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Being a Teacher in Urban Phoenix during COVID

Being a mentor and teacher in COVID times.

Submitted from Adam Mosbrucker, a Mentor Teacher with Elevate Phoenix.

Functioning in the COVID Pandemic over the past six months has shaken up all of our lives. As a teacher-mentor for the nonprofit Elevate Phoenix I work in an urban setting. Part of my job is to be available 24-7 for my students, which entails picking up the phone or better yet showing up in their hour of need. With that in mind, navigating the waters of student life while not being able to be physically present has been interesting to say the least.

The challenges our students have faced ranged from a lack of accessibility to internet, lack of access to an internet cable device, COVID plaguing the homes of large families forced to stay home in confined spaces, students and families losing loved ones and not being able to see them in the hospital to say goodbye, increased anxiety, lack of motivation to engage with remote learning, missed opportunities for sports/clubs involvement, tensions in the home, the responsibility of taking care of siblings so parents can work… the list goes on and on.   

Initially, like may of us have experienced, the situation at hand seemed hopeless and to a degree frightening. We all were in the same boat of uncertainty. The question I began to ask myself as a teacher-mentor was how will I still serve our students effectively? 

My default was to fall back on our mission statement: To deliver long-term life-changing relationships with urban youth. If I am building relationships with my students than I am caring for every aspect of them. 

One of my students, Rickie, who I have mentored for the past two years experienced the loss of a parent. Given all the pandemic restrictions Rickie was not allowed to visit his mother in the hospital to say his final goodbyes. When I spoke to Rickie on the phone my heart was broken for him. My concern was that he wouldn’t recover from this loss. You see, Rickie is one of many students who desires to be a leader but has his days where negative peer pressure tries to keep him from realizing his potential. We have experienced a loss of motivation in student performance for much less than this. Much to my surprise Rickie responded with hope. With pain in his voice, he proceeded to tell me that he would honor his mother by continuing on his leadership journey. To say I was speechless is an understatement. Here is a fifteen year old young man with all the cards stacked against him and he bounces back with courage. 

  It is not easy to be a teacher, let alone a teacher who mentors their students in these tumultuous times. While many situations are not good or extremely challenging, I am inspired by the grit and resilience displayed by our students. This is one example where we have walked alongside students from year to year holding hope for them and Rickie can now hold onto that hope for his own future. As an organization we believe that what rises up from the ashes during times of adversity is the stuff leaders are made of and what will ultimately change the world. 

CCV Missions in COVID times

CCV shows up in times of crisis.

While our church, our city, and our nation have been in a whirlwind the last few months "pivoting" in these "unprecedented" times, our CCV missions team has been actively touching base, checking in, and supporting our global and local partners. Everyone is struggling. This is a global event, this pandemic, this economic upheaval. We are wise to not forget the men and women, brothers and sisters around the globe. When you already live with food insecurity, material poverty, lack of clean water, lack of healthcare opportunities, a global pandemic can put you over the top. Brothers and sisters in churches around the world are trying to find hope and peace. The Light of the World is shining bright. 

Here's a summary of what we've been able to impact here in our own city:

  • CCV ordered thousands of N-95 Masks and bottles of Hand Sanitizer that were given to Banner Hospital, Nursing Homes in Chandler, North Valley, and Peoria, an orthodontist office, Phoenix Rescue Mission, Navajo Nation Ministry.
  • Outdoor camping supplies, snacks, and clothing for Circle the City Homeless Organization.  
  • Bottled water donation to Navajo Nation ministry.
  • First Responder Appreciation outreach - helping individual families in times of need.
  • Several hundred pounds of food and drinks distributed to families in our community through H.E.L.P. (Homeless Engagement Lift Partnership)

Interview with a Colombia Mission Trip participant

God can take the most average person, and blow their world right open! Say YES to a mission trip.

Why did you make the decision to go on a mission trip? Why this trip? Why now?

I was excited about the way our CCV attendees sponsored over 11,000 children in Colombia As a family we chose to sponsor a child. We were eager to go and serve at one of the many churches built there. We also were excited to meet our little sponsored girl.

Was there a moment that really stood out to you? What was it?

It was the moment we walked into the Center on the very first day and the children were holding sign saying they were “happy” and “Had been waiting for us”. It was quite a moment.

How are you going to apply what you've learned and seen on this trip to your life when you get home?

