Since it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted, I wanted to let you know how things are progressing with our church planting work, starting a Burlington based nonprofit, and our expanding family . One thing I can say for certain- life and ministry are rarely boring here.
SO in no specific order, here’s a snapshot of what’s happening in our life and ministry in Burlington.
*Serve Burlington Nonprofit- We’re still in the beginning stages with this local community service platform that we plan to launch in the fall. Our goal is to mobilize volunteers from our Home Fellowships, local churches, campus ministries, and also from the surrounding community to serve with different community service partnerships and projects. God has already opened doors for us to partner with several local organizations such as Kids Alive, COTS, and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, as well as help start a Conversational English Club. Additionally, three friends of mine who are connected to different local ministries have stepped up to serve on the board of directors and help get this nonprofit up and running: Phil Corriveau (involved with Navigators campus ministry and Kids Alive), Steph Hobold (involved with Navigators staff, St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, and Kids Alive) and Rebecca Vickery (involved with North Ave. Alliance Church and leads the Conversational English Club).
*Conversational English Club– In April and May , I helped a group of volunteers start a Conversational English Club for mostly Somali refugees in the Riverside Apartments community of Burlington’s Old North End. Although we worked through some kinks along the way, our six week “trial run” went really well. We had six-twelve adult students each week and a group of highly motivated volunteers. Last week, we started our second six week round with eleven refugee students present and their excitement was palpable. We’re also developing a great relationship with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program as they’ve opened up their tutor trainings to our volunteers. My favorite part of Conversational English Club, though, is my growing relationship with a student named Shadir. Although we come from very different backgrounds (he’s from wartorn Sub-Saharan Africa & I’m from middle-class American suburbia, he’s Muslim & I’m Christian, he’ fluent in four languages and I’m OK with English), we’re becoming fast friends. One of my happiest moments was one day when I unexpectedly saw one of his daughters walking down the sidewalk and she said, “Hey! Your my dad’s friend, Kevin.”
*Navigators Service Days– Every summer 30 students from around the country connected with the Navigators campus ministry descend on Burlington for 9 weeks for what they call Green Mountain Summer. Just so happens that the Green Mountain Summer director this year is my good friend and Rutgers University’s campus minister, Joe Violi. With two Saturdays (June 11 and July 9) committed to sacrificially serve the community, this has provided a great pool of highly energized volunteers to serve some of our community partners. On June 11, we sent groups to love on children at Kids Alive, run a “kids day” at the COTS Family Shelter, move furniture for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program’s tutor trainer, and “mud out” homes impacted by flooding. All of these organizations knew these were Christian college students and all of them have asked when we can send them more volunteers. Thanks Navs!!!
*Father-Son Camping Trip- One big need in the community that came to my attention a few weeks ago was that refugee dads don’t get a lot of time with their kids. So, me and some friends had the “brilliant” idea of planning a father-son camping trip for refugees on Father’s Day weekend. I learned two big lessons from this endeavor. Lesson #1: the boys absolutely love camping. Lesson #2: the dads absolutely hate the idea. After plenty of promo and talking to numerous Somali and Burundi families, we had the grand total of one refugee dad and three boys sign-up. After being at the campground for a few hours, the one dad told me: “I don’t like this. It reminds me of the jungle. I want to go home.” The end result was a fun weekend of camping, canoeing, swimming, and hiking with lots of other kids asking when the next camping trip will be and lots of other dads thinking just don’t take me. Lesson learned.
*Home Fellowship– We still have a small yet very committed group meeting at our home on Sunday mornings. Although we’re still a church without a name, it’s exciting to experience me, Christin, Brian, Jan, and Steve growing closer as a spiritual family and to see people on the periphery become interested in what we’re doing. Also, as we’ve been praying for God to grow our core team, three couples independently contacted me over the past month who are praying about moving their lives to Burlington. They all have strong track-records of leading and engaging others with the gospel. I’m both humbled and excited that God is placing this on their hearts.
*The Family– Christin and I are loving our time with Jude and Wren. Although Jude has gone through an “adjustment phase” with not being the center of attention, he loves his little sister. Sometimes he even wants to hug her, kiss her, and pat her on the head a little too much. While Jude is a little boy full of rambunctious energy, Wren is the most laid-back baby I’ve ever seen. I can already see some serious similarities between Jude & me and Christin & Wren. Christin continues to amaze me with the way she mothers our two kids- I’m pretty sure she’ll be remembered as the best mom ever. Also, Christin has a great post on her blog describing Wren’s birth (don’t worry guys- there’s nothing graphic).
Please know we appreciate your prayers. We’re so thankful for all God is doing here and for your partnership in the gospel.