A Family Story 2021 Newsletter
It’s been about a year and a half since I wrote A Family Story Newsletter.
So, you know, not much has happened…
About a year and a half ago the Clark family experienced some church trauma because the well-intentioned but clueless husband and dad of the Clark family (that’s me) wrote an article challenging a punitive perspective on hell. I didn’t realize how entrenched Eternal Conscious Torment was in the theological foundations of our community.
If you’re curious, you can read it and the following articles HERE.
For the leadership of our church, that article “bordered” heresy which led to them stepping away from connection with me and A Family Story. Within weeks it became clear I was no longer a trusted or valued member of our community, which led to my family and extended family feeling they had no other option but to leave. It was painful. We were deeply involved relationally in almost every aspect of church life, with my wife, Karen, and daughter, Madeleine, on staff.
I wrote an article shortly after we left that touches on what happened from our perspective. If you’re curious, you can read it HERE.
That said, suddenly the Clark family was headlong on a new journey. And while we felt lost and adrift, we were surrounded by family and friends, and are eternally grateful.
After a few months, Karen and I began to feel new freedom regarding ways in which to express the uncontrolling love of God; ways we realize now we couldn’t have pursued while in our church community.
For twenty-five years Karen and I have been learning how to take a pioneering, missional, long game approach to life and ministry. And in this last year, we, the whole family, have experienced wildly beautiful new ways to learn trust and thankfulness. Even as COVID shut down the world, we began to discover new ways to connect with, and love people. Karen and my girls connected deeply with The Charlotte Dream Center, a ministry to the homeless, hopeless, and forgotten communities of Charlotte. You can read more about it below.
For me, because of COVID, the itinerant speaking aspect of our ministry shut down. So, we launched a podcast; Rethinking God with Tacos. This podcast has been a powerfully good way to dive headlong into grace while continuing with the mandate for A Family Story; to create content catalytic for a transformational encounter with the love of God. Here is a cool recent review I found on iTunes, love this stuff!
“This podcast has changed my life and heart in so many ways. It has healed the places that trauma, tragedy, and religion had broken, and it has…placed hope back in my hands. It has connected me to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a more intimate way and brought me to a great awakening…” — Free1021
Along the way, I reconnected with my friend Derek Turner, who co-hosts. Derek pastor’s River Church in the greater Charlotte area and we have had an incredible time diving into the reconciling nature of God’s love with brilliant guests like, François du Toit, Randal Worley, Baxter Kruger, Danny Silk, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Kristin Du Mez, Wm Paul Young, Brian Simmons and more.
Like so many, COVID impacted our income. But God is faithful and has provided through the generosity of people giving to A Family Story and also through a ghost-witting project. So, last year I wrote. First, I wrote a book for someone else, and then I pressed on and hope to finish my next book by the end of this year; a book on our union and our oneness with God, a book that reveals a God who never leaves and who is reconciling the world to Himself. I am excited about this message and believe there is life in it!
For A Family Story and the Clarks, 2020 through today has been transformational in hard and beautiful ways. And as the world slowly opens back up we are excited about what God has for the future and we are incredibly honored to run at it with you!
The Charlotte Dream Center by Karen Clark
Since I was 12 years old, I’ve been involved in children’s ministry in one form or another. I’ve worked mostly in churches and homeschool groups loving on the kids in front of me. Working with children is a huge part of who I am.
In March, after ending my tenure as a Children’s Pastor, I checked out a Saturday morning inner-city kids ministry in Charlotte run by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center. The volunteers met around 10:45 am to set up and connect. Then we walked down the streets of JT Williams, a struggling community, to pick up twenty or so sweet kids. We took them to their local school parking lot, gave them a snack, told a Bible story, played games, and worked on a craft together.
I loved it.
The next week COVID lockdown hit NC and the program came to a halt. Everything came to a halt. I was frustrated at first as I had really connected with the ministry. Then the Dream Center started passing out nightly meals. So my girls, Madi, Eva, and I joined the team. Every other night, beginning in April and running thru July, we delivered takeout-style boxed meals to 175 people in the neighborhood. It turns out when you deliver meals on a regular basis to the same families, you get to build trust and friendships. We got to know the neighbors, the parents, and the kids.
