Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

If you want to know why I LOVE my life, and being married to a youth minister, and being a part of the Killen family… well, here you go! I’m posting a “guest blog” that Jess wrote about some of our kiddos. It’s awesome.

1 Timothy 4:12…For REAL!

by Jess Eastep on Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 11:30am


I wanted to start this note with a powerful quote about young people.  The problem is that I really wasn’t able to find one.  I’m sure there is one out there somewhere, but the only ones I could find were about how young people are immature and/or think they know everything.  As a youth minister, I can understand why so many quotes are of that tone.  At the same time, there are a ton of young people doing great things and deserve to be recognized for it.


I want to showcase some of these young people and share with you the awesome things they are doing.  The thing about being young is that you can’t always do a whole lot.  What I find in these people is that they are doing what they can with what they have.  Their motives are pure and their willingness is huge.


Catlyn Watkins (along with her friend Addison Pointer) has organized a soup kitchen called “Handy Lunches.”  It started in March 2010, and feeds over 100 people on the second Saturday of each month.  They get help with food from their home congregations and have even had local businesses donate money and food to help.  Catlyn and Addison are finishing their freshman years of college.   Handy lunches can be found on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=118866481471279&ref=ts.


Russell Kershaw started a website called “The Push for Better Lyrics.”  As a senior in high school, he has noticed that lyrics in “popular” songs are appalling and need to be cleaned up. On the website, you can discuss all things music, but the overall purpose is to bring awareness to the dangers of listening to songs with vulgar lyrics and what we can do to change it. Check it out at http://pushforbetterlyrics.forumotion.com/.


Will Brown, a junior in high school, and his friend Lauren Atchley, are planning a movement called “Pennies for Panama.”  Their goal is to raise as much money as they can to go towards shoes for children in Panama.  Their Twitter name is pennysforpanama.


Emily Martin is another college freshman.  As part of a planning session at a youth rally, she came up with the idea of after-school tutoring.  The idea is to split groups up by age and have someone help them with homework and other school related subjects.  After a summer of planning, we plan to start the tutoring program in the fall of 2011.


Taylor Simpson is a junior in high school.  After a friend of their family’s young daughter was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, Taylor ordered bracelets to sell with all the proceeds going to their family.  She is getting her school involved and visiting various churches to raise money for this family.


Emily Russell is 16 years old.  After the earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan, Emily wanted to do something.  She came up with the idea of wearing red on a specific day as a reminder of what had happened.  It wasn’t going to rebuild houses or businesses.  It wasn’t going to undo the damage that had been caused.  What it was going to do and did, was make people stop, think, and pray during the day when they were reminded why they were wearing red.  Emily is also in the early stages of getting a benefit concert together of local bands to raise money for Japan.


Daniel Briggs is 22 years old…the old man of the group.  Daniel wants to plan a disaster relief trip to Japan in 2013.  His vision is to fill an airplane with people ready to help in any way they can.  Lots of planning and prayer will have to go into this, but Daniel is willing.


Simply writing this has encouraged me.  It’s great to see the “other” side of what young people are doing these days.  Hopefully this will be as refreshing to you as it has been to me to be a part of it.

I think this is exactly what Paul had in mind when he wrote to Timothy to “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”


“The heart of a young person overflows, because it knows no limits.”  – Jess Eastep



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Let me add this… it’s a perfect example of what I was talking about in my previous post. One of our 16-year-old girls started “Wear Red for Japan” to raise awareness of the plight of the people in Japan… to help people remember what happened, and remember to pray, and remember to help however they can. A middle aged woman posted this on the Wear Red for Japan page: “It could happen to us and I guarantee you when it does, Japan will cheer and spit on us”. Emily’s reply? “Maybe they will. But maybe, somehow, they’ll hear about what some American kids started and how on one day a whole bunch of people wore red for them and maybe they’ll wear red, white, and blue for us. No one is forcing you to wear red. It’s a choice you make for yourself. I pray you make the choice to remember these victims on this day.” Wow. Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about our future. Looks like it may be better and brighter than our past.

