How many times have you heard the Christmas story? Too many to count?
For some, the Christmas story will be new this year and God is still doing amazing things through this story.
Ben Katt, Resonate Global Mission’s regional mission leader for the Western United States, recently recorded two examples of this while visiting Anchorage, Alaska on his podcast, Replacing Church. Ben visited Parachutes, a drop-in center for high-risk teens that partners with Resonate.
Why Did They Do That?
A couple of years ago, Parachutes had a nativity scene set up along with a book that told the Christmas story. One of the youth paged through the book and was shocked by what he was reading, as he knew how the story would eventually end.
“So, they kill him later right?” the teen asked Jake Hubers, executive director at Parachutes.
“He was the son of God, why would they do that,” the teen added. “There were angels and stuff rejoicing for Jesus.”
Jake said that navigating that tough question and having a deeper conversation with this young man was “incredible.”
“It’s moments like that where I say there is something going on here!” said Jake.
From Discussion to Discipleship
These deep conversations that Jake mentions are at the heart of the mission for staff and volunteers at Parachute Ministries—conversations that take place informally like this and more structured conversations like those that take place at Parachutes’ newest program, the Table.
The Table is dinner and discussion time, funded in part by grants from Resonate. It provides a warm, hospitable place for volunteers and youth to build a relationship and draw into community.
“Young adults get the opportunity to share about their lives in a safe and nurturing environment, said Joel Kiekintveld, Parachutes Founding Director. “The Table has been, for some of our youth, their church.”
Identification with the Christmas Story
Another conversation that took place at Parachutes almost caught Joel off guard. During last year’s Christmas party at Parachutes, Joel had just finished sharing the Christmas story, framing it as a story of outcasts.
“In the Christmas story you have a man who loses all of his status in Joseph,” said Joel, recalling what he spoke about at the Christmas party. “And a woman who is losing her status and identity because she’s gotten pregnant out of wedlock, and you've got a baby who has no status.”
After that message, one of the youth approached Joel. This young man had been visibly moved by Joel’s message, identifying with the Christmas story in a new way that Joel hadn’t considered. He approached Joel with a question you probably wouldn’t hear in most church settings.
In tears, the young man asked Joel, “So are you telling me that Jesus was a bastard? That’s what people have called me my whole life.”
Then, in the middle of the Christmas party, while most of the other youth were focused on opening gifts and celebrating, Joel had a meaningful discussion about how God's own Son entered fully into our challenging (or painful) human experience.
Meaningful discussions like these are what motivates Joel and others at Parachutes and they are excited to see what God does at Christmas this year.
Your support for new initiatives at Parachute Ministries makes the discipleship that takes place there possible. Thank you!