The last time a newsletter went out, we reflected on the many changes and adjustments that had been made to youth programming at Streetlight since the beginning of the pandemic. There were still many questions and unknowns as we headed into summer and tried to begin planning for the fall. It took many conversations and prayers and planning sessions to prepare to launch our programs again. But God continues to be faithful. The gospel continues to be shared. Relationships continue to be built and strengthened.
It is easy to become anxious and overwhelmed when trying to put together programming that will adhere to COVID-19 restrictions and yet will maintain the core elements that make the programs what they are. We have had to make tough decisions about the number of participants that can attend the programs. Our Kids Club program, which had around 50 attendees from all across elementary age, had to be scaled down to a smaller number of kids in a smaller age range. While all the kids that had now aged out of Kids Club were welcome to attend other programming at their age level, it is still a loss to not all be together. Add to that the constant vigilance needed regarding social distancing, sanitizing, mask-wearing, and other precautions, and things can feel quite different.
One thing that is consistent is the eagerness with which the kids receive the stories from the Bible. Whether they are hearing these stories for the first time or building on knowledge from past years of Kids Club, it is so amazing to hear their deep questions and to witness their reactions as they hear more about who God is and what he has done for us.
We have made more major changes to our Youth Group, which serves students in Grades 9-12. Since secondary students in both the Catholic and public system are working partially in class and partially remotely, we wanted to make sure we could come alongside our teens to help them succeed. Tracy Lynn, as the mentor on staff, spent a lot of time with families, particularly those with students entering Grade 9 or switching schools, to help students and parents navigate online registration systems and prepare to begin a very different kind of school year.
Additionally, we have shifted our Youth Group program to include
time to use the Wi-Fi at the church for online classes, staff presence to help with homework or provide encouragement and support, and also a place to find community during the school day. This is followed by enjoying dinner together, playing favourite games, and sharing devotions that encourage the development of a relationship with God.
At Boys Club and Girls Club, we have also made adjustments to continue with favourite activities. Since being outside when meeting with groups is encouraged, we have been doing that as much as possible. The boys enjoy active outdoor games and have also had some of their Bible lessons taught outside by Erik. The girls have also enjoyed outdoor activities and socially distanced craft projects. We are getting used to singing with masks, since the girls love to sing and we have talented musicians among our volunteers. One of our favourite songs is “My Lighthouse,” by Rend Collective. The first time we could be together as a group and sing this song again, after months of not being able to meet or meeting over Zoom, these lyrics in particular rang true for me:
I won’t fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I’ll rise and sing
My God’s love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea…
My Lighthouse, My Lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, My Lighthouse
I will trust the promise
You will carry me safe to shore…
As uncertainty continues to loom each day and week over how to navigate everything related to COVID-19, these words offer hope to cling to. We don’t have to be afraid of what awaits us tomorrow, whether it is sickness or health or bad news or good news. God’s love will lead us through all of it. He gives us peace, even in the midst of the stormiest seas, and light for the darkest nights. Please pray for us as we hold onto these truths and continue to share them with the children and families that we are privileged to connect with. These times may seem unprecedented to us, but nothing is outside of our good God’s plan and we are so thankful to be able to keep serving Him in the youth ministry at Streetlight.
By Danielle Heemskerk, Youth Worker