First Fruits is a service project that has rallied the RBC church body for over 25 years. It is a unique serving opportunity for families, shepherd groups, and individuals to come together and make a difference in the lives and families in our area who are in need of help and encouragement. In addition to providing food and support to local families, a portion of the funds raised goes to what we call the Perseverance Scholarship. This is a scholarship we offer in several local high schools to seniors who desire to further their education. The scholarship celebrates not only the success that may come from persevering, but more importantly the proven character of the person who has persevered and in the process become a positive example and source of encouragement for their peers. This year, Ashlyn was one of the recipients of the Perseverance Scholarship. This is her story.
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I want to say thank you to Reston Bible Church for helping me go to college by giving me a Perseverance Scholarship. I am now a freshman in the Honors College at George Mason University. One year ago I never thought it would be possible to go to college. After my junior year all my friends were starting to visit colleges and were asking where I wanted to go. All I could think was “there is no way that this is ever going to happen” for me. Things were too complicated in my life to consider the idea of going to college – I had no hope that I would be able to go.
For much of the past nine years, I’ve felt like my life was a tornado of devastation. From my father losing his job, to family bankruptcy, to losing our house, to moving from state to state, to growing tension between my parents, to my sister suffering from severe depression and an eating disorder… the list goes on. Watching all this and seeing the impact on my family as a whole left me feeling like I had to be the rock for my family. I had to be strong and supportive- hide my own anxiety and misery and fears to be there for them. I felt so brittle, so alone and weak.
In all of this the toughest challenge was living with my father. Ever since I was a child, my father controlled every living aspect of my sister’s, mother’s, and my life. He was an alcoholic and had been clinically diagnosed with major depression and a personality disorder. He took his medication with scotch and sometimes with a sleeping pill and was abusive toward us. He was incredibly manipulative and gained control over us through “mind games” which included taking guns and knives out and threatening to use them to get his way. Countless times I had to confront him- once lying on top of a rifle to stop my father from loading it. My father’s controlling behavior isolated us and as a result, we never knew how dysfunctional our family was until we finally reached out for help.
After many months of planning and many years of contemplation, this past Mother’s Day my mother moved my sister and me to another place – taking our first steps towards freedom and independence. Even though our future is still questionable and slightly daunting due to our current financial difficulties and present circumstances, moving away from my father has proven to be the catalyst for hope and new beginnings. And I am certain that any future challenges ahead will not be nearly as hard as what we have already overcome.
I couldn’t have done it without all of the support I received from people around my community. Organizations such as Child Protective and especially Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS). My friends and teachers have all been supportive of me. And, I am so grateful for the generosity and kindness of my drama teacher, Mrs. Young, and her family. All these people supported me through all of my adversity and have honestly saved my life.
One example I experienced that showed me how things can change for the better is, I remember, sitting down at the dinner table with my drama teacher’s family and being absolutely stunned – there was no screaming, no yelling, tension, crying, negative energy. Everyone was talking pleasantly and eating together. I had never experienced anything like this before. It was so simple, such a day-to-day activity this family had with each other, but to me it was so much more. It gave me hope that real happy, loving families exist. It was an experience I will never forget.
During the early and middle stages of my situation, I was hesitant to reach out for help because I thought it showed weakness. However, I found it is really the most important thing you can do. It shows strength in that you are brave enough to ask for help. At first it is hard to reveal your weaknesses to others, but later you realize it is better to get help then struggle on your own. It is quintessential to seek help when you are in a difficult situation; hiding that pain, anxiety, and stress only lets it fester and build up until you explode. There is always someone out there to help, and there is always hope for better days, no matter what. My counselor and others have helped me realize that the past does not define you- you do not have to be held back something you are not able to change or control. You can move past it and grow from it. The tough times and downfalls I’ve experienced have made me a stronger and wiser individual, and ultimately has taught me to persevere and never give up.
I hope sharing my story will encourage others to reach out for help in order to start a better future for their lives. Starting my new chapter in life at George Mason as part of the Honors College is a dream come true. Thank you to all those that have contributed to First Fruits in any way that made the Perseverance Scholarship possible in order for me to attain my dream of going to college and to know that nothing is impossible.
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For more information on First Fruits and how you can get involved, check out www.restonbible.org/firstfruits.
