F.R.E.E. Class Visits Burnett Avenue Baptist Church
On July 15, The F.R.E.E. (Faith Reaching Every Edge) Sunday School class visited Burnett Avenue Baptist Church, a predominantly African-American Church on Hurstbourne Ave. The pastor from Burnett Avenue, Rev. Corrie Shull, led a book study on Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman. We received a very warm welcome. The focus was on fear and how it prevents us from living an abundant life. Rev. Shull shared many personal situations where fear created a barrier in his life, as did many in the congregation. In visiting with him after the study, we discussed the applications in our own lives. I immediately thought of my students and how I interact with them, and how it is important not to manage them by using power to create fear. I also thought of the fear that many of my students, mostly coming from the West End, deal with every day. The opening lines from the chapter captures it perfectly, “Fear is one of the persistent hounds of hell that dog the footsteps of the poor, the dispossessed, the disinherited.” We left after a long talk inspired and with hopes of building relationships with the young people there.
~ Cassie Lyles
Caroling and Winter Food Baskets
Every year the church youth deliver the food collected from White Christmas to Cochran Elementary. The food is divided into boxes according to the sizes of the recipient families. Our food is then paired with Christmas presents that parents can give their kids. The recipients of the food boxes and gifts are financially struggling families who will now have something to eat and give to their kids for Christmas. When we personally deliver the boxes to the families, it is cool to see how grateful they are and appreciative of what we do. Some of the parents even get emotional, because without this program they may have little to eat and nothing to give their own children for Christmas. I have learned that many people don’t have the opportunities I do and that I shouldn’t take what I have for granted. It puts in perspective the gaps in our society in terms of financial status and by helping the struggling families I feel that we help bridge that gap. Making these food deliveries every year has meant a lot to me, but even more to the families we help. I hope it continues to benefit more people each year.
I’ve never really been the type of person in the youth group who was super excited to go to youth choir because I don’t pride myself in being a good singer. So when Robert Gammon proposed the idea of Jubilate, a choir tour consisting of five Baptist churches across the southeast, I was sure I would not be going because 1) I’m not musically gifted and 2) a weekend in January and a week in June filled with singing did not sound like much fun.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been more wrong, at least about the fun part. This will be my third year attending Jubilate. Every year, I look forward to going on the next Jubilate trip more and more. I’ve not only bonded with the other youth from Broadway, but also met some pretty amazing people from South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. The five directors are so cool and have great leadership skills, considering they can manage a choir of more than 100 teenagers.
Most importantly, however, is the music. I Believe is by far my favorite song we performed at Jubilate. The words were found etched by a child on the wall of a concentration camp in Germany. The first time we sang this song, chills ran through my body. Hearing the lyrics can take one’s breath away, but knowing the backstory totally knocks the wind out of you. The lyrics read as follows:
I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when I can’t feel it.
I believe in God even when God is silent.
Jubilate, to me, is something that cannot be expressed in words; it’s not just a choir retreat the youth attend. Yes, we have fun and it’s an indescribable experience. However, we are not the main beneficiaries; we’ve performed at countless churches, retirement communities, nursing homes, and even a juvenile correction facility. It’s surprisingly refreshing to be able to sing these gorgeous songs, even if we didn’t inspire or affect the people in the audience. I can’t think of a better way to spend this upcoming weekend than attending Jubilate.
Speakers from Slovakia and Uganda
This fall, the children had the unique opportunity to visit with missionaries serving in Uganda and Slovakia. Both sets of missionaries taught the children songs in the respective languages of the people they serve, but more importantly than that, they taught the children how important each person is in the eyes of God.
Our speakers from Slovakia brought Slovak coins with them. They showed the children two coins - one that had been soiled after many years of being tossed from pocket to pocket, and one that had recently been cleaned. After passing around the coins, they asked the children which coin was of greater value, to which the children responded that they were worth the same!
Through visiting with these missionaries, the children were reminded that people are like those coins - it doesn’t matter how many scratches or scars we have, we are all worth the same in God’s eyes. I think the children were inspired with a deeper passion for serving others after these visits!