Q & A about The Beacon

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Church Family

The following article is one written for The Northumberland News "Articles of Faith" column.   It will appear on August 24th.   Any pitch for youth and The Beacon is worth doing, right?  

The Church Family… do you see me over here?

Psalm 68:3a God sets the lonely in families…

     I have just five blood relatives in North America and most live far away, so one of the things I love about my home church is looking around and seeing dozens of people I have shared some important part of my life with. This lady gave us meals when my wife had cancer, that man and I led teens on a SERVE mission, that older lady next to him taught our boys in Sunday School. Though the years pass and I no longer serve on this committee or in that church function, my status with them does not change. They still know and accept me, despite my warts and failings and I accept them the same way.
     This is as it should be. As Christians we are supposed to be part of the larger “Family of God”. We hear in our churches the terms “brother” and “sister” to denote those fellow believers in the church. Some denominations also use the terms “father” and “mother” for church leaders. This is family at its best.  Fellow Christians are not “cousins in Christ” or “uncles in The Lord”.  Being part of a church family isn’t just saying hello, having potluck together or occasionally sharing power tools.  Being part of a family means being part of the messy stuff too.  We share in the struggles, triumphs and tragedies, through unemployment and success, during lost love and heartbreak as well as marriage and new life.  
    Over the years The Beacon youth centre has also been “family” to some teens in need.  Some have had volunteers spend hours with them teaching special skills. Others have been given part-time jobs that improved their future employment chances. We have taken some of them into our homes, helped them with school or work, intervened in conflict situations and attended court with them.  
    So how can we be family to youth in our own neighborhood? As we get older and less able (or willing) to do gardening or clean up jobs, it is tempting to hire relatives or a professional to help us, while there are youth who live nearby who really need to earn some money doing part-time work. You know who they are. They don’t have family connections to get the few jobs available. Do you have some grass that needs cutting? A local boy or girl will likely not do it to your satisfaction the very first time, but if you (patiently) help them learn your methods you will be teaching them a new skill. Do you have a shed or fence that needs painting? A local youth will do it, and maybe spill paint on the grass or onto the begonias, but in time they will learn to work well. Maybe someday they will be able to do that deck or interior wall for you.
     Don’t be afraid to hire a student nearby to help you, and perhaps in some subtle and gradual way you will become part of that fabric of that youth’s life; a part of his family. It isn’t always perfect and sometimes its messy, but you will be part of something that lasts a long time.
    “I can trim your hedges ma’am. An old friend of mine showed me how.”

By Rene Schmidt

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Big Changes!

WHAT'S NEW AT THE BEACON

    One of the things that's important about running a local youth centre that depends 100% on donations from others is that it should be well run and manage its finances responsibly. 
In that regard, God continues to be good to us! Beacon supporters will be pleased about our changes coming this summer. 

     A NEW DIRECTOR: The first change is in management. Mike Fuller is our new director and I (René Schmidt) will go back to being a volunteer like I used to be.  Mike has a great background: he is 30, a happily married dad with good people skills, a history of taking responsibility, is self-employed, has three years background in youth ministry and experience working with challenging adults in a group home. Mike plans to support what is good about The Beacon, but he also brings a youthful outlook and new ideas to our mission.

    A NEW LOOK:  Our second obvious summertime change will be some ‘free’ renovations to The Beacon. Over its lifetime The Beacon has had many improvements to make it more accessible, safe and kid-friendly.  But with our greatly increased numbers this year*, more changes are needed. Thanks to David Green we secured a generous Brian Todd Memorial Grant, so we can make improvements without dipping into our regular budget.  Volunteer and builder Don Harnden has created plans and will supervise the following work projects: 
    1) The Beacon’s ugly drooping ceiling will be removed and the poorly distributed lighting will be rearranged to bring more light to dark areas of the place.  The exposed upper area will be cleaned and spray-painted professionally.  
    2) The Beacon’s small food preparation area will be increased with a moveable food prep table. 
    3) The back emergency exit door will be replaced. 
    4) The office will be relocated and made smaller, allowing more room for youth and the games they use. 
   5) The poorly-flushing toilets in both bathrooms, long a source of annoyance, have already been replaced.  
   6) The 'Big Boy' table will be rebuilt and recovered. 
 
