Every year it feels like the holidays sneak up so quickly.  Not long after we put away our warm weather clothes do the leaves start to change and the air begins to feel crisp.  Before we can even grip onto our pumpkin spiced lattes, a rush of Christmas comes bounding in.  It comes with such quickness, that I almost want time to pause.  Just give me a little more time, Lord.  A little more time to enjoy this season that we are in before a new one comes bursting in.  While sometimes our desires are to push pause on life and savor moments, a new season is always waiting right around the corner whether we like it or not!

Sometimes these seasons are desired and other times they are met with apprehension.  We may bound into one season with joy and excitement, while at other times the changes stir up past hurts and anxieties.  Ecclesiastes tells us that:

To everything there is a season.  A time for every purpose under heaven… (3:1)

It goes on further to tell us that God has a divine plan for every season.  The good and the bad.  The exciting and the challenging.  The new and the monotonous.  Every new venture will have a purpose, and in ministry that purpose is to further His Kingdom.

eyfFor the Emerald Youth Foundation and The Restoration House, we have begun a new season and a new journey together in ministry.  Together, we will be providing the JustLead program to the children of mothers engaged at the Restoration House.  Every school age child will have access to the afterschool program that will provide discipleship, health enrichment, and academic support.  Youth in this program will also have access to the larger Emerald Youth network.

The Emerald Youth Foundation is a long-standing youth leadership program dedicated to serving youth in the inner city of Knoxville.  For over 25 years, EYF has cared for youth across the city.  Its’ flagship program, JustLead, began in the basement of an inner city church as a youth group.  Seeing a need for youth programming, a young youth leader followed his calling to disciple youth in the neighborhood.  As God moved, so did the growth of this group.  After a few years, Emerald Youth was formed and has time has gone on, thousands of youth have been impacted by the mission.

Today, EYF has several programs that provide a holistic, or whole person, system of caring for youth.  Our Emerald Youth Sports programs serve over 1,000 youth annually in sports such as soccer, swim, basketball, volleyball, and lacrosse.   Our Fellows program provides support, training, and resources for cohorts of high school seniors as they transition to post secondary placements.  And most recently, Emerald Charter Schools, the first district of Charter Schools in east Tennessee has begun this 2015-2016 school year with two kindergarten and two first grade classes.  The school is dedicated to excellence and the commitment that all students can achieve regardless of their background or status.

EYF has a heart for discipling youth and a commitment to walking with youth through every aspect of life.  Our foundational scripture found in Isaiah 61 lays out our calling and our hope that our youth might grow into oaks of righteousness.  As we enter into this new season, we look forward to what is ahead and we covet your prayers over our youth and families.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

    because the Lord has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

    to proclaim freedom for the captives

    and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

    and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

    instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

    instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

    instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

    a planting of the Lord

    for the display of his splendor.  Isaiah 61:  1-3

For more information on Emerald Youth, visit www.emeraldyouth.org or www.emeraldyouthsports.org