Challenges: A Few Words from the Coach

Hi! I’m reaching out again to all of my former players, campers, coaches, as well as my friends.  I’m thanking all of you for so many GREAT MEMORIES from my rich coaching journey. Today, Andy, my wife Alana, and I continue the face our life challenges  day-by-day with determination and faith.  I also hear that our camps for city kids have resumed after COVID restrictions were lifted for us to offer summer camps.  Doc Blake let me know that all 80-100 campers were fully sponsored.  Thanks for your help! 

As the director of CEF, Camps for City Kids, and other efforts to help kids and youth, doc wants to continue these efforts with the current campers and many more into the late summer and fall of 2021.  Most of you know what a camp experience can do for kids. Perhaps you were impacted at camp also.

So, help me again by giving back so that a young kids can benefit during their early years of development. Today’s city kids need this same challenge and opportunity more than ever. Enjoy a few pics from this summer and help me help doc by sponsoring kids for these camps. 

What is Camps for City Kids?

What’s up guys? This is John “Doc” Blake (JHS’73) and it’s been exciting to team back up with Coach and Emily Biggs (JHS’74) to make a greater impact on city kids. CEF works with kids 4-14 years old using a variety of programs, but sports and camps have been most effective for us to reach city kids in the Durham area.

Camps for City Kids this summer has include: Tennis, Basketball, Soccer, Bible, Character Development, Reading, a variety of academic skills, social etiquette classes, as well as a few field trips, all the while helping each camper understand their own value, power, gifts, and destiny.

This summer’s 6-week Reading Camp has been meeting Monday-Friday June 14 – July 22 offering reading, other academics, etiquette skills, 5-Day Clubs (Bible Studies), Power & Light character education, sports mini camps, and field trips. Our summer staff is doing an awesome job adjusting to challenges, innovating, and facilitating live as well as online classes. We appreciate Mr. Kevin Mahoney, Mr. Mike Glenn and the DNS staff, Madison Daniel, Charryse Fredrick-Omari, Joshua Tankard, and Mrs. Jackie Omotosho, and our newest intern Nafisa Van Den Akker very much!

Contributions to Child Evangelism Fellowship of North Carolina (Durham Area Chapter) are tax-deductible by the IRS as a 501c3 org.  Funds, Stock, and Sponsorship donations to CEF Durham towards funding Camps for City Kids are also included.  Give via USPS mail: CEF Durham PO Box 1288 Durham, NC 27702 / Give via website: gospeltokids.org

To Be Rather Than to Seem

As I prepare to teach, train, and speak to students this weekend, desiring to be missionary interns this summer across North Carolina, I’m reminded of a growing revelation in my own spiritual development. Such deep insights from God become acutely visible when on the coast or in the mountains of our state. As creator of all things, God’s creation from the atom to the entire universe displays His creativity and ultimately demonstrates that He is the creator of creativity! He also created me and you. What He creates has purpose, perfection, and destiny to bring change to our world. He created us to Become. Walk in becoming your destiny. Worshiping our Creator: It’s about expressing what His Kingdom looks like on earth and making our world a better place with the gifts He has given. – Matthew 16:19

I’ve also learned that the Devil can only copy, mimic, and counterfeit the real or authentic which God has created. There is also nothing original that the Devil might place in your path of life used to distract you or cause you to stumble. So, though we know these things and are followers of Jesus Christ, here is the tension. We are easily distracted and many times see things in the past: successes, failures, and sin in our lives. God is about creating the new in our lives — our destiny.

The Bible teaches us in Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

And in – Philippians 1:6, 3:14 …But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

God’s Love and Faithfulness for You is True: I can tell you with 100% authority that this true, no matter what you remember or feel crippled by your past based on Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

God has a Plan for You: I can tell you with 100% authority that you have a destiny for greatness as a world changer based on Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare (peace & Prosperity) and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Developing Your Faith

Here are effective strategies for developing your faith to believe and live as a world changer:

Prayer, Envisioning, and Journaling

Pray seeking to be in the manifold presence of Christ, enjoying, listening, and receiving His downloads. Envisioning or imagining what could be, needs to be, and God wants you to do. Then use a devise you’re most likely to use to Journal everything you receive each day. Look for these experiences to manifest as you daily follow these three disciplines:

  • Daily fine-tuning to receive
  • Recognize Father’s Voice
  • Finding Peace in Transformation
  • Cultivate Visions, Rhythms, Patterns
  • Gain confidence in things received by Faith

Creative God has the designs, we are the receptacles for them… Becoming God’s destiny for you is the Creation!

