truth of the Gospel, and how Jesus is the ultimate survivor. Dying for the sins of the whole world, 3 days later He miraculously rose from the grave conquering sin and death. It is our sincere hope and desire that all our campers would come to know this truth and how Jesus offers us hope beyond this life. That is a survival story!

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We also ate some yummy meals like Chicken Fingers and Meatball Subs thanks to our partnership with Harvesters Kids Cafe. Our staff and interns and our campers enjoyed getting to know one another and settling into our crews for the next 9 weeks. Our campers met up with old friends, and made some new ones also. All in all a great first week, and we look forward to what the rest of the summer holds.

From the Heart of the Homeless – My Mission Journey

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In 2010 I lost my job as a result of a back problem that was causing me to miss a lot of work. My finances went from good to bad and I lost all of my own property and my place to live. I made the decision to go to City Union Mission to figure out what to do. I had successfully got back on my feet at the Mission in the early 90’s and hoped that would be the case again. After being homeless for six months, I began to desire a way to do something besides just stand in line to eat.

The programs offered at the Mission got my interest and I got myself in the Meeting Jesus Ministries (MJM) where, for the first time in twenty years I started studying the word of God. I completed MJM twice in the next two years. The feeling of self-worth started getting stronger and I made the decision to join the Christian Life Program (CLP). I started putting the pieces back together and began understanding that God’s love is what I needed to heal my soul.

I never received a high school diploma and at the Mission’s Learning Center, thanks to Joyce and the team of volunteers, and especially God, I was able to pass the high school equivalency tests with a total score of 78, making me eligible for a 2-year scholarship to college. I am scheduled to graduate the CLP in Warsaw sometime in the spring of 2015.

I thank God for what He has done in my life and I thank City Union Mission for all they have done serving God and helping me.    —   Charles

What kind of believer are you?In this world where everyone does what is right in his/her own eyes, how are we supposed to live? Do we live by our standards? Do we live by the world’s standards? Do our standards and the world’s match each other? Do we live by biblical standards? Are we driven by the culture in which we grew up? Do we hold on to prejudices? Do we see people differently according to their wealth or poverty? What kind of believer are you? Christ calls each of us to follow him, and he calls us to obey him–unconditionally and without question–which makes it an absolute necessity to do so–there is no room or margin or interpretation on what Christ means. Here are just a few really important commands: Love one another. Forgive one another. Serve one another. Love your enemies. Look at John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” How did Christ love those he taught and met? Did he love one race over another? Did he show partiality to the Pharisees over the common man? What he did, was consistent across the board. Those who came to him received an unconditional love in spite of the way they looked, acted, or talked. His response always was in keeping with God’s will and His truth. Where he needed to admonish (correct), he did. Where he needed to show mercy and compassion, he did. Where he needed to teach and train, he did. He did it without regard to who was in the audience. He loved with a love that is unconditional and without partiality. James 2:1-7 says it this way:  My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? Overall, it is easy to love those who are like us in thought, word, and deed, but it is much harder to love someone who is different–different in dress, in actions, in wealth or poverty, in circumstances, and in understanding. But God says–no partiality. So, here is your challenge…If you are showing partiality to different people, then you need to fix it. You cannot allow yourself to favor one over another. That means all are treated with dignity and respect. All are held to the same standards. All are loved, whether they are loveable or not. We need to hold ourselves to the highest standard–that is Christ and his commands. That is compassionate accountability. If you find yourself getting irritated with those whom we are serving, ask yourself is it because you find you do not like them (remember, we are called to love them)? Is it a standard you have set for those you are serving, with an expectation for them to meet your standard, in order to receive your good graces? Put into action Christ’s command–Love one another…love your enemy…these are not choices… these are commandments, requirements, have to do, no margin for misinterpretation. We give grace where it is due. We show mercy as God showed us mercy. We serve the people with a high standard, and we teach with love, mercy, hope and grace …no partiality. (Submitted by Cord Cochran, Director of Men’s Ministries at City Union Mission)Most of the time when people think of City Union Mission they think of providing meals and shelter for the Kansas City homeless. Well, I’m here to set the record straight, the Mission is indeed ‘More Than A Soup Kitchen’. It’s hard to understand a rescue mission when you aren’t clear on what all it does. City Union Mission is no ordinary rescueAshley mission; they are a resource for God to not only take care of His people, but guide them in the way of salvation and freedom. Of course the Mission does provide shelter and food to those guests that walk through its doors, but that’s not all, there’s so much more! As an intern, I’ve had the privilege of seeing firsthand the great things this particular rescue mission is doing for God’s people in Kansas City, and I get to be a part of it! I figured I’d tell you about just a few of them including: Camp CUMCITO (City Union Mission’s Camp In The Ozarks), Tot Lot, City Camp, the Christian Life Program (CLP) and the New Life Program (NLP). I recently wrote a post on my experience when I visited Camp CUMCITO a few weeks ago. The camp loca ted in Warsaw, Missouri, is open 6 weeks each summer for impoverished children from the Kansas City area. Each age group, from 6-16 years old, gets to attend a full week of camp! The campers experience God in nature, and learn many new skills while there, such as swim lessons, archery, and throwing a frisbee. It’s aTuesday - Pre-Teen (2) great place for the campers to forge new friendships, learn about God and develop a relationship with him. Tot Lot, across the road from Camp CUMCITO, is a camp for youngsters ages 4-6 years old. I watched as the campers rode horses, learned about the days of the world’s creation and worked on craft projects reflecting the knowledge they had just learned. It’s refreshing to see children exploring and excited when it comes to learning. The Mission also has a day camp in the city, appropriately named ‘City Camp’. This is a summer long camp is for the children in the Mission’s Family Shelter and neighborhoods surrounding the Mission. The campers gain applicable knowledge through Bible stories. For example, one week the theme was ‘Heroes’ and they learned about heroes of the world such as firefighters and police officers, and heroes of the Bible such as King David. Of course they also talked about the ultimate hero — Jesus Christ. There arDSCN1745-be two long-term recovery program available at the Mission for clients that desire to get their lives back on track in order to live a successful life outside of the Mission — the Christian Life Program (CLP) and the New Life Program (NLP). The CLP is a 12 to 14 month program specifically for men; while the NLP is a 5 to 7 month program for families and single womenDSC_0020. In our emergency shelters, guests have classes available to them, but it is in the long-term program where they can continue classes at an advanced level. These programs have helped hundreds of people get off the streets and live lives in concordance with God. Basically I’m saying City Union Mission offers more than just food and shelter to those who walk through the door, they offer hope and a new life. (Submitted by Ashley Gillihan, Development Department Intern at City Union Mission)Wed-Thurs - Pre-Teen (3)This past week at Camp CUMCITO, the campers partook in theirFriday - Pre-Teen (8) first and most popular activity, LUNCH! Then they got set-up in their cabins, were able to go swimming and just relax. After dinner was the ‘Great Race’, which is a competition between cabins that involves several fun activities. Outdoor activities included: swimming (lessons and free swim), kickball, football, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, archery, fishing, and a combination game of volleyball and basketball knockout. The girls and the guys each got a lake day as well, where they got to swim, boat, play on the lake trampoline and the battle barge.Wed-Thurs - Pre-Teen (10) Wed-Thurs - Pre-Teen (8)They also got to be creative with crafts as they tye-dyed t-shirts and created boats; and ended their evenings roasting marshmallows over the campfire. A few of the cabins even camped out overnight at the lake both nights. During Chapel the campers learned of God’s love for His people and the incredible value He places on them, not because they are worthy, but because He is. They also learned that even though we all sin, if we are in Christ, there is no need for fear, because fear is cast out by love. The theme of the week was summarized as the incredible value that God places on his people.Friday - Pre-Teen (15) Friday - Pre-Teen (9)There was a carnival the last evening of camp, where the kids rotated through stations doing different activities including: boat races (these were made during their craft time), a ball toss, blowing a Ping-Pong ball across a goal line, water races, dropping their counselors in the dunk tank, tossing a football through a tire, face painting, enjoying watermelon slices, relay races, throwing darts to pop balloons, a bean bag toss, and a hot dog supper. The last morning the campers attended an awards ceremony at Chapel where each child received an award for a character value they demonstrated during the week.Friday - Pre-Teen  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Camp CUMCITO (City Union Mission Camp In The LG-2014-Fav (9)Ozarks) in Warsaw, Missouri. In the beginning of my internship I learned all about the history of City Union Mission and how these 1,000 acres of land were originally purchased for Opportunity Farm. This extension of the Christian Life Program (CLP) was a way for men in the shelter to escape the distractions and temptations of the city in order to get their life back on track. Then in 1934 Camp CUCMITO was established and became an important part of the Mission. DC-2014-Fav (10)The children that visit Camp CUMCITO each summer get to have fun while learning new skills and meeting new people. I even watched as two staff members were teaching disc golf lessons to a group of children. Not only that, but they got to experience God in a way they may never have before, particularly if they have spent their entire lives in the city. These kids get an opportunity to experience the Lord through nature. In Psalm 24:1-2, the Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all LG-2014 (20)who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” As I walked the grounds of the camp all I could see was nature and beauty and God. This was a place for campers to find themselves and God in the quiet, peacefulness of nature. When we admire the world around us we can see God’s handiwork, and in a quiet place like camp, much clarity can be found. DC-2014-Fav (5)The campers are able to spend time with each other and the staff in a majestic place that allows them to experience the Lord in their own way. The Holy Spirit moves in ways we could never understand, and out there at camp it was moving in these kids; it was bursting out of them in everything they did, like that of a supernova exploding! It is similar to what the Bible says in John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help LG-2014-Fav (17)you and be with you forever;” and in John 14:26, “But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” The campers were experiencing this love and attention in massive amounts. They felt God with them, and for some of them it was the first time, and it was amazing!!! This beautiful wooded area was so much larger than the eye could see or the mind could comprehend, a similarity to that of God; a place that cannot be contained, but must be left open to explore. . . like their relationship with God. (Submitted by Ashley Gillihan, Development Department Intern at City Union Mission)            The girls arrived to camp at noon on Monday in very hot, muggy weather. IMG_1954 That night a storm raced in and blew away the lingering humidity and replaced it with a cool breeze. A wonderful analogy for what appears outwardly in the hearts of unwary teen girl campers! After the initial chaos of arrival, unsure faces were replaced with smiles, aloof body language relaxed and communication commenced between counselors and campers.  Seeing God’s little miracles of changed attitudes, softness between people and an air cleared by His love was one of the best parts of camp itself. Pictures were taken of girls conquering fears as they paddled canoes, pulled hooks from the mouths of blue gills and set up tents.  Triumphantly, several girls mastered their dread and touched the slimy surface of a fish for the first time and patiently, counselors instructed others to set-up tents.  Camp was a wonderful place for these ladies to learn these new skills, to try something out of character and become someone different.  In an isolated, sacred place; campers, counselors and staff alike put on different hats to try to explore the person God created them to be and to stretch their learning  curve until the thinness makes them want to hold fast to something unchanging….God Almighty. IMG_1970Ms. Kalie served the camp many ideas in chapel; with her passionate preaching, she challenged them to allow God to heal their wounds into scars, pointing out that scars are God’s way of using wounds to draw close to Him and to minister to others.  She also expressed that forgiveness is the step towards healing—an extremely difficult process.  Many girls seemed to begin the process of this journey by opening up.  After chapel, before the chaos of the “egg war,” there were many tears from girls touched by the chapel message. IMG_2246As camp finally entered a routine, it seemed unfair that the week was coming to a close. Walls around campers lowered slightly and everyone entered a comfort level with each other. The last day for teen girls at Camp CUMCITO was a relaxed day. Since so much had been stirred up in their hearts, it gave them time to reflect as well as prepare for the week’s end banquet and special chapel. It seemed they’d found a joy after wrestling with what had been placed before them while other ended the week still struggling, their faces unable to hide their battle. IMG_2327Most every girl at camp reveled in the process of dressing up for the banquet. Their beauty in preparing themselves for the feast, couldn’t help but remind the staff of the all the analogies of brides preparing for wedding feasts in the Bible—a comparison of the relationship between the church and Jesus.  The banquet and chapel at week’s end was a celebration of the girls, their scars, and the process of overcoming with a relationship with Jesus.    For some learning was expressed through a presentation oIMG_2341f a poem.  One of 16-year-old campers shared about her abuse and self-loathing and gave hope to younger campers. Others (who essentially graduated camp this summer), gave testimony and words of thanks for counselors and fellow campers who listened. The dance/drama team shared a moving number portraying Jesus setting captives free from their past. Other campers revealed their growth as well, not through words, but through actions. One camper who was struggling with development had her entire cabin rallying behind her for the entire week. They cheered her on and one of them even wrote her a letter from “Batman” and had it delivered at lunch, to her great delight.IMG_4971

Growing up in the middle-class suburbs of Arizona is a world away from the inner city of Kansas City. It is a culture of wannabe Californians, hipsters, long boards, tan skin and the stereotype that pools are in every backyard. After graduation I was blessed with the opportunity to go out of state to Kansas State University and Manhattan Christian College, where I majored in Public Relations, and Bible & Leadership; but God’s blessings didn’t stop there. I then was given the chance to intern in the Development Department for City Union Mission.

I always knew what homelessness was, it was sad and the pictures were hard to look at, but it was never real for me. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty of homelessness in Arizona, but from the front porch of my suburbs that wasn’t my view.

Then came my epiphany… now interning at the Mission I see homelessness for what it is, I see it firsthand. It’s no longer something that I’ve heard people go through, a problem for people in low-income areas or an intense photo taken in black and white to illicit more of the water works. Homelessness is REAL. It’s devastating and tragic and a mix of emotions that can’t always be expressed.

But there is another side to it, a side that has a little more light, a side where God shines through. I hear stories about clients who graduate from the Mission’s New Life Program or Christian Life Program and go on to succeed in life. They are able to provide for themselves and their families, and they make a mark on this world that will stand the test of time.

I may not be working with the Mission’s clients face-to-face, but I know that the work I am doing behind the scenes here plays a role. I see my work as the middle man between the clients and the donors who help keep this Mission running. I have the privilege of co-hosting the blog for the Mission and I get to hear all of the wonderful stories and see all of the bring-a-smile-to-your-face pictures that are posted for our followers to see.

I have learned a lot being here at the Mission, and so far the greatest thing I can take from this internship is the enlightenment God has brought me of the reality of homelessness and love. Grace and hardship. God and His people.

(Submitted by Ashley Gillihan, Development Department Intern at City Union Mission)

