Came back just in time for the youth ministry game. 5 games and then the two top teams at the end. May the best team win! This was a ministry game for the Indian Christian community where young adults came from 19 different churches in the Chicagoland area. It's beautiful to see this community all come together under one roof with the spirit of the Lord and the hard work of an incredible family dedicated to ministry. I spoke with both brothers and brother in law to Rita and Regi(those working with the youth for 20 plus years. The two brothers also have their own ministry working with youth in the Southside of Chicago afterschool providing them with programs towards leadership in their community. It's fantastic to see the work of God happening within the ministries of everyone attending-not only this family. Everyone is working with one mission to serve God in any and every way they know how.
It was great spending time with the families and hearing their story, their love for their child present within their eyes, and the support they give their children. The Indian culture has a strong commitment to family along with the cultural heritage they/we have. It's something that comes alive when one goes to India and sees it authentically play out without an everyday American influence.
What about food? Our buddy Suresh did some amazing cooking on the grill of Chicken Shwarma and gourmet mini sliders along with some homemade lemon rice, raita, and brownies for desert-happy stomach...happy stomach. There is no better food than homemade Indian food-none. This guy is a Top chef and wants to open his own restaurant. Pris stamp of approval-You have landed on your purpose-Do IT!
Now it would not be Chicago if something didn't happen with the weather. A beautiful hot sunny day became hovering dark clouds and then a torrential rain! Off came the tent and food utensils and bags went flying. We were all laughing and I was happy that the food stayed in place-that would be a tragedy for his food to go flying to the bird.
Since the basketball teams all went by colors, the Black team took the trophee against the White team. The Black team were the tallest team and the oldest. My little ones who were sixteen years old put up a good fight and I was so proud of them! It was great hearing genuine responses that the game was not about winning rather it was about friendship, pride, and ministry. This was exactly what the games were about and the fact that they connected to this purpose. PROUD OF THESE BOYS!
To lead my example and demonstrate the success that comes from ministry families, great careers, happiness, and continued practice of faith-this is what ministry of youth is all about-training them to become leaders!
After my fantastic event for Indian American Christian Children of Chicago. It was time to prepare for Dad's fest at Willow Creek Community Church Read more
This festival is every year during the weekend of Father's Day. There are all kinds of booths set up with pizza, sandwiches, Italian ice, and sweets. It's set up outside of our church near the lake along with a "Car show" of antique cars-many of them from those who attendees of the church. It is a great event for families and of course for DADS!
This year our amazing Section leader(different groups within the church), Saray, had the idea to have a tail gating them where we would open up our trunks in the parking lot of Willow and enjoy food, fiesta, and fireworks. As we set up all enthusiastic and excited, we stared up at the sky and was not sure if God was going to make that happen.
All of my favorite friends were there as we were volunteering together with our section. Many of us had the jobs of "Connectors" to welcome guests and learn about them. The Indian Christian community is quite present in our Section and church. These are my favorite to connect with as many I have seen before and they come with their lovely families and children. I just adore the way we smile at each other and have great conversations about their church experience, their life, and how Jesus fits in. It's quite a busy life for our Section and guests. But that commitment to Christ is what I important.
As a connector and photographer, these are the roles that I am meant to do. With Saray's events, it's kind of a motto of "bigger is better." With a smaller number(600), it is easier to make that goal of speaking with as many people as possible in the time given.
As usual our guests attended late giving me the pleasure of taking them to their seats and filling up the top floor! It's my absolute favorite welcoming those people who are new to Willow and watching their reaction when they walk in and see it for the first time. I make sure to prepare them for our gigantic church and remind them of amazing Section community we have to welcome them each week. Our church does have...well...um....7200 seats. It would be completely normal to be intimidated by this fact, but community exists within this gigantic powerhouse.
Unfortunately, the Chicago weather disappointed us yet again and tailgating was Canceled, which meant our amazing volunteers had to transfer all the food from outside to inside. Everyone worked so hard to do this and it demonstrated some true teamwork!
