Pastor David shares a few reflections from last week’s International Youth Convention in conjunction with today’s sermon text, Mark 6:1-13.
The “Last” Youth Update – August 2016
WOW! Praise God! I can’t believe I have spent the last 41 years working with students, youth, parents, church families and people. As most of you know, I am retiring from Youth Ministry in the local church this week. I am reflective, joyful, satisfied, content, happy, and many other words, but most of all I am at peace with the decision that God and I have made. Ministry is not over, but it is time to visit grandchildren, explore other ministries, rest, travel and find new creative ways to proclaim the Gospel. I have been asked many times, what will I do the first week –well, who knows? St. Louis Camp Meeting begins and we will participate in that –but I do know that the first Sunday, I will finally get to hear my son preach in his church. I have always felt that my greatest accomplishment has been and should be for my kids and grandkids to be in relationship with Jesus Christ. Salvation is a beautiful gift from God!!
Our last two big events with the Mt. Haley Youth were the attendance of the International Youth Convention in San Antonio, Texas and the “Rock the Island” Christian music festival in Saginaw. The IYC was spectacular and the music festival was fantastic. God has always blessed me in so many ways and both of these events were great and the IYC was a life-changing experience. My wife, Connie, is not retiring from being the Michigan Church of God State Youth Director, so I will continue to be blessed, because we will be attending and participating in all the “big” youth events both statewide and nationally. Meanwhile, I am anticipating and expecting God to provide great opportunities to serve. We will be continuing to plan and organize the Mt. Haley CHOG Guatemalan mission in February and occasionally dropping in on Mt. Haley.
THANK YOU to Pastor David & Tara, Angie Embury, and the many others who organized a beautiful gathering of people to celebrate my retirement from Youth Ministry! I pray that God has used me to make a difference in your life as much as you have made in ours. Words cannot express the appreciation and gratitude I feel for everyone.
In closing, I would like to attach the testimonies and experiences of the three young ladies we took to the International Youth Convention. The convention is always about “life-change” and these three had that experience.
My San Antonio experience was life changing. God has touched me in so many different ways it was unforgettable. What really got me was during the conferences I have learned to completely forgive people and how to truly walk with God, and on the last day of IYC I figured out what I can do in my life to serve the lord. I want to end up doing woodworking for Christ and I’m so ecstatic that I have figured out my calling and how God wants to use me to spread his word. The last days here I wasn’t feeling the best but that didn’t stop me from praising God and worshiping the lord. This IYC has impacted my life so much it’s unbelievable. I can’t wait to start on my path to walk with God and let him use me how he wants too. I just wanted to thank everyone for their donations and generosity for me to be able to go on this trip. I couldn’t have done it without your support and prayers.
My San Antonio experience was amazing! Some of the speakers were so amazing and really make you think about a lot of things. At one of the conferences I went to, the speaker helped me learn that it’s ok to forgive some and not the bad things that have happened to us does not define who we are. Another speaker that got to me said we all have a gift and a gift could be as little as just your smile and that we all are equal and we all came from dirt. (from a sermon) All of this is going to allow me to help me to go home and forgive people and have better relationships with family and friends. We also had some fun times instead of all the serious times and we also learned and saw the history of San Antonio, Texas especially with the Alamo. We had boat tours, concerts and ate all of this mouth-watering foods. We got to try new food like Mexican and Italian and those were better than I expected. One other thing, I survived my first plane ride with no throwing up. Most of all, we all seem to have better relationships and call talk about God now to each other. I want to leave you with a question that opened my eyes: “Where are you spiritually? Are you hiding from God?”
