Every six to eight weeks we try to send out our paper version of our prayer letter. Below is a digital copy of that letter.
CYIA starts today! Our team has encountered some significant spiritual opposition, which is somewhat "normal" as CYIA approaches, but we covet your prayers against the spiritual attack. Please continue to pray for safety and effectiveness during CYIA. Thank you!
~Ben & Karis Jorden
Here is a Facebook post that Karis made that is worth re-publishing here! "Our CYIA summer missionary training begins very soon on June 19. I’m excited for what God will do this year through our team and the teens who are coming to training. God is bringing teens from all over Chicagoland who are passionate about learning how to reach the children in their community for Christ. Some of these teens are not even officially teenagers yet (12), but they can’t wait to learn and teach so we are honored to have them at cyia this year. One of our younger teens was just a baby when Ben and I lived with his family for a week and began teaching 5-Day Clubs in Chicagoland, and this year he is coming to CYIA! Some of our teens grew up in Good News Clubs in their public school and are now coming to training so they can build back into the kids in their schools. Others wrote in their testimonies that they came to Christ during a 5-Day Club as a child, led by CYIA’ers who had come before them. Now they’re coming to CYIA to continue the cycle of evangelizing kids, discipling them to help them grow to be like Jesus, and getting them established in their local church. I’m in awe of what God is doing to bring our CYIA’ers together this year! Please pray with us as we finish the preparations for CYIA, June 19-29."
So, we took the team to the Indiana dunes on lake Michigan for a couple of days to meet together, to reconnect relationally, to pray, to reflect, and to clarify roles and work direction. The result was certainly a stronger team ready to take on the joys and struggles of summer ministry, and better equipped to love the children of Chicago to Jesus.
One of the most amazing parts of being a Christian is having the privilege of sitting in the front row and seeing God work in hearts and lives! At a club I was teaching a couple of weeks ago there was one of those front row moments. I taught a Bible lesson, and then gave children a chance to follow up on what had been taught by talking to me further. Eight children indicated that they wanted more wanted a chance to talk to me about the Gospel. Since that’s too many children to effected talk to at once, I called over one of our CYIAers (Summer missionaries) who helps with the club, and she talked to four girls, and I talked to four boys. One of the three boys has been talking to me about what it means to believe in Jesus every opportunity that he has been given for over a year. The other three boys shared withf me that they had never before embraced Jesus and believed in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. We sat on the steps where we were visible to all and talked of Jesus and His work for us for over 30 minutes. Towards the end of our disscusion as I spoke of believing in Jesus, one of the boys stopped me by firmly putting his hand out like a stop sign. “Can I do that right now?” He said with tears welling up in his eyes. Over the last twenty years I have spoken to more children about Jesus than I can count, but every time it takes me back when God grants saving faith to a child. I wanted to make sure each of the three boys understood by asking a couple more questions, but then each of the three boys made professions of faith by praying to God in their own words (I don’t like to have children repeat after me because anyone can repeat after someone). The middle boy who interrupted me finished his prayer by telling God the Son, “Jesus, I want to follow you all the days of my life.” Thank you for supporting us and praying for our family and thus enabling us to continue to share the Gospel with children in Chicago.
Today, we are celebrating the homegoing of Billy Graham, and I can’t believe how many stories I’ve read and heard of people coming to Christ through the crusades, television casts, or writings of Reverend Billy Graham. We even watched “The Crown” on Netflix recently and remembered what I had read in Dr. Graham’s book, that he even counseled the Queen of England. I (Ben) don’t remember exactly when it was but at some point in Jr High or High School I perused my father’s bookshelf and read “Just As I Am.” Reverend Graham’s legacy in my life was left by his biography. I vividly remember being encouraged, challenged, and inspired to reach people for Christ by the life of Billy Graham.
One of my favorite quotes of Billy Graham, considering my missionary calling to reach kids for Christ is, “I am certain that the Gospel is just as real to the small child as to the educated adult. Christ seems to have a special affection for the children. I sincerely believe that child evangelism is one of the greatest mediums for reaching future generations for Christ that there is today.”
We will miss the voice of Billy Graham in our world. God has used him for the last 99 years in ways that most of us can only imagine, so God, I thank you for calling and sustaining your imperfect, but obedient servant, Billy Graham. I look forward to meeting him one day in Heaven and saying, “thank you for living the life God called you to. You made a profound impact on my life.”
I sit down to quickly write an update between things happening this Valentine's Day/Ash Wednesday. Happy Valentine's Day! It's been a whirlwind day and week for us. You may have noticed from our Facebook and letters that one of our family hobbies/sports has become Taekwondo. It's led by some dear Christians in Franklin Park, and we get to take and help teach classes alongside people from at least eight different countries, so we love the international/multicultural atmosphere.
Today (Wednesday) has turned into today (Saturday) as Wednesday ran away from us. This week we've been juggling construction at the HUB (Ben), recruiting and planning our weekend retreat that we call Ignite CYIA for next weekend, teaching club, homeschooling the boys (Karis), and strategic planning with some of our staff. In addition, we've of course been doing all of our day-to-day stuff of corespondence, helping churches plan future kids ministry, coordinate with current Good News Clubs we oversee, etc. Honorable mentions in our evening schedules are leading our small group, Taekwondo, leading AWANA Sparks, and mentoring. We share this on our blog, not to say, "see how busy we are, aren't we great?!" like it has become a Christian discipline to be busy(which could be a whole blog article by itself). Rather, we want to invite our ministry partners more intimately into our lives to show the daily ins and outs, blessings, struggles, monotony, joy, victory, exhaustion, and exhilaration of the life God has called us to live.
This has been a good, but hard month so far for us, and as I look at the calendar, it's only one week in! We have been hit by the plague, also known as influenza. Also, three weeks ago, Ben was laid flat on his back by what ended up being a twisted vertebrae. Now, we hope we are coming out of what has been three weeks of sickness and limited mobility. Ben went to a Chiropractor, three doctor's offices, and finally a physical therapist. The PT diagnosed the twisted vertebrae, and confidently said, "I can fix it," and she did. Ben is still on treatment for his back, but is getting much better.
On the "ministry front," things continue to move forward. Ignite CYIA is our annual recruitment/appreciation weekend for our teenage summer missionaries, and that is happening Feb 23-25. We've had some good conversations as a part of the national CEF "Urban Task Force" discussing best practices for ministering in and around the urban populations of our country. The HUB continues to move forward, and we are praying for more kids to join the Good News Club meeting within the ministry center. God was faithful to allow our account to end up in the black for the 2017 year, but we are still seeking new financial ministry partners for 2018. If you haven't joined our financial support team and you want to, you can give online here, and if you don't get our email and paper Jorden Journal newsletters, you can subscribe here.
Welcome to our new website! We're excited to have an online home again where we can connect with you and keep you updated on what's happening in our life and ministry. We will try to write here as often as possible so you can be informed and know how to pray for us. Thank you for your support of our ministry, we can't do it without you!
-Until they all hear,
Ben and Karis