In mid-June we launched our new STEP LR location – doubling our efforts in central Arkansas through an additional neighborhood mentoring center!
A staff of 25 Christian young adults from Kids Across America (KAA) camp’s “Higher Ground” discipleship group, as well as their leaders and STEP LR Mentoring Coordinator Cory Wiley, came to STEP LR the week of June 26 – 30 to lead a top-quality, Christian sports day camp on-site providing a wonderful experience for the children. KAA Konnect was the catalytic event to make a big splash with families and children in our new Little Rock target neighborhood, and allow us to make additional important connections with them!
KAA Konnect was an awesome time of fun activities and focus on Jesus and God’s power and love, with scripture memory verses, chants of biblical truths, and even dances to Christian hip hop music!
Children from 3rd – 8th grade attended – all from connections that STEP’s mentoring coordinator team had made in the neighborhood and area churches. The children loved it! And Cory Wiley, our LR Mentoring Coordinator, was able to make further connections with parents as they dropped off and picked up their children each day. Many have signed up for our LR summer mentoring week that launches in 2 weeks as well as school year mentoring.
A moment from that week that illustrates what this special week is about is when an elementary-aged young boy named Chris was sitting separately from the other boys in his small group. A young adult KAA staffer came to sit beside him. He asked the boy, “What’s going on?” and the young man shared that some of the other boys had been saying some unkind things to him. The staffer referenced a memory verse from earlier in the day about “loving God and loving others” and challenged the young man to forgive and love those other boys like Jesus loved him. It was amazing then how that small spiritual input from a person he respected prompted him to rejoin the group and begin engaging with the other boys in a friendly way. That’s just one moment of hundreds of moments when these praiseworthy young adults were able to speak truth and love into the lives of the children.
Another highlight of the week for us at STEP was that when Jenson Newton, the director of KAA’s Higher Ground discipleship team, sat with the STEP team and heard more specifically about how we do long-term mentoring at STEP, and attended our summer mentoring training, he said that STEP is just “mind-blowing” to him in its model of one to one Christian mentoring and getting multiple churches working together in discipleship of under-resourced youth. He said of the 200-300 youth ministries that he has been exposed to around the country, STEP is the most impressive and is unique in this. We know STEP is special – and it’s encouraging to hear that from someone who has worked with so many youth ministries across the country!
God has been SO good to this ministry for decades, and we are so thankful to Him and to our partner churches, donors, volunteers, and STEP families for their involvement, so that we can continue to expand the impact on children and families through the hope of the Gospel!
Here is a link to a fun highlight video of KAA Konnect at STEP LR showing the children and staff.
YOU are needed for school-year evening mentoring once a week for STEP LR or STEP NLR – learn more by clicking on Mentoring on our website!