THE SPOT — From left, Cynthia Butler, Ella Butler and Michael Butler are among area youth enjoying The Refuge at Ellendale’s Assembly of God church on Friday night. (Star Eagle photo by Rachel Rietsema)
By RACHEL RIETSEMA
Ellendale’s Vibrant Life Assembly of God church members have always had a strong yearning to get involved in the lives of teenagers.
And now, through the planning of Pastor Patrick Stitt, Alicia Butler and many other members of the congregation, this soulful longing of theirs will be fulfilled.
“All year round (starting September 14), on Friday nights, 7-12th graders can come here to the Refuge and hang out, after a parent consent formed is signed,” Butler said. “They can come and go as they please, and we will of course have adult supervision.”
Kids in this age bracket can even show up last minute, and bring home a consent form to fill out and return the following week. Anybody is welcome to join in on the good old-fashioned fun.
"We have no limit, in terms of numbers,” she said. “We just want to show kids that there are adults who care about them. We also want to show them God’s love in any way we can.”
Pastor Stitt concurs wholeheartedly.
“We are hoping this will be a place where we can connect with other young people,” Stitt said. “And, whatever the kids are experiencing or feeling, they can come and talk to us adults too. We are always open to have a chat about anything.”
He just hopes that this environment will bring the Christian message of love and counseling into the hearts of young people and the community.
“There isn’t a whole lot for young people to do in this community, so we really want to provide a fun, safe place for them to hang out,” he said. “We too have seen that kids in this area are not shielded from a lot of the problems going on in the world.”
So, from 7 p.m. to midnight, Vibrant Life hopes to become a safe haven, providing opportunities to dig into the Word, play games and run around in the massive gym.
“For us as a church, as followers of Christ, we need to be constantly outreaching to the young people in our community,” Stitt said. “There will be times when we do an optional Bible study, or they can play basketball or we can even put up the volleyball net if they want to do that.”
Gaga ball isn’t out the question either, Stitt says.
“This involves digging a big old pit full of mud,” he said. “Then, you have to go in there and bounce a ball with your hand and not get hit by it. It’s muddy and awesome.”
Upstairs, there is a whole host of other entertainment possibilities as well.
“There’s a projector and speakers are connected to that for movie playing,” Stitt said. “We also have a Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, Wii, foosball, ping pong, air hockey, crafts table, puzzles, board games, books, you name it.”
Hungry teenagers can also find a fully stocked fridge full of waffles, bacon, cheese, ice cream sandwiches and Jello, plus many more goodies. The pantry shelves will provide even more choices, including cereal and granola bars.
“What more could a kid want?” Stitt said. “Oh and those involved in sports are welcome to join us as well after their games are finished, win lose or draw. Feel free to come here and celebrate. We will get some pizzas and pops.”
Butler added, “If anyone wants to bake cookies or a cake, that’s not out of the question either. And, it’s all free.”
Interested parties can contact the church by dialing 507-684-3421.
“One of church ethos is that it’s not about numbers,” Stitt said. “If we can do something great for 10 kids, that’s fantastic.”