It's interesting how "things happen for a reason." Saray and the team were not sure how the whole tailgating thing would even work out and I felt that things inside worked out great. The room was small, but great for Priscilla because I Love Intimacy. It was easy for me to navigate myself around to floor, tables, and stairs speaking with people. It's always proof to my theory of acknowledgment that everyone loves a dose of acknowledgement rather than eating with their family and heading out the door.
It's not a choice for me to just sit down and speak with one family rather it's a mission to get to know everyone, their story, their view of the church and service, how often they attend, their distance from church, their family dynamic, and attending as a family unit/couple/individual. These assessments are limited with the time and I would truly love to do a whole research study on the Indian population and how church, events, community, family is impacting their lives. It's all very fascinating for myself, Pastors, and leaders who have their cultural barriers with the Indian population.
This is an ongoing discussion that deserves a formal research study-Willow Creek and the Indian Christian population-another thing for Priscilla to add on the list!
Overall, it was a great event and I was happy to see familiar faces.
On Saturday morning, blessed minds and kind hearts met together in the unity of our Lord and Savior. It was a planning meeting for the event Run for Jesus on August 22, 2015. This meeting consisted of a Panel of seven incredible Pastors and Priscilla. Each pastor had a powerful message addressing how to refocus youth on to Christ. A couple of their main points were that youth are the leaders of the future and they have a responsibility to commit to Christ. As for Priscilla, I focused on how to keep youth accountable and responsible for their behavior, how to be active members of community, sharing their own individual story/being treated as individuals, learning positive coping skills to deal with their environment-family/friendship/education/and technology and to respect them and "meet them where they truly are in life."
The best part was having the youth come up to read scripture, sing, share their experiences, and reasons why "Run for Jesus"
While youth were the focus, there are both children and youth being served in the ministry of Dr. Regi Paul, Indo American Christian Children Of Chicago. The Run for Jesus and The Passion play for children and youth have been going on for years. The Passion Play has been quiet a success and children have shared their own passion for it. Read More...
It was my first time meeting these youth and they were so kind and welcoming. I had mentioned that working with many youth, I never know what to expect when I first walk in the door, but these children were lovely, kind, polite, and clearly...there was a dedication to Christ. There is a difference between a youth is lost and troubled and youth who is challenged but they have a strong love and faith in Christ.
Our meeting did not have a break and it's often you see kids become restless. Of course, they were kids and had a few laughs and jokes, but they were incredibly patient. They closed their eyes with intention and focus. They spoke boldly, honestly, and from their heart. It did not sound rehearsed, as those moments where kids stand up with their eyes rolling waiting racing through to the last word. These few children and mainly youth(15 in attendance and over 200 total) were present, patient, and proud. I couldn't help, but wonder. "Are all the kids like this?" Clearly, I know the answer to that question as every child is their own person. But Dr. Regi Paul is providing these children with the right environment. The environment that contributes towards positive growth and leadership. These children have potential sitting in the palm of their hand and it is up to them to utilize it.
It is the children and youth who have to face some of the most difficult decisions to move in a positive direction. To stay in their own lane rather than focus on negativity that surrounds them. A country that I would question even bringing a child into with the amounts of environmental barriers and negativity. The media, the declining education, and the rise of technology. From a psychology perspective, the majority of people do not understand how all this connects and how it impacts a child's behavior.
Dr. Regi Paul has targeted exactly what these children need. He has given them three of the most important components: consistency, support, and love. Also, all his time, resource, and dedication make children feel they are important. They need to refocus on Christ, minimize negative behaviors catering to the norms of this country, build community, take responsibility, and train to become leaders. Dr. Regi Paul and his wife Rita are selfless human beings who have been serving the Lord for over twenty years with this ministry. They have full belief that these Indian Christian children have potential to lead lives of leadership, service, and integrity.
It's with great pleasure that I accept the new position as
the Board of Advisor for Indo-American Christian Children of Chicago.
Priscilla CL Raj is a Therapist, Missionary, Writer, English Teacher. She is an enthusiast who is passionately purposeful in her life.