When the Saturday program started back up in June, Madi, Eva, and I became core members of the JT team, committing to be there every week. Our family picked up one Saturday each month providing a lunch, usually hotdogs, fruit, a sweet treat and juice box, the Bible lesson, and a craft or activity. This is a wonderful time to love on the kids, encourage them, and tell them about the loving God of the universe who lives inside them.
That same month, we began helping with the Thursday afternoon free food market, picking up produce boxes at a local church, setting up the market, and delivering bags of groceries to the most vulnerable.
When NC went virtual for their public schools, it was a large challenge for a lot of families including the JT families. So, the Dream Center started an after-school tutoring program. Education is my wheelhouse so this was the perfect opportunity for me to give. So, every Monday and Thursday, at three o’clock, I pick up 4 children from the JT neighborhood and bring them to the Dream Center HQ. There they spend three hours receiving private tutoring and playing games aimed to move them forward academically. This is key to their future success. I bring them home with a boxed dinner around 6 pm. They love it and I love it. The car ride is my favorite time where we get to laugh and chill in my van.
This is what I was born to do. These families are so precious to me. They have welcomed me into their homes and let me be a part of their children’s lives. I am so grateful that I have been able to serve in all of these ministries inside the Dream Center.
Early on, Jason and I felt we wanted to partner as both a family and through our ministry, A Family Story, to support the Dream Center and these families. Jason asked me to write what I am doing so he could invite those who are a part of A Family Story to partner with us.
A Family Story 2020 to the Present
- Launched a podcast, Rethinking God with Tacos – we have nearly hit 75,000 downloads.
- Karen is a core volunteer with the Dream Center’s Saturday children’s program and also with their after-school tutoring program.
- I continue to write on John 17:21, “I pray that they will be one…” I am hoping to release it late this year.
- A Family Story continues to release weekly articles, we had nearly 40,000 visitors in 2020 and are on pace to double that this year.
- We released a Sovereign Love Teaching Series and have made it available for free – check it out.
- I have begun to schedule speaking engagements for 2021 – you can Book Me Here
Our Most-Read Articles For 2020 Thru Today
We’re Giving Stuff Away
Join A Family Story’s mailing list and receive weekly articles, Rethinking God with Tacos Podcasts, monthly messages, news updates, and early access to new content.
Also, receive a FREE download of the first chapter of God Is Not In Control in PDF and Audio (mp3) formats. Also included is a six-part audio teaching series on Sovereign Love that correlates with the book.
How Can You Partner with A Family Story?
If you have been impacted through the ministry of A FAMILY STORY, I ask you to consider partnering with us prayerfully AND financially. We are so thankful for those who pray for us daily and those who have given and who give monthly. We love you!
- For Karen and the Dream Center ministries, we greatly value your prayers. God has always been faithful in protecting us and guiding us when we’ve encountered dangerous situations. Please pray for peace in the JT neighborhood. Please pray that the love of God is revealed to every heart we encounter: the children, the elderly, the disabled, the drug addicts, and the homeless we serve. If you’re in the Charlotte area and want to learn more about any of the ministries within JT Williams you can reach out to me, Karen, HERE
- Pray for wisdom, favor, and breakthrough in how to continue pioneering and in the area of film and writing opportunities, we are still pushing into this area of influence.
- Pray for continued grace over my writing opportunities (Jason)
A thanksgiving – several months ago we asked for prayer for a new minivan and through incredible generosity, we were able to purchase a beautiful trustworthy minivan for Karen and the kids she ministers to!
- Your giving helps enable Karen and our family to continue working as a volunteer with the Dream Center. If you would like to partner specifically to support Karen, you can do so through A Family Story
- Website and Magazine/Blog/Podcast Expenses.
- Podcast Gear (we are planning on purchasing video gear for season three)
- Writing and Editing and Travel (yay)
Thank you so much for supporting us over the years. It means a great deal to our family. We love you all!
Jason and Karen Clark
A Family Story is a 501c3
All gifts are Tax Deductible.