  Under The Sea 402Although it was toasty outside, city camp was resting easy under the sea. This week they not only learned about different creatures that live in the ocean, but they were able to learn about and discuss stories about Moses, and Jesus calming the storm. It had been really interesting and fun seeing the staff and campers become closer as the weeks pass by. Most of the staff noticed kids opening up more during devotional time and engaging more with fellow peers. It seems the longer city camp goes on, the more they become a family, and that is something that most of the staff wasn’t expecting. Every Tuesday and Thursday they take all the kids swimming. It has been encouraging to see kids who really struggled through swim lessons start to get it. At the end of the day they have the campers trade their swim bracelets for a snack (so they won’t leave trash at the pool), but on one of the swim days a red crew member didn’t want to give up her bracelet because she wanted to show her mom that she had passed her swim test. Even though swim days seem like chaos, the personal goals and fears that the kids are able to conquer make it worth it. 574This week city camp was able to go to the Clay County Parks and Nature Center where the kids not only learned about different animals that lived in the park, but got to hold and touch some! Some of the campers faces when the leaders brought around snakes for everyone to touch were a sight to see, yikes! The excitement didn’t end there though. What really caught everyone by surprise was when a giant bull frog busted out of its cage and onto the ground! It was even better seeing all the kids work together to keep the frog from getting too far away. By the end of the week one could see remnants of some of the kid’s pet shells459 (a craft based off a children’s book about Marcel the Shell, a popular youtube video, check it out!), sand crafts, and felt sea creatures scattering the floor. The felt sea creatures were mostly due to one of the most ridiculous, fun, and educational games we’ve played. Stephanie would give a few facts about an aquatic animal without revealing the name, and the kids (and staff) would run to a felt board full of sea animals and pick the one animal that they thought Stephanie was describing. If anyone had heard shrill battle cries and saw flying manatee felt pieces, then this game would explain why. It was a memorable moment when both kids and staff were laughing uncontrollably and still getting something out of the activity.Searching for Treasure DSCF0933 (640x492)Tot Lot camp began with Morning   Sing, where everyone got a chance to stretch and wake up before breakfast. After time to play on the playground, campers heard a Bible Story, sang songs to learn memory verses, and participated in craft time. In the Bible Story time, the campers learned about the pages in the wordless book. They talked about how each color represented something different. For example, the black page represented how the bad things in us make our hearts dark and the red page is beginning with the birth of Jesus and the angels who celebrated his birth. For some campers, this may have been the first time they heard the good news of the gospel. After the Tots woke up from their naps, they had a special tea party. The girls drank their juice out of glass punch cups, which they got to take home, and were also giveDSCF1085 (640x475)n tiaras and capes. The boys received bubble swords and capes as the staff told them how special they are to God and are of great value to Him. Later on the entire Tot Lot camp went on a search for treasure, with clues leading them to the pony’s corral, then to the dining hall, the activity room and finally to the hidden treasure (ring pops!) at the train on the playground. DSCF0850 (640x467)The Tots went to sleep each night excited about what the next day would hold.Unshakable Value DSCF0536On Sunday afternoon camp staff arrived to anxiously set up and complete on-site training in preparation for the week ahead. Buses loaded with excited campers arrived at noon. After lunch and cabin assignments, the kids settled into an afternoon of swimming and getting acquainted with their cabins and one another. First, they have what is called ‘The GreatDSCF0480 Race’. In this cabin vs. cabin competition, campers race through a series of stations with group challenges at each: the foam javelin toss, basketball shoot-out, tennis ball float, get-the-cookie-in-your-mouth, etc. Each station designed for teamwork and simply having fun. DSCF0575The first time at Chapel they split times between the boys and the girls, allowing for specific conversations about some of the issues that preteens face, such as treating the opposite sex with respect. Their chapel teacher also set the stage for this week’s theme – ‘Unshakable Value’. After a hearty breakfast in the morning, chapel continued the focus on value. Through games and activities campers started thinking about the value they placed on different things in their lives, leading them to understand that they are uniquely designed to find their value in God. This theme continued to develop as the week progressed. The afternoons were filled with crafts, swimming and cabin time. To many of the campers, the chaDSCF0600nce to swim is one of the best things about coming to Camp CUMCITO. They had the opportunity to not only have pool time, but also receive swimming lessons and learn proper techniques in the water. You could see the joy on their faces as they learned their strokes or later learned to float or dive. DSCF1033 (640x480)There was one camper who was very hesitant about the water all week, instead of jumping in the pool he would sit on the side. Well on the boys’ afternoon to swim in the lake, his counselor and three other boys encouraged him to try walking into the lake. They supported and cheered him on as he gathered up the courage to walk into the first 2 feet of water.Heroes 355In this week the children are learning all about heroes and what it means to be a hero. The crew leaders use examples from fire fighters and policemen to doctors and the military, but they focus on showing the kids that Jesus is their number one hero. Another topic the kids   are learning about is watching what they say, especially as heroes. The related activity involved attempting to put toothpaste back into its bottle. The idea being that all the words we say, all the words that we put into this world can never be taken back. Just like it was impossible to fit all of the toothpaste back into the tube, it is impossible to take back the things that we say that keep people from becoming heroes. It was important for the kids to see heroism as a culmination of attitudes and actions instead of super powers and gadgets. Although the kids tend to focus on their favorite super heroes, 011the counselors walked them through some real life heroes in the Bible, as well as everyday heroes that they come into contact with. The first couple days the kids learned the story of David and Goliath, and how by listening to God and following his commands David was able to be a true hero. They also talked about the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego learning to follow the Lord’s word no matter what the situation may be. The campers learned about trusting in God and how when they put all of their trust in God, they can overcome anything. Lots of the015m continued to ask questions and discussed some battles in their own lives. It was hard to hear some of the stories of brokenness and violence that have become the norm in most of the kids’ lives. One of the boys, whose path had been marked with violence and death, had a really edifying conversation with a staff member about what it meant to be a man for the city. Just like batman worked to keep Gotham from harm, they talked about things that he could do to change his city. They came to the conclusion that in order to change the city, he had to let God change him. Instead of reacting in violence God gives his children the strength to react in peace; and when others see this consistently then they begin to do the same and before you know it, the city begins to change. They realized that sin is a mighty villain and it takes a mighty God to defeat it. The kids took a trip to the fire station one day and a fire truck came145 to visit them another, allowing them to hear firsthand what a day in the life of a fire fighter looks like. It was wonderful to see the older kids taking time to help and focus in on the younger kids, such as when Wajdi (15) helped a younger child pray. Jasiah (9) told Mr. Jesse that since his family did not have a father in their lives, on Father’s Day he was daddy to his little sister.Sports Week As the first week of City Camp went smoothly, the staff was reminded that by trusting005 in the Lord they could not be shaken. Nothing could go wrong that He would not have been able to help them with and the Lord blessed them with a first week of no hiccups. This is important for the campers because by showing that they put their trust in the Lord and using him to find strength, City Union Mission’s staff members were able to model what that looks like for the kids. Even with a long summer ahead of them, the staff’s hopes and optimism are high because they know that they are performing God’s will. The staff and campers will be able to grow their trust and faith in the Lord and his greatness as it progresses.019 City Camp started off with SPORTS week! We enjoyed getting to know the kids and had a fun learning a memory verse, having sport themed devotions, swimming, REC time, and going on field trips to the Royals game and the park. We have enjoyed having the SUMMER STAFF here and they have been a big help. The kids have enjoyed getting to know us as we got to know them. Kristian (9) informed Ms. Lexi (summer staff intern) during devotions that Jesus lives in her heart, flows through her veins and out her chest cavity!Garrick Gray - CLP - fileSubmitted by Garrick Gray, a member of the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission L – is the love that you show O – is the opportunity that you provide R – is the rejoicing that I do D – is the death the you went through J – is the joy that you bring E – is the eternal life that you give S – is the salvation you provide U – is your understanding that’s no deny S – is your Son that had to die for us C – is the cross you had to carry H – is the happiness that never varies R – is the resurrection that you performed I – is the inheritance that you promised S – is the unending sacrifices you made T – is the tears that you shed  Stepping StonesThe following is a sequence of thoughts that some men might undergo when at the Mission and involved in its programs: 1.  There is no God and I hate Christians. 2.  There is no God and I tolerate some Christians. 3.  There is no God but I can respect Christians who respect others. 4.  There might be a God and I am thankful for the genuine Christians who have shown care for me. 5.  There might be a God and because some Christians do genuinely care, I should consider what they say about God. 6.  I can believe there is a God and I hope He considers me worth helping. When men start at the Mission with their thoughts at 1 or 2, any movement toward thoughts of a “higher number” is significant progress.  Jesus calls us to “fish for men” and showing love in action is part of God’s breaking down the walls of a man’s hard heart.  Romans 2:4 indicates that “realizing God’s kindness leads a person toward repentance.”  Charles Swindoll says, “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is fascinating to see men, over time, come to recognize there is a God who does care for them, and then make a choice to place their faith in Him. Every step 1-6 is a step toward faith and trust.  Hopefully they will even move to “steps 7 and beyond”.  What a privilege it is to be a part of God’s plan and communicate His love and truth to those who need it.
(Submitted by Bret Kroh,  Christian Life Program Assistant Administrator at City Union Mission)
AlexSometimes it seems there is no way out. There is nothing that can be done. How can there be hope for a better tomorrow when all logic says it’s impossible. What can a young man do when he has been trying for 3 years to grow beyond his deeply troubled past and debilitating health issues? What could Alex do when his hard work to better himself and prayers for a job and a future seemed to fall on deaf ears? Hopes dashed again and again and again. His Counselor and Case Manager at the Christian Life Program had stopped praying for him in hushed reverent tones. Their prayers were now cries to the Lord for His intercession because the world had rejected Alex before he even got a chance at redemption; before he got a chance at all. Everyone knew time was running out somehow. “I’ve got an interview tomorrow,” Alex said with a glimmer of hope. There was no advice his job coach could give him. It was well beyond that. It was in the hands of the Alpha and Omega now. Prayers are answered. This day one was. Alex got the job. He was so excited he couldn’t stand still. He was young again. It had been a long time. “The man said he’d give me a chance.  They want me to start work tomorrow.” God at work.  Absolute perfection.
(Submitted by Steve Sahl, Career Development Director at City Union Mission)
hotel-desk-bellHe said,  “I’m looking for a trustworthy man; someone who I can count on to run the front desk of my hotel.  I don’t care if he’s been down but . . . ,” the man’s voice  trailed off.  He wanted to give a man a chance but he was concerned; he had a business to run.  “I’ve got your man,” I told him. I work in Career Development here at City Union Mission.  My job is to help graduates of our long-term recovery programs find jobs with a future—quality work for quality people.  Our clients don’t ask for favors, they ask for a chance to prove themselves. The interview is in thirty minutes and we’re on our way to the hotel.  The least I can do is give the applicant, Patrick, a ride.  He’s been through so much since he was dropped off at the Mission almost 3 years ago.  He arrived alone and without hope or a future, just wanting to die.  He had serious physical problems that were life threatening and just hoped that the suffering would stop.  Patrick also came to us with even more serious spiritual issues.  Today, as we are about to walk into the hotel, he’s a new man.  He stops at the door, closes his eyes and bows is head.  He goes before the Lord for a few moments and I commented,  “Now, you’re ready.”  “Yep,” he replied. A few days ago, I went to pay the newly employed client a visit.  I just wanted to see how Patrick was doing and to take him a care package.  He was still in training, standing tall behind the desk in a crisp, white,  short-sleeved shirt and narrow tie.  Twenty five years ago he was in the military and that same discipline still showed. Don’t tell this man miracles don’t happen, he knows better.  People are sometimes skeptical at the phrase we use around here which is ‘a new creation in Christ’.  If I was ever skeptical, I’m not now.  I know better.  I’ve seen too many men now standing tall; men of God making the world a better place because their lives were touched by this place. (Submitted by Steve Sahl, Career Development at City Union Mission)repentive heartSo a sharp looking man comes to my office, a young man in his early 30’s. He’s fit, muscular, trim – a stud. I envy him. He is winsome, likeable, and well-respected by both Christian Live Program (CLP) clients and staff. It’s his 4th time to be a part of the CLP recovery program – another attempt. Once, he left the recovery program for the promise of money in a job. Twice, he left for the promise of companionship in relationships with women. He walks back into the CLP building struggling with thoughts of self-harm, feeling like a failure and a loser. I assume that as he sits here in my office he is feeling a measure of shame. “Are you feeling ashamed?” I ask. “A lot of shame”, he says. I ask him what he feels walking back into the CLP building. His first word – “safe”.  Wow!!!  Just what we hope for. He says he’s done trying to figure things out on his own, and he’ll do whatever he is guided to do by his counselor and case manager. Satan the Accuser seeks to kill, steal and destroy. Jesus the Good Shepherd seeks to bring life. “Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.” I’m glad I get to represent the values of the Good Shepherd! (Submitted by Bret Kroh, Assistant Administrator of the CLP at City Union Mission)MakeupSince being here at the Mission, my heart has been touched in so many ways. In particular, I remember last year when a volunteer from Mary Kay Cosmetics came to do makeovers on our women clients in preparation for the annual ‘Women Who’ve Changed the Heart of the City’ luncheon.  It was amazing to see the ladies gain so much confidence after they had been pampered!  The ladies were so blessed by the fact that someone cared about them and helped them with their makeup.  They all looked so beautiful. makeup2Taking the ladies to the banquet was exciting and to see them feel so beautiful and important in the eyes of others and God’s eyes was truly a rewarding experience. It is moments such as these that I treasure the most. These women not only looked beautiful on the outside but watching them transform into beautiful and precious women on the inside, with the Lord’s helping hand, is an amazing experience. (Submitted by Stacy Shope,  New Life Program Administrator at City Union Mission)  man_knocking_on_doorI have great hope for the men in the Christian Life Program (CLP) and want nothing but great things for them.  The men are very respectful to me, which gives me great joy when I arrive each day. This morning was a pretty tough one for me.  I prayed and asked God to just get me through these next 8-hours.  His timing is perfect.  Being anxious for His answer to my prayer, I began to work and quit watching the clock.  Soon, James, one of the CLP clients knocked on my door and came in with a big smile on his face.  He came to encourage me.  I am so thankful for James and others for their encouragement each day. I feel this is such a great time for all of us to share what Jesus does in each of our lives.  I love the Lord for His perfect timing and also for loving me, even when I don’t feel very lovable. (Submitted by Jocelyn McField, Administrative Assistant – Christian Life Program at City Union Mission)  HikingI have a wonderful Christian brother who was what the Bible would label as a drunk–he used both alcohol and drugs to satisfy his desire for something more. What he was then, is not what he is now, and what he is now, is not what he will be. However, the story begins with what he once was–from sinner to a new believer. He came to a place called the Christian Discipleship Center many years ago. As he was learning what it was to be a Christian, the Lord showed him something wonderful. On a weekend trip to Telluride (a very picturesque place in Colorado), the group he was with was taken to a mountain area where they climbed to a waterfall. As he began his climb, he turned around and looked back to see a beauty he had never seen before; he was awestruck. “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to meditate in His temple.” (Psalms 27:4 NASB) He continued his climb and at another resting place, he looked back and saw a different kind of beauty because he was at a different level; again he was awestruck. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.” (Psalms 50:2 NASB) As he continued to an old abandoned mine area, he looked back and started weeping. For the first time in his life, he saw the beauty of God’s creation–and he was sober. His mind was clear and God’s glory was magnified in his mind and in his life. “Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary…  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. (Psalms 96:6, 11-12 NASB) When they reached the waterfall, they went behind it and felt the cool, refreshing mist all around them. It reminded him of how God cools and refreshes a person when He becomes Lord of that person’s life. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19 NASB) You see, God shows us His power and magnificence in the things around us. He wants us to be captivated by His beauty which we get to see only a small part in His creation. It is in that captivation, when we call upon the Lord in faith, that we are changed back to His image.  We are then recreated into something that others are left wondering what happened to the person that used to be. No longer are we what we once were, but we are something new in the here and now, and we are moving to glory to be something even better… kind of like looking back over God’s creation at different levels of our spiritual lives and seeing the different kind of beauty He displays at each resting place. With each new level, the Lord gives us new insights and understandings and we get to see the beauty that comes with each. We have an amazing God who delivers us from evil if we will allow Him to do so. The first step is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who, as God in the Flesh, dwelt among His people to show us how to have a life of abundance. He was crucified and left for dead, but three days later, Christ rose from the dead and now sits in Heaven as our High Priest who truly understands what we go through each and every day. He gives us the power, through His Holy Spirit, to overcome the sin nature–like drinking or drugging–and to be free from the bondage that we chose when we did the very thing that we no longer want to do. In that freedom, we have the ability to walk away and live a life of abundance in Christ. We have the security of knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He is faithful even when we are not. If you have a drinking, drug, gambling, or pornography addiction or any other thing in which you feel an irresistible pull,  you are not bound by a disease, you do not have to be stuck in a life of addiction, but you are bound by the choices you make. You can choose to be free from the chains of the addiction by allowing the Lord to come into your life, through faith, and learning how He provides a way of escape from death into life.

 As you change, you become a living example of Christ’s redemptive power, and that is only one part of The Transforming Power of Christ: What I once was is not what I am, and what I am is not what I will be.

