By Julia Higham
On a Saturday in February, I had the pleasure of visiting the Game Plan retreat, and interviewing some of the boys in the program. In addition to their afternoon/evening meetings, the middle school boys attend Saturday retreats every month that include a lesson from a guest speaker, a service project, and a fun activity. The retreat started with the message that God created us in His own image and likeness, and we can do anything if we believe in Him. Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” However, we can’t just believe in God and expect something to happen, we have to actively work for it. James 1:12 states, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
The message moved into discussing what the boys want to be when they grow up, and how they can work alongside God to get there. Some answers were: a basketball player, an engineer, a football player, and a rapper. In order to become a future successful engineer, as a middle school boy, you can prepare now by getting good grades and brushing up on math skills. In order to become a future successful athlete, you can prepare now by training hard and staying focused. In order to become a future rapper, you can work now to write and record music, and create YouTube videos or record for SoundCloud. The takeaway was that the time to start preparing for your future is now. And Acts4Youth will be there to help you work toward your dreams. Whether or not their current dreams become a reality, learning the discipline of planning, investing time to improve skills, and persevering can last a lifetime.
The goals the boys set for themselves as a result of this lesson is to get good grades, make their families proud, do well in high school, and spend time with God every day.
After the message, I was able to talk with some of the boys and learn how Acts4Youth has made a difference in their lives. Although their answers to my questions were short, their smiles and enthusiasm made it evident that they greatly appreciate the organization. When asked how Acts4Youth has changed their lives, some of the responses were…
- It opened them up to God
- It helped them “get through things I never wanted to go through,”
- Helped “get me out of the house to be with friends”
- “Stopped me from hanging in the streets”
- Introduced them to a brotherhood they had never known before.
When I asked about a good memory that they had at their program, many of the boys talked about playing basketball against other schools through Acts4Youth’s 3D Athlete program. The 3D Athlete program is based on Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ template and includes pre-activity devotionals. Many of the boys reported that Acts4Youth had made them more involved in sports and helped them to improve their athletic performance. Other answers included playing paintball, playing video games, doing lessons, and eating good food.
Finally, I asked the boys what the most important lesson was that they learned from Acts4Youth. One main lesson that stuck out to most of the boys was to always be respectful of other people, especially leadership. Conflicts can be resolved without revenge, and you don’t need to be rude or disrespectful to get your point across. The other main lesson that the boys learned from Acts4Youth was to always strive to be your best, and to set goals for yourself. Many goals that the boys have set for themselves as a result of this lesson is to get good grades, make their families proud, do well in high school, and spend time with God every day.
Visiting the Game Plan retreat provided me with insight as to how Acts4Youth has transformed the lives of the boys involved in their programs. Because of this organization, students have developed friendships, fostered a relationship with Christ, and learned skills to prepare them for success in their everyday lives.
Julia Higham is Acts4Youth’s communications intern this winter/spring, her final semester at Towson University where she is a mass communications major.
Julia explains why she chose to intern with Acts4Youth: “As I enter the professional world, it is important to me that I use my knowledge and expertise in communications and marketing to serve others. Acts4Youth allows me to do just that. When I learned about the organization and its mission, I knew this opportunity was for me. I have been a Christ follower my entire life, and have previous experience working with inner city youth, which I loved. Youth4Christ embodies the two things I am most passionate about- Jesus and serving others.”