Sunnydale Connect

1

Are We Making a Difference?

Many times I catch myself wondering: “Are we really making a difference?” Last week a group of our guys gathered in a local gym. After a rousing game of basketball and floor hockey we sat down and attempted to start up a ‘more serious’ chat. Nathan did a great job. But the kids were distracted, a few days later one of them could not even remember that a chat had even taken place let alone remember the topic. Did we waste our time?

“Faith” has to be core to what we do: a parent invests in their child with the belief that their efforts will bring about a mature adult, a teacher trusts that their instruction will educate an athlete that training will make them better. Often with little or no guarantee each of us engages in actions that require faith.

Ten years ago we gathered together our first group of Waterloo teens. We are still at it. Some weeks it seems like an utter waste of time! Some weeks it is just blah. But the other weeks we are exhilarating. Some weeks all we hear is grumbling, others everyone seems engaged. We encounter many behaviours; some we do well with, others are enormously frustrating. In all, week after week we show up; week after week, month after month, year after year.

Why?

Because we are crazy! Well, while that may be true there is a greater reason: we trust that by consistently being present, reaching out with genuine interest and building friendships we will make a difference in the life of another. And perhaps that might start a simple movement of people caring. Really caring! But we never really fully know. So we do it because it is right to do. Care always requires action.

So this week we will show up for the drumming circle and next week for something called Laserquest, after that the car wash…

and the week after we will show up…

and when we are tired we will show up again…

and during the week we will engage in relationships…

and…

Why? Simply because it is the right thing to do and because we just trust that we are making a positive difference. Because we are!

6

Meet our Guys

Blue and white… they insisted; ‘Ice colours’ they said, ‘its cool!’

Days later our office is still strung up with streamers and tinsel across various doorways, and the only traditional ‘Christmassy’ element is the jovial Santa smiling at me whenever I exit the stairs.


 

Sunnydale Connect is anything but a typical or traditional youth group. Why not an ice theme for the Christmas celebration? Diverse to the max… a huge range of cultures and backgrounds, age and experience… people who have no obvious natural basis for being together do so in ‘Connect’…  Africans, Asians, Latin Americans. North Americans… all together… laughing, struggling, creating, playing, learning…!

Sometimes more than 30 gather and the energy generated is something to behold. We have outgrown our space, we are stretching our leaders to the hilt, our finances are under pressure, but we are seeing change and growth and friendship and transformation.

I watched our gang devour two turkeys, Halal chicken, vegetables galore, citrus punch and an abundance of pie & ice cream, and was struck again; just how important the act of ‘celebration’ and appreciation is in the life of community and relationship building. We may each enter this holiday season from different perspectives and faith orientations, but surely we can all decide to celebrate; celebrate others, celebrate life, celebrate the next breath I take, celebrate it all. We in Life Change will certainly celebrate these kids and our sacred journey with them.