 (Submitted by Cord Cochran, Men’s Ministries Director – City Union Mission)heart-cross-01We are a part of the body of Christ, given a deep responsibility to help those who are desperate and hurting, who need the love of Christ which we have the honor of sharing. It is a deep trust given by our Lord and Savior, and one that I hold dearly. Therefore, as believers, He calls all of us to a higher standard–to lead and guide with love, grace, compassion, truth, accountability, and wisdom, wrapped up in constant prayer to our Lord for guidance in our own lives and the lives of those to whom we minister. How we do that is to follow the example of Christ. He said in John 13:15 “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” He had just taken time to wash the disciples feet in an act of service, but it was more than the washing of the feet that he was pointing out, he was talking about being a servant-leader, willing to do the most menial task, with a heart of service and gratitude and a vision of hope and healing. Paul also told us in Philippians 3:7ff to continue to seek the prize which awaits us in heaven and to follow the example given by him and others who were following Christ. A few things that Christ did, was that He took time to listen, explain, and He met the needs of people where they were at, not where others thought He should have. He also used the gifts that the Father gave Him to further His kingdom. My favorite passage of the Bible is Psalm 15:1-5 — “O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; …But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; He does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. As believers, we have access to the throne of God, and because of that, we are to be servants of our God who walk with integrity, work righteousness, speak truth, lift others up, refrain from putting others down, show grace, and bear one another’s burdens, keep our word (our promise to the Lord of following Him, no matter the cost) even when it hurts, and use our resources the way the Lord wants us to use them, because when we are doing what is right, we will not be shaken, compromised, or living in fear of what others may think. God understands that mistakes will be made, that ourselves get in the way of ourselves–that old flesh wants to creep up; however together, watching out for each other, we can overcome any obstacle (read Isaiah 57:13b and following) through God’s promises and His examples by applying those things to our lives. Because of our position in Christ, and at the mission, we are held to a higher standard, and we are expected to live by that higher standard. We hold each other accountable, and we work with each other through our weaknesses. We address issues with each other in a godly and truthful way, seek forgiveness and reconciliation where needed, and move on. I believe Solomon got it right when he wrote, Ecc 4:9-12 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Submitted by Cord Cochran, Men’s Director at City Union Mission)
We were excited to still have an average of 70 kids and youth joining us for the last week of City Camp 2013!  Staff, interns, and campers were all exhausted by the time we said goodbye to the summer and sent kids back into their schools.  The week was full of cheers, hugs, and sad goodbyes, but we are all excited to hear and see these campers grow in their communities.  Our memories will hold strong throughout the school year because we have had a summer full of living life with these wonderful students.
In our last week hanging out with our campers, our younger kids enjoyed the 4H Fair in Johnson County and our older campers spent a good deal of time playing all of their favorite gym games.  Red and Orange Crews competed in a few events such as dodge ball, won by Orange Crew, and basketball, won by Red Crew.  These crews also learned about outlines in reading.  We did a good deal of hard work, but we also had a lot of fun.
A special thanks to Rob from the Kansas City Public Library and to Priscilla Howe for joining us to give our camper an engaging reading experience.   Thanks to Stacy Boline for taking two afternoons off work to come and lead cooking and baking classes with our teenage girls. They learned a lot and got to taste some really awesome food! Thanks to our City Camp Summer Staff for investing long and tiring hours at work to make programs happen.
Thanks to Sherwood Bible Church, the Vivian Road YMCA, and the Platte County YMCA for opening your pools to us all summer.  Thanks to Amanda and her amazing life guards for being SO welcoming to our kids and to working with our campers on swim lessons.  We saw more than one temporary tattoo and swim goggles given to students in swim lessons on at SuperSplash on Friday!  Also, a shout out to our boys Sauce Remix and Hizway for bringing the beats to our facilities and allowing our kids to rock out in a concert.  Sauce, thanks for being so generous with your new CD and posters.  I’m sure our campers, and staff, will be greatly enjoying your rhymes in the months to come.
This summer, we accomplished a lot.  We had a lot of fun.  We learned a lot.  We read a lot.  We wrote a lot.  We learned about God a lot.  We learned about each other a lot.  If you can’t tell the summer was a lot about ‘we’.  We did a lot together.  The best part of our summer is that we, staff and campers, spent hours upon hours living life together.  We created memories that will last for years to come and our lives have been impacted by the stories of the campers that shared the summer with us.  So, we, the staff, have to say a huge thanks to the campers that brought smiles to our faces and joy to our hearts.  So, to our campers, thanks!
The ninth week of City Camp was as full as ever.  With the 12-17 year olds participating in a week long fine arts camp, the younger children got to spend the week exploring the city that they live in.  These children got to enjoy feeding the goats at Deanna Rose Farms, making their own money at the Money Museum, creating sculptures at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Fine Art, and playing at parks.
At Crown Center, students went through the Hallmark Museum and played at the Curious George Exhibit.  They also made fun and crazy craft creations, from cards to watercolor butterflies to puzzles, at the every so popular Kaleidoscope.  On Friday, the students explored the waters of CoCo Keys.  They spent the day swimming through the lazy river and chasing one another with lots of laughing and splashing.  They climbed the stairs to ride the slides time and time again and they played water basketball with their friends.  Explore KC was quite the adventure for our faithful young children.
While our younger children were out of the building most of the week, our 12 to 17 year olds were hanging out with a group that we like to call Legacy.  Legacy spends one week every summer hanging out with some of our students and invests hours and time teaching them all sorts of fine arts.  The group comes from a church in Wichita, Kansas and the camp they run is called Legacy Camp.  Our students have grown to love their staff and their camp over the past four years.  They look forward to seeing old friends and learning more of what Legacy brings with them.
This year was special for Legacy.  Students get to sign up for the classes they want to take and for the first time ever, most of our students signed up for the same class, Step.  It turned in to one very large group learning three different parts to an impressive step routine. After Step, some students went to drama, some to music, some to flying things and some to baking.  Karate, spoken word, and painting were also part of the classes presented.
The best part of Legacy Week comes on Friday evening at the Ice Cream Social, when our students invite their families to come watch them perform the activities that they have worked SO hard to learn.  There is lots of clapping and cheering from peers, parents and staff as the kids show the talents that they worked hard all week to learn and improve on.
The music group performed a song, which they wrote every part to, from guitar chords, to drum beats, to lyrics.  The Karate group broke boards with their palms and elbows.  The Flying Things Class wowed us with their balsa wood planes that fly with the twisting and releasing of a propeller attached to a rubber band.  The baking group let everyone sample their fine desserts.  The drama group made us all laugh with their improv and our friend Taylor stole the show with his funny and quirky one liners.   The painting group had their work on display for each of us to view.  The Spoken Word class had us laughing hard, thinking deeply and understanding more of who they were through beautifully crafted words. With all of the amazing things that took place that evening, the best part of the entire night was watching a 45 person step group rock the gym with their routine. We ended our week eating ice cream and saying goodbye to our faithful friends from Legacy.
Attention ladies and gentlemen:  City Camp has rounded third base and is heading for the home stretch!  Week eight, Sports week, sprung into action in a big way.  When we say big, we don’t mean in the sense of numbers.  All the younger students were away at Camp CUMCITO, leaving just the oldest of our bunch at City Camp. We kicked off the week with a tour of the most amazing stadium that any of us had ever seen — Sporting KC Stadium.  Students learned about game suites, the pipes that run under the field, and the reasons that the builders chose to do various architectural ideas.  They learned about how the field is versatile and can be used for various sports as well as concerts.  It is amazing that KC has such a well thought out stadium. Throughout the week, the Blue Crew got to do many special activities.  They walked to parks, watched movies, and made T-Shirts using a basketball. Their gym time was full of sports games like Chinese Fire Drill Basketball and Four Corners Soccer.  They read about a baseball team made all of brothers and about other sporting events throughout history along with some fictional stories.  On Friday, during the memory verse challenge many Blue Crew members could be seen proudly wearing the shirts they had created earlier in the week. The Red and Orange Crews read about Jackie Robinson and the obstacles that he had to overcome.  They discussed values that Jackie used in his life and they all worked hard to present one of the nine values in a fun way.  They did skits, they rapped, and they worked hard to make their presentations fun and entertaining to watch.  At the same time, they informed each of us what their value was and how we can put it in to practice today.  They used the discussions on barriers and values from throughout the first three days to write essays about barriers that they face. From homelessness, to absent fathers, to fear, they poured their hearts into their writing and they thought creatively about how to overcome those obstacles both today and in the future. Sports week opens up some powerful opportunities to hear what God has to say to His children about training hard.  Our theme verse for the week was 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, which talks about training with purpose.  We discussed the weight of sin and how heavy things keep us from running well.  God has given us a path to follow through His word, and sin weighs us down and bring bondage, but the good news of the Gospel is that Christ died to relieve us of that burden of sin.  The Armor of God lead into a discussion about the spiritual war that is going on every day.  We also talked about uniforms and who’s team we are playing on.  Our crews were asked to think hard about which jersey they are wearing, Christ’s or the world’s?  They were asked to consider how they were representing Christ’s team if that’s the jersey they were wearing. The best part of the week, by far, was having a local hip-hop artist, SAUCE REMIX, join us to discuss rap as a positive influence.  It’s amazing to see him discuss the history of rapping and the ways in which it has changed over the years.  Sauce grew up in KC and had his life radically changed by the message of Christ’s redeeming love.  He knows what our students face each day because he’s been there and he’s very real with our students about where life in the streets can lead.  The best part of the entire week is watching him encouraged our students to write positive raps that could impact their city.  On Wednesday afternoon, we hooked up the sound system, cranked some beats and spit some rhymes to the sound of cheers from our fellow Crew members.  The messages of our students was to be understanding to people in hard situations, stop violence, stay in school, and represent Christ.  They left our hearts with hope for the future of Kansas City.  This week looked different than most weeks because we had a volunteer group from Tyler, Texas lead City Camp. High schoolers and staff from One-Ten Student Ministries at Green Acres Baptist Church(http://www.gabc.org/students) came and sponsored the entire week. They planned the activities, provided all the supplies, and arranged the field trips. The theme was Noah’s Ark. The kids learned all about how Noah obeyed the Lord even when it meant that he had to ignore what everyone else was telling him. This was a good reminder when we had to change the schedule a bit for the week. When things are not always going the way we plan them the important thing is that we are serving the Lord and doing His work.
We were privileged to go on three field trips during the week. On Monday afternoon we went to River Roll and enjoyed roller skating, Wednesday afternoon we went to the movies and saw “Monsters University,” and Friday we enjoyed a full day at Super Splash water park. On Thursday, our friends from One-Ten threw a big carnival for City Camp kids and the community. Everyone who came had a blast! The kids really enjoyed making some new friends with the volunteers and had a great time learning and playing with them.
It was a less intense week for our City Camp staff since there were enough volunteers to lead the activities and each crew. Although we still helped with the crews, we also had a chance to organize curriculum for the coming weeks, and have some time off. It was a great encouragement to have some time to recharge for the following weeks of City Camp.
You can watch the video from One-Ten Student Ministries
at Green Acres Baptist Church HERE!
A couple of years ago some young men on the program really loved playing basketball and the bragging and boasting (playfully) started and the challenge was given to staff to take on the program members. Mind you, the staff, though experienced, are not young anymore but took the challenge. We had some exciting 4 on 4, half court games over the next few months with the young men pretty much dominating. Participating staff included administration as well as program staff. These are blessed times with laughter, lots of shoving and sweat but always with great sportsmanship, until the staff finally prevailed…once! God gave us good bodies for this stuff, hearts that care and a willingness to be close. It is all good and we thank the Lord for these great moments with the men. (Submitted by Gary Mountz – Men’s Ministries Director at City Union Mission)
Campers got to learn about ways to get from one place to another during our Transportation Week. It was a fun week with all our campers and staff back in the city after time at Camp CUMCITO. From feet to trains, we packed the week with all kinds of activities and field trips. We started the week off with a visit from a pilot who helped the younger campers understand how things fly and answered questions for the older campers about what it takes to become a pilot and what it’s like to fly planes. Campers also got to enjoy watching “Happy Feet” at Cinemark Merriam. It was a hot week, so it was a great blessing to be able to swim at Platte County Community Center North YMCA, Sherwood Bible Church Public Swimming Pool, and Vivion Road YMCA—thanks so much for letting us come play! We had two guest readers for our younger campers: Mr. Rob from the Kansas City Public Library Outreach Team, and Ms. Carrie who helps us out with so many parts of our youth programs. Thanks to both of them for encouraging our campers to read and grow their minds. In keeping with the theme, we took a field trip to Union Station to get an up close look at the trains. Finally, we toured the Kansas Speedway, which was an incredible experience for everyone who got to come. Thanks to the staff at the Speedway for being so generous with their time and for allowing us to see so many cool things.
We’re continuing to offer breakfast, a snack, and lunch to every camper. It’s good to know that during the summer when school is out, these kids are still getting nutritious meals twice a day. During the month of June alone, we served a total of 2,539 meals to our campers! It takes a lot of work to provide this part of City Camp. Thanks to Ms. Kalie and the other staff and volunteers who step in each week to make sure these meals run smoothly.
With the end of the summer drawing near, we’re starting to feel the long days take a toll on our energy level. Please pray for each of the staff to find rest and that God would be our strength when we are weary. Thanks to each of our interns and many volunteers who spend their days showing Jesus’ love to all of the campers! It takes so many people to make City Camp happen and we are grateful for everyone who lends a hand.
During our Wild West week, July 8-12th, we had to make a difficult decision. Due to several factors, we didn’t have enough staff to provide City Camp to all of the campers. We were, however, able to run our program for a small group of campers whose parents were counting on us to care for their children during that time.
Though we had a small group, it was a great week! We found that we were able to have deeper discussions during devotions because of the smaller groups. Our staff had the opportunity to really get to know the campers that were here that week too. It was different, but good. God showed us that he could take the situation that we felt sad about and turn it into something special and use it for his glory. During one of the devotions, campers participated in a mock-auction selling off different talents, skills, and experiences. They were asked, “What would you pay to be the most popular kid at school? …to be an astronaut? …to go sky-diving?” and so on. In the end, we asked them how much they would be willing to give to save their soul. Campers were very engaged in the discussion and staff had a chance to clearly share the gospel to a receptive group. It was a blessing!
We also had a chance to have lots of fun making western crafts and playing cowboy games. We took the campers swimming at Platte County Community Center North YMCA and Sherwood Bible Church Public Swimming Pool—which was a great time, as usual. On the last day, campers were in for a surprise. We took them to the Truman Library Museum—thanks to the Truman Library for allowing us to bring all the kids for free because of their school supply drive during the month of July. After that we went for……… a COVERED WAGON RIDE!!!
It was so cool to experience a part of the Wild West that none of us had experienced before.  Thanks sot Pioneer Traills Covered Wagon Adventures (www.pioneertrailsadventures.com) for giving us all a taste of the West.
For years I lived with shame that I couldn’t understand. Growing up, I was constantly pushed to “do better” in most everything I did. Not much changed when I was gloriously saved in 2004. I always felt pressured to do more and more, try harder, and whatever other way you wanted to say it. When people told me something I could do better, I took it as them saying that I was simply not good enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I could take correction, most of the time, but there were times that I simply couldn’t. It hurt to be told I needed improvement. I just heard the same message, “You’re not good enough.” It hurt like crazy. The closer someone was to me, the more it hurt. I wanted to be better, to measure up. I constantly was examining my faults and flaws to try and be the best I could be. Then when people told me something was lacking in my life, the hurt was even worse. Even my measures to improve just weren’t enough.
And that was the problem. I had to be good enough. The prophet Isaiah lamented, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6) The problem was not that I couldn’t measure up; it was the fact I was even trying to measure up! When the Apostle Paul was tormented with a thorn in his flesh, he asked the Lord three times to take it away. I love what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9:  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
In a world of “try harder” and “do better,” Christ was calling me to die to that. In my Sunday school class two Sundays ago, we talked about the try harder attitude. We have this mentality that we have to be awesome to do for God’s Kingdom, but that simply isn’t true. God is awesome and that is good enough. I don’t have to rock the world for Jesus, because Jesus rocks the world. He will use me in His power.  As Paul told Timothy, “…God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Think about it, who made us alive in Christ? Was it our effort? Did we make a way for us? No way! Read Ephesians 2:1-6 and you’ll have your answer. God did all the work!