 FREE LABOUR:  Many of the improvements will be undertaken by work teams from SERVE. (SERVE is hosted by Fellowship CRC in Brighton. For a week in July teenaged Christians from CRC churches in Ontario and Michigan will do supervised work projects in Brighton such as gardening, painting, planting, cleaning or building. This work is done free for seniors, the disabled or for charities like ours.) Don will supervise much of the renovation work at the Beacon. During July and August Mike and our volunteers will complete much of the skilled work involved, with local tradesmen called to inspect and approve the changes according to building codes.
   

    INCREASE IN VISITS:   *This school year we had 5273 visits from youth during lunch and evening programs - 40% more than for the 2015-2016 school year. Every day we were open an average of 23 to 38 students were greeted warmly and exposed to the love of Christ through food and prayer and uplifting conversations with volunteers.    
      
    YOUTH NOTES: The Beacon Youth Centre Respect Award was awarded to Matthew Kinzinger by René Schmidt at ENSS graduation. Beacon regular Rachel Petty won the Citizenship and Achievement awards at Brighton Public School graduation. And Cole Rittwage one of our ENSS regulars, contributed $60 to The Beacon during our last week.  Said Cole; “I’ve been enjoying this place and eating for free, so I felt I should give something back. Duncan Bellamy also gives back by playing sledge hockey with able-bodied and other-abled teammates in Bewdley. Duncan frequently assists with fostered adults and youth in our community.   
   
    SCHOOL NOTES  New Brighton Public School Principal Todd Bishop and V.P.  Keith Piette express gratitude for The Beacon. “So many of our students are welcomed at The Beacon,” Bishop said.  Many of these regular students are from broken homes and needy families. Some of these public school students are bold about the lunchtime prayers and offer to pray out loud for the food and each other’s needs.  ENSS Principal and V.P.s also visit The Beacon when they make lunchtime rounds of the community. They and other teachers we have dealt with say they appreciate the good communication between The Beacon and the high school.


  PRAYER NEEDS Please pray for students in the following needy situations: K, D, W, and A with family struggles.  These students (and others) have difficult home lives that sometimes affects their relationships with others at ENSS and The Beacon.  Also pray for healing for volunteers Jim Snyder, Lorraine Schernitzki, Bets Lobban, and Ann Dalrymple who all have serious ongoing health issues that have affected their ability to volunteer for us.  

Saturday, 18 March 2017

100 Women Who Care

    A couple of weeks ago a lady from my church named Jodie Richards came to The Beacon and spoke to David Green about how her organization, 100 Women Who Care, starting up in Brighton, could contribute to The Beacon. David told her the good things we are doing. Neither he nor I had heard of the 100 Women Who Care group, but the internet revealed it is part of the 100 Who Care movement that is springing up all over Canada.
    True to her word, Jodie invited me to attend their inaugural meeting at Evangel Pentecostal church on that Tuesday night. The ladies present were all very organized and got down to business without any fuss. Three organizations had been narrowed down to possible recipients of the $50 each participant brought with them that night. Jodie spoke about why they should give to The Beacon and two others spoke up about two other worthy causes they supported. We answered questions within our strict five minute time limit and there was a vote. The Beacon was voted to be the recipient of all the money collected there that night.  Since it is a new organization, not 100 members were on hand, but thirty-nine women contributed a total of $1950.00 to our youth centre.  Wow!


We all are very grateful for this obvious and important show of support from these people of our community. God bless these 100 Who Care groups!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

What if Jesus attended my high school?

I was discussing the personality of Jesus with some teenagers.  Did he become who he was in an instant or did he grow into his position?   Was he an 'ordinary' teenager or was he different in some way?  It was an interesting discussion.

So extending the thought, suppose Jesus was a teenager today - a student at E.N.S.S. - what would he be like? What might he look like? What might he do for sports? What clothes would he wear?

So here is a little poem I wrote about that.

If Jesus Attended My High School

I look at my high school and see the big crowd
There are so many, some shy and some loud
I wonder of all things how Jesus would be
If he were at my school - a student like me?

Maybe young Jesus would be the total sports achiever
Who could anticipate passes as a football receiver
Would his game-skills be awesome or his skating the best?
Would he be faster and smarter than all of the rest? 

