This Is Real Life...

Confession Time:  I’ve been in a real funk for the past couple of months. I have felt myself becoming burdened by the stress and responsibility of running Brookside Community Play. Last year was so exciting because everything was brand new. It was the first time we had ever tried to create Summer Play events where hundreds of families from the community could come together on Tuesday nights to build relationships. It was the first time we had ever launched a play-based after school program that would focus on providing a safe environment where kids from our neighborhood could experience the love and hope that a gospel-centered community can offer.

When everything is new, the mountain that needs to be climbed seems to be within reach. When everything is new, you have no idea what it will take to pull off the vision. You just do it because there is no other option.

Last year everything was new, but this year…

I went in knowing exactly what it would take to pull off another year of Brookside Community Play. The obstacles are daunting. The sheer number of volunteers that we rely on is mind-blowing to other after school programs. The weight and responsibility of caring for deeply broken and hurting kids day after day can be fatiguing. My eyes have been opened as to just how bad life is for some of our kids… and it is overwhelming. The past few months I have trudged through the work and tasks needed to be done to run another year of our program, but I did it because I needed to, not because I was hungry for it.

Everything changed yesterday when we officially launched our second year of After School Play. As I sat in my office an hour before the new session kicked off, I began to feel burdened by the “lacks” our program was facing. We were lacking children and we needed to recruit a handful more to round out our program. We were lacking volunteers for most days of the week. We were lacking staff. We were lacking resources. We were lacking hope.

An hour before kickoff, my wife sent me a copy of a Facebook post that I had made two years ago to the day. It was on that day that I publicly laid open my heart for all to see and spoke on the loss that I was walking through. Two years ago was my sister’s birthday. She would have been turning 19, but she had tragically been killed in a car accident in 2014. Two years ago, on August 20th, a couple that I admired tremendously also died in a car accident.

In my Facebook post I wrote about how Ty Schenzel and his wife Terri created a non-profit in Omaha, Nebraska, with the dream of providing hope to inner-city kids. The Hope Center for Kids became an amazing ministry that I always stood in awe of. As I dreamed of what I would do with my life, there was always a passion and a longing to create a youth organization like The Hope Center for Kids.

Two years ago I wrote this: “Not too long ago, Ty took time out of his Saturday to take my wife and I on a tour of The Hope Center for Kids. We were in town for only the weekend, but he made time for us. Not only did he show us around the facility, but he took time to hear our dream of starting a youth organization similar to his. He didn't belittle us or cast doubt on the reality of it succeeding. Instead, he sewed seeds of hope into our dream.”

My wife pointed this Facebook post out to me because two years ago all we had was a dream. We didn’t have a plan. We didn’t have a building. We didn’t have an opportunity. Serving inner-city kids was just a dream for us. Over the course of two years, God took a crazy dream that had been planted in my heart for years and He brought it to fruition. When we launched Brookside Community Play in 2016, that was God fulfilling His promises.

As we continue our first week of this year’s After School Play, I’m choosing to place all my stress and all my burdens on the shoulders of a God who keeps His promises. Our program needs more kids – and He will deliver them. Our program needs more volunteers – and He will bring them. Our program needs more funding – and God will provide for us.

If you’d like to continue on this journey with us for another year, we’re ready for you! Our kids deserve to have a program and an experience like no other. I promise that you will not meet a more loving and excitable group of children than the ones that come to our program. If you want to serve alongside us, let’s do it. If you can’t volunteer, but you want to use the money that God has blessed you with to further His kingdom, let’s do it!

You can join the Play Team today – give or volunteer, or do both. Either way, God’s got us and He’s going to be glorified through Play.