Does that mean that we can’t fail? Of course not! In 1 John 1:8 we find that, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Paul, in his famous letter to the Roman church writes:  “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” –Romans 7:18-21
I think we often live in Romans 7. We feel stuck in our sin. When we fall short, we feel condemned. It hurts so much to fail our God (or ourselves or others) and Satan loves to accuse us when we slip up (Revelation 12:10). We really need to move on over to Romans 8:1. Check it out. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The therefore is Romans 7:25, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” We truly have victory in Jesus. We have a body of sin, sure, but we have a Spirit in Christ and life! Man, even when we do mess up, we have Jesus who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, all we need to is confess them and repent! (Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:10)
There is even more freedom than that. I don’t have to do the work of making myself better. God does that work. If 1 John 1:10 isn’t clear enough. Check out what Titus 2:11-14 says:  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
The grace of God does all that work for you! What great freedom I have been given from my past of shame! I don’t have to be good enough, He already is! It is true what Jesus said in John 8:32 and 8:36: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” I know that I will have slip ups now and then, but I’m free. I don’t have to measure up to anything, because I only need to abide in Christ and let Him work through me, for He is the vine, we are the branches. (John 15:1-8)
(Submitted by Nathan Janes, a graduate from the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
This past week was the week of the Fourth of July. So it was quite fitting for the theme to be “Party in the U.S.A.” It was a fun week that provided a lot of opportunities for the kids to learn more about our Country and the freedom we have been blessed with.
We also had the privilege to teach the kids about the freedom that is found in Christ and His forgiveness. It was a busy week full of activities: swimming, hiking at Cave Spring in Raytown, a Fourth of July Parade in Lenexa, a Royals win, and some jumping at Bump City.
Although it was the holiday, we decided to have camp the whole week. The holiday cut our attendance down on Thursday and Friday but we had some unique activities for the kids who did attend on the holiday. Campers who attended were not short of any patriotic experience between the parade and the Royals game. Thanks so much to the Royals for letting us come out for free! The kids had a great time and enjoyed getting to be seen on the jumbo-tron and the grand slam. What a game!
This week presented its challenges like every week does. It was a bit of a challenge to get back into the swing of City Camp after having the volunteer group run it for a week. It was also hard because Camp CUMCITO is running and we constantly have to adjust to the staff and campers that are gone for the week. Flexibility is a lesson with which we are becoming well-acquainted. We are so thankful that we serve a God who is in control of all this and gives us the wisdom and patience to be flexible in times of change.
Last week’s theme was animal week. It was really fun to see the creativity the kids have when making animals masks out of detergent bottles and making animals to hang on the wall in the class room. The animal theme allowed the kids to learn more about the awesome creation that God has surrounded us with and how Christ is the Lamb that was slain for us. What an amazing reminder that Christ, the Lamb of God laid down His life for us! Our week was busy with the zoo mobile visiting and presenting about the food chain while showing us some animals, we did our usual swimming twice a week, and on Friday we took a field trip to Deanna Rose Farmstead to see some more animals and feed the goats.
Field trips are one of my favorite activities because it is one of the biggest opportunities to have conversational evangelism. So far there has been a moment on every field trip to reinforce the gospel with the kids in our groups. It is such an encouragement to see how God presents opportunities to share His love to these kids in different ways and environments. These are the moments that make the struggle and stress of city camp worth it. No matter how many trials and challenges present themselves, it is a great reminder that we are here to show the kids that Christ is the solid foundation that will never shake.
We are so thankful for your prayers and support. We ask for continued prayers for our intern Jessyca who had surgery on her foot. She is doing well and is starting to participate a little at a time at city camp. Continue praying for the staff to have energy and health to continuing building relationships with the kids and that the kids hearts would be open to the gospel.
Kezia, a college student from a community college in Concordia, Kansas, was stranded at Greyhound Bus Station.  Carlton, a long time City Union Mission guest, led her to the Mission .  He was afraid that thieves or rapists may attack her if she remained on the streets.
KCI lost Kezia’s luggage, and her flight was delayed.  By the time she arrived, her soccer coach had left Kansas City, and was not planning to return.  She was stranded.  Caleb, a new Mission volunteer assistant chaplain, and I allowed her to make long distance telephone calls to friends and teachers for help.   No one was available, and her family was in the Virgin Islands.
We called the Hotline for the Homeless for advice and assistance.  An operator named Kim was very helpful and professional.  She contacted her supervisors, and made arrangements for Kezia to stay in the overflow section at the Mission’s Family Center.
Meanwhile, we prayed, and asked God for direction.  We considered asking Greyhound for compassion fare assistance.  Kezia said, “I don’t think this is possible, but we can try.”  Caleb and I reminded her that with God all things are possible.
When we arrived at Greyhound, a manager was standing outside.  We explained the situation, and he approved a $25 voucher for Kezia.  Kezia had $13.00 available, but the ticket to the nearest station in Salina, KS (with discount) was $52.50.  Caleb paid the balance, and gave Kezia some spending money.
Kezia smiled brightly as the Greyhound clerk handed her the ticket.  Kezia was very thankful to God and City Union Mission.  She gave us all a round of hugs.  She knows now that with God all things are possible.  Please remember her in your prayers.  Keep praying for long time Mission guest, Carlton too.  I believe someday, he will admit that God is real!  Amen?
(Submitted by Charles McField, Evening Chaplain at the Emergency Men’s Shelter at City Union Mission)
It’s fitting that last week was survivor week because we were forced to deal with crisis after crisis this week. We found out that one of our busses was going to be out of commission for the week. Our food order for lunches came in late one day leaving us with no food for the campers to eat that day. One of our vans got a flat tire on the way to a location. We had our first camper need a full restraint due to dangerous behavior. We lost the use of a pool facility on Thursdays, leaving us with 60 campers and no plan. One of our interns fractured her leg and ruptured her mortise while at the park, which put her in the hospital needing to have surgery. Another intern had their car broken into and attempted to get stolen.
As you can imagine we found ourselves helpless and on our knees many times throughout the week. God is so faithful. In each of these moments of crisis God provided. We were able to borrow some vans from other departments who just happened to not need them and got all 130 people to all 4 fieldtrips planned for the week. The food order didn’t come, but we unexpectedly got one of the meals for the next week delivered to us giving us just enough food for the day. When the tire went flat a man just happened to be walking by who is a certified tire technician and had the flat changed in 10 minutes. Another YMCA pool stepped up and said we can swim at their facility once a week. The intern with the broken leg had a successful surgery that will make her ankle stronger than ever and we’ve had the chance to share about what we do at City Camp with many members of the hospital staff. The car that was broken into was a stick shift and the thief didn’t know how to drive a stick and couldn’t get it moving. The car was found still hot wired, windshield wipers on and everything, but still in park. God is so good. We were able to lean into His provision and his goodness. If you asked the campers about these situations they would know nothing of them because each of them was resolved in a way that was calm and seamless. Our staff didn’t get discouraged or give up but kept their joy rooted in God’s sovereignty and we rocked the week.
The theme for the week was Around the World. We had tons of fun learning about traditions from other cultures. A group of children from a Russian orphanage came and shared with us. The campers were full of questions about Russia and the children’s lives. On Wednesday we were able to celebrate a great American tradition and went to cheer on the Royals. On Friday we traveled all around the world thanks to the great exhibits at the Kansas City Zoo. Both the Royals and the Zoo donated tickets for our campers and staff to attend for free. We spent some more time in the sun on Tuesday at the pool and Thursday at Concourse Park.
Again, by the end of the week we were all worn out (campers included) but we had so much fun! We really are starting to feel like one big family and it’s fun to watch relationships grow.
Due to the injury of one of our interns we are having to shuffle our staffing. Please pray that God would help campers and staff adjust to the new roles. Also, please pray for Jessyca, the intern who just underwent surgery, and our bus who is undergoing a surgery of sorts as well! Our greatest need currently is snacks, so if you want to sponsor a day and provide 130 snacks we will put them to great use!
Week one at City Camp was a ton of fun! We have 15 interns hanging with us this summer working to share the hope of the Gospel with the campers God has brought into our care. Many of the campers we have built ongoing relationships with don’t get out of school until next week so we had a slower start which gave us time to get all of the logistics worked out. We averaged about 85 campers per day and are looking forward to 100 coming on Monday!
We are so thankful to be partnering with Harvesters Kids Café this summer to reimburse us for breakfast and lunch meals. We are also excited to be partnering with the YMCA (Vivion Road and Platte County North) and Sherwood Bible Church to provide campers with the awesome opportunity to swim twice a week.
Each week of City Camp is characterized by a different theme. The theme for week 1 was “Survivor.” We spent time building team unity, competing in challenges, and learning about surviving. We had the opportunity to share with kids the ultimate survivor story of Jesus. He survived death and offers us the invitation to stand in His power so we too can survive our greatest enemy, death.
We also wanted to give campers the opportunity to learn about practical survival tips. We had several special guests come to help us with these activities. Chris Suchan, Chief Meteorologist at KCTV 5, came to teach us about surviving extreme weather. The campers loved getting to watch the footage of extreme weather situations and were even more excited about the chance to make the evening news!
Lucy Akins, from the Mission’s Medical Services team, came to teach us about surviving injury and helped each of the campers make their very own survival first aid kit.
The Kansas City Fire Department sent 2 fire trucks and 8 firemen out to us to help us learn about surviving a fire. The campers had a great time on the trucks and hanging out with the firemen. We also had the opportunity to visit Clay County Parks and Rec to learn about surviving in the wilderness. Their park rangers taught us about mammals, snakes, archery, and took us on a nature hike.
Wow! Just remembering all that we did wears me out! It was a full week and we can’t wait for week 2 so we can build more memories and share the hope of the Gospel with the campers.
Every year, the Christian Life Program takes two retreats to the Mission’s property in rural Warsaw, Missouri.  The retreats provide a time of relaxation and learning, where the men on the program can interact with staff and with each other in a more informal setting.  From softball games to team-building exercises to fishing on the lake, the men enjoy a break from the normal routine and a time closer to God’s Creation.
The theme of this year’s spring retreat was “Biblical Manhood.”  In chapel sessions and break-out groups, we discussed the roles and responsibilities that God has given to men, as described in the Bible. Our topics included discipleship, leadership, work, and marriage.  In the lives of many men, these important topics were either mis-taught or not taught.
In a Christian recovery program, part of “recovery” involves dealing with the issues connected to addiction.  Addiction has prevented many men from fulfilling their God-given roles and responsibilities.  At the same time, only through a relationship with God and the grace He provides can anyone become the person God wants them to be.  For the members of the Christian Life Program, I believe that God used the retreat to provide some meaningful encouragement, direction, and healing as the men grow in their relationship with Him.
(Submitted by David Phillips, Counselor for the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission.)
One of the men on the recovery program recently stepped into my office and spoke my name. When I turned around to face him, I immediately saw that he was crying. He said, “You’ve got to help me. I can’t do this.” This is his third time to try the program. He never got very far into the program the previous two times before he succumbed to his temptation to alcohol and drugs. Oftentimes, the temptation came from various members of his family, and old friends. It took a lot of despair and courage for this man to get up and try again. But this time, he has been doing so much better in believing God can help him experience a changed life. He’s been so much more open this time to receiving help from his case manager, counselor and teachers. With the help of the Learning Center Supervisor and volunteers, he is doing much better with his academics, increasing in his ability to read and comprehend at levels he’s never before achieved. He’s tasting a changed life and beginning to grow in the belief it can truly happen for him! Whereas he used to walk around in life, not believing that change can be in his future, he is believing it now. He’s laughing more and smiling. It’s such a delight to see the transformation! It was this man, who was in my office crying and saying, “You’ve got to help me. I can’t do this!” He found himself in a situation where he was being tempted with tobacco and marijuana. He made it priority to find a staff member to get the support he needed . . . “When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Cor. 10:13). He humbled himself, acknowledging to himself and another safe person that he needed help, and that’s where he found grace. “God gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). His case manager was brought in to assist and we told him how proud we were of him for what not being afraid to ask for help. We walked him through his response to the temptation. It was amazingly wonderful to see God’s Spirit bringing him hope, confidence and peace where there has been despair, darkness and bondage! God wins!
(Submitted by Bret Kroh – Asst. Administrator of the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission).
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum hosted a field trip in March for the men in our Christian Life Program and they had an incredible time!  The history represented in this building is captivating and thought-provoking as individuals not only revel in America’s favorite past-time and learn about some incredible athletes that many people are not aware of, but also forced to see some of the more discomforting aspects of the American experience.
As if this were not enough, this particular evening was made more special as Frank White, 5-time golden glove winning second baseman for the Royals, shared some of his experiences as a player and some life-lessons he’s learned along the way.
There were several lessons he shared, but here are just a few.  Accountability – Being held responsible by others to do what we’re supposed to do and do it with excellence.  What a testimony as Frank shared how Cookie Rojas told him as a rookie player that he was not to make excuses for not making plays.  Just admit that you did not make the play and do it next time.  Seek the truth – Frank shared how important it is to seek the truth about one’s self and adjust course when truth is encountered.  Frank shared that was also important as a rookie.
Thank you to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Frank White for making this outing special for these men in our program.
(Submitted by Greg Gay – Christian Life Program Administrator at City Union Mission)
CHRONOLOGY OF THE WEEK LEADING UP TO THE CRUCIFIXION & RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS
Note:  Jewish days began at sunset (6 pm) – thus, a Jewish Friday begins at 6 pm (our Thursday evening) and ends at 6 pm the following day, whereas our days are from midnight to midnight.
SATURDAY – Day before Palm Sunday
Anointed at Bethany – Mt. 26:6-13;  Mk. 14:3-9;  Jn. 12:1-11
PALM SUNDAY
Enters Jerusalem triumphantly – Mt. 21:1-11;  Mk. 11:1-11;  Lk. 19:28-40;  Jn. 12:12-19
Weeps over the city – Lk. 19:41-44
Healing of the blind & lame – Mt. 21:14-17
MONDAY
Curses the fig tree – Mt. 21:18-22;  Mk. 11:12-14, 20-26
Cleanses the temple – Mt. 21:12, 13;  Mk. 11:15-19;  Lk. 19:45-48
Son of Man must be lifted up / Unbelief of the multitude – Jn. 12:20-50
TUESDAY
Teaches by parables in the temple – Mt. 21:23 – 22:14;  Mk. 11:27 – 12:12;  Lk. 20:1-19
Confounds the religious leaders –  Mt. 22:15 – 23:39;  Mk. 12:13-40;  Lk. 20:20-47
The Widow’s Gift – Mk. 12:41-44; Lk. 21:1-4
Delivers the Olivet Discourse –  Mt. 24:1 – 25:46;  Mk. 13:1-37;  Lk. 21:5-38
WEDNESDAY
Judas plots with Sanhedrin – Mt. 26:1-5, 14-16;  Mk. 14:1,2,10,11;  Lk. 22:1-6
THURSDAY – Our Thursday evening – beginning of Jewish Friday
Washes the disciple’s feet and eats Passover meal (Last Supper) – Jn. 13:1-38;  Mt. 26:17-30;
Mk. 14:12-26; Lk. 22:7-38
Delivers last words to disciples –  Jn. 14 – 17
Prays in the garden and is betrayed – Mt. 26:31-56;  Mk. 14:32-52;  Lk. 22:39-53;  Jn. 18:1-12
FRIDAY – Beginning very late on our Thursday eve and going through Fri. afternoon – Preparation Day)
Brought before Annas.  Peter’s first denial of Jesus – Jn. 18:12-23
Brought before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin.  Peter’s second & third denial of Jesus.  The rooster  crows.  Jesus mocked, blindfolded & beaten. –  Mt. 26:57-75, 27: 1; Mk. 14:53-72, 15:1; Lk. 22:54-71; Jn. 18:24-27
Brought before Pilate the first time.  Judas hangs himself. – Mt. 27:2-14;  Mk. 15:1-5;  Lk. 23:1-5; Jn. 18:28-40
Sent to Herod Antipas. – Lk. 23:6-12
Before Pilate a second time.  Condemned, mocked, and beaten. – Mt. 27:15-31;  Mk. 15:6-20;  Lk. 23:13-25; Jn. 19:1-16
Crucified at Golgotha (the third hour – 9 am) – Mt. 27:31-44;  Mk. 15:20-33;  Lk. 23:26-43; Jn. 19:16-30
Darkness throughout the land – 6th through 9th hour / noon to 3 p.m.). Jesus dies 9th hour / 3 p.m. – Mt. 27:45-56; Mk. 15:33-41; Lk. 23:44-49; Jn. 19:30-37
Buried in Joseph’s tomb. –  Mt. 27:57-61;  Mk. 15:42-47;  Lk. 23:50-56a;  Jn. 19:31-42
SATURDAY
Pilate seals the tomb and appoints a guard.  Sabbath rest. –  Mt. 27:62-66;  Lk. 23:56b
SUNDAY
Rises from the dead and appears to Mary Magdalene (still dark). – Mt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-8;  Jn. 20:1-18
Appears to the women. – Mk. 16:9-11; Lk. 24:1-12
Appears to Peter. – Lk. 24:34;  I Cor. 15:5
Soldiers bribed to lie. – Mt. 28:11-15
Appears to the Emmaus disciples. –  Mk. 16:12,13;  Lk. 24:13-32
Appears to the disciples w/o Thomas. – Mk. 16:14-18;  Lk. 24:33-49;  Jn. 20:19-25; I Cor. 15:5
Appears to the disciples with Thomas. – Jn. 20:26-29
On Tuesday and Thursday of every week the members of the Christian Life Program gather in the Multipurpose room of the CLC and spend time in worship to our Lord and God.  It is a very simple meeting with some singing and praying, yet it has become a highlight of the men’s activities.  At 7 a.m. after some coffee and breakfast they simply gather throughout the 50 x 80 foot room, some at tables, some standing, some sitting, and we worship God in songs of praise and thanksgiving.  With the words projected on a screen with an overhead projector and a CD of the song, we bless God and we pray.  We pray for each other and for this world which desperately needs Him.  It is a blessed event.
