PASTOR IN THE PARK
The new youth pastor at Victory Christian Center has only been in town a few weeks.
But Sean Brockway already is challenging the dozen or so teen-agers in his group to collect toys for kids for Christmas.
By next spring, some of these same young people will be using their hands to break bricks, rip phone books apart and put on skits in La Grande parks as a way to draw attention to the gospel.
Brockway, 31, said he and his wife, Michelle, are leading the church's young people in the drive to gather Christmas toys for children from newborn to age 12 and food and clothing for the entire family.
"I've done this in just about every youth group I've led," said Brockway, who moved to La Grande from central California.
Since age 19, Brockway, who was raised in Manteca, Calif., has been a youth pastor in several churches in the area, most recently serving Assembly of God churches in Modesto and Merced.
Brockway said he and the Victory Christian youth have been contacting La Grande stores, asking them to give to the drive.
"Some are donating. Others are putting out drop boxes for us. Even small stores want to help."
He said 1,000 flyers about the Christmas project have been printed, and the young people in his group will be going door-to-door spreading the word about the event that will be held Dec. 23 at the church at 1020 Jefferson Ave., across the street from the railroad depot.
Brockway said the food, clothing and toys will be distributed to any family that needs them.
"It will be first-come, first served, starting at 7 p.m."
He knows the Salvation Army of Union County is involved in distributing food and toys to needy families, but said there is always room for more.
"No matter the size of the town, you don't get everybody," he said.
Food, clothing and toys can be dropped off at the church on Wednesdays from 1 to 6:30 p.m. or people may call 963-4929.
Any articles that are not picked up by families will be given to the Salvation Army.
Brockway explained the reason for the Christmas project.
The idea is "youth giving back," he said. "It doesn't make sense to sit inside the church and not help people outside the church."
Brockway said he attended Global Bible Institute in Modesto part-time for six years while working in youth ministry.
After he and Michelle were married in 1999, he took a break from ministry for two years and was involved in home construction.
The couple are expecting their first child in December.
Michelle teaches drama, mime and dance to interested members of the youth group.
Brockway coaches a group of five boys on what he calls a power team how to break bricks safely, rip phone books or snap Louisville Slugger baseball bats on their knees.
The youth will perform skits and physical feats in parks next spring, he said.
Brockway said the point of the ministry will be to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those watching.
"Everything we do has to do with God," he said. "Even some of the cornier comedy skits have a point about God."
Brockway said the youth group will try to have an outreach once a month at a different park.
The youth pastor said he enjoys watching teen-agers being stretched to do things that they never considered.
"If you tell youth they can't do it, they'll figure out how to do it," he said.
Brockway also is involved in typical youth ministry activities at Victory Christian. He leads a Bible study discussion with the teenagers at 10 a.m. Sundays and has more formal instruction for them at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
He said the focus of his messages lately has been on faith.
"A lot of it has been basic," he said. "Without faith you cannot consider yourself to be a Christian."
Brockway's goal is twofold.
He wants the young people to have faith in Christ, and "faith in themselves that they are saved."
"Don't let the world sway you" into thinking you are not saved, he tells them.
Brockway said he was not looking to leave California when he learned about the position in La Grande. He saw an advertisement on the Internet at youthpastor.com.
"I came up here to see the youth group, I talked to Pastor Lyn Ashlock and to preach, and I felt God was leading me here."
He said he thinks he will fit in well in Eastern Oregon since he enjoys hunting and fishing.
Brockway said he hopes the things he is teaching young people will stick with them.
"My goal is that when youth become adults, they are not just sitting in church warming a pew," he said.
"I want to make them effective Christian adults."