Category Archives: Articles

Example articles from previous semesters

Calvary Middle School

The Aroma of Middle Schoolers

The Scent

I could smell it once I walked in. Yes, the building was inspiring– pale light from the stained glass turning my eyes upward to arches and spires. Faint laughter welcomed me better than any doormat could, and the coffee whispered promises of staying awake until dawn.

But, it was the scent that led me deeper and deeper into the church.  I, like a bloodhound, tried to find its source until I realized that there wasn’t one.  Instead, the entire church was saturated with a wild, liturgical scent. Someone who had studied aromatherapy may have attributed it to old books and wood, but I recognized it as the scent of theology. The yellowing books and faded brown shelves were testaments to the church’s long acquaintance with it.

However, when I entered the basement, young boys and girls seemed to be unaware of the grand liturgy of Calvary Memorial Church. Amid the doctrinal statements and creeds, they broke into boisterous laughter. Standing next to the pews and hymnals, they wore their Nyan Cat sweatshirts and soccer cleats. The Calvary Memorial Middle School Youth Group did not seem to be aware of the spires and stained glass, the coffee and the communion table. They didn’t seem to fit in.

But they smelled like theology.

Calvary has a long history of theological insistence. The first pastor, Dr. Louis Talbot, would later establish the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. The current staff has a long and impressive list of credentials, ranging from beginning a conference for pastor-theologians to earning a Doctorate in Philosophy. The staff has a love of God and a clear desire to know Him.

The middle school youth group is no exception. Many students didn’t seem aware that they were remarkably different than other groups. Just like we cannot recognize our own scent, they didn’t have the ability to smell the theology on them. It was not until they were forced to turn their attention to their hope in God that they recognized the aroma.

Hope in the Face of Grief

Over the summer, one of their fellow students passed away. She was an active member of the group and great friend to many of the seventh-grade girls. Unknown to anyone, she was struggling with depression and took her own life.

Any group would struggle with that tragedy, and Calvary was no exception. Many young girls had lost a friend, and a young boy had lost his sister. The face of the tragedy was ugly and twisted. But, there was hope; she was a believer. With that knowledge, the students grieved differently. Although knowing that she was with the Lord did not minimize their feelings, they remained confident that she was now free of her pain. It was their theology that allowed them to mourn with joy and grieve with hope.

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Socializing and Structure

Calvary Memorial Church’s insistence on theology is not only cognitive recognition. On the average youth group night, the students hung out until Pastor Joey called them into the meeting room. There, some openly held pens and notebooks while others hid their cell phones inside their sweatshirts. Pastor Joey had a unique ability: he managed to explain how difficult topics related to their lives. But, the message did not end with simple acceptance. The students were cognizant enough to poke and prod it, relating it to their own narrative.

“Many youth ministers often talk about bringing the “cookies” down to the lower shelf for young people and I’ve found middle schoolers are extremely sharp. You can actually teach them deep theology, you can teach them deep Bible, you can teach them more than many people think you can do. For me, instead of taking cookies and putting them on the lower shelf, I’m trying to find the best cookies and make them tastier for students.”

-Pastor Joey

This archetypal structure has been around for about as long as Cavalry has existed. Calvary began in 1917 in a different location, but the scent of theology has followed them. Although the youth group has not been around for 100 years, the church has met for that long, and middle school students have always been encouraged to attend.

And attend they have. The middle school youth group has grown over the past several years and students continue to spread their scent. Whether they are meeting in fellowship or listening to the message, the group is no exception to the overwhelming scent of theology at Calvary Memorial.

For information on Calvary’s Fall Retreat

Welcome to Pui Tak




Meeting Cindy
Cindy is an average looking lady in her 50s, just like most Chinese house wives in her age: out of shape, short, curly black hair, always carrying a pair of reading glasses in her shoulder purse. Cindy used to have a good life and owned a small business in Guangdong China before she moved to the United States. After her two children graduated from middle school, she decided to give up her business, her friends, and her home to move to the States with her family to seek a better education for her children.

After three years being in the States, she still struggles to recall the alphabet fluently. Since she spent most of her time making a living in a Chinese restaurant every day, she hardly has any opportunities to learn English. As Cindy was telling me how hard it was to live here without knowing how to speak English, I can see tears in the corner of her eyes, waiting to fall. She wants to make enough money to support her children to go to university, but without knowing a word of English, she can only work in Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. Cindy often faces exploitation in work just because she does not know English. Even though she is in her mid-50s, yet she has a strong desire to learn this new language.

