On the weekends of May 11–13 and May 18–20, 2018, Cairn University hosted the 24th annual JAM (Junior-High Adventures in Ministry), a summer evangelism event run by Dr. Matt McAlack, professor and director of the youth and family ministry program at Cairn, in conjunction with Child Evangelism Fellowship.
2018 marks the first year in which JAM was expanded into two separate weekends. As a result of the two weekends, the event can now reach more Kids’ Day participants in addition to opening up opportunities for new groups to attend. Over 50 churches and ministries were involved between both weekends.
The purpose of JAM is to equip junior high students to serve Christ by providing them with excellent training and hands-on ministry experience. Cairn believes that God can use people of all ages in His work, and this program is designed to cultivate that perspective in junior high school students in churches throughout Bucks County and Philadelphia.
Throughout the weekend, Cairn students, faculty, and alumni facilitated training sessions that taught the jr high students how to evangelize to children and led “JAM rallies” each night where the students worshiped together and were encouraged by the weekend’s speaker. This year students heard from Mick Sander, a local school teacher and former missionary to Swaziland, who challenged the students to spread the gospel to unreached people here and around the world.
Each JAM weekend reached its climax with Kids’ Day, a day of fun for elementary-aged children from Philadelphia’s urban neighborhoods, school programs, and regional churches. Despite the cloudy skies and rain that characterized both weekends, over 500 children came to the University to join the fun. JAM teens and community volunteers ran activities throughout the day, such as a petting zoo, inflatables, crafts, puppets, and the ever-popular bingo game that results in a stuffed animal prize for every child.
JAM teens also paired up with the kids to participate together in the activities, and time was set aside at the event for the teens to share the gospel with the children. After the conclusion of the two weekends, nearly 100 children expressed a desire for a personal relationship with Christ.
In a recap of the two weekends, Dr. McAlack stated that he has already had multiple children’s ministries reach out to him, saying “Kids’ Day is the highlight of the year,” and that this excitement provides them more opportunities to reach more children.
Partnerships with local church youth groups and community organizations have been instrumental in the success and impact of JAM over the last 24 years. Several Kids’ Day participants have come back to serve at JAM as teens, and many describe the deep spiritual impact the volunteers had in their lives over their years of participation.
If you want your ministry group to participate in one of next year’s JAM weekends, registration will begin in January 2019. Visit cairn.edu/events/jam for more information.