My name is Bob Shull, and I am the Senior High Youth Pastor here at Reston Bible Church. I am so thankful for the investment that RBC has made in the youth of our area for almost 40 years now. I am actually one of the fruits of the Youth Ministry here – having become a Christian when I was a junior at Herndon High School (back in the “Remember the Titans” era) through the ministry of Dave Wentzel, RBC’s first Youth Pastor. Since that time, many things have changed since then in our society and in our church (hair & clothing styles, the cost of gas, technology – just to mention a few). RBC, however, has continued to focus the time and energies of our Youth Staff on encouraging our families with teens, teaching and equipping our teens, and working with our teens in reaching out to their friends.
We follow the goal of the church as a whole to “know Christ and make Him known” – both in a big group and small group setting. We also have a long tradition of taking an extended time with our teens in the Word of God at our Winter Retreats and Summer Camps. We give teens an opportunity to be involved in the ministry by using their gifts in worship, drama, teaching, and in the one anothers. We are blessed to have a facility that allows us to do bigger things like “First Fruits” and “Bring It” that impact our community. We have also been blessed to go with teens on overseas mission trips to places like England, Trinidad, Croatia, Brazil, Bolivia and to stateside locations like PawPaw West VA, Chicago IL, Maysville SC, St. Louis MO and many more. It is on these trips that our teens have had to put their faith to the test and have seen God meet them there. What never ceases to amaze and motivate me is the ability of our teens to still believe and obey God in both little and big ways. Older adults can learn from them in this!
One of the greatest gifts that God has and continues to give the Youth Ministry are the many volunteers He has led to join us in reaching out to our teens and their families. It is an understatement to say that working with teens is very relational. Just like all adults, teens are looking for a place to belong, a place to wrestle out what they believe, a safe place share their thoughts and doubts and grow in their faith in God. Doing this requires us to have men and women of all ages, giftings, and personalities who have a clear love for God, a love for His Word, and a willingness to love and work with teens. Could God be nudging you to consider stepping out to join us?
The Youth Ministry is hosting our first “Youth Ministry Preview and Training Event” on Sunday June 8th, 2014. It is designed to help anyone who wants to know more about the youth ministry and is evaluating how they can serve at Reston Bible Church. Our hope is that everyone attending will get the answers they need to make that decision. We will meet at 10:30am in the front classroom of the Youth Building. Aaron Osborne and Lee Banton will give the group an overview on the who, what, and why of the Youth Ministry. It will briefly cover what we do and the strategy behind it. We will then have the group join and observe on or our Sunday morning youth gatherings – either in the Senior High (called GAP) or the Junior High (called BreakThru). These run from 11:00am to 12:15pm. Afterwards, the group will have lunch and Lee Banton and I will do the training aspect of the event. We will first cover the volunteer process; how someone becomes involved in the youth ministry. We will next cover what the volunteer roles are that we need in the Youth Ministry. We actually need not only relational people, but also those who are gifted administratively, and with specific talents – in music, drama, video, multimedia, etc. We will then go over what we see as being the essentials of youth ministry. There is not one type of person who can do youth ministry. However there are some essentials every volunteer needs to have and be growing in. Finally, we will talk about of the keys of wisdom that volunteers need to know to be effective in working with teens. It is not about just hanging out with teens – it’s helping them to individually learn how to follow Jesus in their lives.
If this sounds like something you want to explore, I would invite you to use this link to register for the “Youth Ministry Preview and Training Event” – CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
Coming to this event does not mean you are committing to join the Youth Ministry volunteer staff. It will, however, allow you to hear, see, and experience what Youth Ministry at RBC looks like and be able to make an informed choice on applying to volunteer with us. It is our goal to identify those who want to join us and begin working with them over the summer to be ready by the fall. If you have any questions for want any other information, please check out the video below. You can also contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On September 29, GAP, our Senior High Youth Ministry, sponsored an event called Gettin’ Schooled. Gettin’ Schooled turned out to be a big success and a blessing to our students. It was an “in-reach” event designed around the thought of the students going back to school and how to spiritually equip them in this. We did this in three ways: food, fun competition, and electives.
The night started off with some dinner and hangout time, where we ate what you would get a school football game: hot dogs with chili, cheese and jalapenos, hamburgers, and nachos. We then had a competition between 10 teams of students and leaders, each team having 4-5 people. The first to finish all of the stations won; the stations were a hotdog eating contest, having to get 25 Skittles out of a bread loaf pan filled with whipped cream, smash a pumpkin off a rope while blindfolded, a teamwork game where you had to rearrange yourself on cinderblocks, and an alphabet soup game where the team had to make out the phrase “Gettin Schooled at the GAP.”