Would he be good-looking for the girls to admire?
Strong and handsome and he’d never perspire?
Or would he be a joker, the best kind of class clown,
Witty and smart, someone cool to be around?

When I try to fit in I wonder how Jesus would fare?
Would he buy the latest styles or blue-dye his long hair?
Would Jesus the teenager even think of these things?
Like who to ask to the semi, or perhaps the spring fling?

Would he friend me on Facebook or tweet us on Twitter?
Would he wear clothes with pinstripes or glitter?
Maybe Jesus would avoid that social media so speedy
And instead be spend time with a friend who was needy

Maybe Jesus would be a studious guy off in another zone
Reading dusty old textbooks in the library, alone
He’d surely be smart, especially in History,
And know all the answers – to him nothing’s mystery!

He would know me, right down to my middle, 
But would I know him? Recognize him, a little?
Jesus on earth wasn’t automatically respected
Born to poverty, not influence, and often rejected

WWJD says try to do what he would do, live as he did 
But we imagine him a grownup man, not a teenaged kid 
Because as a teenager in my school, I’m guessing that rarely 
The day would go by that a Jesus would be treated fairly

Maybe teased for being good or the way that he talked  
Or who really was his father, was he born out of wedlock? 
Maybe he’d be short and ignored, not allowed in the club
Because those shy quiet types are the ones people snub.

If a kid was friendless Jesus would text that kid’s phone
And he’d talk to that strange kid who is always alone
Jesus had a purpose and wouldn’t be embarrassed 
To be seen with me when I’m being harassed

So maybe not fitting in at school isn’t the worst thing ever
Not belonging with the cool groups, or being thought clever
If Jesus went to my school, I hope that I’d recognize
Him for his goodness and kindness not his beauty or size 

I look at my high school and see the big crowd
There are so many, some shy and some loud
I wonder of all things how Jesus would be
If he were at my school - a student like me? 



We don't know what Jesus looked like.
The paintings we have are pure guesswork.
My guess is that Jesus would be ordinary looking and would not look like this gentle European-looking fellow, neatly groomed and attractive.












I think Jesus would have looked more like the guy below; depicted by artists in the Middle Ages who were familiar with sorrow and suffering. The artist remembered what Isaiah had predicted about Jesus:
 
Isaiah says:
 He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.


This makes sense, because being born to ordinary folks and being treated as he was he knew others' suffering.
He felt intense pain and rejection from friends who later on turned on him and betrayed him, yet still he forgave those people.

Either way, as a teenager, I doubt Jesus was tall or handsome or especially talented or outstanding in some way.

I think he would look pretty ordinary, like the kids we see at The Beacon.

Please continue to support The Beacon with prayers, your time, and donations of money.  God is working some great things out in the lives of our teenagers.  Help us by being a part of that.

Contact me at rene@qyfc.com




Saturday, 11 February 2017

Some Video Games to Avoid


       Hatred and suspicion are rising up in the USA and spilling over into Canada.  These fears are increased as news of mass violence from distant parts of the world comes into our living rooms. 

What has that got to do with The Beacon?  In a quiet little place like Brighton these problems shouldn't have much effect, but it does.  Parents need to watch the trends changing around us, to help our youth be ready and make reasonable choices.    

Last week I was given a book by my friend Henry Getkate and I gave it a read.  Wow!  There's some pretty disturbing stuff in there.  

I'm posting a book review here and I will put it elsewhere (booksbyreneschmidt.blogspot.ca) just because I think it's a good thing to stay informed.  

Assassination Generation by Lt Col Dave Grossman

When we read about mass shootings at Pulse Nightclub, massacres at Aurora Colorado, Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary school, Virginia Tech University and a raft of other places; we have to wonder if this is a new phenomenon in history.  What causes some quiet loner to pick up an automatic weapon and start shooting random people? Is our generation of mankind the first to have so many people, in peacetime, to be slaughtered by strangers?  
     
Author Lt. Col. Grossman has made a study of this.
Apart from the title, which I think sensationalizes the quality of this well-researched book, Assassination Generation is an important read for parents, teachers, youth workers, lawyers and lawmakers. 
           
