Last night an exciting joint venture between Temple Baptist Church and a group of concerned parents/teens was realized in a neighborhood known as "the Graig." This area of Pontypridd has become quite notorious due to misdirected teens roaming the streets, smashing car windows, spraying graffiti messages everywhere, and generally making life miserable for many decent young families who are attracted by the more affordable housing and the senior citizens who have lived there most of their lives.
About two months ago, a group of teens were banned from the local park by a police officer, unfamiliar with the area, who assumed they were looking to get into mischief; so they and their parents expressed frustration that there was nowhere for these relatively good kids to simply hang out with their friends. Since our church still owns a small chapel building on the Graig, it was decided that perhaps we could explore a partnership with the youth, their parents, local businesses, and the county council to provide a safe place for the youth to gather on Friday nights.
After nearly a month of planning between church leaders, local police, interested parents, and a half dozen teens, the first youth club met last night. The teens named the club "Graigonics," drew up their own membership form, rules for attendance, age limits, and even decided to levy a small entrance fee that would go toward operating costs such as refreshments and other expenses. In addition to the nineteen teens who eagerly stood in the rain for the doors to open, we were pleased to have two parents and five church leaders show up for the two-hour event, from 8:00 to 10:00 pm.
While the young people gathered in small clusters, a group of boys enjoying a game of Playstation football, another group tried their hand at Jenga, and two tables were kept busy with table tennis for nearly two hours. A local businessman donated a brand new table tennis outfit and others donated our initial supply of soft drinks, potato chips (or "crisps" in Britain), fresh fruit, and a huge variety of sweets for purchase. Overall, we were thrilled and I know the kids really appreciated the evening. Of course, our hope is to develop relationships with the parents and the teens for God's glory, with hopes of sharing the love of Christ and the message of the Gospel with them in due time.
Please pray for this "Graigonics" ministry, that we will have wisdom, compassion, discernment, and boldness in this sort of community outreach event. Our ultimate aim is to see a new church planted in the Graig, since Temple Baptist has relocated to the town center of Pontypridd, and Graigonics might prove to be a small step in this direction: meeting needs, sharing Christ, and trusting God for a spiritual harvest.