After the competition students then got to go “get their schedule” for the electives they had chosen. The electives they chose from were Quiet Time 101, How to Start a God-Movement at Your School, Standing up Without Standing Out, Study Skills 201, Stress Strategies and Prioritizing, How to Not Be a Follower, Dealing with Temptations, and Developing Friendships with Non-Believers. The students were really excited to get their schedules and the feedback from the teachers was that students were very involved. Our prayer was the students and staff alike were blessed and encouraged in their faith by attending the event and above all that God received all of the glory.
Please be in prayer for our students as they continue to grow in their faith and be a light for Christ in their schools.
I still remember my first time attending RBC Summer Camp. I grew up in a Christian home and knew all the Bible stories and memorized all the AWANA verses, but I didn’t see how it all impacted or affected my life. The summer after my freshman year of high school, I went to camp, and for the first time in my life I took a break from all my electronics and non-stop activities and thought about what all this “God stuff” I knew about really meant in my life. I still remember the speaker explaining God’s love and forgiveness and it just “clicking” for me as I saw into the depths of God’s incredible grace towards me. Looking back, here are some of the ways I have seen camp affect me:
Summer Camp allowed me to build friendships. I went from being a kid who only came on Sunday morning and felt alone even at church, to always wanting to be at youth group. Over my time in the youth group, I went from being quiet and shy to being outgoing, because I had real relationships and I understood the acceptance of God.
Summer Camp forced me to focus on God. There is no magic formula. We just remove distractions, focus everything on God, and it is amazing what He teaches. We give students an extended time alone with God on Thursday morning, and it is amazing how for many students this is the best part of the week.
Summer Camp allowed me to make decisions. When I stepped back from my world, I could make decisions about what was really important. I could really decide who I wanted to be. This is one reason we are excited about our topic this year. We are going to be studying the life of Daniel. While in our society truth and morals are relative, Daniel had the core convictions to follow God regardless of the circumstances around him. Even in captivity, he was convinced that God’s Word was true, God is Good, and God’s commands are to be obeyed.
Summer Camp gave me memories. Camp was just flat out fun. Between spending a week with friends and tons of great activities, it was always a highlight of my year that has left me with so many great memories.
I don’t know exactly what decisions will be made this year at Summer Camp, but I trust its impact will extend far beyond what I will ever know. Watch the first video (above) to hear some stories of how camp has impacted lives. The second video (below) contains fun highlights from last year’s Summer Camp.
Details and Registration are available at www.restonbible.org/summercamp. If you have any questions about camp, please let me know (email@example.com). We also have several scholarships available, where students can work to earn a portion of the funds they need for camp. For registration and scholarship information, please contact Mallory Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discounted registration ends May 12th.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:37-38
Isn’t it interesting that one of Jesus’ prayer requests was for those who would work in His harvest? The Jr. and Sr. High Youth Ministries are joining Him in that prayer as we are seeking God for volunteer staff who will join us in our ministry fields. I have been blessed by God to not only come to Christ in the RBC Youth Ministry (a while back), but to also to serve as the Youth Pastor here at RBC for over 26 years. One of the greatest gifts and most powerful tools God has blessed me with are the volunteer staff He has sent me. I am guessing that God may want you to join me in this mission field if you have read this blog entry to this point but you may be thinking that you need to be young, cool, tech-savvy, and able to play video games to apply – you would be wrong. Continue reading
Last month, RBC hosted our annual Youth Winter Retreat. We spent the weekend with the kids teaching them and hearing about how we should live as Christians as Biblical men and women. The gospel was also shared and several of the youth indicated they had prayed to receive Christ! On our activity day, the youth did either indoor activities which included bowling, roller skating, laser tag, or an outdoor activity where the kids went skiing and snowboarding at Elk Mountain. It was a blast and it was great to see God work in our youth and speak to them that weekend.
Please be in prayer for our youth from winter retreat:
1. Pray that those who accepted Christ would continue to walk and seek to grow in their new-found faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Pray that the teen guys would take to heart the teaching on authentic manhood and would seek to no longer live passively or in laziness, but that they would become strong Godly leaders and initiators.
3. Pray that the teen girls would take to heart the teaching on biblical womanhood and would seek to live a God-centered life as daughters of the Most High King, living a humble life in His unfailing Love.
