Youth Bio 1.0

The vision of Cross & Crown is to have indigenous people of the neighborhood be the leaders of Cross & Crown. The original vision for what is now Cross & Crown was revealed to a small group of people from a different neighborhood who felt called to move out of their circle of influence. Cross & Crown, as well as, Rock Island, continue to have significant leadership roles filled by non-indigenous individuals but over our 10 year existence more and more neighbors have began to fill leadership roles.

At Rock Island the same holds true. Ron and I both realize our responsibility with the youth of this neighborhood is not only in leading, advising and mentoring them but also to help them realize their potential in future leadership roles as we do our best to develop their passions and skills in ways that empower themselves and the people of THEIR neighborhood.

Bottom line: The future of Cross & Crown and Rock Island lies in the hands of the people of this neighborhood.

(the following has been done with permission and request (might I add, several requests) of Darvin)

Exhibit A: aka, Darvin

When we first meet Darvin 8 years ago he was just a wee lad at the age of 7. He was quiet, curious and sharp. Not much has changed for Darvin except that now he is starting to spread his social butterfly wings and is quite the conversationalist. He is still very sharp and is one of the more academically advanced students. (Don’t get a big head, Darvin).

Over the course of our 8 year friendship with Darvin we have had plenty of opportunities to see him grow and mature in just about every aspect of his life. With the exception of one or two summer breaks Darvin has made an effort to come be apart of whatever is going on at Rock Island 2-3 times a week for almost 9 years!

Recently, Darvin has shown an interest in being apart of a fundraising experiment Ron and I started to dabble in a couple years ago. With the permission of those donating, we began posting items, such as, furniture and electronics on websites such as Craigslist and Ebay. Any sales made from these postings went directly into the “Rebuilding the Walls” program.

After much deliberation and planning we worked it out so that Darvin could take as much ownership in this venture as he wanted. Because he is of working age and we didn’t want for him to have to choose between making money by getting a “real” job over choosing to hang out with two incredibly awesome, fun, hilarious, thought-provoking men (Ron and I) we decided to forge the two.

Now, Darvin works when he wants by helping pickup donations (when he can), taking all the pictures, uploading the pictures, describing the items and posting the ads online so that others can purchase them. He has seen reasonable success and now get’s to make a little extra change (10% of whatever he sells) while also contributing to the betterment of his very own neighborhood. Not to mention, this, also, allows for him to continue spending some quality time with the two incredible men I mentioned earlier.

The way we, at Cross & Crown, look at it is that it’s a win/win situation.

Earlier in this post I explained how the future of Cross & Crown and Rock Island is held by the men, women and youth of this neighborhood. We can’t afford to lose young men and woman with the skills, knowledge and ‘can-do’ spirit that Darvin possesses. This little scenario is just one small scale example of how Darvin, even at the ripe age of 15, can begin contributing to the future existence and success of Cross & Crown as we strive to serve the people in this often overlooked area of OKC.


Design For Change Contest

Beacon Fine Homes & Custom Pools is a local home builder in OK. They’ve launched their Design for Change contest! You can design your dream floor plan to impact a community and for a chance to win an iPad! Beacon will donate $1 to Cross And Crown Mission for every Facebook ‘LIKE’ they receive during the contest! Visit the Web Site for all the contest details. Please take five minutes to help us raise funds to help our community!

Beacon Fine Homes

Temporary Mom

Last week we had a group from Fort Worth, Texas come help out at Cross & Crown. Like most groups they had a plan. They had been in contact with Ron for some time and were assigned a list of tasks, projects and duties to complete while they were here.

We welcomed them into Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon and gave them a run-down of Cross & Crown, Rock Island and the neighborhood. They were going to need to be well informed because they planned on staying inside the facilities overnight for the week. They were told the ins and outs of each of the buildings and given an overview of what their week would look like while helping out at the each location.

Each day the group had additional activities for the neighborhood youth following their full schedule of projects throughout the day. Devotionals, times of worship and reflection, small group discussions, meals and games, this group did it all. They came. They saw. They conquered.

The group was tremendous but none of their scheduled, pre-planned projects were what impacted me the most. A scenario came about while their group was here that would not have fully developed had their youth and leaders not been intentionally relational during their time in OKC. Completed projects, devotionals, sleeping in a rough neighborhood in hot, uncomfortable conditions is great and makes for really cool stories when you get home but building a relationship with a neighborhood kid who has little to no family and making a measurable impact in his real life circumstances is what’s really helpful.

If you live in OKC or have school aged children that attend OKCPS you are aware that school started last week. Well, we had a student that just moved back to OKC after living in Michigan for several years. Again, like he did when he was in elementary school, some 6 years ago, he lives with his grandparents who live 4 houses down from Cross & Crown. His mom died when he was barely old enough to remember her. His dad is no where to be found. He has some extended family members who love and care for him but most times are unable to do a whole lot because they have children and families of their own and/or live in different cities.

Moving back to OKC the week before school started wasn’t necessarily the most timely plan but it was, likely, the only plan because of dwindling opportunities in Michigan. So, here we are. The unlikely match of a eager, young man back from Michigan teamed up with a willing, available youth group from Texas.

The group began work early each morning and continued throughout the day until the evening hours. Meanwhile, our Michigan-migrant continued to be truant. His plan with some family members from another city to help him enroll in school didn’t work out so I began piecing together as much information as I could to get him enrolled.

Tracking down immunization records from Michigan, faxes left and right, phone calls to advisers and counselors and a couple trips to the school with grandpa was all apart of the plan. I got the ball rolling on the process but I was quickly finding out that I wasn’t going to be able to juggle this scenario on top of some other things that were going on that week.

