Happy New Year! I was happy to see 2014 come to a close and have great expectations for 2015. Knowing that God is always good all the time helps to shape my reactions to life with the knowledge that He is always in control and that my purpose in life is to be like Jesus and to bring God glory in all things.

With that said, we had have great moments in our Youth Ministry this year and we have also struggled. Our conventions and retreats, the new retreat location at Cran-Hill, the SYC and especially the IYC were filled with the Holy Spirit and many students advanced on their decisions to serve the Lord. The fundraisers were especially important as they bonded us together, weekly meetings went well and most of our activities were well participated. The Detroit weekend and Guatemala were fantastic mission opportunities and God was glorified! Students were baptized and many are much more open to walking in faith. GRADS @ Grahams has been a ministry for those people who need a place in the church.

We celebrate our success, but we also recognize the struggles that every ministry endures. Thanks for the prayers for me as I lost my dad this year but rejoiced because I know he has been healed of that terrible cancer & pain, and is now dwelling in the house of the Lord. I have also struggled with my eyesight, dealing with several surgeries but knowing that soon God will restore my sight.

We are a ministry in transition. We have lost several key players due to the natural process of graduation and the group has become younger. Through God’s grace, patience and love, my role now is to weave the students into a ministry where they accept each other, appreciate each other, care for each other, work with each other, not judge each other and most of all, love each other through God’s grace as we grow in Christ. We live in a culture where the easy thing to do, if we don’t like something or someone, is to walk away from it and not even try anymore. My prayer is that God reclaims the group, brings everyone back into the fold, resurrects leaders and creates a comfortable, loving, accepting atmosphere that glorifies God. We welcome your prayers!

At the time of your reading, we are either preparing to depart for Winter Retreat, experiencing Cran-Hill Ranch or celebrating the things that God did over the weekend! We are taking 9 students and I know the weekend is FULL with students and counselors from all across the Church of God congregations in Michigan. We’ve had a great speaker in Brett Talley from Indianapolis Church of the Crossing and are probably enjoying the worship of Josh Lavender & his band out of Florida! Winter Retreat is always a weekend of the Holy Spirit with students drawing closer to Jesus and His love. A shout-out goes to my wife, Connie, the CHOG Director of Youth Ministries in Michigan. Hundreds of people have been blessed with her leadership and the success of state activities and I know she humbly serves to bring glory to God.

The NEXT Big event is the annual YOUTH LOCK-IN on Friday night, January 23rd where we insanely lock ourselves in the church to eat, play wild and crazy games, watch movies, pray and devote, (maybe sleep?) and generally stay up all night. This is, hands down, the most asked for and biggest highlight of the year for many of our students. Details will be coming SOON after the retreat is finished, so watch for them. HOWEVER, WE NEED parents, helpers, volunteers, bodies, to experience the night with us. We are asking for people to help us in 2-3 hour shifts throughout the night to guarantee a success. Connie and I could handle this, but it’s more fun and easier with help. Thanks! Call us!

Guatemala is becoming more and more official each day! 15 servants from 5 different churches (8 from Mt. Haley) will be departing for Guatemala City on Thursday, February 5th and returning to Midland Thursday, February 12th. We have been spiritually prepared and challenged, we have insurance, we have bonded together, our plane tickets are purchased, and we are ready except for the packing. We still need your prayers, money for the house and other expenses and your encouragement. God has BIG plans for Mt. Haley and the Guatemalan community.

This month we will still pursue the study of “Who is the Holy Spirit” and in Sunday School we are still looking at “InTune with Purpose, Purity, Power and People.” GRADS @ Grahams are starting an 8–week study on Revelations which should provide some great discussions.

We NEED your help! I am just going to be blunt. Let’s make a New Year’s resolution. The Youth Ministry has 3 events every week – Sunday School @ 10:00 AM, Mt. Haley Youth @ 6:00 PM and GRADS @ Grahams at 8:15 PM. We are beginning to be a very “tardy” youth ministry. On a typical youth meeting night, we usually begin with 2-3 students at 6 and it may take up to 45 minutes after the start time to have everyone there. The same issue effects the other two meetings also. All the meetings have been well planned to fill up the opportunity to share God’s Word. We ask your help in keeping our meetings start times (and dismissals) punctual. We almost always are open 15 minutes prior to the meeting and want to begin on time. Thanks for the help!

Parents and church, your prayers, support and encouragement are greatly appreciated and we look forward every week to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our students through interaction, study, fellowship and relationship. Thank you for sharing your son or daughter and our congregation for holding the youth up in PRAYER.

Love God, Love People, Live It!

Blessings, Pastor Jerry

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