4. Pray that all our teens would remember and live from the fact that God created them for a specific purpose.
With each of our Jr. High Friday Night Lives, we strive to create fun, safe environments where our students and their friends can have a great time & also hear about what Christ has done for us. On January 18th, the Jr. Highers had a blast at our Epic Fun Night. A series of Epic Fun activities were spread throughout the youth building so teens could compete in RC car racing, basketball, dodgeball, sculpting, Mario Cart, foosball, Super Smash Brothers, and more. The video below gives you a glimpse of all the excitement. It was a great time for our volunteers to hang out and build relationships with our students and over 40 of their friends that came.
In the middle of the epicness, we paused to watch some epic near-death experiences. In lots of epic movies it always seems when certain death and failure is imminent, at just the right moment salvation comes. The same was true for us in our spiritual lives. As Romans 5:6 says, “While we were still helpless, at just the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.” While we faced certain judgment and eternal punishment, Christ came in God’s perfect timing to die for us. This makes us some of the luckiest and most blessed people ever.
Praise the Lord for His salvation and for the 12 students who indicated they trusted in what Christ has done for them & began a relationship with God that evening.
If you have a Jr. Higher or know one you want to reach out to, go to www.restonbible.org/breakthru and check out our latest calendar to find our details for our next Friday Night Live.
Back in December, the Jr. High Ministry held our 3rd annual Minute to Win It: Friday Night Live. Guy Feiri (played by Erik Palmer) hosted our own version of the TV game show as our students played a series of pressure-packed challenges to win prizes.
We had a full room of excited Jr. Highers (with about 50 friends who do not regularly attend RBC) trying to throw rolls of toilet paper through hoops, making Diet Coke volcanos with Mentos, and bobbing their heads trying to tally steps on a pedometer.
The highlight video below gives you a small glimpse of the excitement. In the middle of the event, one of our Jr. High Volunteers, Amy Stegeman, shared about her life (you can also watch her story below). Just like how in the game show you only have a short time to complete a task, she shared about how she has learned that our time here on earth is short. But unlike the game, we don’t win prizes based on our performance, but by believing in the performance of the God who came into this world at Christmas 2000 years ago.
Praise God for the over 20 students who indicated they trusted in what Christ has done for them & began a relationship with God that evening.
The Youth Ministry would like to extend a huge thank you to the body for its prayers and support in all aspects of First Fruits. God answered your prayers in many different ways last Saturday. There were more than 600 workers, spread over 30 teams that did close to 150 jobs, and raised almost $40,000 to immediately impact more than 70 families in the local community with groceries and gift cards. It was a long, but good day, one in which God provided near perfect weather. It was also a blessing to have Park View High School stepping out with volunteers (students and staff) and providing a place for us to meet for our morning and evening programs.
Check back in the near future for pictures from that wonderful day. For this and countless other reasons, we are truly grateful to God for richly blessing our body. Have a very special Thanksgiving.
Jr. High Friday Night Live events (FNL) are fun, safe events we hold monthly where our teens feel comfortable inviting their friends, and the Gospel and the truth about Christ is clearly presented.
On September 14th, we started off the school year in delicious fashion with Chocolate Night. We had around 140 students with lots of friends and consumed approximately 10 dozen brownies, 12 Costco-sized bottles of Hershey’s syrup, 15 lbs of M&M’s, 2 lbs of chocolate chips, 12 tubs of chocolate frosting, 24 lbs of Hershey’s bars, 4 pounds of chocolate covered pretzels, and 25 pounds of fruit dipped in chocolate. Now when I say “consumed,” let me explain that probably only 3/4 of that was actually eaten. The rest got smeared all over the students as we played all sorts of chocolate themed games. (As you might imagine, we are incredibly grateful for the amazing cleaning staff at RBC.)
In the middle of the mess, we also got to share the beauty of the Gospel. God created mankind in absolutely perfect relationship with Him, but our sin has separated us from God. No matter what good things we do, we can never make things right with God again. It is like a bowl of chocolate brownie batter with dog poop mixed in. No matter how many other good things you add (e.g., chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, whipped cream), no one wants to eat poop brownies.
That is what is so amazing about Christ. He doesn’t say, “Do good things, and I will forgive you.” Instead, He gives us Christ’s righteousness when we believe. Praise the Lord for the many who heard the Gospel and for the 15 students that indicated decisions that evening. Please be in prayer for our students to fully understand the forgiveness and life we have through Christ.
Below is a highlight video from all the chocolate festivities and a special interview we had with world renowned chocolate artist, Ned Wonka!
Back in July, we had our yearly youth summer camp. We had over 160 students and 50 leaders for our weekly camp. It was a great time to get away from the day to day distractions and really focus on the LORD and His Word and learn more about our relationship with Christ. We also had a blast with our youth as we participated with them in several of our camps activities which included: Paint Ball, water sports, caving, rappelling, rock wall climb, white water rafting, hiking, and a day of service to name a few activities.