Once upon a time during July of 2016, the Mt. Haley Church of God youth group experienced the 50th International Youth Convention in San Antonio, Texas. During the time spent in San Antonio, I was experiencing what it feels to think that God had abandoned me. Like, I felt alone and unhappy and scared. On July 4, the third day of the convention, an artist gave a unique presentation. Using black paint, he wrote the words: sin, hate, malice and lust. Then with red paint he wrote the words: God covers. He covered the words with the red paint. He continued then to paint and the end creation was a magnificent bird soaring through the air. While watching the artist, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He told me that God could turn anything into a masterpiece. God can take broken pieces and turn them into a beautiful creation. One speaker spoke about puzzles. How if we didn’t put the pieces together then it won’t make sense. I had not put the pieces together yet. Another speaker spoke about how God made us out of dirt. How we are all just dirt bags. But God has given us all special unique gift. Our gifts can be something big or small, but these gifts are all natural things about ourselves. When the gift comes through that is when the devil sends yet another stronger army to attack us. To torture us and convince us that our gift is worthless and not needed. I realized my gift and my calling to ministry at the 2014 IYC in Nashville, Tennessee. Ever since then, the devil has non-stop attacked me. But I have God by my side and I know that he’ll never leave. I just need to put my trust in him all day, every day. IYC 2016 in San Antonio, Texas –I have once again had a life-changing realization. I want to thank my family, friends and church family for all the prayers and help. Without you, I/we would not have had the opportunity to come to this IYC.
With that, I say “Thank You” for being a part of making a difference in the lives of young people at the Mt. Haley Church of God over the last five years. God has blessed the church and we have been blessed!
Love God, Love People, Live It!
Sincerely with blessings,
Pastor Jerry Graham
June Youth Update
Summer temperatures have finally arrived! What a beautiful Memorial Day Weekend! It’s the time of the year for graduations, and this year we have four students graduating. They are Elizabeth Dale and Sabrina Torres from Bullock Creek, Tristan Mapes from Midland High, and Brandon Devericks from Windover. They will be honored in Sunday morning worship on June 12 with each of them receiving a gift from the church. Plus, the pastors will be taking them out to dinner at a local restaurant. Congratulations!
State Youth Convention was a great success with the music of Finding Favor, the Worship Leaders – Leo and Megan Flores plus our speaker Marsha Reeder. Everyone had a wonderful time as we worshiped, served, played and were inspired and impacted in our walk with the Lord. Great Weekend!!!
June will be a month of graduation parties, church gatherings and the finishing of the school year. We are still “silently” fundraising for the three young ladies we have attending the International Youth Convention. Keep those bottles/pop cans coming and if you wish to help any of them financially, let us know.
We will depart for San Antonio, Texas for the International Youth Convention on June 30, 2016 from Tri-City Airport and will return on July 7. The theme this year is “One God, One Truth, One Body and One Mission” based on Ephesians 4:4-6 – “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” We will be participating with nationally known speakers, artists, student conferences, service projects, tourist attractions and MORE while staying at the Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk. It will be a GREAT week for our students!
High School Sunday School classes continue with Pastor Jerry until July 31. Youth Meetings and GRADS @ Grahams on Sunday nights for the 2015-2016 school year are over for the summer. However, watch for details of events and happenings yet to come through July.
As most people know, Pastor Jerry will be retiring from Youth Ministry in the local church on July 31 to pursue grandchildren, other ministry opportunities and retirement life. Connie will continue to serve in her role as Youth Director for the Michigan Church of God, so we will continue to participate in state youth activities and functions. We will be formally departing from Mt. Haley to pursue other ministry opportunities and allow Mt. Haley to re-invent their youth ministry without the Grahams. We will visit occasionally and always have you in our prayers. PLUS, we have offered to organize and prepare a mission trip for Mt. Haley to Guatemala next February. If so, and you want to go on a mission to Guatemala, registration will be $150 on September 18, 2016 with the total mission costs being $450. (Includes registration and insurance) plus airfare. Our church has been faithful in this mission and we want it to continue for those who want to go. Cost of the house construction will be $6000 and we already have almost half of the funds in the treasury. Praise God and follow your heart to Guatemala.
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!
