December 2013/January 2014 - Vol. 71

Called to Mission Together in Detroit

by Chad and Doris Shellabarger
Our new YouthWorks-Detroit program director, Chad Shellabarger, and his wife, Doris, have been blogging as they transition from college to a life together in community outreach in Detroit, gladly serving their King! 
- Joshua Rock, Executive Director for YouthWorks-Detroit

How did a small-town boy from a nice neighborhood in Ohio end up in Detroit? Well, there are two versions of the story: the short one and the more detailed one. First, the short one.


The second version of the story could take a few coffee (or hot chocolate for me!) dates to explain, but I will give the shorter version. The first connection of note occurred during my first semester at Huntington University (HU). I decided to minor in youth ministry and ended up in a class with professor Tom Bergler. It turns out that Tom was well acquainted with YouthWorks-Detroit.

The Lord gave my spirit power to conquer my timid flesh and I eventually made a trip to Detroit during my first January term at H.U. The Lord took me to the front lines of Detroit's poverty and my heart and worldview were shattered so that He could build one on HIS foundation. Near the end of the Urban Encounter, the YouthWorks-Detroit staff presented an opportunity for the upcoming summer: Detroit Summer Outreach (DSO). I strongly considered it and the 5 of us on the trip returned to Huntington with a new fire burning in our hearts. 

Through some divine interaction and the help of my financial supporters, I was able to participate in DSO 2010 as a StreetTeam intern. When it came to a close, I was sad to leave, but had a strange sense that I would be back. Sure enough, the Lord opened a locked door the following summer and I came back on as a StreetTeam crew leader. Once again, I left with the familiar feeling of leaving home, even though that is where I thought I was heading! 

During my senior year at H.U., the Lord revealed that He wanted me back again, this time to accept a dream job offer of being the StreetTeam director during the summer and Program director during the year.  My wife and I are privileged to be steadfast lamps burning bright in God's city and we look forward to witnessing it rise from the ashes.

Youth-Works Detroit Staff: Top row from left to right: Evan Kresta (Gapper), Camille Chippewa (Bezalel), 
Ryan Corr (Gapper), Emily Hoffman (Finances/Urban Encounter); Front Row: Matt Hagen (Gapper), 
Chad Shellabarger (Program Director), Anna Bode (Women's Mission Leader)

Some highlights of our mission journey to Detroit

Tuesday May 21, 2013

5:15 a.m. and we were off! The car was packed to the max as Doris and I pull out of Chad's parent's driveway in Rockford, Ohio to start our new life of mission in the city of Detroit. Staff training began at 9 a.m. in the YouthWorks-Detroit office and we were welcomed with open arms by our brothers and sisters who had chosen to intentionally live a Christ-centered life in the city. This year's DSO (Detroit Summer Outreach) staff consisted of 10 plus talented individuals from the U.S. as well as all over the world, and it was amazing to witness how little cross-cultural differences mattered when we worked together in the Spirit. This was the perfect spot for us to start our life of service together. 

Before diving into many hours of planning and preparation of an amazing summer program for young adult intern as well as city youth, we came before the Lord to worship and seek His counsel. This summer was only the beginning of what God had in store for us in Detroit and we praised Him for surrounding us with a solid community that made us feel at home right away!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

After a week of staff training, all of the interns flew in from all over the world. We have interns and staff members from Germany, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, and all over the United States. One of the most amazing aspects of the first week is how quickly the group meshed together. We all shared a common bond in the Lord Jesus Christ and once we gathered to worship, it did not matter where we were from. 

As far as StreetTeam, we kicked off the summer with our annual "Job Readiness Workshops" (or JRWS). The workshops are part of the application process of joining StreetTeam and they consist of 3 days of 3 (one-hour) sessions with business men and women from the city and surrounding communities. The topics included: Financial Literacy, The Profile of an Excellent Employee, Goal Setting, Interview Tips, Building a Resume, and Communication Skills.  The workshops build toward fulfilling the motto of Youthworks-Detroit, "Equipping youth for the fullness of life." We do not want to offer a job, or a church camp experience, we strive to provide a summer job and skills training for Detroit high-schoolers as well as an environment where they can start or grow a relationship with Jesus Christ. After meeting some of the kids, we are extremely excited to kick of the program for 2013!

Early July 2013

In early July during my daily Scripture reading, I  began to read the Book of Exodus and the story of Moses. It had been quite a while since I have carefully read the narrative surrounding the life of Moses. So I was not surprised that the Lord spoke personal words of wisdom for me through reading about Moses. 

Diving into my new position was not short on emotions. The excitement of a new journey was exhilirating, but the plethora of tasks was crippling. I found myself in between deep joy and nagging thoughts of insufficiency. How could I possibly create a spiritual environment like my predecessor did? Am I a fluent speaker for this job? What if I fail miserably? - The doubts crept in and I denied my annointing. 

If you know anything about Moses' story, you may know where I am going with this. After the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and God called Moses to deliver them, he questioned the Lord's beckoning. Even with the obvious miracles the Lord was doing in his sight, Moses felt weak. BUT, God did not choose the wrong guy.  He tells Moses that HE made him and HE will use him to fulfill his purpose. This truth cut right through my filthy doubts and strengthened me to lead!

