March 2013 Bethel Center Update – By Tim Schwartz

ImageOur Bethel Center youth were not lying around the house all week during their spring break gathering dust.  They came together to provide community service to our neighbors and friends.  On Tuesday, March 19th, a good sized group of our “ Bethel Beacons” (5th–8th graders) came to the center to work on a number of projects.  They were divided up into 3 groups and worked in a variety of places around the greater Kansas City metro area.

One group went to help our Bethel seniors as it is time for “Spring cleaning” in their yards.  Our students, led by our handyman, Kyle Nelson, worked in a variety of ways to clean up the yards of our seniors.  They cut up a tree and gathered up the wood, raked, picked up trash and basically helped beautify those yards for our neighbors.  There is good camaraderie between our seniors and our students as we are all a part of the “Bethel family.”

Another group stayed at the center and helped clean up the building by sweeping, mopping, scrubbing and working on other important areas.

ImageA third group led by Rakmi and me went across the river to the Kansas City Rescue Mission in downtown Kansas City, MO.  A staff person welcomed us there and gave us a tour of the facility.  We saw their large food pantry, dining room, chapel, laundry, dormitory,computer room, exercise room and lounge.

Our students were very interested in seeing this place of ministry and they asked good question about the good work they do there.  We were originally supposed to serve lunch, but that plan changed.  Instead they gave our students a chance to express themselves and make some art on posters.  Our Bethel students are very creative and they loved drawing and creating beautiful posters to be hung on the wall.  Our group leader, Kyle, came and spoke with us more about the many men that they serve there.  He put us to work in the building.  Part of our students went out into the hallways and cleaned the walls and woodwork.  The other group cleaned in the chapel.  They stacked up all of the chairs and then some of them took turns vacuuming while the others wiped down the wood work and cleaned the walls too.  Then all of the chairs and furniture was rearranged and put back in their proper place.  Kyle spoke to me and said that our kids were awesome and that they were very fine workers and he was glad that we came to help out!  That makes us very proud of our students and the way represent Bethel in the greater community!

After our work day, all three groups converged back at Bethel and had a wonderful lunch that Rakmi and some of our volunteers & students had prepared.  Our students really took to heart our mission statement, and in the work they did, they “offered a renewed sense of hope” to our neighbors and friends on both sides of the state line!

Because of their great community service work, our students earned the opportunity to come to a “lock-in” the next night at our center, which took place from 7 PM on Wednesday and ended on Thursday morning at 6:30 AM.


The evening began with a marvelous meal that was provided by our friends from Grandview Baptist Church in KC, KS.  They served us tacos, chips, salad, fruit and cookies.  They worked very hard to serve our students and we enjoyed having table fellowship with them.  We want to thank them for their Christian love and generosity in preparing such a wonderful meal for us!

There were many exciting events throughout the night which included games, free time, watching movies, free time, hanging out, eating pizza and did I mention games and free time?  Yes.


We had a “Survivor” style competition led by Kyle Nelson, which include a wide variety of events.  First  the students were divided up into 3 teams, and they brainstormed to come up with their team name and then create a team flag or banner.  Then there were 3 basic competitions.  Since we had 15 students, they were teams of 3 each.

walk as one “caterpillar” or unit and they had to walk on carpet squares.  They had to go from one carpet square to the next as a group, and not touch the floor or they would lose points.  They had 5 squares that they had to get  through,  and when they completed that, they had to maneuver around and go back through those squares to the beginning to complete the game.  Needless to say, it was great fun with everyone trying to work together and walk together, and a lot of good laughs ensued during this game.  
The first was “Duct Tape Caterpillar.”  In this game, the  shoes of the team members were duct taped together, so they had to

ImageThe second competition was probably more like a “Fear Factor” game as it was an eating competition, where at least one student on the team had to eat the following:  one sardine, one clam, some green baby food and a vienna sausage that was dipped in pudding.  This brought lots of craziness and silliness as a few of the kids tried to  eat these foods.  It wasn’t a timed game, so it didn’t matter how fast it was done, as long as each team tried to eat each of the four foods.  Believe me, our nurse, Melinda, wouldn’t say that these were the best food groups for us to eat, but it was both hilarious and gut-wrenching to watch!


