November 18, 2021

Youth Programs Fall 2021 Update: Holding on to Hope

Danielle Heemskerk

Halfway through November and barreling on toward the Christmas season, we pause to try to catch our breath and reflect on the last few weeks and months. After a summer where camps were reopened and more in-person programming could take place(including at Campfire Bible Camp and Bright Hope Summer Camp at River’s Edge Haven of Hope), we moved forward with thankfulness into another busy season of school-year programs and activities. We are thankful to have been able to run things more normally than the end of our previous season, including welcoming back the many volunteers that help make our programs places for growth and connection through relationship.

Programs began at the end of September and have been bustling ever since! God has blessed the work that was done during the various lockdowns and scaled down events to stay connected and has brought back children and youth to programs they had been missing and to which they were excited to return. Additionally, since community programs, schools, and families continue to recover from the effects of COVID, there has been a groundswell of interest in the youth programs from the community. Children and youth are inviting friends and neighbours to which ever is their particular “church” program. Parents are eager to sign their children up for events and clubs, knowing how much they have missed out on in the past18 months. Every week since the launch of activities, there have consistently been new registrations for programs, especially in the Kids Club, Boys Club, and Girls Club.

This continual growth brings so much joy as we get to meet new families, deepen our knowledge of the neighborhoods and school communities around us, and to share the Gospel message continually with people who may be hearing it for the very first time. This growth also brings challenges as we see the deep spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional needs around us and long to walk alongside every person we get to know, some who are perpetually in a state of crisis or struggle. It is such a blessing to be able to speak into the lives of children and families with good news and bright hope, but it can also feel like an insurmountable task to build meaningful relationships with so many people in varied circumstances. As we reflect on this, we are thankful that a partnership has been developing with Safe Families Hamilton/Halton, with Erik and Tracy Hoeksema serving on the steering committee and advocating for our families and their need for the circles of support this organization can offer to families in crisis. We are also prayerful for our building project to move forward and other developments to come to fruition that will help to strengthen the discipleship work that can be done with those with whom we have been walking and to enable the feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel to keep moving.

As we near the time of Advent, we deeply resonate with the feelings of waiting and expectation for what the future chapters in this ministry hold. Christmas is a very busy season of giving and celebration in all areas of Streetlight Christian Church, but it is also a treasured time of reflection on the bright hope that shines in a dark world. And so “let us hold firmly to the hope we claim to have. The God who promised is faithful”. (Hebrews 10:23, NIRV)