As a Mission staff member I am blown away with the hunger to worship the men have.  They leave the room singing the songs.  They come to me asking for copies of the words.  Today a new man on the program, Derek, at the end asked to say something and turned to the group of 60 or so men and said how he has been in many churches with sometimes hundreds of people and has never heard men sing with such heart and soul.
This has been our dream for some time, to begin days looking at and to God as a hungry people.  Honoring God as our God with thanksgivings for His willing suffering, death, burial, resurrection and then sending us His Spirit.  What a privilege and joy to be with these men worshipping God.
(Submitted by Gary Mountz, Men’s Ministries Director at City Union Mission.)
As another Christmas Distribution Day wound down on Monday December 24th, I was reflecting on all the work that went into making that day so successful.  It took months of careful planning, diligent scheduling, daily execution of the plans, and of course all of the volunteers who gave their time to help qualify each of the families, those who helped them shop in our store, and those who wrapped the many gifts that more donors were now delivering.
As I looked over a mountain of paperwork sitting on one of our tables, I saw a nicely decorated envelope with a bow on top. I asked if anyone knew what it was, and a volunteer told me one of our volunteer deliverers had brought it back from a family they delivered to. I was somewhat surprised to find that envelope addressed to us. So I just had to open it and see what this might be about.   Inside was a beautiful Christmas card, which read, “Thanks so much for all you do each year for me and my family. We really love you guys!   We wish you all the best.”
I began to share the note with those that were here helping wrap things up.  A longtime volunteer remarked he couldn’t ever remember a family sending such a card.  What an encouragement to know the impact that the Mission has made on that family! I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share this with others and especially those who have had a hand in helping this Christmas.
So to all those who donated this Christmas – thank you for your support of the Mission and efforts to minister to those in the community; And to all those who volunteered their time and efforts – thank you for your part in helping make a successful ‘Mission: Christmas 2012’ and being a blessing to so many families like this one this Christmas.
(From Scott Wilson, Seasonal Projects Administrator at City Union Mission)
Today, at the Mission’s Christmas Store I was blessed to witness God answering a young girl’s specific Christmas gift wish.  Peggy Ramsey, Family Center Administrative Assistant, was on a quest at our Christmas Store to find the donated gifts that would best fit the wish list of our VYC kids (Vanderberg Youth Center).
One little girl had asked for a ‘Baby Alive’ doll. We had several dolls that Peggy had looked at, unsure if this little girl would be happy with just any baby doll.  We both had the same thought — that this little girl was so specific about the type of doll she was hoping for, and that was what she should get.  So, Peggy continued searching through the gifts.
After a prayer breathed to God, Peggy looked in a bag just delivered that morning by Maranatha Academy’s 6th grade students.  She reach in and pulled out a ‘Baby Alive’ doll!   There certainly was a “hallelujah” lifted up to the Lord for answering this little girl’s specific wish, not only for that particular doll, but also that the skin color matched that of the little girl!  The student and his family that donated this particular doll I am sure had no idea how they were going to be a part of God’s plan to answer this specific Christmas wish.   Their gift was right on time – God’s time!
(Submitted by Sandy Baldwin, Donor Connection Specialist at City Union Mission)
A few days ago the Men’s Shelter staff approached ‘Carl’, a man in the day room who was playing a card game that had strong demonic emphasis. The gentleman became very upset that he couldn’t play his game and demanded to speak with me, the Shelter Administrator.
The next day he came into my office and vented his frustrations on how we were unfair to him for not letting him play his card game that was associated with black magic and other occult type activity. I informed him that it wasn’t card playing that we were against, but rather the type of game it was and what it stood for, and that we, as a Christian organization, stand upon Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Carl still didn’t seem to understand, even though I tried to minister to him as clearly and lovingly as I could.
Staff members knew that this gentleman was a professing atheist and had been specifically praying for him. Three days later Carl came into my office, looking quite different (like he was beaming). He told me that on this particular day that something told him to go to our Meeting Jesus Ministry class (in which he had not a part of). He began to listen to Anthony, the class facilitator and daytime Shelter Manager, as he was ministering the Word.  Carl told me that “something hit him”. He shared with me that he received Jesus as his Savior before everyone!
As we sat in my office today and I listened to him describe his conversion experience, I could tell it was genuine. Please join with us to lift up our new family member in prayer and also that the Father would give us the tools and the wisdom to continue to assist Carl in his walk with Christ.
(Submitted by Greg Miller, Men’s Shelter Administrator at City Union Mission)
My life growing up was full of dysfunction. Life was more about learning from others mistakes, than about leading by example. My grandmother and mother were both pregnant by 16, and my brother and I were both expecting our first children by age 16.
I often told my kids the same thing that my mother told me, and her mother told her, “Don’t make the same mistakes I did,” and “If you have kids at a young age you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of struggle.” These words were coming out of my mouth, and my sons were seeing me struggle being a single mother, but I was not leading by example.
My sons would see and hear me complain about how times were hard, but they also saw me still living the life of a single, carefree woman. The life I was living had everything to do with me and nothing to do with walking with Christ.
When my son told me that he was expecting a child at the age of 15, I was livid. I yelled and screamed (the same words my mother screamed at me when I announced my pregnancy at 16) “How could you be so stupid? Didn’t I tell you not to do this?” His response was, “You did it and you seemed okay.”  My heart was broken, but in the tradition of dysfunction, I didn’t show any emotion other than anger. The tone of my voice was as cold as ice when I gave him the same advice my mother gave me years before, “You better grow up fast, I’m not taking care of any more babies.” That was it, no guidance, no support, no love from his mom.
I realize now that it was the love from his mom that he was looking for all along. The comfort, support and guidance from the first woman in his life, and I failed at the most important job that I was given. I realized that my words were not enough to show them that I loved them. My kids needed to see and feel my love, my comfort and my support, just as I needed the love of Christ to save me from my destruction. They needed a mother to show them how to walk with Christ. Instead of going to the clubs and bars, I should have been taking my children to church.
God gave me the responsibility of an under shepherd to care for the flock that He blessed me with, to love them, protect them, and lead them in the path of our heavenly Father. I am thankful for the City Union Mission this holiday season because my husband and I can finally teach our children the true meaning of Christmas. We are no longer lost souls looking for a way out; we are now children of God. We are no longer leading our children astray; we are now leading them with God as the head of our household.
(Submitted by Annathesia, a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
Though staff and volunteers who work in Community Assistance love to assist the women and families we serve, during the busy holiday season the numbers of clients we see can be very draining. Among those we serve are Latino families and women who often speak very little English. We are thankful for bilingual volunteers and also Google Translate that allows us to communicate with these clients. Often there is someone in these households who is working, but the income is simply not enough to meet their needs.
Hilda came for Christmas assistance. Hilda works as a maid at a local motel making $3.75 an hour.  We are aware that they sometimes earn tips in addition, but how many of us remember to leave a tip for the maid who cleans up after us? With the aid of Google Translate, I was able to have a conversation with Hilda and offer her more than simply the Christmas gifts she was seeking. After completing intake, Hilda left my office to wait for the spiritual conversation with our volunteer. Then Hilda remembered and turned around, coming back to my office to express her thanks. It nearly brings tears to my eyes as I think about her.
(Submitted by Lydia Allen – Community Assistance Administrator at City Union Mission)
My family and I walked into the Mission on June 1, 2012. On that day I was so confused and upset that life had brought us to this low of a point. Today, about 4-½ months later, I realize that the best thing for me and my family was to come to the City Union Mission and get into the NLP program. I am more at peace now then I have ever been before, and that is an amazing feeling. Until recently I would have never admitted that I needed help with anything in my life. I thought I had it all figured out. Since being here my eyes have been opened to some things that need to be changed in order for me and my family to be successful in life. Not the money, houses and cars kind of success, but “to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to strengthen as we fulfill our God given goals in life” kind of success.
The most wonderful thing that happened for us at the City Union Mission is that we discovered the eternal and unconditional love of God, our heavenly Father. We see God work everyday through the staff here at the Mission. They are the most selfless, caring, and compassionate individuals that I have ever met. They have been completely dedicated to helping my family become healthy and successful. My husband and I have learned what God’s word tells us it means to be married, and by putting God first our marriage and family have been repaired and restored. The City Union Mission is truly a God run organization and they are dedicated to doing God’s business. My family and I will forever be grateful that God led us to the City Union Mission.
(Annathesia is a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
This last Wednesday evening through Saturday afternoon, approximately 25 clients from the City and Farm Christian Life Programs participated in a retreat at the Mission’s camp facilities in Warsaw, Missouri. The topic for the retreat was “How to biblically handle our emotions”, covering topics such as guilt and shame, sufferings and trials, depression, fear and worry, and anger. Many comments from both participating staff and clients indicated the teaching and discussions were very helpful and valuable for their encouragement and development.
One meaningful discussion involved a couple of the men expressing that they were afraid of the reaction of some of their family members, as their families were not supportive of their Christian faith and their attempt to recovery toward sobriety. They were afraid of judgment, criticism and possible rejection by these family members if they continued to move toward Jesus Christ. They were in fear of failing in their commitment to Jesus and commitment to their personal life change and recovery.
It was encouraging to hear other men acknowledge the same fears and offer words of support and prayer. A focus was made to remember that when Jesus calls us to follow him, he will not leave us without his support . . . “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Nothing is more meaningful than to be with other men who know their weaknesses, but also experience fellowship together as they trust their lives and transformation into the care of the Father God who promises His care for them!
(Submitted by Bret Kroh, Assistant Administrator of the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission)
A typical day as Family Shelter Manager at City Union Mission begins with setting up for the busiest time of the day. Making morning wake up calls to our guests, distributing medications, catching up on my emails and making sure chores are done. I’m the only Shelter Manager in the morning so I have to make sure our overflow guests are up so that I may assist them to the areas where they need to be. An option for our shelter guests is to attend life skills classes. Once class starts, I complete room checks to make sure that our guests are following the policies by keeping their rooms clean and free of food. If a guest has left the shelter, or if they have reached maximum time allowed, I have to pack their belongings, label them and stow them in a designated area.
Recently, we had a guest named ‘Sally’ who was ill and unresponsive to her roommates. I went to check it out and found her slightly breathing and unable to respond. I called for assistance to her room and Security called 911 and I prayed.  Several days later Sally returned to the shelter.  She was so grateful that I had been responsive to her need and apologized for scaring me. I told her my fear was not death, but that she would perish without knowing Jesus. After that, we often times fellowshipped together until she found shelter elsewhere. God has spoken to me in so many ways. When opposition comes against me, God enables me to endure and continue His will. I pray before I go to work daily as to how to run the Shelter effectively.  He always answers me through Scripture and the Holy Spirit and has given me grace and mercy to carry out His will. He has given me wisdom to fellowship with the Shelter Guests and those in our New Life Program (NLP) every chance I get. Most of all, to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not to my own understanding; but in all my ways acknowledge HIM and HE will direct my paths. I’ve seen one guest (Beth) who asked for prayer, but she refused to acknowledge God’s Word. She had hardened her heart. I would minister to her daily. Now Beth is studying the Bible and has joined the NBC Program (New Beginning Covenant). Just a couple of days ago she even sat through lunch with our Shelter Administrator, Mr. Dan Dickey, to gain more knowledge after attending his class that morning. I see the Holy Spirit working and it is such a blessing.
I also have seen a very social lady leave and come back to the program with a sincere and grateful heart for the Truth. I see transformation often. The Holy Spirit ministers to me and refreshes me with new insight of how mighty GOD is — THE GREAT I AM!
(Grace is a Shelter Manager at the City Union Mission’s Family Center.  Grace was a former client who graduated from the Mission’s New Life Program and went on to also complete and graduate from our Servant Leadership Institute.)
For 50 days the Vanderberg Youth Center halls were filled with the joyful hum that comes from City Camp, but on August 10th the hum was somewhat bittersweet. That’s the day we said goodbye. We said goodbye to 16 interns, 85 campers and City Camp 2012. As 4:00 pm rolled around and parents started picking up their children for the last time of the summer, we gave our last hugs, exchanged phone numbers and wiped away tears. Saying goodbye is always hard.
When you’ve spent 350 hours with a camper over the course of 10 weeks, you hear their stories, you see the power of the Gospel at work transforming hard hearts, and you feel that same power cleaning out the ugly places in your heart too. City Camp starts to feel like one big family living life together, sharing meals together, going on adventures together, learning to love and forgive each other, and encountering a beautiful and captivating God together.
As we made the final page over our walkie talkies for our last end of the day staff meeting, we walked to the classroom to say our final goodbye to an incredible summer. We walked in with heavy hearts having said goodbye to campers we may never see again, but an aroma in the room lifted our spirits. A mom of one of the campers had set up a feast in the classroom to honor our staff. This is a mom who we met because her family found themselves homeless and living in our Family Shelter. When the mom went to classes, the daughters came to City Camp.  They apparently loved us as much as we loved them, because when they found a home and left the shelter, the mom still made sure to get her girls to City Camp every day.
So there we sat, exhausted from a summer of pouring out and the very person God sent to be a blessing, is the person we existed to serve. The person that came to feed us, was the women we fed. When our hearts were heavy, it was the heavy-hearted women we had served that came to return the favor. The once homeless women and her children brought us a meal to say thanks. Now the tears were not from saying goodbye, the tears came from an overwhelming sense of God’s mercy on us. As our pride crumbled and as we gave thanks for God’s provision we reflected on a summer full of tangible reminders of the goodness of our King.
(Submitted by Kalie George, Youth Ministry Asst. Administrator at City Union Mission)
For our final week of City Camp this summer, we celebrated by doing some of our favorite things and just having fun. We had an average of 75 kids each day and served 882 child meals. A huge thanks to the Vivion Road YMCA and Sherwood Bible Church for letting us swim again this week. It has been awesome to be able to bring the campers all summer!
We had a special guest this week, Priscilla Howe, who came and told stories to our kids—they had such a great time!
Thanks to the Kansas City Police Department for letting our teen crew come out and tour the Metro Patrol Division.
We had a lot of awesome field trips, including hiking at Cave Spring Nature Center, playing in the fountains at Concourse Park, visiting the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and swimming at Super Splash Water Park.
We finished the week with a return to one of our favorite field trips all summer, Bump City—thanks for giving us a discount! The kids had a blast and it was a great way to wrap up a fantastic summer!!!
Our biggest thanks goes to our City Camp Interns. These 16 people helped make this summer the best year of City Camp ever! Thanks for all your hard work, long hours, and most of all, for making this a fun place where kids saw God’s love in you and through you daily.
This week we used themes from the movie ‘Night at the Museum’: pilots, dinosaurs, cowboys, Egypt, and others. Campers made airplanes, dinosaurs, pyramids, and a special treat — homemade ice cream!
The highlights of the week were swimming, of course, at the Vivion Road YMCA and Sherwood Bible Church, visiting the Kansas City Museum, and skating at River Roll!
Thanks to the KC Museum for letting us come out and enjoy story time and many awesome crafts and activities! The kids also had a super fun time skating, thanks River Roll! And thanks to the anonymous donor who bought snacks for everyone while we were there!
What a fun and busy week! Campers enjoyed learning what it means to be a hero, visiting real-life heroes, and finding out more about our ultimate Hero, Jesus. Thanks to the Kansas City Fire Department for bringing their fire trucks by to let the kids check them out and for letting us come tour the Northeast and Westport stations. The kids loved getting to see what life is like at the fire station—thanks for being so welcoming and sharing with them!
Thanks also to the Kansas City Police Department for allowing us to tour the Metro Patrol Division. Our campers were so excited to see the holding cells and the SWAT vehicles, and to meet one of the accelerant detection dogs in-training! We appreciate them taking the time to answer our many, many questions and showing us around!
We visited Safety Street again and learned about fire safety and 911. We also had a guest speaker, Kevin Horner, who joined us to share his anti-bullying presentation—thanks for helping our kids learn how to be heroes and help each other!
We wrapped up our week with a fieldtrip to Clay County Parks & Rec where the kids took classes on archery, fishing, reptiles and amphibians, and mammals of Missouri. Thanks for a day packed with learning and fun at the lake!
 