We had a great time at camp and really saw God working in many of our teens’ lives throughout the week and even saw some kids place their trust in Christ for the first time.
-John Lyver (Jr. High Youth Assistant)
This summer, a team of 20 students and adults went to Slavonski Brod and Nova Gradiska, Croatia to work with RBC missionaries Garret Prestwood and Darko Mikulic and the Pioneers Team that Tony Pedroni, RBC’s Shepherd Groups pastor, used to lead. In these cities, we did a Kid’s Club (think outdoor VBS) for younger kids, and ran camps where we taught Croatian teens how to play baseball. God was amazingly gracious to us, bringing out the perfect number of participants and providing us with great weather, even though the forecast was bleak. The videos below will give you a glimpse of what these events looked like.
Through these events, we were able to build relationships with many Croatian students. In the evenings, we would meet up with the friends we had made in the town square and hang out in small groups. It was in these times, I saw the Lord so powerfully work. Our team would regather late at night, and the stories were just amazing of how this student got to share their testimony of how God has changed their life with two Croatians, or how a Croatian opened up about the struggles in their life and we got to share about the hope we have in Christ. Every night we seemed to have another five stories of God at work.
I have had the privilege of being a part of many overseas missions trips, but I have never before seen the Lord open up so many opportunities for His Word to go forth in personal one-on-one relationships as I saw this year in Croatia. We were truly blessed to be a part of God’s plan and work in that country. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement along the way.
Please continue to be in prayer for the many seeds planted in Croatia, the new believers to be connected with the body of Christ, the students still exploring their faith with the long-term missionaries there, and for our teens to catch a vision that conversations about God can happen not just when we travel halfway around the world, but wherever God has placed them.
At BreakThru, our Junior High ministry here at Reston Bible Church, we provide simple journals for the Jr. Highers to use to spend time with God. The journals provide a reading plan, a couple of questions to get them to think about what they read, and some space to write out a prayer to God. This is nothing amazing in concept, but it has been incredible to see what God is doing through them. Just last week, I got an email from a mom telling me how her son uses the journal almost every day, and she has been amazed as she has seen God’s Word at work in her son’s life. This email isn’t unique, as I receive something similar at least once a month.
A lot of times I am tempted to think that if God’s Word isn’t properly “packaged” and turned into something that grabs a teen’s attention, they won’t get anything out of it. But that mindset is like caring more about the wrapping paper than the actual present. God’s Word is “living and active” and is powerful to change lives. We can get distracted by all the glitz of the latest Christian book or podcast sermon. But whether I am an 11 year-old boy or a seminary professor, the Bible speaks and transforms all who will listen.
Jr. High Friday Night Live events (FNL) are monthly fun, safe events where our teens feel comfortable inviting their friends and the Gospel and the truth about Christ is clearly presented.
On September 16th, we had Jello night, where we threw Jell-O, shot Jell-O, swam in Jell-O, and ate Jell-O. It was a blast, but also a total mess. We also got to talk about the messes in our own lives (e.g., divorced parents, lying to fit in), and the God who has come in human form into our mess, to renew and restore by dying on a cross for all of our sins, and rising from the dead to give us everlasting life. We had over 60 friends attend and over 10 indicate decisions for Christ.
On October 14th, we put on our own version of Minute to Win It. Erik Palmer hosted a series of games from the TV show for an excited crowd of almost 200 Jr. Highers (about half were visitors). We also had 20 middle schoolers from Cornerstone School in Anacostia. The teens played games, won prizes, and ate pizza. But as the games puts contestants under pressure to perform, we face a huge pressure to perform in academics, athletics, relationships, etc. Thankfully, God hasn’t left us alone in those pressures, and says our identity isn’t based on our performance (we will never be good enough to get to heaven), but on what He has already accomplished for us by dying to pay the penalty for our sins and rising to give us life. Please pray as we follow up with over 20 visitors that indicated decisions for Christ that night.
Below are highlight videos from both of the events. Please continue to pray for the seeds that were planted at these events and the new faiths that began.
First Fruits is a service project that has rallied the RBC church body for over 20 years. It is a unique serving opportunity for families, shepherd groups, and individuals to come together and make a difference in the lives and families of others in our area who are in need of help and encouragement. Join us and you will be blessed to see the tangible “fruits” of your labors!
Learn more & get involved at www.restonbible.org/firstfruits