Sharing the Love of Jesus

May 31, 2023

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Youth Works Feature

Walking alongside students in their day-to-day lives makes an eternal difference.

Our gospel-centered, holistic approach to transforming the South Side community begins with building relationships. For youth, this includes meeting them where they’re at – providing fun, engaging activities and opportunities to imitate and follow Jesus – while also creating environments for both one-on-one and group discipleship. 

Studies show that even just one relationship with a trusted adult can make an enormous difference in a child’s life, helping them steer clear of risk and influencing them toward positive growth.

Although we know that personal connection, genuine relationships, and discipleship can all be transformational, the timing of this impact can sometimes feel ambiguous. After all, there isn’t a clear timeline for healing and personal development. 

So as we disciple young people and work to equip them for a successful future, we wait on God’s perfect timing. Then, often in unpredictable moments, we catch glimpses of the “why” behind our work.  When we are able to see young people feel more connected to God, its invigorating and deeply humbling. 

“Earlier this month, I was chatting with a student that I regularly hang out with,” shared Youth Works intern, Anna Ostland, “She is a fun, question-filled seventh grader named Arora. The times that we hang out together are usually filled with fast food and talking about life and Jesus and the other day I asked her where she was at with the whole ‘God-thing’ on a scale of 1 to 10.

She looked at me, and after a moment, said, ‘Oh I’m definitely at a 10.’ I asked her why she had placed herself there and she replied with, ‘Anna, I can’t stop talking about Jesus to my friends– he just comes up in conversation, and I’m not even trying,’ she told me. I was absolutely floored. 

“Only a few months earlier, I was explaining the gospel to her. I remember handing Arora her own Bible and teaching her how to read and navigate it. Seeing how much Arora’s faith has blossomed over these past few months of meeting has been amazing.”

Anna and Arora will be continuing their talks about faith and learning together as our Warehouse Project begins. 

The Warehouse Project is CLDI’s Youth Works team discipleship and mentorship program. Staff members intentionally walk alongside students for eight weeks and help them learn how to transition well into adulthood. 

The Youth Works team kicked off the Warehouse Project this month with a special Initiation Ceremony. The event began by picking up the kids after school and taking them to Rail//Line for coffee. There, leaders and students discussed the details, expectations, and commitments for the next eight weeks. 

They talked over habits and goals they wanted to set and ways they would like to help peer-lead activities for Youth Works. After Rail//Line, everyone jumped in their car to begin a competitive scavenger hunt between the teams of leaders with their students. Everyone raced around picking up enough trash to fill a garbage bag; ordering an ice cream cone and grabbing it from the worker; and taking pictures with statues around Billings. The scavenger hunt ended on top of the Rimrocks overlooking the city.

On the Rims, students selected rocks and wrote in sharpie something they wanted to leave behind as they transitioned from childhood to adulthood. 

Kids wrote names they were known for, actions they no longer wanted to do, etc. Then the BEST part: everyone hurled their stones off the rims hoping to leave behind what the rocks represented. It was a meaningful moment. 

To end the night, staff and students went to a fancy restaurant to celebrate the students commitment to doing hard things together for the next eight weeks. Every student received a sweatshirt and water bottle, Bibles with their name engraved, and a booklet that will help guide them through the workouts, bible reading, habits and goals, and a list of activities they will help peer-lead. 

CLDI initiates one Warehouse Project per school semester, and, so far, has received such great feedback and responses from the students who have been able to attend. We are very excited about this next season and how God will move through the Warehouse Project.

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