This past week we took a break from the hot, dry weather we’ve had and talked about snow, rain, storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. We had about 70 campers join us each day and they learned that God is all-powerful as we talked about stories in the Bible when God has used the weather to show His glory. Campers were so excited to learn the memory verse for the week:
“The Lord gives me light and saves me.
Why should I fear anyone?
The Lord is my place of safety.
Why should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
The kids were creative and energetic in their songs, raps, and skits to help them remember the verse. We celebrated with our teen crew who has been working hard each week and took first place in the performance on Friday!
Once again, a huge shout-out to the Vivion Road YMCA and Sherwood Bible Church for letting us swim! Our younger campers enjoyed a visit to Safety Street where they got to learn about weather safety and pet safety. They had a blast hanging out at Shawnee Mission Park too! Another highlight of the week was a visit from KCTV5’s Chief Meteorologist, Chris Suchan, who shared the story of how he became a weatherman, showed videos of hurricanes and tornadoes, and shared how the kids can stay safe in extreme weather. Thanks so much for visiting City Camp! We ended the week with a fantastic trip to Science City at Union Station— thanks for letting us come explore!
Our friends from Legacy Ministries in Wichita, KS shared a week of music and arts with our campers for the third year in a row, and the kids loved it! Our average this week was 87 campers per day. They each had opportunities for lots of fun and creativity in their classes, including: guitar, jewelry making, baking, flying things, sports, dance, crafts, and much more. Some of our kids began learning how to play the guitar and write songs, others baked tasty treats—like colorful cupcakes and twisty pretzels, many made beautiful bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Several of the campers really enjoyed building airplanes of different types and flying them around the park.
On Friday the kids showcased all their projects for their families during our Ice Cream Social. Each camper’s artwork was on display and groups performed the skills they had been practicing all week. Guests were surprised by a special performance of martial arts where several of the campers broke solid boards in two using the techniques they learned throughout the week. It was a special time to share the activities of the week with loved ones and have families meet our Legacy Camp friends too! Thanks so much to each person who volunteered their time to make this a memorable week for the City Camp kids!
Campers were surprised to come in on Monday morning and find the Youth Center decorated for Christmas! An average of 85 kids joined us each day for the festivities: decorating Christmas trees, listening to Christmas stories, making gingerbread houses, and learning about the real meaning of Christmas—celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Savior.
The weather was hot, and we were grateful once again to the Vivion Road YMCA for allowing us to use their swimming pool. We stayed cool with thoughts of winter weather and even enjoyed a Christmas movie and hot chocolate—yes, the kids actually wanted to drink hot cocoa! Many thanks to Noland Road Baptist Church for letting us use their building!
Thanks again to everyone who makes City Camp possible!
This past week the theme was Olympics, and who was here to join us, but the youth group from Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas!!! THANKS ONE TEN YOUTH GROUP!!!! We stayed busy with dance parties, scavenger hunts, roller skating at River Roll, getting creative at Hallmark’s Kaleidoscope, swimming at CoCo Key Water Resort and fun at the petting zoo at Deanna Rose Farmstead! The neighborhood carnival was also quite amazing; the snow cones were a highlight of the day.  For some, this week was a reunion and for others it was a week of meeting new people. The week was filled with many great gym games. Our Texan friends lead a classic game of dodgeball with one important twist… THERE WERE CHICKENS… Yeah, chickens in dodgeball. Thankfully, they were not real chickens. The kids had a ton of fun throwing rubber chickens at each other.
The week was exciting and some of the fun included seeing all the cool dance moves of the campers and the leaders from One Ten youth group as they joyfully participated in dance parties and choreographed dances. Week after week it’s such a great feeling to see the smiles of the campers, and to be able to share the greatness of God.
Before I came to City Union Mission, my life was pretty normal… or so I thought. My time was spent one day at a time—no plans, no future goals, just me and the kids taking it one day at a time.
September 5th, 1991, was the day I arrived in Kansas City, Missouri from Havana, Cuba. For most people, this would be a blessed event… and it was, as I came to understand it in later years. However, to a 12 year old who just found out about this trip less than a day before, it was difficult. Without realizing it, anger began to set in. Feeling alone and without friends or family, other than my parents, it was hard for a little girl who had lived with 17 family members in the same home for 12 years. I was happy there, so I thought.
Then at the age of 15, drugs came into the picture. Drugs took away some of the pain and so became my friend for years to come, but didn’t allow me to develop healthy adult life skills. Ever since I can remember, someone has taken care of me. I lived with my parents, I got married at 16, then went back to my parents, and then married again…. never on my own. In February 2005, my husband ended up in prison, and again, I moved back in with my mother. However, my mother and I both lost our jobs in the same month, leaving us both to wonder how bills would get paid.
By December 2010, we got our last eviction notice.  That very night my mother went to her friend’s house, however, the friend didn’t have enough room for me and my children. So now, I was a 30 year old woman with a drug addiction, full of rage masked by drug use and a smile, with no useful skills, feeling hopeless, sleeping in my car with my two small children on a cold December night.
To some people, this might sound weird, sad, or even strange, but coming through the Family Center’s door at City Union Mission, I felt like I had had arrived home. With warmth, welcoming, and blameless affection from staff members, I felt secure and was able to take a deep breath. The feeling of being such a terrible mother for letting this happen to my kids was leaving me. Now, my kids had a bed and food, and we were safe.
My first night at City Union Mission and my first night at chapel, I got saved. I had thought I was saved… surely going to church five times a year had done something for me. But I wasn’t. So, my first leap of faith was to learn to have faith. From that day, December 14th, 2010, my life has not been the same.
After my first 30 days sober since 1994, I felt like I could do anything. Then, my 30 days at the Family Center were up and I moved to an old friend’s house. Before I knew it, I went back to my old ways. But the one thing about being saved is that you’ll never be the same again. Although you may get derailed, God has an overwhelming power to bring you back home. Once you know the truth, another lie just won’t do. So, after seven long months of drug use and double the shame and guilt, I began to cry one day while walking my kids to school. I did not know where this was coming from until I shared my thoughts and feelings with my mother. She told me I needed to let this shame go. I knew, at this point, there was only one way to do this.
That night at 4:30, I called the Mission, but they had no rooms available. I called back six more times before the lady at the front desk finally very nicely told me to stop calling for the day and to call back tomorrow. So, I did the one thing I learned to do – I took a leap of faith and drove to City Union Mission. It paid off. I got into the Family Shelter, and my life has not stopped changing since that day. Now I can honestly say I’ve been sober 52 days and I’m enjoying my children for what they are… a blessing. I can say I’m not who I used to be. I’m growing up now, and I am so blessed to be here. God is good!
(Submitted by Yassi, who went on to graduate from the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
The third week of City Camp was no less exciting than the first two. We had our highest attendance so far—85 children joined us on Friday! This week we learned about the Great Commission and God’s love for the nations. The campers did an awesome job of memorizing and performing Matthew 28:19-20. The kids learned about different cultures all over the world. They engaged in many activities including bartering in the market, eating candy sushi, and making maracas. A big thank you to our very own international interns who were very excited to teach the campers about Korean culture!
We stayed busy with our usual swimming—thanks to the Vivion Road YMCA and Sherwood Bible Church—and games and finished the week with a trip to the Kansas City Zoo! It was a great opportunity to see creatures from all nations and we are very grateful to the Zoo for allowing us to bring our group for free!
Within the Christian Life Program we have several key parts to restoring men to wholeness in the Lord.  We spend great sums of time in teaching the scriptures, in counseling, in helping them manage their legal issues, physical and mental health issues and in building relationships in the Christian community.
The Christian community and their local churches are really critical to success for the men, especially once they move along from here into their new world.  Without those solid relationships they tend to slide back into old relationships and patterns.  So we require that men attend and get involved in as much as possible a Bible believing, evangelical Christian Church.
This is not easy though for them and for the churches.  The men see themselves as different than the rest of the congregation especially if they hang together with other clients at the church.  In isolation they don’t meet and develop warm relationships with others.  The church also may struggle with not seeing the men as just other sinners seeking a sanctuary with other sinner/saints.  When they do get together it is really good and as it turns out it is no different than most folks becoming at home in a church group.
We really need churches to take up this mantel and do it wisely.  These men need the resources of the saints who are ahead of them and the help to grow in the Lord.  These are intentional actions marked with constant growing pains and great joys.  Men getting baptized.  Men celebrating anniversaries of sobriety.  Men maintaining work and healthy relationship.  The joys are there for the mature who can give of themselves to help guide men who have chosen to be disciples of Jesus.  You don’t have to go into the world to find them, they’ll come to you and you can shepherd them to their next level in the Lord.
(Submitted by Gary Mountz, Director of Men’s Ministries at City Union Mission)
(From Grace) A guest came into the office to tell me her testimony. It is normal to hear her voice goes in and out when she speaks and she also suffers from severe anxiety. She was sharing with me how good God had been to her, but every time He lifts her up, she tries to go it on her own. She continues to fail even the easiest of tasks. Now she acknowledges God’s presence in her life. She’s willing to let GOD use her for His will. As she was giving her testimony, not once did her voice crack. That’s the power of an almighty God! As she spoke I felt the presence of the Lord in the office. He said that when two or three are gathered in his name that He will be in the midst, and he certainly was!
(From Jonathan) One day a man came to serve lunches at the Family Shelter, as he does every month. There was an event going on that took many shelter clients off campus and it ended up that he was only able to provide lunches for a small number of our guests. This did not upset him. In fact, he was thanking God for the mouths he was able to feed. I thank God for our volunteers, especially ones like this man, who are still willing to praise God when things don’t go as planned!
(From Jeanie) There is a client here who has quite an amount of medication she takes on a daily basis. Her container that holds her presorted pills was not in the best condition. I felt a prodding that I should get her a new one. After about 2 weeks with this on my mind, I finally went to Wal-Mart and purchased a new pill container for her. It was only a few dollars but when I gave it to her, the joy on her face was worth so much more. I’m glad I followed through with what God placed on my heart because He was able to bless someone through me.
This past week was another fantastic week at City Camp! Nearly 80 kids joined us each day for our under the sea adventure. Campers spent the week learning that God is powerful and Jesus is the only hope we have. They stepped up to the challenge to learn their memory verse for the week (Micah 7:19) by writing songs, skits, and raps. They were excited to learn God’s word and practiced all the time… even at the swimming pool! Campers kept busy with a plethora of activities, including ocean murals, outdoor games, learning about creatures that live in the sea, and so much more. Thanks again to Sherwood Bible Church and the Vivion Road YMCA for letting us bring the kids out to swim twice. We also had the opportunity to take all the campers to visit the Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium thanks to an anonymous donation. Campers really enjoyed getting to see those creatures in person and made memories that will last a lifetime—especially experiencing the exhibit where they got to touch the starfish and sea urchin!
What an awesome week! We kicked off the summer with an average of 70 campers each day. It was Outer Space week and the campers learned that God is big, He’s the Creator, and He loves us.
We served about 95 lunches every day! This year we offered breakfast also and the majority of our campers were excited to participate in this new program.
Campers also had a blast making all kinds of crafts, like shooting stars, colorful planets, and edible mars rovers! They played fun games and went on cool field trips too. Thanks to Sherwood Bible Church and the Vivion Road YMCA for allowing the campers to enjoy their pools twice this week! It was a great opportunity to help the little ones learn how to swim. A huge thanks to Bump City at the Gage Center for letting us bring all our staff and kids out for free—the smiles on all their faces showed us that they loved jumping on the trampolines, swinging into gigantic foam pits, conquering the rock wall, and racing down the inflatable slide.
Thanks to everyone who made our first week of City Camp so successful! Props to our interns for stepping in making things work on their first week. Their unity and dedication to our kids and our city showed as the week went by. Thanks to our kids for making us laugh, smile and learn with the coming of each new day.
(Submitted by Annie DeLapp, Youth Coordinator at City Union Mission)
Early on a Thursday morning I drove North on Troost and as I neared the City Union Mission I passed a client who recognized me and we waved.  I pulled into the parking lot and once I was parked and heading toward the Men’s Center I heard, “Hey Gary, hey Gary!”.   I stopped and waited while the gentlemen who had just waved at me came across the lot.  He came with a big smile and hand stretched out to shake my hand.  “Gary, I just have to tell you how great this day is and how wonderful the Mission is.”  He has been around here for a couple of years getting his life back.  He went on to say “I’ve been clean now for over a year and I have two PT jobs while I get some stuff done (bills paid and getting his license back) so I can begin a full time job I’ve been hired for.  You know I was gone for a while and got back the other day.”
He continued, “As I came up Troost at about 11th Street I saw the Mission and as I got closer I said to myself, ‘I’ve made it home.’  It was like huge to me to have made it back.  This place is like no other place for me.  I needed a bed and you guys gave me one.  I needed food and it was here.  I needed clothes and here they are,” pointing to the clothes he was wearing.
What a blessed encouragement that was to me.  He shook my hand a second and third time, smiling ear to ear, clean, sober walking with the Lord.  My how I love this job.  My how I love this Lord of ours.
(Submitted by Gary Mountz, Director, Men’s Ministries, City Union Mission)
We are sharing with you a letter from the son of one of our recent graduates, Johnny Allen (see previous post).  It is lengthy, but such a tribute to what God can do in a person’s life to bring positive change, healing and hope, not only to the individual, but also to their family.  We are grateful to John Allen Jr and his dad for letting us share this letter with you.
I have sat down to write this several times now.  Each time I do, I have hit the same blocks causing me to hit delete, and start again.  The funny thing is that each time I hit that button, and the new page appears, nothing that was previously there can be seen anymore.  Growing up the son of an addict/felon isn’t like that.  So many times I wish I could just hit delete, go to a blank page, and rewrite things the way that I wanted to,  As many times as I wished that could occur, there I was, the story written, unable to be changed.
My name is John Allen Jr.  You see, for so many years now, the Jr. was the most important part of my name.  Anytime someone would ask, I made sure they understood that Jr. was at the end of it.  I didn’t want to be confused with my dad, he wasn’t a good man.  He wasn’t someone I wanted to be, he was someone I was ashamed of, and someone, who at times, I wished hadn’t any longer existed.  You see, growing up the son of an addict/felon sucked.
As I struggle to write this, I look for where to even begin my story.  There were so many stages, so many key points that it is difficult to sit back and try and take it all in, from all levels.  In order to show the “Big Picture” it only makes sense to start from the beginning.
Rewind to the days of growing up, being a young kid, with nothing to do but sports, and developing a relationship with my father that has guided me along some of my own paths through life.  My dad coached every team that I played for, every sport.  He didn’t miss a shot that I took.  He never missed a rebound that I grabbed, or a ball that I hit.  My dad was the best coach I knew, one of the best coaches the town of Sedalia had a chance to have.  Even though he may not have been a genius when it came to X’s and O’s, he got the best out of every kid that we had, and there wasn’t a kid that wouldn’t run through a wall for him because he cared.  He cared about all of us.  He didn’t just care about the good players; he cared about every single kid the same.  When I was young, that’s who he was, that’s the man I remember when I tell all my stories to my kids.  The dad every kid wanted to have, I had him.  Even though I didn’t always understand or agree with the things that he told me, I mean which kid does?  I remember being out on the sidewalk, every night, me and him, as I pitched to him.  One night, after many times of being told he would never show me how to throw a curve, I had finally learned on my own.  As we went out to play, about 10 pitches in, I broke off a nasty 12 to 6’er that I had learned that day.  He calmly put his glove down, and walked inside.  Not a word was said, he just stood up, and left.  After about 10 minutes I went aside, wondering where he had gone.  He was sitting on the couch, reading the paper.  I asked him if he had forgotten what we were doing, he looked up, and told me, “throw it again, and I’ll never play catch with you again”.  I never really understood it then, but I do now.  He was so set in his ways, so stubborn, all traits that would harm us later on.  There were many stories like this, many details that defined who we were.  Gold medals at Show Me State Games, playing goalie in Kemper Arena against the Comets, All-Star game walk-offs, my first home run, my first no-hitter, my first touchdown, he was there, he was there for it all.  This is what all young boys wanted; this is what a father/son relationship was all about.
As I look back during this time, before things changed, I think back of all the things that I had taken for granted, all the things that I wish I would have told him, maybe it could have helped, maybe it might have helped re-write the future.
Dad, I never told you how much I loved you the way I could have.  I never told you that even though I wasn’t perfect, even though I didn’t always listen or agree with what you told me, you were my best friend.  I wish I would have told you that, I wish you knew.
On to the next stage, the stage when I began to realize that the man I thought I knew wasn’t him at all.  Coming home from school one day I arrived home and my grandmother was sitting in the street, car running, waiting.  I walked up to the car, I could see she was upset, but she wouldn’t tell me why.  I went inside to change, and as I did, I could see my dad walking by the window, suitcase in hand, as he hopped into the car with her.  I ran out the door to catch them, yelled out, but she didn’t stop, they just drove away.  I figured she just didn’t hear me, I figured maybe dad was going on a business trip, all seemed normal I guess.  A few days later I finally heard from him, he had checked into rehab.  None of it made sense to me, my dad wasn’t an addict, or at least that’s what I thought.  Back then I didn’t understand it, but it was only the beginning.
Throughout the next several years, things really began to fall apart for my dad.  Without going into too much detail, in and out of jail, in and out of prison, lies, stealing, you name it, we were living it.  You want to know what it’s like being the son of an addict/felon?  It sucks.  It sucks to write letters to a man behind bars that everyone can read and see your thoughts.  It sucks to take the woman you love to meet him, for the first time, as he wears grey prison pants and white T.  It sucks to hear “Will you accept a collect call from….”.  It sucks to lie to everyone about where their grandpa is.  It sucks to hear what people say as you walk by them in public.  It sucks to be asked your name, and then to have to clarify because they think you are him.  It sucks to see your grandma cry, because her son is gone.  Being the son of an addict/felon sucks.
Each time my dad got out, each time we were “re-unified” as a family, the hope was that we would never be left to go through the same thing again.  Each time though, it happened.  For various reasons, no matter what, it was inevitable to occur again.  I remember asking myself one time, “Why am I not enough?”  That may seem selfish, but the same question could be asked with another name inserted in the place of the word I.  Why wasn’t Kristin enough?  Why wasn’t Kimberly enough?  Why wasn’t Bud, or Katherine, or Misty, or Tyler, or Devin, or Kailei?  Why weren’t we enough to make him change his ways.
The last time we went through this was the last for me, with fair warning.  My dad knew that if he ever screwed up again, no matter the cause, we were done.  And then it happened, back he went.  I really thought that it finally sank in.  His grandkids worshipped him; I don’t know how much he realized just how much they truly worshipped him.  Finally, he was involved again, and they got to see that, and they loved it.  He was a part of my life again, but then it was gone.  When he went back in this last time I had finally done what I wanted to do all this time and didn’t have the courage to do, I shut him out.  No calls, no responses, nothing.  I finally told the kids the truth, where he had been, what he had done, there was no more hiding.  I didn’t need a father anymore, what I needed was my best friend to come back and he failed me again.  I don’t know to this day if he knew how many times I cried myself to sleep, how many times I cried to my wife wanting to know why I wasn’t enough, even then.  I put on a face of anger, one that I pretended to be ok but I missed my dad so much, I missed my friend.  I wanted to hit that delete button like I had so many times before, but didn’t.  Everything was there, in full view, I could see the whole story.
As it got closer to time for dad to get out, still without ever communicating with him for several years, I was content in the fact that I never wanted anything to do with him and we would no longer be a part of each other’s life.  My wife and I was firm on this stance, and in no place to waiver.  Something happened though, and to this day I still don’t know what it was, but Misty had asked that we go see him when he got out.  No! I said, and that was it!  There was no pressure from her and she said it was my choice, but why the change of heart?  I still don’t know why I agreed to do it, even now.  We went to see him at his new home, and as scared as I know it was for my little girl, who hadn’t seen her grandpa in years, I was terrified.  To be honest, I wanted to hate him.  I wanted to fight him.  I wanted to hug him.  I wanted to cry to him.  I wanted to ask why.  I wanted to hurt him.  There were so many things going through me that I couldn’t explain.  The rest of that visit is private, and the talks we had will stay between us, but on that day, that day for the first time since I was playing catch in the front yard, I felt that I had my friend back.  Something seemed different than before, can’t explain it, but it did.
Since that day we have had lots of time together.  He has been around for holidays, he has seen his grandson hit his first ever home run, he has seen his granddaughter score her first basket, and he has seen his family grow, now with him a part of it.  I still get scared; I still worry about “what if”.  All I can hope is that he continues to do the things that he is supposed to do and make the best of the opportunity that he has.  There is a lot that has to be rebuilt, a lot that still has to be fixed, but he seems to be working towards those in a much better way than before.  I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know what life will bring next with its challenges, with its issues, or with its pitfalls, and none of us do.  This place (City Union Mission) has been good for my dad and I am proud of what he has accomplished here.
I don’t emphasize the Jr. in my name as much now as I once did.  Even though the past is there and I can’t hit delete, the man that sits here tonight isn’t the same man that I was once ashamed to be the namesake of.  I’m happy to say that I’m proud of Johnny Allen, I’m proud of my dad, and I’m proud of my friend.  Being the son of an addict/felon sucks, it really does, but being your son is something that I would never, ever change.
Congrats, and I love you.  We all do. John Allen Jr.
In coming to the commencement of their Christian Life Program (CLP) experience, staff seeks input from graduates to help us assess the program.  The following are some of the answers from Johnny, at his CLP Commencement Interview.
1.  What brought you to City Union Mission?  Why or how is it you came to be at the Farm instead of in the city?
What brought me here was a desire to completely change the way I used to live prior to my incarceration. Not wanting to be part of my old hometown (to change playmates, play things, and play grounds.) I came to the Farm through people I met while incarcerated. People who knew people who knew people.
2.  What would your life be like without City Union Mission?
I don’t believe I would be the person I am today. I began a relationship with Jesus Christ 4 years prior to coming here and my trust in God assures me that I would have been OK somewhere else- OK would have been the best. Being here has allowed me to grow a lot more spiritually, has given me Godly people to watch & learn from. I have in a positive way experienced new skills to living a productive life, from communicating to be a good steward, finding the right church-just how to represent myself as a Godly man. I believe my life in Christ has been dramatically affected by all the positive teaching and influence of staff here.
3.  What do you like best about City Union Mission and the program(s) you’ve participated in?
That the staff is easily accessable. I honestly believe I could walk up to any staff member at any time and discuss any issue I needed to discuss and I also know I would get good, godly counsel in return, and brutal honestly if needed. I enjoy the small groups (Mountain Movers) and on-on-one counseling/case management where I can express my concerns and know I am being heard and concerns addressed.
4.  Do you have a family?  Tell a bit about your background, where you grew up.  Were you raised in a Christian home?  Basic life info…
I grew up in Sedalia, Mo. I was the middle child of 5.  I was raised with a God-loving Mother and Grandmother and alcoholic Dad. I got married at an early age and have 3 kids and 8 grandkids.  My marriage lasted over 20 years and I had the same job over 20 years. After my divorce in 1998, I started making some very bad choices and ended up in and out of prisons and jails.  I gave my life to Christ on February 24, 2007.  Life is now worth living again!
5.  What does City Union Mission do that no other organization was able to for you?
The Mission has helped me to see my failures as learning experiences and not disasters. They show mercy, grace, forgiveness and love, something I have never found elsewhere before. They have genuine concern for my success!
6.  What would not be accomplished or possible in your own life if City Union Mission did not exist?
I have had so many faith building experiences in my personal life, my personal relationships, family restoration etc. since coming to the Mission. I believe that God blesses this place and those involved with it and those who participate in Mission programs. If City Union Mission did not exist I don’t know where I would be today.  Through the teaching of God’s word here and the examples of the way staff live their lives, I have found hope that I don’t think I would have found elsewhere. Maybe I would have, I just don’t know. But I do know I found that hope here.
7.  What are your future goals?  What does life look like for you now?
My goals are very simple – To live a Godly life, to serve others, to be part of the solution and not the problem. To give back what was given me (hope) through service, prison ministry, church outreach programs and volunteer work for City Union Mission and other rescue mission type work. To maintain a life that God approves of.