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Helping Japan

Today my best friend and I were talking about the condition of the world… the world that our church kids are growing up in and the world in which my Brennan will grow up. We lamented over all the things that they have to deal with and all the sarcastic, vulgar, disgusting pool of sinfulness that they encounter every day. How will they ever survive?

And yet… as I drove home this afternoon, I started thinking. The kids today are so… incredibly…giving. SO much more so than my generation was (or is), and more so than the generation before me. The tsunami that would have barely touched the radar of my high school class has already generated such a response from these kids. I know one student who initiated A Fist For Japan (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=205749769451066&ref=ts); another started Wear Red For Japan (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=105713806177117). They are asking us what they can do to help, and they’re eager to do something.

It almost brings me to tears to think that within the past 100 years, the country of Japan was so much “our” enemy that we struck it with an atom bomb. My grandparents’ generation, wonderful as it was and is, carries so many prejudices. But those types of things seem so irrelevant to this newest generation. They just love people; it’s what they do best. Which gives me a lot of hope for the future, and a lot of hope for my son. I can’t wait to see how they change this sick old world. I’m willing to bet that it will be a change for the better.

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>Saying Goodbye

>After five amazing years, we are leaving Atlas. And leaving anywhere, for me, has never been easy. It’s painful. For the past five years, those have been our kids. For the past five years, we have loved them quite literally as our own. We’ve laughed at them until things snorted out of our noses and we’ve cried when their moron boyfriends broke their hearts and we’ve… well, they’ve just been the center of our world. So how do you say goodbye to that?

On the other hand, it’s always been strange to me how “goodbyes” can sometimes actually cement a relationship. Tonight, sitting at El Charrito with our Atlas kids “for the last time”, I was reminded of that. Suddenly every moment became precious. Suddenly we were all taking the time to say “I love you”, and hug, and plan more time to be together. I was reminded that God has piled blessing upon blessing on me by allowing me to live five years of my life with those kids. I would not trade one single moment. They have changed me for the better, and because of them, I will never be the same again.
A couple of days ago, a kid (who is now an adult) from our very first youth ministry job passed a sign that reminded him of us, so he called up. He’s home from college and wants to get together. And it hit me that our family is SO BIG. And getting bigger. When we begin our new work at Killen on Sunday, it will grow even more. It’s just overwhelming. We are pressed-down, shaken-together, pouring-over kind of blessed. I can’t wait to have my whole enormous family together one day when we all finally make it home.
The life of a youth ministry family is crazy. It’s unpredictable and emotional and frustrating and heartwrenching and stressful and wild. And you have to stay out really late at night. It’s not for everyone. But it is for us, and I am so very thankful that it is.

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>For about a week now, I have been working my way into the shallow end of my newest project… World English Institute. WEI is an online program that teaches English using passages from the Bible. For those of you who know the LST program, WEI is like LST online. I had been praying for some time that God would send me some way to reach out beyond the borders of the small and saturated area in which I live. When we made the decision not to carry out our plans for a move to Brazil, my desire for outreach to the world was not diminished. I just honestly didn’t know what to do or how to do it. I heard about WEI through the illustrious Perry “Maywood Shorts” Taylor, and felt at once that it would be something I would feel at home doing. And I have to say that the program is set up better and more effectively than I dared to dream. When a student takes a test online, the English/static questions are automatically graded, complete with an explanation of the correct answer. The teacher then makes any comments he or she desires and makes remarks on the discussion questions. This is where your effective outreach lies – basic conversation based on what the students have read in Scripture. The other positive is that it does the monotonous work for you, leaving you free to spend your time interacting with your student. The nine students I have so far have been from places I could never go, even if I wanted, and other places I dream of going – places like Libya, Palestine, Egypt, and Brazil, just to name a few. The lessons are beautifully done, not cheesy, and they’re modern (not 1950s leftovers). I’m so grateful for this chance to share with others, and so happy that people out there have the vision to use a tool like the internet in such a powerful way.

If you want to check it out, the website is www.worldenglishinstitute.org. There’s not a lot out there for the teachers (intentionally), so if you’re interested let me know and I can get you in touch with the appropriate person.

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