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!
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.
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. 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 the people who led YouthWorks-Detroit.
During my first semester at HU, Dr. Bergler invited a guest speaker, named
Ed Conlin, to address the students at H.U. about living a celibate life
for the Lord and his outreach work in Detroit. Ed is a licensed substance
abuse counselor and chaplain with Capuchin Franciscan Ministries in Detroit,
and a life-long member of the Servants of the Word, an international ecumenical
missionary brotherhood of men who live single for the Lord and a common
life of prayer, simplicity, and service. Ed currently lives in Detroit
with two other brothers, praying for the restoration of the once thriving
city. When he came to our class to share a video and talk about Detroit,
I experienced the Holy Spirit stirring in my soul like never before. Deep
in my heart I knew that my life would not go as I had planned it if I responded
to this prompting of the Holy Spirit within me. While listening to Ed I
could not deny the presence and work of the Lord and I was intrigued to
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.
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.
Staff: Top row from left to right: Evan Kresta (Gapper), Camille Chippewa
Ryan Corr (Gapper),
Emily Hoffman (Finances/Urban Encounter); Front Row: Matt Hagen (Gapper),
(Program Director), Anna Bode (Women’s Mission Leader)
of our mission journey to Detroit
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 ofin mission
in the city of Detroit. Staff training bagin 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.
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!
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!
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
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!
in Intentional Community
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.
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.
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
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:
a.m. -> rise & shine!
a.m. -> breakfast
– 7:40 a.m. -> morning prayer/ meditation
a.m. -> off we go!
a.m. – 5 p.m. (Mondays) -> StreetTeam “Who’s Your Neighbor?”
a.m. – 2 p.m. (Tue, Wed,Th) -> StreetTeam “Who’s Your Neighbor?”
2 – 4 p.m. -> drop off teens, office work, etc
p.m. -> dinner
of the night: either staff meeting, small group, prayer meeting, date night,
or prep time
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.
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
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.
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
in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
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.
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.
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