February Youth Update
Guatemala! Mt. Haley’s mission to the TRACKS and a week with missionary David Beam has preoccupied my thoughts this month as we have prepared for our March 5th–13th, 2016, mission trip. God blessed us with great prices for our plane tickets; however, we will fly not out of our usual departure cities of Flint or Detroit but from Chicago. God saved us almost $6000 by flying out of O’Hare, but our next challenge is getting to Chicago: 6-7 hours travel time with 16 people and probably 32 pieces of luggage. Now I am patiently awaiting a phone call for a confirmation of travel arrangements that might get us there in a convenient fashion. Praying big time right now. We have five of our team coming from other churches and the rest are somehow related to Mt. Haley. A cool stat this year is that we have 8 team members under 25; Jeremy Hassen is just a little older than that; and the rest of us, well, we won’t go into their ages. Plus Pastor David and myself represent the clergy with plans for David to speak at the Church of the Tracks. We have plans to build two bedrooms and a bathroom for Sonia, the English teacher at the school and a long time friend of the Mt. Haley team. It will be exciting for her and her family, plus the satisfaction we receive in ministering to this community of Guatemala. May All the Glory Be to God!! Continue reading
January Youth Update
Whew! We made it through the Christmas Season and are heading into the New Year with full force! Not the “Force” but the real of meaning of Christmas in our minds as we serve and celebrate the glory of Jesus Christ. A New Year, new beginnings, resolutions and all that go with the only holiday that is celebrated in the entire world (as we wish Christianity was) – the New Year? But what does it matter? Did you know that only 12 percent of us ever keep the New Year’s resolutions that we make? We celebrate the ball drop in New York City – a tradition that has happened since 1904 – say nice things we are going to do and then work on it for a few weeks. Sadly enough, many do not make any resolutions, and then there are no expectations for us to meet. After all, God loves us just the way we are –TRUE, but we could all still use a little improvement in one area or another. Why is it so hard for us to change, even when we want to? There’s a saying that “God loves me too much to leave me the way I am.” What do you think God would want you to work on this year? Continue reading
December Youth Update
Merry Christmas! It’s a wonderful season for the church as we celebrate the most important moment in human history. It’s a time to be with family and friends to celebrate the virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is moment where a miracle became a reality and we learned that nothing is impossible with God. It’s a story of the eternal promises of life, Jesus becoming a man with the ultimate sacrifice of death to pay for our sins through His resurrection, the fulfillment of prophecy and becoming our Messiah, our Savior, our hope in a hopeless world. The reason we celebrate Christmas, the miracle that changed the world. It’s for me, for you, for us, and the world. May your Christmas season be joyful! Continue reading
November Youth Update
We enter November with Olive’s yard raking project completed and two events in our history. We had a successful swimming party at Four Seasons Health Club on October 11th and enjoyed the corn maze, hayride and other activities at Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch last Sunday. Our youth meetings are reaching about 8 kids a week and our GRAD meetings are hosting 5-6 young adults. We are continuing to reach out to those families to join us regularly with Sunday morning Worship participation & attendance then urging parents to help in having their youth to grow spiritually through the ministries of Mt. Haley. Continue reading
Our Mt. Haley Youth Ministry
Welcome to a new school year and the beginning of a new year in the Youth Ministry at Mt. Haley. There’s always excitement and anticipation with the arrival of a new grade level for our students, whether they’re making the transition from elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, becoming a “Senior,” or just moving up one more grade. The Mt. Haley Youth Ministry is for students in 6th grade through one year out of high school. It’s always a fresh start with new resolutions, goals and dreams. There’s always an expectation of doing better, making a team, or becoming involved with a new interest. With this same new determination in your student’s educational growth we all share as parents, we encourage you to have this same excitement in their spiritual & church life. Continue reading
July Youth Update
Summer is moving along! Pastor David, Connie and I attended the North American Convention of the Church of God in Oklahoma City last week and were challenged, inspired and moved to be proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ with boldness. This event is one of the great events of the Church of God and we would fully endorse your attendance or even following it on the Internet. Topics, along with the many great speakers, music and worship experiences plus the general assembly, included a move to have the NAC every odd numbered year with the International Youth Convention on even years, resolutions to improve racial relationships, a call to community outreach and encouragement to keep “Jesus is the Subject” in our daily lives. A blessed experience for the entire Church of God. Continue reading
June Youth Update
Summer is HERE! The last week of school has come, exams are over, people have graduated and we had our final Sunday of youth meetings until the fall. Time goes so quickly working in the Kingdom of God, but we are now ready for the adventures of summer and anticipate serving Him and bringing glory to God. NO, we will not be having weekly youth meetings and GRADS @ Grahams, however we hope to see you often with our activities and a weekly time of glory called “worship” that we celebrate every Sunday at 11:00 AM. Pastor David is leading us in a discussion of “The Sermon On The Mount” which will enrich our spiritual growth and honor our Lord. Included in that package is our regular Youth Bible Study at 10:00 AM where we are learning the characteristics of “Being a Champion” for God. SO, join us this summer as we bring the Gospel to your heart and ours. Continue reading