Since I was a young child, I have felt the call of ministry on my life. However, in the church I grew up in, there were not substantial supports for a young woman to grow into ministerial services. Over the past 13 years, I have married, given birth to two amazing little boys, graduated from college with my degree in Anthropology focused on Human Services, and established a career in Child and Family Development. Through this career I have been working alongside my local county and various other organizations to serve and be a light for youth and families in my local area.
My family began attending an A.G. church in spring of 2021. This was my first encounter with the Assemblies of God and the moment my calling began to reignite. After one month of attending, I began serving. Within the first year, I expanded to serving at the check-in desk, on the praise team, and in kid’s ministry. When I had the honor of attending kids camp as a counselor in early summer 2023, I openly received an invitation from God to step away from my current employment and work for Him.
Shortly after returning to work from Kid’s Camp at a company I started working for due to their outward proclamation of being a Christian organization, I received mandatory training teaching all employees how to navigate gender roles in the company and with the vulnerable youth and families we serve. This training presented the premise that biological gender does not exist and that we must align ourselves with this thinking and represent this ideology in our work. After leaving this training, I heard the call again, very strongly, to leave my current employment and come work for God.
In October 2023 I attended the Thrive Women's Conference with a group of ladies from my church. One of the speakers shared an analogy that spoke volumes to me. She described her experience on the way to the conference where she encounter a stressful, short layover between flights in a confusing airport terminal. She stopped to ask for directions. She exclaimed how if the person she asked were to have told her "oh honey, you looked stressed out, choose any gate, find a place that seems comfortable to you and just rest there for a while" that she would have felt instantly relived and thankful. But she would not have gotten to where she needed to go and would have been worse off in the long run for it. Instead, the person she asked was honest with her and gave her some hard directions to follow that got her to the right gate, on the right plane, and eventually to where she needed to go. She was grumpy about the challenging directions at first, but very grateful for them in the long run.
In service that following Sunday our pastor presented a sermon that posed the question "how do we know if something is good or if it is not?" The answer was to examine the fruits it bears. When I related this message to the workplace I was currently connected with, I became confused at the surface value. After all, I was working for a non-profit that boasted the good works they offer for people of all walks. But upon closer inspection over the next week I found my true answer. The help that is being offered there is a candy coating over a rotting fruit. The long term results are not getting people to where they need to go, only leaving them with short-term gratification but long term continued confusion and decay. And the numbers were proving it. People entering our programs as youth were either still in, or returning back to our programs as adults for the same issues.
On Friday, December 8th 2023 I worked my last day at that organization. I am now committed fully to my obedience and the calling to work for God through family ministry. In support of my home church and the organization associated I plan to continue my ministry courses to completion and walk step by step in faith to follow where God and my calling leads me.
Breakdown of the Need
In today's culture, the ways of the world have left families torn, hurting, and unsupported. By 2023, the United States divorce rates for first time marriages resulted in approximately 35-50%, while second time marriages faced an even higher likelihood of divorce, ranging from 60-70% or more. The number of registered Foster Youth in Minnesota alone rose astronomically to 9,176 by 2023. Between 960,000 and 3,000,000 cases of domestic violence are reported each year in the U.S. and nearly 80% of these cases involve substance abuse. Suicide deaths further increased in 2022, rising from 48,183 deaths in 2021 to an estimated 49,449 deaths in 2022, an increase of approximately 2.6%. The majority of Suicidal deaths are attributed to mental health and situational struggles. Yet through all this, we still see families supported to give up, walk away when things get tough, and thus the cycle continues.
According to a study done by Utah State University, the major risk factors for families are poverty, unemployment, early parenthood, substance abuse, inadequate housing, inadequate role modeling and high levels of family stress. Among this, a high majority of families have reported a barrier between seeking services for their needs by not feeling comfortable or confident in approaching the services available. Many report the services available feeling cold, unapproachable and labeling. The essence of humanity has been removed from state and county systems. And in most cases there is good reason for this. But the results are not great.
It has become apparent that there is a very prevalent need for stronger, more holistic family support that offers prevention-based services at the core of the family structure. Even foster youth that had family units who were deemed unsafe to return to and had been removed from the home when under the age of 18 almost always returned, in some capacity, after their 18th birthday. If we want to provide real lasting success for the children we serve, we need to serve the whole family and we need to start serving them before the large issues develop. Prevention is key.
We want our efforts to help the youth be sustainable. We don’t want our help to be a temporary fix or just get them by. We want our efforts to bear fruit that leaves good seeds. Seeds that grow deeply rooted, strong family trees. Trees rooted in Christ, our firm foundation. And that takes creating an environment that holistically serves the family as a whole. Services that offer help meeting the family where they are at while working together in a network of other caring service entities to best meet all the needs and special circumstances that can come along with the complexities of being human. Services that speak truth, even if takes complicated directions to get you to where you need to go.
Some of the service offered will include Circle of Security Parenting Courses, Circle of Parents modeled support groups, Family Wise Services trained and modeled Supportive Parenting Playdates and One-on-One Family Support Mentoring.
Funds raised will go toward Family Light as a family missions ministry and will help cover all cost associated with such. Costs may include a pool of emergency funds to aid families in need with things like gas cards to get to doctors appointment's, grocery/food cards when needed, etc., funds to provide basic compensation for supportive services like gas for transporting and assisting families with needs etc. Family Light is also partnering with other ministry services in the area to form a well rounded, holistic system of community support and engagement and by making a donation of any amount, you can become a part of that community. Thank you in advance for your support and contributions! Divided we fall, but together, we conquer! For reports on funding and services, you can stay connected via email at FamilyLightConnect@gmail.com.