Life in Intentional Community

by Doris

This summer, I have the unforeseen joy to serve as the StreetTeam "Who's Your Neighbor?" (WYN?) program coordinator and experience life in intentional community in the women's household. When Chad and I first arrived in Detroit May 22, I had no idea what to expect.

Contrary to Chad and other staff, this was my first DSO and all I could do was trust the Lord that He knew what He was doing.  As you can read in Chad's testimony, he was the one who felt the Lord tugging on his heart to follow Him to Detroit. Now he was returning to his beloved city - with me. Both of us are passionate about inner city ministries, so diving into DSO seemed like a logical first step for the wife of Youthworks' future Program Director.

Unfortunately, I am a child of little faith. Even though God has placed me in many leadership positions serving youth and young adults in the past, I doubted my abilities to lead a children's ministry, encourage inner city teen employees and keep up with the crazy DSO schedule while preparing for life in Detroit after the summer. In fact, when I first met with my awesome "Who's Your Neighbor?" (WYN?) team of interns I was convinced that any one of them could do my job much better than me. Yet other staff reminded me that everybody in DSO, regardless of past experience, must always rely on the Lord for strength and His blessings on the program. Now I know that God's first blessing was to surround me with wise people. This summer has taught me once again that each one of us is created uniquely and with a specific purpose. God gives each one of us tasks and challenges because He has equipped us to master them with Him. And this summer He has decided to give WYN? to the new kid around the block.

A day in my (Doris) life during DSO

It is now my turn to give you all some kind of idea what I was doing all day while Chad was planning the Street Team programs. I did... a lot more than I thought I would do, but it was blessed work and I enjoyed my time in the summer program. Here is a general overview of a day in the D and what "my" StreetTeam Crew "Who's Your Neighbor? was all about:

6:00 a.m. -> rise & shine!
6:15 a.m. -> breakfast
6:40 - 7:40 a.m. -> morning prayer/ meditation
7:45 a.m. -> off we go!
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Mondays) -> StreetTeam "Who's Your Neighbor?"
8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Tue, Wed,Th) -> StreetTeam "Who's Your Neighbor?"
                2 - 4 p.m. -> drop off teens, office work, etc
6 p.m. -> dinner

Rest of the night: either staff meeting, small group, prayer meeting, date night, or prep time

"Who's Your Neighbor?" (WYN?) is a relatively new Street Team program which focuses on reaching out to children in the neighborhoods of East Detroit. Originally, we only accepted children age 7-14. However, after learning about younger siblings being left at home with often inconsistent care, we decided to respond the obvious need by opening our doors to any child old enough to participate in a summer day camp. Now we teach and play with children as young as three years old until lunchtime when we serve them a free meal. Our program ranges from bible stories to crazy dancing to songs like "Father Abraham", consistently reading to and with individual children, crafts, games, field trips, conflict resolution small groups and much more. Thankfully, the Lord has blessed us with a wonderful Street Team crew consisting of six High School students from Detroit who are doing a great job interacting with the kids and leading activities. It is our (staff) job is to invest in them just as much as we invest into our WYN? participants which stretches the program's age span that requires our attention from 3 to 17 year old children and teenagers. If you count the DSO interns which fall under my care, it goes up to 23 which leaves us with a total age gap of 20 years between the youngest child and the oldest intern all combined in one program.  If somebody would have told me that out of all people I would be leading the staff of this program I would have not believed it.

We started the program with very little supplies and even less instructions as to how to run it, yet the materials and food came in abundance and the children kept on bringing in more family members and friends to join in the fun. The Lord provided in mysterious ways and He laced people and situations into our program that He had prepared me for the years leading up to this summer. I simply couldn't see it when I was first assigned to lead the WYN? crew, but now as I look back I can see why God picked me and not somebody else and that experience is very rewarding and encouraging. Don't get me wrong, working with children is exhausting and teenagers can be frustrating, but it is in those moments when God comes in and equips me with new strength and authority to finish what He has given me to do. I found that God often transforms me the most when I try something I might not be naturally good at, yet He knows what He is doing after all.

This year's WYN? Crew became like a family away from home to many of us and I consider myself very blessed by the many talented co-workers God has called to the program. Every program day is made possible by the contribution of each intern, teen, child and donors that bless us with their resources and time. As we approach the end of the summer, we often speak with disbelief of the life after DSO when we will not be together anymore and that feeling of sadness confirms in my heart that God has proven Himself faithful once again.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." 
Proverbs 3:5-6

End of Detroit Summer Outreach 2013 (July 31st) 

Wow, what a summer! As always, DSO called young men and women from around the globe to come together and serve, worship, and commit their lives to their creator.  It was a privilege to witness the transformation of fellow staff, interns, and the youth we are serving. The Lord helped build a lot of great relationships and it was sad to depart.  However, it was not a solemn occasion "leaving" the youth this time. 

Every summer, we close out our StreetTeam program with a formal reception consisting of  hors d'oeuvres and desserts, as well as a program that honored the kids for their work and displayed our program to parents and benefactors. My previous two experiences at the StreetTeam reception have been bittersweet because of the pending move away from the city. However, this time was different! When a few of the youth came up and asked if I would be leading youth group in the fall, I could happily smile and nod, instead of mustering up enough courage to tell them why I was not staying. 

See related stories from YouthWorks-Detriot >
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