8. What has been the biggest change you’ve had to make?
My biggest change I had to make was depending on someone else to provide for my needs. I have always been a survivor.  I could take care of myself under any condition whether I did it legally or illegally. Today, I trust God to provide what I need and I trust the staff to guide me to a point where once again I can care for myself legally and in a Godly manner. Pride, self-centeredness and judging others are areas I have struggled to change, but I still must work on each one.
9.  Did you gain from the program what you had hoped for?  Please give examples if you can.
I’ve gained a whole lot more from this program than what I hoped for only because I put a very limited expectation on the program to begin with. I came here expecting only a transition back to   society and what I have received is a complete, new exciting way to live a Christ-centered life. I have formed life long friendships, gained two new church families – River Church and Abundant Life, been a part of a great ministry – Camp CUMCITO and City Union Mission as a whole; and have established partial ties to this community of Warsaw. I have been educated Biblically and socially.  I’ve learned new, very important life skills and I have gained a greater understanding of what Jesus Christ has done for me. The ideas I arrived with have now been turned into concrete plans.
10.  In your opinion what do we do that is good and should be continued?
There is not one single thing that I have experienced here at the farm that has not led to some kind of growth as a man. I would continue every single thing that is being done now. This program changes lives and will change the life of any person willing to put forth the effort to participate and the willingness to allow God total access to his life. I feel confident of who I am in Christ Jesus today and the Opportunity Farm, Christian Life Program has guided me to regain that confidence in Christ, as well as a new confidence in myself.
Thank you so very much and God bless this place, the staff here and City Union Mission as a whole.
A co-worker and I went to court in Warrensburg, Missouri last Monday to witness on behalf of a client, currently in our Christian Life Program. We sat through all the court cases only to find out that my client, whom we were there for, was being held over until the following week to see a different judge. At that time, we didn’t see the purpose in the time spent traveling and waiting in court, all for nothing.
This Monday we made the trip again to Warrensburg for the same client as the week before. As we sat there waiting for court to start late and then go long, with my guy being next to the last person to be called before the judge, we witnessed and ministered to another young man. The judge was tired of this 23 year old drug addict and was ready to send him to prison. The young man, named Anthony, told the judge that he would see about checking into a 21-day program. The judge told him that wasn’t good enough; he needed more help than that.
The Public Defender representing Anthony remembered me from the week before.  She turned and made eye contact with me and raised her eyebrows.  I knew what she was considering and I smiled back at her in affirmation.
As the Judge asked Anthony to sit aside for a while, the Public Defender came to ask me if he would be a candidate for our program. I said, “Yes, I’ll take him back with me today”. She repeated me to make sure what I had offered. Excited about the alternative, she spoke to the Judge, who then called me up to explain our program. As soon as I told her it was an in-house, 12-14 month program, the Judge said to offer it to Anthony. The Judge said that she knew of City Union Mission and even made the comment that “we need one of these in Cass County”!   Anthony was hesitant, as he was fully expecting to have to go to jail.
When it came time for me to speak on behalf of my own guy, the Judge, the Public Defender and I were all advocating for him. This was truly an act of God! It was beautiful!
Needless to say, we came back to Kansas City with two guys, when we had gone for only one.  Today Anthony thanked me. He knew without us being there for him that day, he would be spending the next 7 years in jail.
God had a plan.  He knew that we needed to be in Warrensburg THIS Monday, for THIS purpose.
(Submitted by Pat Johnson, Case Manager at City Union Mission’s Christian Life Program)
City Union Mission is seeking a volunteer to serve as the Volunteer Project Leader. This volunteer will lead, organize, and direct volunteer groups working on various projects through out the mission. The projects range from cleaning to construction to retail training. This person must: 1. be a Christian who is able to share the Gospel, 2. love volunteers 3. have leadership skills (Supervisory experience is helpful) 4. be available on Saturdays Any interested person may apply by completing a High Impact Volunteer application HERE.
When I start investigating a purchase, I will definitely consider buying something that isn’t new. I’ll buy it if it is previously used, but I want it to be in “gently-used” condition. I don’t want something that has taken serious abuse during its lifetime. I want to know that I am not inheriting someone else’s problems. The last place you’d find me shopping would be at the local landfill. Items that end up there are there because someone has given up on them . . . the headaches and problems they are causing. I don’t want to buy someone else’s headaches.
I was recently thinking about the expectations that people sometimes have for the men that “end up” at places like the Mission. Even the word “end” in “end up” implies there’s not much further down a man can go than to a mission. It’s either “on the street, under a bridge, in a homeless camp . . . or to the mission.”
Ministering at the Mission is like a double-sided coin. On one side, most of the men who end up here at the Mission are seen as beyond repair, “not repairable”; therefore, they are deemed dispensable . . . “throw away” condition. For them to remain in their family, work or societal relationships creates too many problems anymore, and people are not at a place where they want,  or are able, to invest anymore time or money trying to “repair” the person so that the man will “work right, like he’s supposed to”.
This is not to minimize the problems these men are causing others . . . they very well might need to be told to leave those environments of which they were a part so as to allow peace, health, safety and sanity back into those same environments. Most of the men who end up at the Mission do need a sincere moment of clarity when they begin to understand the gravity of their condition, and the problems, pain and hurt they are causing other people. They do need to see that they are not “working right”. They do not possess peace, grace, hope or health, so it is no wonder that they have none of those to offer others.
But the other side of the coin is this . . . because the men who come to the Mission can be tremendously problematic and dysfunctional, it does not mean the only “end” is to be thrown away. To think that “ending it” is the only solution is not a thought from God . . . that thought is from Satan.
Most of the men who end up at the Mission will admit, in moments of transparency and honesty, that the thoughts playing in their head like a continuous CD are, “You’re a failure, a loser. You’re stupid and idiotic. You’re trash, worthless, and of no value to anyone. Just stayed blasted and wasted with your drugs or alcohol so as to escape that reality. Or better yet, go ahead and just end it all so you can get the pain over for yourself and others.”  When a man gets there in his mind, he has found himself at the gates of society’s landfill.
It is in that moment that he needs to hear a message and vision from Jesus Christ as found in the Good News of the Gospel. “You may have been a serious problem for yourself and for others. You may think you are beyond repair . . . but, hear this . . . you are not trash. The landfill is not the final plan I have for you. Others might think that, but not me. I have a vision for you that is beyond what you can possibly imagine for yourself! If you need to know how much you are worth, even as a sinner, look at the cross.”
That is what I like about working at the Mission . . . seeing the change that a man can undergo from hopelessness and despair, to a countenance that communicates his hope and possibility. A man may think that the circumstances he has created for himself can only mean life without love, purpose or meaning. But here, he can begin to find that God can create meaning out of meaninglessness, purpose out of purposelessness, hope and joy out of darkness and despair. To see that transformation and miracle in a man’s life, even in the smallest of increments or steps, is a delight beyond description!
Please don’t ever think that your investment in a ministry like the Mission is anything less than an offering of the grace and hope that you have. It is a statement that you believe in miracles! No matter how dark it may look, you are saying that you believe the Light ultimately wins! Thanks for being a part of City Union Mission.
(Submitted by Bret Kroh, Asst. Administrator of the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission)
On Good Friday, April 6, 2012, the program participants at the Mission’s Opportunity Farm in Warsaw went to Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, Missouri for a day trip.  We wanted to share with you a few of their comments.
“It was a pretty neat place with an old burned out castle, lots of trails, springs etc. This was a good day of fellowship and seeing God’s beautiful nature, His artistic work. What a great day of relaxation and great weather. I really enjoyed the whole trip.” — Johnny
“The trip to Ha Ha Tonka was very exceptional. The views were beautiful and we did a lot of hiking through the wilderness and had an enjoyable lunch.” — Bill
“It was a really good time. We walked a lot and saw some beautiful nature and history. I just liked getting out and doing something different!”  — Jorry
“I had a super fun time laughing with my fellow believers. To see God’s creation untouched by humans was tremendous.” — Franklin
Alfred and Johanna Horstman are the first couple that I processed as High Impact Volunteers. Since May 11, 2010 they have served together as Learning Center Academic Assistants in our Christian Learning Center. Both of them volunteer on Tuesday evenings and assist the LC Supervisor in multifaceted exercises to improve and enhance the reading, writing, math and computer skills of the men in the CLP. They are a highly valued volunteer team!
Recently they were accepted at Dallas Theological Seminary and will be moving there in the summer to pursue additional degrees in Christian Education.  They will be greatly missed as they have been a blessing to Mission staff as well as to the men in our program.
We wish them well in their academic endeavors at Dallas Theological Seminary!
(Submitted by James Smith, High Impact Volunteer Administrator at City Union Mission)
Not wanting to shock everyone who looks upon the City Union Mission as hyper-spiritual, but the staff at the Mission are people just like every local congregation has.  The amazing thing is that all of us come here pretty clear that God has called us to this ministry and fully engaged to minister to the needs of our guests on mostly a spiritual level, i.e., Salvation and Sanctification (growth into Christ-likeness) as well as the physical helps of food, clothing, medical needs, job hunting, temporary housing, counseling, document help and other such things like pastoral helps.  As time passes we all soon realize that we are really first here for our own growth and edification.  This comes through continuously challenging situations, with clients, circumstances and the enemy himself. Therefore, we need to honor God’s leading and take the time to live in the disciplines He has always used like prayer, fasting, alms giving, loving the unlovely, lend hoping for nothing in return, seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness as well as spending private and precious time with the Lord in solitude and as believers together. On a Tuesday and Wednesday recently the leadership team (8 of us) of the Men’s Ministries went to Warsaw, where we have a great camp center, Christian Life Program and retreat center and, using a lodge there spent time in community and gained great refreshment in the Lord.  We focused our energies on Scripture (II Corinthians) fellowship and in an isolated environment.  It was wonderful and energizing.  He further opened our eyes to helping each other, ministering more clearly and slowing down to make more room for Him. We thank God for the opportunity, facilities and the encouragement to do this.  God is Good.  All the Time.  Every time.  Forever.  Amen.
(Submitted by Gary Mountz, Director of Men’s Ministries at City Union Mission)
I have had both negative and positive responses to my living in a shelter. I would be walking down the street and someone would come up to me and want to know if I had any spare change because they are hungry due to the fact they are homeless. When I would tell them I am homeless also, they looked at me like I was lying to them. I don’t dress like the stereotyped picture of being homeless. The look of homelessness is not the same as it was before.
Another incident was at my last job, I let them know I was living in a shelter and had a curfew to return to the building and the last bus from downtown left at 11:42 pm. If I missed it, I would have to walk from downtown to 13th & Wabash. They would always let other people with cars leave early and I would have to stay. I didn’t make enough to afford a taxi home. The job was semi-part-time. I was lucky to work 24 hours in 2 weeks. They told me if I couldn’t work the venue as scheduled, maybe I should not work at all. It was a mutual separation.
For the positive reaction, it was one which came from an unexpected source. In Sept./Oct. 2010, I was hospitalized for 3 weeks due to my heart condition. During that 3 weeks, I went into cardiac arrest and died. It only took the Code Blue Team about 2 minutes to get me back. My husband and I knew the bill was going to be extremely high. A lady, by the name of Michelle Clarke, worked in the financial aid department. She came to take down some information when we told her that we lived at City Union Mission’s Family Center, she was surprised. We told her our circumstances that brought us here. She told us that she donates to the Mission several times a year, but has never met anyone that the Mission helped. We were the first and she said she was glad her donations were going for something good, that she will donate more often and get her friends and family to do the same.
We believe that from meeting her, in some way she may have helped to have my hospital bill to be paid in full, all $188,000.  Whether you get negative or positive reactions, you may want to consider the source and let God handle them.
(Lee Ann is a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
We have wonderful volunteers who participate in sewing groups at their churches to sew for our guests at the Mission. One of the many hand sewn items we receive are women’s dresses. Recently, two of the happy recipients showed off their new dresses.
Thanks so much to the talented seamstresses at Lenexa Baptist Church and Village Presbyterian Church for blessing our guests in this special way.
If you are interested in making different sewing items for our guests, please contact Dennis at (816) 329-1466 to find out how your church can be a part of this vital ministry.
Mark Green began volunteering at City Union Mission in October of last year.  He had sustained a work related injury to his fingers that September and had subsequent surgery to mend them. When Mark began to feel well enough to be up and about, he told his employer he didn’t want to just sit at home and do nothing. He had a desire to be doing something productive to keep his mind busy, knowing that staying busy would be therapeutic as he recovered.  Mark’s employer put him in touch with the Mission.
Mark helped process books donated to the Mission by using a program to assess the value of a book and determine its next destination. He also helped box up books after they were sorted and then labeled the box to get it ready for delivery.  Mark has worked alongside one of our Christian Life Program participants and has been an encourager to him as well.
At various times Mark would help with other projects as they came up, such as sorting donations and organizing them into categories. He also assisted with Christmas projects.
Mark shared with us, “It has been a blessing for me to be in the surroundings of a Christian, faith-based organization the past four months. This experience has helped me stay in a positive frame of mind during my recovery.  I will treasure these months I’ve had to work with the staff of City Union Mission.”
Mark’s presence has been a great blessing to us and the staff has enjoyed having him here.  We were pleased to hear that he is interested in volunteering with the Mission in the near future.
(Submitted by Tammy Sharp, CORE Volunteer Administrator at City Union Mission)
On January 30, 2012, the United Association of Clinical Chaplains and Counselors International, conferred upon  Howard McFarland, one of our volunteer Chapel Speakers, the professional title of Licensed Clinical Professional in Addictions Recovery/Biblical Counselor – Minister. Dr. McFarland received this honor upon his completion of all course work and supervision required by the Division of Professional Counseling Ministries Endorsement of the UACCCI. Congratulations are extended to Dr. McFarland for the successful completion of the course work and training! (Submitted by James Smith, Development High Impact Volunteer Administrator at City Union Mission)
As children we played, in all the fun we had made.
Though it be dirt, our elders thought more work.
For what you do, Heavenly Father,
thank you, for playing as my younger brother,
Grasping something out of nothing,
forming miracles into everything.
Not of a toy that we shared,
Set up and stolen on a dare.
Undisturbed area upon the earth,
all the effort of no worth.
Angry, crying to say the least,
holding my tongue, or become a beast.
Days after I believed I knew,
as a child of what eventually comes over you.
Knowing we are not yet strong,
we attempt to correct what is wrong.
Time wears and shows no pain,
as a child, our thoughts don’t gain.
Thinking back upon that time,
what was given wasn’t truly mine.
Throughout the ages, lessons learned,
hardened my heart, I should discern.
Yes, God does love me,
I know it’s never too late
to play as a child at God’s Gate.
(This poem was submitted by David Roettgen, a participant in the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission.)
We were blessed to visit with a past client, Merrill, recently.  This young man did not complete the Christian Life Program here at Opportunity Farm.  He actually was released from the program twice.  He served some time in the Missouri Department of Corrections, and yet because of the impact the program had on him, he got his life turned completely around.
No longer on drugs, Merrill is attending college, working out – getting healthy in spirit, mind and body.  He has lost about 65 lbs and has a great outlook and stops by from time to time to say, “Thanks, I needed the discipline you gave me. You didn’t let me get by with my manipulations and you held me accountable and responsible.  You helped me turn my life around and I can’t say thanks enough”.
We are grateful to have our past clients check-in with us to share how they are doing.  They not only encourage us as staff, but also are an encouragement to the other men currently enrolled in the program. (Submitted by David Busick, Administrator of the Mission’s Christian Life Program at Opportunity Farm in Warsaw, MO)
Because of my position at City Union Mission I had the opportunity to remain in contact with a graduate named Eric, who was really struggling.  He kept coming around and God allowed me to minister to him physically by helping him get money for a bus pass and some medication he needed.  God also used me to speak words of truth to Eric.  He left, but God kept those words going through his head.
The next time I saw Eric he said that he had spoken with the Christian Life Program Administrator and he was able to come back to the program on a refresher basis.  God has definitely changed him.  He is becoming more humble and submissive.  Through this process God has provided him with a job after several years of searching.  He is now choosing to stay in-house on the weekends rather than going back to the lifestyle and choices he once knew.  I am so proud of him.  It is such a blessing to be a part of the Mission and witness such changes in these men on a daily basis.
(Written by Donna Oster, Administrative Assistant for the Men’s Emergency Shelter at City Union Mission)
All these years my addictions have been thinking for me. Now, all that is left is the shadow of what had been controlling me. I have been down some rough roads, through hard times and I have made some unhealthy choices and mistakes along the way. I have see that mistakes are for learning, not condemnation so – to err is human – to hold on to your mistakes is a sin.
I have made a conscience choice to not live my life in shame, guilt and sorrow. I have made a choice to take action and change. Overcoming mental blocks has been a period of adjustment for me. Being sober allows me to identify triggers associated with relapse, old mind sets and the darkness that would attack me and keep me down.
I will continue to trust God in everything, not because I need Him to think for me, but because I need Him to teach me how to think for myself.
I will continue to trust God to help me identify internal warning signs of relapse, not because I need Him to do it for me, but because I need Him to help keep me away from my old mind sets.
I will trust God, not because I have to, but because I have discovered who I am.
I will continue to trust God as my choice of intervention, not because I am lazy, but because my flesh is deceitful and weak.
I will continue to trust God in all my abilities, not because I cannot do it on my own, but because of the love I have for Him, therefore I trust Him.
God will always be my source of intervention, my constructive intervention, my choice of intervention, and God implements my intervention for me.
(Written by Dawn, a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
It’s true; the City Union Mission is where men, women, and children go when there is no where else to go.  But, the Mission is so much more. We don’t want anyone who comes through our doors to return to a life of homelessness and hopelessness. One of the ways we make this assertion come to life is by way of Career Development.
When a client of one of the Mission’s long term recovery programs is close to graduating, they begin to work with the Career Development Department.    The Mission does more that just help clients find a job, we help them chart a new life.
Case in point:  Mike, a recent graduate of the Christian Life Program.   At 50-something Mike was ready for a brand new start.  Bright, enthusiastic and friendly, Mike wanted to work with people in an organization that matched his enthusiasm and develop his gifts and talents.
We all know today’s job market is tough but there are bright spots.  Call Centers are springing up nationally; and TMG is such a start -up here in Kansas City.  Working with the Full Employment Council, Mike recently interviewed with TMG and was hired to join the young company.  Mike is excited to help build the business, eager to contribute to society, and add his positive effect to the workforce.  Truly, a new future filled with both hope and purpose.
(Written by Steve Sahl, a Career Development Specialist at City Union Mission)
I meet men every day who regret the choices they have made in their lives. Some of these men are in their middle years whose lives are in shambles. As a counselor, I hear their stories of opportunities squandered and bridges burned. My heart aches for these men. I seek wisdom from God’s Word and all of the creative energy that the Lord gives to me to assist them to recognize choices and behaviors that will bless them and honor God. For those men who are ready and willing to do the things that are necessary for true, lasting authentic change I am overjoyed by being an eye witness to God’s redeeming grace!
I have had the privilege for serving in the Christian Life Program for a few years now and have come to see particular characteristics in the men who come to us.
Men who move on in their lives with peace and purpose came to us with a true desire for change. They have come to a place in their life where they have their fill with the consequences of the poor choices they have made in their lives. These men, as it turns out, are teachable and submissive to instruction. They recognize the wisdom that the Word of God brings to their world. They are willing to be candid with Program Staff who have shared from their own experiences of progress and failures. These men recognize that they themselves must read, accept, and put Truth into practice.  This is what has brought them to a place of blessing and satisfaction. Last, but not least, these men have been assimilated into the local Church!
It is almost predictable that the men who leave us prematurely and go back to the lives they were living, do so for the very opposite behaviors the other men had adopted.
These men were not yet ready, nor had a real desire for personal change. These men were not teachable.  They were not willing to allow themselves to be disciplined or instructed. The Bible had no place in their life; they did not recognize the value of its instruction for life. And – these men merely attended church and did not integrate with the community of faith.
For those who are willing to pay the price for a changed heart and a changed life, God will bring blessings of strength, resolve, and peace.  I cannot help but think of the man who sold ALL that he had for the ONE Pearl of Great Price.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.’ — Matthew 13:45-46
(Written by Kelly Dunn, Case Manager/Counselor for the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission).
Looking for employment is extremely hard when you are homeless. The reality is that trying to do anything while homeless is difficult, no matter how small the task.
There are a variety of hardships that interfere with the process of job hunting while homeless. Some of these are: the shadow of depression, undeniable anxiety, tunnel vision, not having a car, not having any money, lack of a support system, overwhelming stress, an unstable mind, and no work or interview clothes.
Writing this, I am having flashbacks of pure sadness about the time when this was me. But I have a God who is bigger than my problems and has always provided for my needs. With God on your side, you always have a hope and a future!
(Lakeshia is a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
Most people at one time or another have their fifteen minutes of fame. Mine was on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012. What a day for that to happen. I was asked if I was up to an interview. I said I would be happy to do so, not knowing then what was instore for me.
I found out that the Family Center would receive a grant and Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver would be here. No pressure, right? Well, after meeting Mr. Cleaver I felt at ease. I got up along with another lady, Yaisi, and both of us told a cliff notes version of how we came to the Mission. Then came the pictures. Channel 5 News did an on-camera interview with me and a KMBZ radio DJ did an interview with both Yaisi and myself. Soon our fifteen minutes were over, but the memories will last.
Afterwards, I got to thinking about everyone all through history who experienced their fifteen minutes. For some, it lasted a short time. For others, it went on for years. Each time, it only lasted until someone else came along and took the spotlight. With 2 exceptions, all we have is a short time.
The two exceptions, I am referring to are Jesus Christ and Satan. Their fifteen minutes began before time started and will last until time ends and beyond. It is up to us to decide which side of the coin to be involved in. We can spend fifteen minutes of fame in heaven with Jesus Christ; Or, we can spend our fifteen minutes with Satan in the fires of hell.
Have you made your choice? I have. Hope to see you there!
(LeeAnn is a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
Wait, don’t go near there, it is not large enough for even a thought to pass through. Yet how is it we see a pinhole of light?
Drawn by something towards not of mere thoughts, but something foreboding, incomprehensible.
Lest we all stand here firmly planted we won’t know.
Whom is brave, daring, courageous, one without fear and a total understanding of what we face here, or within there.
Walking towards, seemingly gaining nothing not only of ground, we begin to hasten our pace realizing that our paths are no different than the speed of which shows no gain.
Resting and using what I just pondered upon, we notice the lighted object enlarged. What, why, how doesn’t answer, but in itself.
Taking another breath, visualizing this object suddenly it appears just out of reach and certainly attainable. This door recognizable now not so tiny and of immensely great light, shinning upon our surroundings, enabling us to a realization that of which is a type of moving picture.
The foreboding wasn’t that out of reach, but is that of which has always surrounded us.
Now standing, fearing what is to happen, we reach for a handle to aid in opening the door. Touching this handle is something that we all want. Our senses awakening as we firmly grasp the handle opening the door in haste, feeling our inner person leaping in joy as we sense also that something left behind, won’t be missed.
Anewness, AWE-NEW-NESS — the very tiny door was opened, lighted, showing, guiding our way; here next to Him laid the key that was placed before our journey started and was drawn to the tiny lighted door.
(Written By David M. Roettgen,  a participant in the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission)
Before coming to the Mission, my life was spent just existing. I spent nights awake thinking about the dead-end job waiting for me in the morning. I was always angry, frustrated, and stressed out. I drank so that I could sleep, but that didn’t help very long. I had no real direction or purpose. Life was just a daily existence that I didn’t look forward to.
 
