Graceway is both unique and intentional in the way we engage with our local communities. Our philosophy is not to create an abundance of new programs, but rather to partner with existing local agencies (faith and non faith based) that already do what they do well. This promotes a spirit of collaborations that allows Graceway to naturally flow, extend its reach and impact various aspects of community development.
One of these long term partnerships has been with JVS (Jewish Vocational Services) JVS “engages, encourages and empowers people to achieve social, cultural and economic integration…” By focusing on their vocational and educational needs, JVS plays a major role in the successful integration of hundreds of immigrants into the Kansas City community. I view JVS as a guiding compass on the journey of refugee families as they navigate within their new environment.
Partnering with agencies that directly engage and assist with immigrants is critical for the local church when we think of what Pastor Jeff Adams mentioned: By 2040, the United States will be a “Minority Majority” country. This is a reality we can not avoid since we as a church already reflect that changing phenomenon. God has brought the nations to our doorsteps. Graceway is able to see this amazing movement as an opportunity to invest in the next generation. Therefore, we are excited to announce the partnership of Graceway’s Youth Soccer League with JVS. This season’s Under 12 soccer team will have twelve immigrant kids joining from countries such as Burma, Sudan, Ethiopia, DR Congo, and Cuba. We hope to see this initiative expand to other age groups next year.
Last Sunday, Ron Haley announced this partnership during both services as a chance for our church family to get involved through sponsorships. I am THRILLED to announce that God used the mobilization this past weekend to cover the cost of sponsorships! We have raised enough funds to provide each sponsored child with registration fee, uniform, new ball, shin guards, and soccer cleats. Transportation for the JVS kids was an obstacle we faced, however, we are happy to announce that transportation will be provided to and from the Thursday night practices and game days. We thank you Graceway family for stepping up and allowing the outlet of sport as a bridge to build relationships on and off the field with immigrant families. We delight in the prospect of lives changed and people transformed. We, too, are transformed by God in the process, creating a common path that allows us to simply share life together through authentic relationships. This is what it means to go and “BE” the church. Many immigrants live within our communities for years without building a friendship with a Christian or even an America, therefore, building a wall of misconceptions. A simple gathering over a meal or the cheering on of children playing on the same soccer team has the power to shatter years of misconceptions, ushering in common values, struggles and identities that connect the stories of our lives.
When we read the Bible as a sacred narrative of God’s interaction with humanity, we find that immigrants and refugees play many of the most important roles in the story. Throughout Scripture God has used the movement of people to accomplish His greater purposes. Like immigrants and refugees today, the protagonists of the Old Testament left their homelands and migrated to other lands for a variety of reasons.
Thank you Graceway family! We encourage you to continue to support this international U12 team by coming out to the games! We look forward to having this Graceway/JVS partnership through sports as an ongoing initiative, expanding to various age groups and sports, with the hope of causing ripple effects for years to come….
For partnership opportunities or to know more about JVS, contact Donna Bruce.
Mariya D. Goodbrake