We haven’t stopped thinking about it. We hope to go back soon but to also invest in our local community. We hope to reach other children and make sure they know Jesus.

How did this trip equip you to be a better Ambassador for Christ?

It was a trip of complete giving and selfless acts. Exactly as Christ would have done it!

How did this trip impact your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

I felt the Holy Spirit quite often. That was my biggest take away. To listen to that voice more often and act on it. Continue to be in his Word.

What would you tell someone else thinking about going on a mission trip?

Please don’t wait. And if you can’t afford it, tell someone. You never know who is out there to gift you with a financial blessing.

One Student's Open Mind

When we step into something we don't know about, God can help transform our thinking and our hearts to align with his.

The other day I joined a one day discovery trip to GoTEN’s campus to see what that team is doing with the communities of refugees we have here in Phoenix. GoTEN stands for GO To Every Nation, a non profit dedicated to fulfilling the great commission in Matthew 28 that says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.”

My first thought after hearing about GoTEN and their mission is if you want to “go to every nation” then… why are you here? Of all the nations in the world you are choosing to plat yourself here… in the US, the country with the most churches in the world, why is that? My answer would soon come.

Early on in the discovery, Bobby Cox and his wife Angie explained how their ministry started with Bobby being a successful youth minister who then felt God pushing him to visit the countries affected by a 2004 tsunami that decimated most of Asia. After going on a single short term mission trip, Bobby was hooked. Bobby and his family decided to pack up, sell everything they have, and move to a country that was considered 100% Muslim. A country where using the Bible as a means to convey the gospel wasn’t much of an option. So he spent the next few years there until the Arab Spring changed the entire 10-40 window.

The 10-40 window is an area of the world that is almost completely Muslim and has been historically completely closed off from all Christian attempts at conversion. Not only was it completely closed off, but it was also exceptionally dangerous. A large population of the planet was closed off from any Christian contact until most of the North African and Middle Eastern countries banded together to have massive uprisings, revolts, government overthrows, and in some places even deadly civil wars. It hasn’t been pretty for sure, but what we learned is that this created quite possibly one of the greatest evangelical opportunities we have ever seen…. The greatest refugee crisis in modern history.

Now in our politically charged and divided country those words bring a sense of dread and fear. Refugees? That’s a mess I don’t really want to deal with. I, like most Christians, know what the Bible says about refugees. In Exodus 22:21 we are told to not mistreat or oppress the foreigner among us. The James 1:27 verse that states that the true religion God accepts as pure and faultless is the one that takes cares of orphans and widows in their distress. And of course there is the famous Galatians verse that says we are all one in Christ, that there are no racial or national differences. I could go on and on about God’s call to take care of the people seeking asylum from well-founded fears of persecution and violence. So the problem isn’t that Christians don’t know what God has asked us to do, I think personally it’s that we don’t care. The question is always about fear. Fear for the safety of me, my family, and my country. Allowing foreign born nationals coming from war torn countries ravaged by Muslim extremists to live among is a danger too great to take right? Right? Here lies the question that Bobby made us pander. What if that crippling fear is unfounded?

We were shown the results of a study done by the CATO Institute called Terrorism & Immigration Risk Analysis 1975-2015. The pivotal part of the study comes when it shows that terrorism by people who have gained access to the United States through a refugee visa is basically non-existent. Since 1975, we have accepted 3.3 million people into the US on this type of visa, and since then only 3 people have died due to terrorism. If you stop that study from 1980 and forward, that number is ZERO. The reason for this? Most refugees spend years, if not literal decades, in refugee camps before they ever are accepted into a country. Not only that, but the US has the stingiest refugee security check of any country. If an extremist of any kind wanted to do something, they would not wait years in a refugee camp just to get flagged by our security checks before they even reach the border. There are far easier ways to do it. So Refugees are by and large, broken hurting people running from violence, just trying to find a way to live.

And Yet, for me, God challenged that notion even more. He reminded me that even if there was a little danger, even if it was not that safe, the benefits far outweigh the risks. At CCV, one of our core values is to risk it all to just win one more. With just one dollar, and one week, we would still spend it on saving just one more person for Jesus Christ. After all, we serve a God who leaves one hundred sheep to go find that one lost one, even if it cost him everything. At GoTEN I was reminded that God and his church never let fear be a factor in sharing the gospel. At GoTEN I also learned, that the greatest opportunity to witness to Muslims is right here on our doorstep.