            Grossman has a fascinating background. Serving many years as a career combat soldier in the U.S. infantry and in the Airborne Division as a paratrooper and officer, and later as a Professor of Psychology at West Point and Professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University, Grossman brings unusual expertise to this nasty topic.  His psychological area of study is on how people kill each other.  That's right. 
His previous books have dealt with the difficulty of training professional soldiers to actually shoot to kill an enemy.  His research indicates that people have a built in resistance to taking the life of another human. Statistics for kill rates for soldiers in riflemen companies in various wars shows that no matter how accurate a soldier may be at shooting at a paper target they must still be trained at length to overcome this resistance before they will shoot to kill another human being.  Assassination Generation makes a good case for showing that shoot-to-kill video games are as effective in overcoming a person’s reluctance to take a life as the best military training is. Our shoot-to-kill video-game players, in other words, learn to take lives of real humans just as soldiers do. 
             
            Assassination Generation is a readable and well-researched statistical case for connecting the rise of mass shootings in the world with the rise in popularity and availability of highly graphic ‘first person’ killer video games.  In these restricted or adult-rated games, the player assumes the role of rogue cop, lone-wolf soldier, frustrated armed guard, or just about anyone with varied weaponry and unlimited ammunition and uses these to kill people. Sometimes the killed people are ‘bad guys’ and sometimes they are innocent bystanders. Kills are rewarded with points or advancement to a higher level in the game’s structure. These sick games show killing as graphically realistic and messy. Each shot is accompanied by details of corpses, blood spatter, chunks of flesh flying, people begging for mercy and all sorts of nasty stuff most of us will never see in a normal lifetime.

            Grossman does not argue for an absolute ban on these snuff games but makes the case that ratings for these games are not well regulated or consistent. Games identified as dangerous to young minds are still too easily purchased by youth. The harmful effects of these games on young minds is more long-lasting than the effects on adults. He shows how the billion dollar media industry lobbyists have caused confusion over the ratings issue, leaving some of the most destructive video games too easily available to children.

            Grossman shows that increased used of media leads not only to violent behaviours but to other aberrant behaviours in youth too.  Interestingly, children and teenagers now spend more time on video screens and interactive electronic media than any other activity besides sleeping. 

            Grossman makes some basic suggestions as to how parents can prevent harm form overuse and addictions to video games. 

            The only jarring note is that Grossman does not line himself up with the 85% of Americans, who want more restrictions on automatic weapons.  He does not point out the obvious connection between angry lunatics being able to own ever more sophisticated types of automatic weapons and the murderous head count of folks shot dead by them. His case is that even in countries with strict gun controls, like Norway, automatic weapons and assault rifles can still be obtained by someone like Anders Behring Breivik who killed 77 teenagers. 
            Perhaps. 
            But the mass killings in the USA, while its ‘good-ole-boy’ gun lobby continues to block any meaningful restrictive legislation, far outnumber the slaughter in other countries with limited public access to guns.

           But I digress. Assassination Generation is still an important book to read and consider. 
             
Rene Schmidt 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Thank you Municipality of Brighton!

Fences Mended?

Municipal Council Meeting
    For likely the tenth year of our existence, the Municipality of Brighton last week voted to support The Beacon financially as a Grant-in-Aid project for the coming year. The Council meeting was a special occasion for me and ten of our volunteers who were on hand to show our gratitude for the support we have had previous years from our municipality.
    Of special note; Councillor Brian Ostrander retracted statements he had made earlier and said he was reversing his opinion on whether we should be supported financially. I appreciated his openness. (After a Friday the 13th meeting between Brian, myself and Colin Leaver E.D. of QYFC at Brighton's new Tim Hortons, both Brian and I discovered we had been misunderstanding each other's position.   The meeting was very good at clearing the air.)  
    After a vote the Council voted to give us the $6000 we had asked for. This is very beneficial for our great increase in numbers, leading to much more food being consumed, leads to higher costs overall.        

    We miss you Ryan!   Ryan Wilson (Sorry, not of the Beach Boys) has not been able to come back and volunteer during the Tuesday 7-9 time slot he had been doing since September.  Ryan is a high quality man who has excellent insights and a genuine love for the youth we serve.

   Growth!
Our December numbers were a bit lower than November, probably due to the weather, but as long as busses have not been cancelled, our numbers have remained high.
Just today (Monday January 23rd) we had 28 students visit. Nineteen from East Northumberland Secondary School and nine from Brighton Public School.

God is good!