The third competition continued on the theme of team building, only it was about using your brain instead of your brawn.  The teams were each given a 100 piece puzzle and they had to work together to get the puzzle completed as fast as they could.  They worked together very well–some slow and methodical and others quicker, but one team came out as the winner.

The competition was very fierce and fun, but the winning team won out in the end by less than five points.  Still, the students had a ton of fun taking part in the games.

As I mentioned before, we watched a couple of movies like “The Princess Bride” and “Here comes the Boom.”  Around midnight, we all enjoyed pizza and soda while watching the movies and there was plenty of time for playing computer games and other games like air hockey,  carpet ball, four square and Foosball   There was also plenty of time to hang out and talk and just get to know each other and spend good time together.  During almost 12 hours of activities, I think only one person slept and in the end, we all had a wonderful time together.  We were certainly worn out after that, but it was a night of great friends, food and lots of fun!!!

Thanks for your continued prayer and financial support of Bethel Neighborhood Center!  We can’t do these things without you and we appreciate you so very much!

Thank you!


Bethel staff and board members are thankful to you for your continued love and support of the Bethel ministry. They are able to provide emergency food assistance and a safe and fun place for all ages in their community because of your financial support and
prayers. As a lighthouse in their community, Bethel continues to emit the love of Christ and offers a renewed sense of hope to those who lost their way in life-struggles. They are thankful for your partnership in this life-transforming ministry!Mario, a new boy who was invited by his fourth grade friend to come to Bethel said, “I have fun here. I enjoy the delicious dinners, playing outside, and the computers.” Rita, a senior citizen who came back after two months (she was in a hospital and home) due to surgery said, “My desire to come back to Bethel to be with my friends, the calls and visits from my Bethel family have helped me to regain my health much faster. I always look forward to coming to Bethel.”

ImageRev. Mang Sonna said, “As much as we rejoice with those who found a new hope at Bethel, we also mourn when we say, ‘Good Bye’ to our seniors. We have many fond memories of Elisa Reyes (92), one of our seniors who left us for eternal glory on December 2nd. She recited Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer beautifully in both English and Spanish not too long ago. The people we work with at Bethel whether seniors or children taught and teach us the beauty of life and the joy of helping others.”

The Bethel Christmas Shop on Saturday, December 8th went very well. Through their Christmas Shop, they were able to help 62 families, 36 seniors, and more than 100 Bethel youth. A new Burmese mother who received Christmas presents from Bethel commented, “Kansas City is very cold and my entire family is wearing the warm coats Bethel gave us every time we go out. My children now have their own toys and they don’t have to play with our neighbors’ children’s toys anymore. Thank you for everything.”

The Christmas Shop Day was a fun day for the Bethel families as well as the volunteers that helped the families that day. One of the volunteers said, “It was so good to see so many smiling faces today. This is a wonderful ministry.” The Bethel youth enjoyed the visits of ABWM from Confidence, IA and also of Winnetonka High School Choir from Kansas City, MO. Both the groups brought Christmas presents for them and even played with them.

ImageBob Lightner, the Coordinator of the Bethel Christmas Shop and Rev. Mang Sonna, the executive director of Bethel thank Prairie Baptist Church for taking up the Bethel Christmas Shop as their mission outreach year after year. They are also thankful to the churches, Sunday classes, and individuals for either adopting Bethel families or making donations towards the Christmas Shop. Many Bethel families experienced the love of Christ through the Christmas presents they received through Bethel at Christmas time.
Thank you for keeping Bethel Neighborhood Center close to your heart and in your prayers. Without you and your support, Bethel will not be able to continue their programs and services.Bethel Board and staff members thank you and wish you a very Prosperous New Year!