Sharing Christ’s Love 
It was almost impossible for her to hire a private tutor due to her finical problem. Somehow she found Pui Tak center, which is e able to offer her free one on one private tutoring. After chatting with me for about an hour and a half, she asked if I get paid by Pui Tak to tutor her. I said, “no.” Then she asked if I received any benefits from the government for doing this? I said, “no.” Seeing the surprised expression on her face, I knew it was hard for her to believe that many other volunteers and I were coming here weekly to teach English for free. I told her that sometimes helping people makes us happier than earning a lot of money. Silence went on for a while. She then promised me that she will give her best effort to learn and try her best to practice.

To Serve Immigrants like Cindy
Not only Cindy, but many other Chinese immigrants that live in Chinatown whom moved to Chicago to seek a better life, are living much more difficult live than when they were in China. Most of them are stuck in Chinatown because they do not speak any English. Many of them are lonely, being exploited by their employer in a foreign country. Pui Tak Center provides a great place for these immigrants to learn English and help adjust the culture, as well as a place for Christian to show love and help those in need. There are massive needs for tutors weekly, click now to learn more about how to volunteer with us!

 Click here to download our monthly postcard to learn more!

 Pui Tak Gallery

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Impacting Kids’ Lives for Eternity

Who we are: Inner City Impact

Inner City Impact (ICI) exists to serve the children from Chicago’s inner city and to bring them hope. We are a non-profit organization that operates through generous donors and committed volunteers, who have deep compassion and love for Chicago’s inner city children, and who desire to see the kids impacted by the good news of Jesus Christ. In order to reach as many kids as possible, we are located in two different neighborhoods: Logan Square and Cicero.

What we do: After School Programs

We open our doors for after school programs from Tuesdays through Fridays for kids and teenagers between 5-18 years. Our staff embraces the given time with the kids as they give them their full attention while playing, doing crafts and hanging out with them. Every Friday we intentionally set time apart to share with the kids the good news of the gospel in form of interactive Bible studies.

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What we desire: To See Chicago’s Inner City Kids Impacted

It is our desire to make the kids feel welcomed and to provide a safe space for them. We hope that ICI is a place in which the kids feel loved and are given the opportunity to be honest, to heal and to grow.

“It is our desire to make a difference in these kids’ lives, to bring children hope by offering them a safe place, and to share with them the good news of Jesus Christ. “

Do you want to get regular updates on how God is impacting kids’ lives through ICI? Download our newsletter!

Making Dreams Possible


What was your dream when you were a kid?

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Did you want to be an astronaut?  A veterinarian?  Maybe a Broadway star or a firefighter?  Whether or not your dreams came true, was there a time when you believed that they could?

All kids have dreams, but some dreams seem out of reach

The kids F.A.I.R.E. Garden works with in Haiti also have dreams.  In their case, though, poverty and lack of education stand as giant obstacles to their completion.

How can children realize their dreams without a basic education?  And how can they hope to focus on their schooling when they are hungry, thirsty, or, worse, living on the street?  We at F.A.I.R.E. Garden believe that God created each of these children for a reason and has a plan for each of their lives.  Yet many of the situations they are currently living in are not conducive to living their best lives or, in some cases, even to living.

According to Unicef, only 48.7% of adults in Haiti were considered literate in 2012.

F.A.I.R.E. Garden wants to change that for the children of Haiti

F.A.I.R.E. Garden is working to change that for the next generation.  We are a Christian children’s ministry working to empower the children of Haiti to live their best possible lives.  Through our clean water program, community development strategies, and orphan ministry we seek to share the love of Christ with the children He loves so well.

F.A.I.R.E. Garden looks into the future to see a Haiti where every child has the potential to realize their dreams.  To get there, though, we need your help.  We are looking for people to partner with us in prayer and financial giving, as well as volunteers to join us on our next trip down to Haiti.  Will you join us in showing the love of God to the children of Haiti through sustainable, empowering aid?

We’d love for you to partner with us on our next trip down to Haiti!  The application can be found under “Go”.

Hear Lizby’s Story of her Time with F.A.I.R.E. Garden: