A Guest Post By: Jamie Van Heest
What is ACTS?:
The mission of ACTS is to Embrace, Equip, and Empower the youth of Holland. We are striving to show them God’s love so that they may know love, how to accept love, and how to be love in return.
The kids chose to call our group ACTS during a season when we were reading through the book of Acts. As we learned about new believers and the early church, the kids felt a deep connection to these people and this kind of community. We learned about Christians coming together to share all they had, living together, praying together, and breaking bread together. It was then that our kids realized that they are the Body of Christ and that we are His church wherever we go.
I remember that day so vividly; I was blown away by their faith and spiritual maturity. We had been meeting in a coffee shop downtown because we had no real home, and that day we had gathered a group of over 20 kids as we walked. I’d never met half of them before, and as we stood in line buying some drinks I heard one new friend ask one of my kids who I was. Marc replied so eagerly and quickly, with such assurance, “She is Jaime!” When the response was just a confused look Marc continued, “God sent her to us! We are like a family.”
ARTS, COMMUNITY, TEACHING, and SERVING are the pillars of who we are as ACTS. The kids have been encouraged and equipped from the start to share their ideas and to be the leaders and the doers of this group. One of the first things we did together was art. Twice a week kids could stop in, eat a meal and create some art. It was not a class, but an opportunity to be creative, to get messy, and to talk to people, and ultimately to find one’s unique voice and the courage to share our stories.
I asked Lorena, one of our girls, what was important to share with people about what we do. With no hesitation she said, “We do homework, and a whole bunch of fun stuff together. We do art, and eat, and learn to grill outside. We go to the beach and we clean up the beach too! We help volunteer and we work in Lefty’s garden. We always do stuff together as a family and we are always there for each other.”
ACTS is a family. We are living in community with one another, when life is fun and especially when it gets tough. Loving people where they are fosters relationships, trust, and friends challenging each other to do and be more. And when we have people, our own people, and we create a safe time and space together what can be dreamed, created, learned and shared is limitless. This is ACTS. And I’m pretty sure this is what Jesus meant for the church to look like.
The ACTS Facebook Page
The ACTS Blog
My name is Jaime VanHeest and I am the Executive Director of ACTS, a ministry reaching at-risk youth in Holland, MI. God called this ministry into being over the past five years as a group of young people joined together to create a community where they could all feel safe, respected, challenged, empowered and most importantly loved by one another and by trusted adults. It is my great honor to facilitate this ministry and to work with incredible young people who help us discern daily God’s call and direction for this HIS ministry in and through their lives.