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Disciple Now Weekends: Teenagers Making a Difference

You may have heard of a “Disciple Now (D-Now) weekend” for a youth group in your area, or you may have even experienced one yourself. A lot goes on during one of these weekends for many churches in Alabama—Bible studies, relationship building, community service, and life change. For two churches in Birmingham and one in Decatur, they decided to expand the influence of their D-Now weekend beyond their youth groups and bless the lives of foster parents and children in our ministry.

REST FOR FOSTER PARENTS

On a chilly January weekend of this year, youth from Shades Crest Baptist Church (SCBC) in Birmingham gathered in their host homes throughout the city for Bible studies. These small groups were led by young leaders in the congregation, who also served as their hosts all weekend. During each group’s free time between studies and group gatherings, they were able to choose a missions project in the community, creating a great opportunity to serve God together with their peers.

For two years in a row now, one group decided to focus on ABCH foster families by providing a one-day daycare service for their missions project. Hannah Smith, a D-Now participant, says, “We provided this daycare so that the foster parents could drop the kids off and then come pick them up whenever they were done running errands or doing whatever needed to be done. We also got to do different activities and play with the kids while they were with us. We arranged crafts for them to do, books to read, and even gave them some time to run around on a playground!” 

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Students from Shades Crest Baptist Church helping to provide free daycare to our foster families

 

This missions project definitely made an impact on our foster families, and for that, we are so grateful! As those who serve others often find, the impact made on those who serve is just as great as the impact on those who have been served. For Hannah and for Allie Couch, who also served our families, this rings very true.

One of Hannah’s favorite memories during this project comes from her experience last year at D-Now, “We had a pair of siblings in the same group [at the daycare], and while they would play with the other kids just as much as with each other, whenever one seemed to need any help at all, the other would drop what they were doing and come to assist. It really made me think and realize that these kids aren’t in the most desired situation, but they are still so protective and loving of their family and others. It really touched me.”

Allie’s favorite memory is from this year’s event, “I had a special bond with one of the little girls; she never wanted to talk until I started playing with her. After that, she talked a ton! It was great to see her open up to me . . . It was an unforgettable experience. I can’t imagine a better way to serve the community than to help out some amazing foster families! They are so kind and polite, and the children are also kind and polite.”

YARD WORK FOR FAMILY CARE MOMS

Also in January of this year, The Church at Brook Hills served our children and families for the second year during their D-Now events too! Last year, the church sent seventh grade girls to one of our Family Care homes to pack kits for new and expectant mothers in need. This year, they sent their twelfth grade boys to serve by cleaning up the exterior of our Family Care home in Gardendale.

Student Minister Mark Sly, says, “We believe that God has intentionally placed us where we are to make an impact. It is obvious that God is working through ABCH in our community, but also in the families in our church. ABCH was a natural partner, as our church, families, and student ministry are already serving alongside one another . . . In every instance our students were introduced to meaningful ministry, whether that be the work they participated in or the stories of the long-term work God is accomplishing through ABCH.”

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Twelfth grade boys from Brook Hills doing yard work at our Family Care home in Gardendale

 

Undoubtedly, one of the most special moments for Mark on that day was hearing Gardendale Family Care House Manager and former resident, Valencia Pritchett’s, personal story, ministry, and vision for the families she interacts with. He believes that will stay with him and his students for a lifetime! He also says that serving together and being a part of something with an eternal impact was so special for him and his team.

“BIGGER & BETTER” DONATION EFFORTS

 First Baptist Church Decatur (FBC Decatur) has partnered with our ministry consistently over the years in other aspects, but this year they decided to make our children and families a priority in their D-Now events!

Student Pastor Caleb Farrow says, “We were planning for the D-Now weekend game and really felt the Lord prompting us to move away from the typical scavenger hunt . . . so, after some prayer and research, we decided that there had to be a way to merge the typical scavenger hunt and have a bigger purpose than simply winning a competition. We really wanted to figure out a way to allow our kids to represent Jesus to the city.

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Students from First Baptist Church Decatur gathered items that are "bigger and better" than what they had before, all to donate to the children in our care

 

“Our student ministry intern, Drake Whitten, made the connection to get in contact with (ABCH) Vice President for Administration, Dr. Chip Colee, which eventually led us to talking to Chief Operations Officer, North Alabama, Dr. Michael Smith, about their needs here in Decatur and how we could meet some of those needs.”

Through their conversations with Chip and Michael, the team came up with the idea to play a game called “Bigger and Better.” The game starts with each group having a small object, such as a paper clip, and the goal is to trade that object continually to get bigger and better items, such as electronics. “We challenged our group with thinking about things they would like to receive and try to trade up to the biggest and best items possible that teenagers would love to have since the items would be donated to other teenagers and families!” Caleb says.

One group of ninth and tenth grade boys researched how many children were in care at our home in Decatur, went to a local business specializing in games where groups complete clues and puzzles together, and got them to donate the exact number of free passes so each child would have a chance to participate, which ended up being several hundred dollars worth of tickets—what creativity and intentionality in their trading!

Callie Puryear, eleventh grader, says, “I thought the whole thing (Bigger and Better) was really special because everyone had so much fun working together and interacting with people in the community while also giving back to the Children’s Homes. You could really see God at work during the whole game through the smiles and enthusiasm everyone had as we were doing it!”

“It made me happy to know that we would be able to provide some bicycles to the children,” says Stone McCurry, also in eleventh grade. “I was also very happy to see how people were willing to help . . . People were very willing to give to us when they found out that these items were going to ABCH.”

Daughter of Chip Colee and team leader of one of the groups during this event, Caroline Colee, says, “It was very cool to be a part of helping out during D-Now. We collected all kinds of things from TVs to basketballs, bikes, clothes, couches, and even an iPad. The neat thing about it was the FBC Decatur students realized they weren’t just playing this game to win something on a church trip. They were gathering these items for a purpose. The kids put others’ needs before theirs, just as Christ would!”

 

 

We are so thankful for these churches and their willingness to serve our children and families in care! If your church is planning a Disciple Now weekend or another service project for your church and would like to serve our foster families in some way, please let us know by emailing info@alabamachild.org!

 

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