Family Ministry Gives Urban Kids Hope

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For Henry Bouma of Grand Rapids, Mich., playing basketball in his backyard is more than just a game -- it's ministry.

"I'm a basketball coach and we just connect with kids through that and we're working on raising up kids in this area," he said.

Bouma is part of the ministry called "The Navigators" which reaches out to college campuses, military bases , inner cities, prisons and youth camps.

For more than a decade, Bouma and his family held Bible studies for inner city kids in their upscale suburban home -- that is until God offered them a unique challenge.

"After a while we felt like God was calling us to live into the city instead of driving around the city bringing them to the suburbs for Bible study," Bouma said. "We felt God was saying, move there."

So the upper class family packed up everything they owned and moved to one of the roughest, gang-infested neighborhoods in the city.

"Obviously when we moved here we knew it wasn't a great neighborhood, but we just felt God's calling on our life... total peace about it," he said. "We feel safe here. I walk the streets, know a lot of people, probably within a mile in each direction, people know me."

Bouma gladly shares his new home with at risk kids.

"We call it our 'house ministry,' out of Isaiah 58:12 where it talks about rebuilding, restoring the cities, actually the broken ones are going to be restoring the cities and raising up a new generation," Bouma explained.

Fun is also part of the ministry there.

"In the house we have a pool table on the main floor. We have fuse ball, air hockey, skeet ball, pin ball, big screen TV for video games and so on," Bouma said. "The kids just love coming over and hanging out. It's just a safe place where kids can get off the street and come and hang out and talk about issues in their life."

The impact on neighborhood kids has been life changing.

"I became a Christian about a month ago and I've been learning about leadership and how to do some ministry work and lead other people into Christianity and salvation," one teen said.

"Most of my friends are bad influences. I'd probably be in a gang if it wasn't for this house," another claimed.

Bouma says moving here has proven to be fruitful and rewarding.

"They've joined our family here where they're coming to our Bible studies and being part of what's going on through our relationships and so on," Bouma said. "They're calling me asking me to mentor them, stay with them (and) just walk with them through stuff that's going on in their lives. It's just cool to see God just doing great things."

*Original broadcast January 9, 2009.

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