New website, purpose, and mission

Purpose & Mission

PrayDurham seeks to cover the streets and strategic sectors of our city with prayer through a collaborative of churches, individuals, and intercessory prayer groups. This site is a venue for encouragement, motivation, and a challenge to the Church at Durham to fulfill the Law of Christ, to bless our city with Godly peace and mercy, to pray and serve with our city — not merely for our city. We follow the teaching of Jesus for engaging our city through Prayer Evangelism.

Prayer Evangelism

Based on Luke 10 and Matthew 16 we follow the Words of Jesus for expressing the Kingdom of God in our city through prayer and service. The 10 Keys of the Kingdom guides how we engage the social, educational, and government sectors of Durham.

Including this blog site, these websites are designed as resources for those ministering to city kids, directing programs for children, and those looking for strategies to express the Kingdom to communities, schools, and children anywhere.

Child Evangelism Fellowship® (CEF®) of North Carolina in Durham has a simple, but profound threefold purpose: evangelism, discipleship, and connecting local churches to unchurched children and families across our area.  We have a calling to serve city kids, block by block, in resource-challenged communities of Durham with Gospel-centered activities using the 10 Keys of the Kingdom for biblical leadership development.
Building solid academic/athletic skills and strong Christian character are goals of our camps offering Basketball, Soccer, Futsal, Tennis, Fitness, Blacktop/Field Games, Cross Training/Bible, Life Skills, Etiquette, and character development education.
Values-based character education principles and strategies to help al N.C. schools to flourish. Special events to motivate and kick-start workshops and seminars are scheduled when requested by a school or organization. Workshops are offered in a series of 1 hour sessions, each adaptable for all school-age groups, faculty, and other audiences. These workshops, conducted in school classrooms, will challenge students at a very strategic time in their development. All workshops, seminars, and follow-up activities use discussion, object lessons, high-energy games, and relevant applications.

Held April 2nd Downtown Durham. Dozen Volunteers. Gospel. 100s of cars.

Recently, at the Easter drive-thru event, a dozen children and adults, who volunteered with CEF, distributed and ministered to city kids from Durham. Hundreds of Easter baskets, Gospel booklets and tracts were distributed. Families were reached and ministered to while in their cars. As a result of our friendships/partnerships with the Durham Rescue Mission and the City of Durham Community Engagement, six other neighborhoods were directly engaged and received the same items as during the drive-thru event. These items are pictured above and below. Each basket and booklet were given to city kids with a personal touch and prayerful ministry on April 2nd and 3rd.

Actually, over 6,000 city kids have been ministered to embracing the Gospel of Salvation during events like these this year and specifically during the past 6 months of the COVID pandemic.  Since the Fall of 2020 until now, 6,636 have participated in various community-based, clubs, and event-type ministries that CEF Durham offers.  Thanks for praying and for giving so that ministries like these can flourish, even during COVID restrictions as we’ve all endured.

Sponsors City Kids to attend our sports camps which emphasizes putting God first in every aspect of play and life. We build solid athletic skills and strong Christian character. Suggested: $100/kid

Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week, the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lent that precedes the arrival of Easter.

In the Bible, as well as from sources outside of the Bible, we see that the use of “palm branches” was often tied to “victory.” The Bible first shows us this in conjunction with the “Feast of Tabernacles.” As a part of this celebration, the Israelites were commanded by God to construct and live in “booths” (for 7 days), which were made from “the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook” (Lev 23:40)(also see: Neh 8:14-18). This was done to commemorate the way the people of Israel lived after God gave them “victory,” and brought them out of Egypt.

     While not recorded in the Bible, history tells us that waving palm branches was also done to celebrate kings and conquerors. We also know that in Greek athletic competitions, victors were often given a palm branch, which they would wave to celebrate their “victory.” Palm branches are a part of Christian worship on Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, as it is sometimes called. This event commemorates Jesus Christ‘s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, as foretold by the prophet Zechariah.

Palm Branches on Palm Sunday

  • In the Bible, Jesus ‘ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with the waving of palm branches is found in John 12: 12-15 (see below); Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; and Luke 19:28-44.
  • Today Palm Sunday is celebrated one week before Easter, on the first day of Holy Week.
  • The first celebration of Palm Sunday in the Christian church is uncertain. A palm processional was recorded as early as the 4th century in Jerusalem, but the ceremony was not introduced into Western Christianity until the 9th century.

The Bible tells us that people cut branches from palm trees, laid them across Jesus’ path and waved them in the air as he entered Jerusalem the week before his death. They greeted Jesus not as the spiritual Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, but as a potential political leader who would overthrow the Romans. They shouted “Hosanna [meaning “save now”], blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Cross made out of palm fronds… see how to make on YouTube

Jesus’ Triumphant Entry in the Bible

All four Gospels include the account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem:

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.​” (John 12:12-15)

Palm Branches Today

Today, many Christian churches distribute palm branches to worshipers on Palm Sunday, which is the sixth Sunday of Lent and last Sunday before Easter. On Palm Sunday, people remember Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, praise him for the gift of salvation, and look expectantly to his second coming.

Customary Palm Sunday observances include the waving of palm branches in procession, the blessing of palms, and the making of small crosses with palm fronds.

Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of Holy Week, a solemn week focusing on the final days of Jesus Christ’s life. Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday, the most important holiday in Christianity.

Luck has nothing to do with getting there!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day / Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit (in the Irish language, also called Erse or Gaelic, Irish Gaeilge, a member of the Goidelic group of Celtic languages, spoken in Ireland) so, if your thinking whether you’ll get LUCKY or reach that pot of gold at the end of your rainbow on this special holiday, Níl aon bhaint ag Ádh mór le dul ann! (in English, Luck has nothing to do with getting there!).

Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius; Irish: Pádraig [ˈpˠaːd̪ˠɾˠəɟ]; Welsh: Padrig) was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. He was also known as the Apostle of Ireland. According to the autobiographical Confessio of Patrick, when he was about sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland. Was This Bad Luck? While a slave, he looked after animals; he lived there for six years before escaping and returning to his family. Was this Good Luck? After becoming a cleric, he returned to northern and western Ireland. The dates of Patrick’s life cannot be fixed with certainty, but there is general agreement that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the fifth century.

In later life, he served as a bishop, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17th, the supposed date of his death. It is celebrated inside and outside Ireland as a religious and cultural holiday.

Luck had nothing to do with the events in Patrick’s life, nor do they in yours. If you know Christ as Savior, you are redeemed back to God the Father and are a Saint as well, according to the Bible. On Saint Patrick’s Day we observe, celebrate, and remember how a young man dealt with evil and unfortunate life circumstances and became the man God had foreordained. From Scripture, we know of so many others like Patrick: Joseph, Jonah, Daniel, and Paul, to mention a few. As a result of God’s Will for Patrick’s life, many in Ireland and around the world were encouraged to press through adversity as well as to place their faith and hope in Christ Jesus for salvation and daily living.

You may be experiencing things in life that make you question your worth, luck, destiny, or even God Himself. Though we all live in a fallen/sinful world, God is always at work in your life as He was in Patrick’s. It’s not about LUCK or being LUCKY, but The Kingdom of God / Ríocht Dé expressed and experienced in the midst of the struggles, disappointments, and confusion of life. If you minister/work with city kids, then you know that it seems there is never any let up to problems and issues in their lives. Sometimes we wish for somewhere over the rainbow for these kids… Can’t they get a LUCKY break?

Níl aon bhaint ag Ádh mór leis! …again, Luck has nothing to do with it!  Jesus said: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom [eochracha na ríochta] of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Take the Keys of the Kingdom to the Gates of Hades, no LUCK needed, and lock up evil, demonic, and satanic mindsets of poverty, hatred, racism, low achievement, and on and on… And then, take those same powerful keys and unlock the Gates of Heaven; the Heart of God the Father; and express His Kingdom to city kids and others.

Speak the Truth that says: You matter! You are a gift to me! You are a delight to know and to be my friend! You make this world better! This world needs you! These are the expressions of the Kingdom, in which everyone needs to hear. This is the power that you possess to change your world and LUCK has nothing to do with getting there.

Matthew 16:18-19 "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” ESV

It’s about BECOMING an Expression of the Kingdom

Inclusion and diversity of your staff, board, and/or committees:

  • Becoming vulnerable, a risk-taker, teachable, developing intentional cross-cultural relationships
  • Becoming consistently proximal, thus present to serve, learn, and minister
  • Becoming 35% + more productive fulfilling your mission

Cultural competencies for effective direct ministry:

  • Becoming a leader who embraces cross-racial/ethnic leadership and churches
  • Becoming a connector of indigenous resources within cross-racial/ethnic communities for mutual benefits
Dr. John M. Perkins – see One Blood and his other books with a click

Engaging cross cultural communities with their invitation and favor:

  • Becoming an organization with an asset-based approach to ministry
  • Becoming a collaborator in ministry
  • Becoming an innovator in ministry

Personal reflection and biblical reconciliation where needed:

  • Becoming fully engaged in the process of biblical transformation of lives and communities
  • Becoming an advocate and practitioner of the paradigms and methodology of biblical transformation
  • Becoming a reflector of the social, economic, racial, gender, church denominations, geography, and occupations where you minister regularly

Consider then incorporate these biblical constructs for steps forward:

These paradigms apply whether you’re ministering in a community, city, state or the world (nations). There are many testimonies from around the world, when the practical application of these principles are active, resulted in the Kingdom of God in operation on earth.

  1. We are called to disciple nations, not just individuals. (Matt. 28:18-20)
  2. The Marketplace, which is the heart of the nation, has been redeemed and now needs to be reclaimed. (Luke 19:1-10)
  3. Every Christian is a minister, and labor is worship. (1 Tim. 2:1-8; Acts 20:34-35)
  4. We are called to take the kingdom of God to where the gates of hell are for Jesus to build His Church. (Matt. 16:18)
  5. Nation transformation must be tangible and the premier social indicator is the elimination of systemic poverty. (Gal. 2:10)
Ed Silvoso, Transform Our World, Harvest Evangelism

The Methodology is found in Luke 10:5-9

  • Pray and Bless: Speak peace to the people and the systems which influence/impact them (v.5)
  • Fellowship: Engage, listen, from learn from the people (v.7)
  • Minister: Address the felt needs in the Name of the Lord (v.9a)
  • Proclaim: Let it be known that the Kingdom of God is near (v.9b)

What are the possible next steps for you and your ministry?

  • Which paradigms do you readily identify with?  Which principles speak to you most strongly?
  • Which paradigms need the most explanation and/or example of implementation?
  • How would you answer the question, “Tell me about the impact your church is having on your community?
  • What are some natural ways you can begin building bridges into your community?
  • Where do you sense is your first (or next) entry point into your community?
  • What are the internal / external barriers to entering into the life of your community?
  • Which agencies, ministries, or programs would make good “partner ministries” for your church?
  • What are some ways that you can “pray and bless” your city and/or community?
  • Discuss the Ten Paradigm Shifts / 10 Keys of the Kingdom / 5 Pivotal Paradigms of Transformation / 5 Characteristics of Connectors with your staff / board at your next leadership retreat
  1. They are “gift‐centered” people. They see the “full half” in everyone.
  2. They are well connected themselves. They have friendships and are active in their community’s life.
  3. They are trusted and create new trusting relationships. The trust they have grows from the fact that they see the gifts of their neighbors, and they are willing contributors to their neighbors and the neighborhood.
  4. They believe in the people in their community. They are not cynical, doubting observers of local residents. They know that their community is a place rich in resources.
  5. And they are people who get joy from connecting, convening and inviting people to come together. They are not seeking to lead people. They know the power in joining people together.

The Spirit of God is at work.  There is a good chance that the next great movement of God will involve putting the church back into community where it can be the leaven, salt and light God designed the church to be. 


Next: 5 Pivotal Paradigms for biblical transformation – Pray – Bless – Fellowship – Minister – Proclaim

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