When my wife became ill, there were more bills than I could even think about. I drank more so I wouldn’t have to think about them, but the bills were still there. Then when I thought things couldn’t be worse, I got injured and lost my job. With more than enough experience in my line of work, I thought finding a job would be easy. I was wrong. We finally lost our housing and everything we owned.
At City Union Mission, I found a staff of great people who were more than willing to help me. I stopped drinking the day I arrived three months ago and haven’t had a drink or even wanted a drink since. The Mission staff helped me to find my way back to God and the Church. I am receiving spiritual and educational help. I have a great place to live with good people around me. Life now has a direction and a purpose. I like waking up in the morning again.
(Ken is a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission, along with his wife Lea Ann)
It has taken God’s hand upon my life to release me from my addictions. Living my life with Christ allows me to be free of my addictions. Living my life for Christ allows me to stay clean and sober. Coming here to City Union Mission has helped me to overcome the entrapment of my addictions through rest, reflection, the teachings of God, and the commitment from the staff members to help me create an intentional path towards success.
It has taken God’s other hand upon my life to keep me lifted up and having sight as I journey through my commitment to Him, not allowing others or circumstances to hinder my walk and discovery of myself. Since I have been here at the Mission and have committed my life to the New Life Program, I have learned the meaning of being valued by God. I now have the freedom to value, love, and accept myself by putting the Lord first in all I do.
People may think what they want because ultimately, God is in control of ALL THINGS! I know I have trials and tribulation ahead, and I do expect to suffer for them. Anything worth having creates a challenge to keep it. Relying on and trusting in God is essential for success in anyone’s life—putting ALL negativity behind and pressing onward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.
So whoever may be reading this, please understand that God is very real, and that if God is for us, then who can be against us? All we have to do is talk to God, consistently and love Him with all our hearts. Please brothers and sisters, press on for the higher goal which is in Christ.
(Dawn is a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)
To assist the men who God sends our way, we have seen a need for providing some medical services.  Without a doubt the men who visit here have both a great resilience to the hardships of living on the streets and under the bridges and they have a susceptibility to many illnesses.  We have been blessed to have two full time nurses on staff, two consistent volunteer nurses and a volunteer doctor who tends to the immediate needs of our guests.  Over the years we’ve established the proper medical protocols and have had 10’s of thousands of visits in the medical offices.  In December of 2011 alone we had over 1,000 visits for everything from common colds, to recent discharges from area hospitals with no where to go, to mentally ill men.  We are remarkably blessed with staff to help who live compassionately with professionalism and consistency and love.
One aspect is to train the men to take care of themselves.  In the long term program (CLP) we have several men usually on hand who need to be trained to manage their medication intake.   They report to medical on a weekly basis and fill their week’s worth of medication.  They are given their bottles of meds and taught how to read the labels and then put the daily amounts in the daily slots of the medicine containers they will carry with them.  All part of making sure they are being medicated right and learning to manage their own medication intake.
(Written by Gary Mountz, Director of Men’s Ministries at City Union Mission)
One of our many ministries at City Union Mission is Medical Services.  The majority of homeless clients enter the shelter with many health needs ranging from the average winter cold to severely high blood pressure and even cancer.  Medical Services has the incredible privilege to be the hands of feet of Jesus as we care directly for the physical needs of the clients.  Our desire is to share the love of Christ with these clients as we help to care for their physical conditions.
Medical Services assists several patients every day with over the counter medication, health education, prescription cost assistance, transportation assistance, and referrals to local doctors.  Our nurses currently assist homeless patients who walk in off the street, as well as clients who are a part of our long-term programs.  We work very closely with our long-term clients to help them adequately address their health needs and establish consistent, on-going primary medical care. Recently our nurse was working with an older gentleman of our Christian Life Program (long-term program for men).  During his first week on the program, he came to Medical Services for his health assessment and it was discovered that he had severely high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease.  Through the weeks, he has struggled to navigate through many doctor’s appointments, medication changes, and even an emergency hospitalization.  As we have assisted him through all of the changes, he is now living healthy again and is beginning to be able to navigate the health system on his own. This winter Medical Services has seen a large increase in patient encounters.  In December alone, we had 970 patient visits.  Due to the huge influx of patient visits, Medical Services has run out of several, vital over the counter medications.  We are currently in need of:
  • Cold Medication (tabs preferred–easier to hand out 1-2 doses, non-alcohol based)
  • Sinus Medication (no sudafed)
  • Advil/Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol/Acetaminophen
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Cough drops
  • Benedryl/Diphenhydramine
Please consider partnering with City Union Mission to provide basic medical care for these clients.  If you are interested in finding out more about Medical Services and volunteer needs please visit our website HERE. (Written by Lucy Akins, Medical Services Supervisor at City Union Mission)
Some of the men on the Christian Life Program are there because of some adverse or difficult life circumstances, but virtually all of the men on the Christian Life Program are in recovery because of bad choices and/or struggles with addictions of some sort. Hiding, covering up, lying, manipulation are very much issues they have to address to experience God’s grace and healing. The men on the program are not allowed to have outside jobs for the first 85% of their time here on the program. In place of an income, they are provided with either $5 or $10 a week as an allowance, depending on where they are in the program.
Recently, a CLP staff member was distributing weekly allowances to the men. One client was accidentally handed 6 one dollar bills instead of the 5 he was to receive. The client counted his money and handed a 1 dollar bill back, saying he should only have 5. Shortly after that, another man was handed $10 when he should have only been given $5. The staff member had inadvertently read the wrong line. The client handed $5 back to the staff member, saying he shouldn’t have received that much. Shortly after that, the staff member was speaking with another client about his allowance. The allowance roster indicated he should receive $10. The client was in the last part of his program and had just gotten a job. He had an income now and knew that was when allowances stopped. He could have taken the $10 allowance and no one would have known the difference, but he did not. What was meaningful about these three instances was that each man could have gotten away with something to their advantage and to someone else’ loss. But because they listened to a still small voice from the Holy Spirit, they did not yield to their normal patterns of hiding, covering up, lying or manipulating. They were setting new patterns of godliness, righteousness and holiness. Each of the 3 men was thanked as each incident happened and encouraged in what the staff member saw in their personal growth. What a privilege to be in the ministry of the Kingdom of Christ! New creations!
(Written by Bret Kroh – Assistant Administrator of the Christian Life Program at City Union Mission)
Before coming to the Mission, I was a “normal Christian” with an English teaching job in Korea for seven years. God then opened the door for me to work with a missionary organization in the USA. However, that didn’t work out well, so I came to Kansas City to check out a worship music school, and I met my American husband. At the time, he was physically healthy, but after we married, he went back to an addiction problem I didn’t know he had. My parents had to help us financially for three years. My husband had started to get in lots of trouble, even jail, and I decided I had to protect my boys and myself.
So, my husband and I came to City Union Mission, as a family, with our 2 year old and 1 year old sons, to get help for my husband’s addiction. We stayed one month and then as my husband’s mother was very ill, we planned to visit her, but that didn’t work out. We had to stay in a motel for a week, with no plan, no place to go, and our money running out. So, I called a counselor who worked at the Mission and told her my situation. Through her, God opened the door for me and the boys to restart the program. Finally, my husband decided to go to the Mission Men’s Program. So now, I am working on my stuff with my two boys and my husband is working on his own recovery. God is working on us separately through City Union Mission, and we are thankful. We are looking forward to being together as a whole family.
I have been learning about communication and boundaries, which are really important for relationships in life. I knew that I needed to be changed, but honestly, I didn’t know how to do that because I grew up in a dysfunctional family in Korea. I didn’t even know what my problem was—for example, my passive-aggressive communication. I have been able to learn about myself and then try to choose the healthy way instead of running away from the problem. For example, I hate to ask and I used to stuff my feelings all the time because my parents told me to do that. But now, even though it’s not easy, I have tried to make changes using what I’ve learned through classes and counseling, His Word, and prayer.
I feel I’m so blessed to be here for this opportunity. I believe that God opened this door for my family.
(Chris B. is a participant in our New Life Program at City Union Mission)
At 59 and 53 years old, my husband, Ken, and I never imagined in our wildest dreams, that we would become homeless. Actually, we are houseless. We have no house, but we have a place to stay, where it is warm, inviting, and caring. That place is City Union Mission.
Since coming here in June 2011, our lives have completely turned around. It is all due to the caring staff employed here. On our own, we knew we were not, and still are not, strong enough to do what we have accomplished. We began the Mission program with the New Beginnings Covenant and then advanced to the New Life Program.
We have joined Bread of Life Outreach Ministries, and shortly afterwards, both of us were baptized. Again, something we didn’t think would ever happen. We have grown and continue to grow in Christ. He has been there for us, even through major health issues. City Union Mission Staff and housemates were there with us also. It is a great support system to have in place.
Becoming houseless/homeless was the best thing to ever happen to us. We owe everything to God for putting us here and to City Union Mission for doing what they love to do: HELPING PEOPLE!(Lea Ann and her husband are participants in our New Life Program.)
A development we have come to deal with in ministering to the homeless men of the KC metro area is that they do not normally, habitually take responsibility to change their lives.  They, like all humans, develop “comfort zones” even if it is by all appearances uncomfortable to others.  We have undertaken processes to help them see the opportunities for a new life that is in front of them.  When men come to the emergency shelter and remain just as guests for a long period of time (years) we call upon an “intervention team” to meet with the man to discuss his future.  Options are presented as we prayfully look with them for a future to their lives.  Of course we are first interested in their spiritual lives, a real, living relationship with Jesus, but then we help them see other options for living outside the walls of the Mission.
In our long-term program men again get stuck in a “comfort zone” not making progress as the program is designed, or they begin to go backwards.  We then meet with them using a 2-page questionnaire called the ‘Opportunity For Change’.  It deals with the choices and behaviors that the man has been making and living and guides them to see the options available to them.
Both of these techniques can help move the men forward in their lives.  Now you have another inside look into the Men’s Ministry at City Union Mission.
(Written by Gary Mountz, Director of Men’s Ministries)
“Today is December 23rd, 2011. For some, it’s just another day; for others it’s a very special time, just two days before we celebrate the birth of Christ.
Celebrations are taking place all over the world, but I personally felt something like never before. This year, I played the part of Mary in the Mission’s Live Nativity scene. On my second night in the ‘stable’ I was sitting on a bale of hay, holding the baby Jesus and waving at passing cars. The sunset was leaving glorious hues of color across the sky, from dark blue, purple, light purple to a rose color. I had looked away just long enough to wave at a passing car, and when I looked back, the evening star was shining brightly against the brilliant colors!  The bright star had not been visible before.
For a moment in time, I felt transported back to that first Christmas night as I stared in wonder at the appearance of the star. That must have been what it was like for the shepherds. Instead of being afraid or anxious about the star, perhaps they too felt an inner peace as I did. It was as if I was present at that very first Christmas, holding the baby Jesus.
Just as fast as the feeling came, it left, but the impact of that moment remained with me. The men who were participating in the Live Nativity with me were unaware of what had just taken place. One of them asked me if I was okay. Did I need anything? Was I warm enough? I said that I was fine. I had everything I needed and wanted right there in my arms.
Even though it was just a split-second happening, I will remember that feeling for the rest of my life… until my Father calls me home. If there ever is a chance for me to play Mary again, I will do so willingly, happily, and wholeheartedly.”
(Lea Ann is a participant in our New Life Program)
 Community Assistance Christmas Interviewing
As we approach the end of the Christmas interviewing process, Lydia Allen, the Community Assistance Administrator, reports that we have interviewed more than 496 clients!  In November, there were 72 salvations and so far in December there have been 29 salvations.  November is looking like it will have been the second busiest month of the year.
Ben, a 2010 CLP graduate, was invited to share his testimony with the participants of ‘Drug Court’, a court sanctioned drug rehabilitation program in Harrisonville, MO.  He was encouraged to have the opportunity to report how his thinking, his actions and his entire life has been transformed by participating in the Mission’s Christian Life Program.  He was presented with many questions and was excited to see how the Lord gave him the ability to answer each one with clarity because of the journey he has been on.  Ben was never the type of individual to speak in such a public venue, so this was very exciting news for our staff to hear!
‘I expect and hope that I will not fail Christ in anything but that I will have the courage now, as always, to show the greatness of Christ in my life here on earth.’   –Philippians 1:20
The ladies that volunteered as Teen Girls camp staff have committed to stay involved in the lives of these young women.  They interact with them on Facebook and set-up events such as sleep-overs, concerts, Bible studies and other fun activities to be able to stay in touch and touch their lives.
The new involvement of teen girls has prompted a group of the Teen Boys’ staff to invite the teen boys to camp for a ‘Winter Retreat’ in December.  They plan to stay in the cabins (with warm clothes and sleeping bags) and roast food over camp fires, and participate in archery and riflery.  There are 13 willing staff members currently signed up.  Invitations were sent to all the teen boys last week and 3 have already sent in their registration forms.  Please pray for this new form of outreach, that these dedicated men will impact the lives of these young men.
Plans are under way for the annual Camp Christmas Party, to be held December 3rd.  We will mail out invitations to all our 2011 campers for them and their families.  We usually have about 80-100 campers and family members come by for food, games, crafts and a puppet show.
The Harrisonville Christian School held their annual Pumpkin Bread Sale and annual Food Drive recently and chose that these events would benefit the Mission! The kids present Dennis Ellis, Church Relations Specialist for City Union Mission, with a check for $235 and a ‘trunkload’ of food for the Mission. Thank you for your BIG HEARTS for helping us to take care of “God’s Human Sparrows.”
In the men’s ministries here at City Union Mission we are blessed with the golden opportunity to discuss the very essence of life with our guests.  Remarkable things happen daily and testimonies come in with men telling of transformations in their lives.
Once men get on with life as a disciple of Christ we then attempt to help them become productive citizens in their chosen churches and places of employment.  The many churches that volunteer to present Christ here at the Mission often receive the men back into their fellowships.  That is about as healthy a transfer as is possible.
They also need to work their way back into providing for their needs and preparing to help others who can’t help themselves (Ephesians 4:28).  To help with this we have two full time and one part time staff members whose administrative purpose is to lead clients into the working world.  They use the typical tools of resume writing, internet search engines to locate openings, interviewing skills etc., but the real key they provide lies is at a different level.
They must understand that all of life works out right when Christ is the center of their lives.  If that is right, the world, including their work-world, works out right.  God is God and He is faithful and true.  Second, they must create a real workable job search plan and stick with it.  Third, they must maintain sobriety.
There are lots of employment tools, but none so potent as applying the Word of Truth which the Holy Spirit will use in their lives.
(Post submitted by Gary Mountz, Director of Men’s Ministries at City Union Mission)
The Mission is appreciative of friends like the Frontier Trails Middle School K-Club who recently held a Toilet Paper Drive to benefit the Misison.  The school collected 673 rolls of toilet paper!
Also, the Junior Youth Group, from Hope Lutheran Church in Shawnee, sponsored a  Food Drive for the Mission collecting 900 pounds of various food items! Pamela Webb, the Jr. Youth Leader, said that the group will also be collecting towels, washcloths and twin size sheets after Christmas to give to the Mission.
We appreciate groups such as these that demonstrate a giving spirit in partnering with the Mission to provide for those that stay at our shelters.  Thank you for having a Heart for the Homeless!
The irony of a Christian recovery program is that it exists for men who have been living unmanaged and uncontrolled lives, driven primarily by selfish, destructive choices and addictive behaviors. Within 6 hours of their walking into the Christian Life Center for their 12-14 month long program, they are asked to live unselfishly in Christian community with other men like themselves – 40 to 80 uncontrolled and unmanaged men – treating God and each other according to the biblical commands “Love God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That is irony – an outcome contrary to what you would expect to happen.
Thinking that a man is going to make those radical changes and choices instantly is a real stretch . . . a tall order. But guess what? That is what Jesus calls us to believe . . . that He is capable of bringing about those kinds of miraculous changes and transformations. Jesus may choose to do it instantly, quickly, or over time. Either way, the change is miraculous.
Do rules and self-discipline bring about those changes? Absolutely not. But beneficial rules and self-discipline create an environment of mutual respect where a self-centered man can begin to see how much he resents having to be subject to the control of others. When a man begins to acknowledge he hates the control of others in his life, but also admits neither can he control himself to do the right thing, that puts him in a great place to learn . . . . humbling. And humbling brings grace.
Freedom is not the absence of constraints. A person will always be controlled by somebody. Freedom is the choice to determine who he will allow to control him. Jesus promises He is a good and benevolent King, and that He will come and live in the inner being of the unmanaged man who is seeking self-control . . . inner governing and constraints. Why not choose to let Jesus bring the internal, self-governing that the unmanaged, uncontrolled man has been looking for?
Sometimes it’s fun and adventurous to be a part of something ironic!
(Contributed by Bret Kroh – Assistant Administrator to our Christian Life Program)
A few weeks ago, 13 men from our city-side Christian Life Program (CLP) traveled to the Opportunity Farm CLP program near Warsaw, Missouri for a 2-1/2 day retreat with staff and clients from both programs.
The retreat was an opportunity for the men to take a break from their normal routines and to enjoy the beauty of the country setting. There was time for hiking, fishing, games and recreation, team building activities, spiritual encouragement and fellowship.
Program staff led discussions on the topic of God’s standards for sexuality, explaining what God expects of a man who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Many of the men expressed appreciation for the chance to talk about this topic in a godly and safe context. Biblical sexuality should always be understood in the context of God’s unselfish and unconditional love, a lifestyle that rises far above the portrayal of sexuality by society and the media.
There was a young lady who came into our Family Shelter because of a unique situation.  She attends college in Chicago, but was in town visiting family.  While she was here the family member she had come to visit had a death in the family. She came to the our shelter because she had run out of family members she could stay with while waiting to go back to school. She stayed for two weeks then went back to school to finish her education to become a doctor.  Each situation is different and not always what most people expect of those we serve. ———————————————————————- I was reminded this month how important it is to catch a client when they relapse. When a pattern of failure, dysfunction, or addiction has been the rule, it generally is not reversed in just 30 days, so it seems best to not be surprised by failure. Providing the opportunity to feel the weight of the sin is important. However, being willing to not let the client completely shipwreck also is important. “K” is feeling the consequences of heavy sin, but is being offered grace by her parole officer and her mission family as she is paying the price for her behavior. God calls His rescuers to live like the Great Rescuer. ———————————————————————- At times, we ourselves need encouragement. One day I came into work, and I was pretty down. I was struggling with something in my own life that was discouraging me. Later that day I was speaking with one of the clients, and she reminded me of the same verses I had shared with her when she was struggling with a similar problem. I’m glad to see some things I have told to clients is sticking. Not only was she able to recall the encouragement I gave her, but she encouraged me when I was not doing well myself.
We are so grateful for our long-term partners from the Northland Circle of Friends for their outstanding partnership with the Mission. For many years they have provided a variety of items, such as quilts, take-home bags/laundry bags and book bags for Camp CUMCITO, as well as nightshirts and welcome bags for our Men’s Center. This group has met once a month for approximately 12 years! Thank you for your generous hearts!  We could use more groups like yours!
Do you belong to a church in the Kansas City area? We are looking for churches with a heart for the mission to host a group of people each month as a NEW Circle of Friends like the Northland group.  You can make a difference!  Contact our Church Relations Specialist at (816) 329-1466, to see how!
We’re already done with week 7 and in some ways it seems like we just got started and in other ways it feels like we’ve been with these campers for years. This week we traveled through history learning all about our past, how America came to be and the heritage we have in the faith. We were blessed to have an awesome volunteer group here from City Refuge Church! They were a huge help and we are so thankful for them.
This week we packed in all sorts of activities from making homemade ice cream, building forts, playing dress up, learning new gym games, playing with the parachute, making colonial cookies, learning new facts, and going on some great field trips!
This week we went to Miss Stephanie’s church to watch a movie and have snacks! It was a fun relaxing afternoon to escape the heat. We also cooled off at the Concourse Fountains which is always a blast. Clay County Parks and Rec hosted us for our Friday Field Trip and we had so much fun with the interns and the park rangers. They taught us how to fish, shoot bows and arrows, and even let us check out their wildlife. The campers loved all of it…even touching the snakes!
We are excited to jump into our final week of City Camp for the 2011 season. Please be praying that God really works in the lives of the campers as we wind down and they gear up for school.
The 6th week of City Camp was ‘Around the World’ week!  Each day of the week we picked a different part of the world to study.  Monday we studied Australia, Tuesday – Asia, Wednesday – France, and Thursday –  Africa.
Some of the activities that we did through the week were painting animals from Australia, learning how to speak and write some basic Chinese, and tribal – African face painting.
On Wednesday we made Eiffel Towers during devotions and talked about having a strong foundation in the Lord.
Friday we took a field trip to the Kansas City Zoo to see all of the animals from around the world.  Thank you Kansas City Zoo for sponsoring a trip for City Camp!
A big thanks to Shawnee Mission Park!  We were able to go to the park for an afternoon and have a fun fill outdoor recreation time.
Thanks so much to Cleveland YMCA for providing a fun filled recreation afternoon in their gym and pool!  Our City Camp kids loved it!
New Life Community Church brought their high school youth group for a week at City Camp.  Thanks so much New Life for ministering with us for a week.
Each day of the week we picked a different holiday to celebrate. Monday we celebrated Thanksgiving, Tuesday – Christmas, Wednesday – Valentines Day, Thursday – Easter, and Friday we all got to pretend like it was OUR BIRTHDAY!
One afternoon we celebrated a new Holiday every 45 minutes!  It was an fun time for the kids. That afternoon we celebrated Cinco De Mayo, Grandparent’s Day, New Years, and the 4th of July.
Some of the activities we did throughout the week were decorating Christmas trees, making gingerbread houses, making piñatas, recording audio books for our grandparents, making valentines for our friends, and so much more.
A huge thanks to the ‘North Kansas City Community Center’  for allowing us to come use their awesome facilities to swim with the campers. They really enjoyed it and can’t wait for the opportunity to go back! ‘River Roll’ stepped up to help us make Birthday Day a fun party for everyone and gave us a reduced rate to take the campers roller skating. Thanks so much River Roll!
This week many of the VYC staff and summer staff were down at Camp CUMCITO, which made it crucial that we had a great volunteer group to help make this week function. We were so blessed to have an awesome youth group called ‘Set Apart’ from ‘Potter’s House’ in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
‘Potters House’ is a ministry for at-risk students and families in Fayetteville. They serve students from kindergarten through high school with small group Bible studies, one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, extra-curricular activities, and life-on-life involvement.
‘Set Apart’ is a group of High School students who are committed to learning what it looks like to be a true disciple of Jesus. It was fun and beautiful to watch our kids get to learn and build relationships with young adults who have been through similar situations as them and by the grace of God have been OVERCOMERS and are now walking with Jesus!
You can check out ‘Potters House’ by visiting their their website here.
This week Green Acres Baptist Church joined us from Tyler, Texas!  They have several teams serving in various ways around City Union Mission.
One team from Green Acres is at City Camp with our campers, while their ministry team went out on Monday and canvassed area apartment complexes and neighborhoods, handing out 1000 invitations to a community carnival.
On Tuesday afternoon the ministry team and work crew from Green Acres set up an incredible free carnival for the community!  They served for several hours, cooking hotdogs, setting up pop-bottle ring-toss, a cake walk, face painting, snow cones, and 4 inflatables!
When the City Camp and community families arrived at the carnival the kids loved it!  The huge water slide inflatable was very popular!  The families were able to get connected with City Union Mission’s programs such as the Community New Life program, the Vanderberg Youth Center, and Camp CUMCITO.  Thank you so much Green Acres for sponsoring an incredible carnival!
We had 62 campers join us this week!  Our teen girls spent their week at Camp CUMCITO.  Each day the campers had recreation, crafts, reading, and education all themed with Dr. Seuss.  We made Seuss characters and “oobleck” one day.  And of course we had green eggs and ham!
The kids got to learn more about the Bible and Jesus through devotions each day.
This week we had volunteers join us from Harvest Ridge Covenant Church .  Thanks so much to Shawnee Mission Park for our field trip one afternoon!  The students loved playing at the park.
On Friday, the younger campers took a field trip to Air Zone where they got to play on inflatables and the older campers went to Dickenson Theaters.  Thank you to Air Zone and Dickenson Theaters for hosting us!
During Week 2 of City Camp we had 55 campers.  It was exciting to be able to send off 25 kids from City Camp to Camp CUMCITO this week.  We had tons of fun with our volunteers from Legacy Camp.  They put together a wonderful week of arts for the campers.
Each morning the campers had a group worship time and Bible study in the afternoon.  During the day the campers were able to draw, paint, make jewelry, dance, and play guitar, make model airplanes, bake, act and much, much more!
Legacy Camp made it possible for the campers to show off their art to their families at the Friday night banquet were the campers performed their acts, songs, and dances.  The campers had so much fun!  Thank you Legacy Camp!
We had an awesome week!  The 82 campers that attended learned about who God is.  They also had tons of fun by participating in all sorts of pirate adventures. We made awesome crafts, played games, learned cool stories from the Bible and went on great field trips. We are so thankful to Sherwood Bible Church for allowing us to use their pool for the campers to enjoy. Another huge shout out to Bump City at the GAGE Center for allowing all 100 campers and staff to enjoy a great day at their facilities for free! We also took students to Kaleidoscope, the Crown Center fountains, and Concourse Park.  Of course we couldn’t have done it without the wonderful volunteers from Willow Creek Baptist Church from Heppner, Oregon that helped us this week!  Thanks to all that made the first week of City Camp a BLAST!
City Camp is an 8 week summer day camp for low income and homeless families in Kansas City. It offers programming Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Each week has a new theme presented that consists of devotions, educational activities, recreation, crafts, swimming, field trips, lunch, snacks, and lots of other fun activities.
We are excited to have 75 campers enrolled this year!
Volunteers can serve in various roles at City Camp. Some will serve as counselors leading their team of campers through each activity; others will serve as cooks helping to prep snacks and meals; some will serve as rec staff leading ativities; but everyone will get the privilege of loving on the campers.
The New Life Program (NLP) has done so much for me, but I am writing this to share how much the program has done for my son. Milo, who just turned 9 years old, is a child being transformed into a testimony for God. Milo had no stability in his first eight years of life. My addictions led us down a path of constant change, and usually not positive ones.
We have been at City Union Mission for 9 months and I have seen my child change so much. His confidence is growing and he has opened up to share hurts from the past. He has a heart for doing right. He wants fairness for everyone he meets, and his heart breaks when he sees others hurting.
We read daily Bible stories, and he questions me when he doesn’t understand. We have been known to call a sister in Christ to make sure we are fully understanding God’s Word! I am learning right along with Milo. He recently shared with me that he feels safe and doesn’t worry about me any more. He knows that God is directing our lives now, and we will be ok. I am blessed to be able to raise Milo with God now, and I owe so much to the City Union Mission for allowing us to be a part of the program. Thank you.
(Submitted by Chris, a participant in the New Life Program at City Union Mission)