In steps the available, observant Texan (I know, hard to imagine that Texans can be helpful). She told me she had been wondering, thinking and praying about this particular student all week. She told me she had talked to him a couple times about being “truant” but was never really confident that he understood the urgency concerning his status.

She had stayed up the night before praying and weeping over this student and his situation. A deceased mother. A non-existent father.

Thursday morning I set aside some responsibilities I had committed to for that morning and got ready to take the young man to enroll at school. As we were loading up to leave the Texan inquired what we were doing. I informed her that we were headed to enroll in school and she communicated an interest in tagging along. Turns out, I was just tagging along.

Quickly after arriving at the school with the young man and his spanish-speaking grandfather the helpful Texan and I noticed the rising anxiousness of the student. We both verbalized some observations we had made and tried our best to relieve as much stress as we could.

Flash-back 10-15 years ago when I was enrolling at school. It was me and mom. Or, it was me and dad. What happened was the two of us would go to school. I would sit there and answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ when questions were directed at me. Mom would tell me what I needed to do, when I needed to do it. She filled out the paperwork. She answered all the tough questions. She calmed my nerves.

This is when availability meets opportunity…

After being bounced back and forth from a few different people at the school I was quickly coming to realize that my time and place in this scenario was over. I had done my part. My had completed my function in this particular situation. It was time for mom to take over. And, she did. And, it was awesome.

Five hours later, after lots of waiting in lines, talking with counselors and answering questions temporary mom and child had done it. He was now an official OKC student. She hugged, encouraged, taught and loved him. Just like good moms do. Her time was limited in OKC with this student but her investment is timeless.

Thanks, available, willing, observant, relational, mom.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
– 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27

By Luke Whitmire

Fall Semester Schedule

After a few tweaks, we’ve created a beginning framework for our fall youth schedule. We are making more space this year to mentor and tutor the kids in smaller settings. If you would like to be involved, please contact us.

Fall 2011 Youth Schedule

After School to 5:00pm

Breakfast & Bible

After School to 5:00pm
Mentoring/Life Skills

Begins in September 18th

6:00pm Family Meal
7:00pm Family Worship

Thank You Thunder

A big thanks to the OKC Thunder franchise for supplying us with Thunder logo book bags.

With a surplus of school supplies from generous donors and Feed the Children last year, we will supply the Rock Island students and families with all OKC Public School supplies and a great new Thunder book bag!

We encourage all those who donate to our back to school program to consider financially supporting our youth program during the fall semester this year. Additional funding would allow us to have a more significant presence with several High School campuses during lunch periods. Please contact Luke or Ron if you would like to help.

Real Impact

This week I was gently reminded of a never changing truth about the work I am greatly privileged to be a part of at Cross & Crown.

This summer has been crazy. Crazy in a good way. Crazy in a, “wow, there’s a whole lot of people here every day,” sort of way.

We have seven interns this summer. We have had interns in the past but never more than two at one time. One of the interns is a college student. Two of the interns will be juniors in high school next year. Two of the interns will be freshmen in college next year. And, last, but certainly not least, two of the interns are college students and from the neighborhood. Which, we think, is pretty great.

One of my favorite characteristics of Cross & Crown is that it is a mission for the people of the neighborhood, run by people OF the neighborhood. The clothing room, food distribution, prayer room and some of the other larger functioning ‘ministries’ of Cross & Crown have been run by people of the neighborhood for several years but this summer is the first time Rock Island, primarily our elementary program, has been fortunate enough to have prior Rock Island graduates organize, coordinate and run a portion of our youth activities.

Along with the interns we have our normal gathering of youth from the neighborhood. There are a handful of the kiddos who get up bright and early every morning (well, early for a kid on summer break) to come and lend a helping hand packing boxes of food, organizing donations of clothes and clean laundry, amongst other things.

My point being, there’s mucho activity and bodies every which way you turn.

If I’m not careful it’s very easy for me to get caught up in all the activity. All the noise, all the motion, all the kids, all the seizing women falling on the stairs (yes, that happened this past week). There’s plenty of “stuff” to do. Tasks to be done. There are continuous needs of people to be met. Legitimate needs. Never ending needs.

If I’m not careful I can loose focus of my primary objective. Very easily I concentrate my efforts on the task to be completed, the job to be done, the need to be met or the work to be done and less on the person with the need.

I think meeting the immediate need will satisfy the person. Maybe it will. For a short time. Until there’s a new need.

Here was my reminder this week…

Yes, money, food, clothes, education, ect. these are all helpful items that are greatly needed. But, they aren’t the single, most impactful thing we can offer.

I know what you’re thinking. Offering relationship/friendship to someone is time consuming. You’re right. It might even make you think that throwing some money at those in ‘need’ doesn’t sound so bad after all because offering a relationship/friendship is a liiiiiiittle more of a commitment. That, also, is true.

Thinking something like this doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you a shallow person. I’m kidding. Kinda.

All I’m saying is that, for me, sometimes I need a reminder of what’s really impactful in changing someone’s life and not just some short-term fix and this video did it for me.

Posted by Luke

Easter Eggs Go North

We had a blast ushering in Holy Week this Sunday by inviting the children of the neighborhood to the Whittier School grounds. Northchurch came in full force and sprang into action. If you didn’t come and have fun, you don’t know what fun is! We had two massive egg hunts, trampoline twister, a giant bouncy maze, music, burgers, hot dogs, snow cones, clowns, and even a little line dancing.

Thank you again to Northchurch for helping us meet many new friends on the West side of our neighborhood.