Archive for the 'Staff' Category

Speaking at RockFest

Shane Vander Hart, our Director of Ministries & Volunteer Development was asked to speak at RockFest 2 in between bands.

RockFest 2 was a Christian music event held in Pella, IA on 4/20/08.  Below is a video of Shane speaking.

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Christmas Blessings & Opportunities

By Shane Vander Hart

It is hard to believe that Christmas is upon us already.  The year has gone by so quickly.  It looks like here in Iowa it will be a white Christmas.  I can’t say that really excites me, but my kids love it.  I’m at home today writing this since Cheryl is having a tooth pulled and that way I can be at home to attend to her needs.  Since we home school, our kids finished some school work and are taking a break sledding and snowboarding in our back yard (we are on a hill and the backyard is a downward slope).  So they are having a blast.  Snow to me just means shoveling, perhaps one day I’ll find some joy it in J.

I can find joy in other things with Christmas though.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14, ESV).

      “For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given;
   and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
   and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
   to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
   from this time forth and forevermore.
  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this,” (Isaiah 9:6-7, ESV).

We can celebrate that in Jesus we have our Immanuel, God with us!  Charles Spurgeon shared the significance of Jesus as our Immanuel.

“Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendor.”

The kids that SOY works with, in particular juvenile offenders, often times don’t experience joy in this time.  I attended a couple of weeks ago the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives’ National Summit on Prisoner Re-Entry in Los Angeles, CA.  At that conference I learned that with this population of kids:

  • 64% are under the poverty level.
  • 79% come from a chaotic environment.
  • 55% have a parent in prison.
  • 45% have mental health issues (including depression).
  • 49% have drug abuse issues (I’m assuming that is those who are documented, at Polk County Youth Services about 70% of the kids who are detained are found to be drug involved).

I thank God that with SOY we have the opportunity to share with kids the hope present in Christmas.  Not only sharing in words, but also in deeds – I’m always amazed at how the Body of Christ is mobilized to meet the Christmas needs of our kids.  As I write this the Christmas needs for the Polk County Youth Services’ Detention Center and Youth Homes of Mid-America have been met.  I know that Christmas items for the Polk County Youth Services’ Shelter keeps coming in so we look like we are in good shape for that facility as well.

I would like to encourage those of you who are living in Central Iowa to take time to get involved as well.  Some things that can still be done.

  • We are looking for groups to spend time with kids over Christmas break (since they are out of school over Christmas they have a lot of unstructured time) at Polk County Youth Services in the detention center and transitional shelter.
  • Provide baked goods for Polk County Youth Services workers, Youth Homes of Mid-America staff, or Woodward Academy staff as a practical way to share God’s love.
  • You can contact me directly at if you would like to help

If you live outside of Central Iowa I would like to encourage you to contact your local juvenile detention center or facility and see what some of the needs are and how they can be met within the guidelines of the facility.

Me-closeupbwShane Vander Hart is the Director of Ministries & Volunteer Development with Serve Our Youth Network.  He has been on staff since 2002, and has been involved in youth ministry since 1992.  He also blogs at

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Radio Interview Today

By Shane Vander Hart 

I was on the Update Today show on Praise 940 AM here in Des Moines.  I’ve been on this show several times.  Today was somewhat random.  We talked about high-risk kids, how people can help Serve Our Youth Network through Good Search, being thankful, and what I enjoy about Thanksgiving.

You can listen online here.

You can download this interview here (right click and select “save target as”).

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Update Today Interview

By Shane Vander Hart 

I wanted to share a link where you can listen to an interview I did on Praise 940 AM in Des Moines that aired on 8/21/07. I included it in my podcast this week. You can listen to the interview here.

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Shelter Picnic at Big Creek State Park

A group from Meredith Drive Reformed Church hosted youth from the Polk County Youth Services’ Shelter for a picnic at Big Creek State Park near Polk City. They enjoyed a pontoon boat ride, ladder golf, Frisbee, scavenger hunt, BBQ and more on July 14th. Three SOY staff were able to join the group from MDRC at this event – Bernie Van Roekel (Executive Director), Mary Tomlinson (Des Moines Volunteer Coordinator), and Shane Vander Hart (Director of Ministries & Volunteer Development).

My How Time Flies

By Shane Vander Hart 

Yesterday marked five years that I have been on staff with Serve Our Youth Network. I celebrated by preaching at the Salvation Army – Temple Corps in Des Moines. I’ve been preaching every Sunday since May 6th (with the exception of Mothers’ Day where I taught in my own adult Bible fellowship at Valley Church). That may not seem like a big deal to some, but it has been my busiest speaking season so far (since I don’t have my own pulpit), I preach next Sunday in two different churches. I preach the last Sunday in June, and then I am speaking at a Christian music fest in Ankeny and preach once more that same weekend – the third weekend in July. I’m loving it, but I am looking forward to a Sunday off.

If you told me five years ago that I now would be the “senior” (as far as time on staff, not age, so save the wisecracks) person on staff I wouldn’t have believed you. Today I had lunch with Stewart Vander Velden, who was our former executive director. He was the only one before me to have been on staff with SOY for five years. He is now the pastor of Open Arms Fellowship in Toronto, Canada That church is unique in that it is a English-speaking church plant from an ethnically Brazilian Reformed Church that held services in Portuguese and most of his congregation is made up of high school students and college students – so he has phenomenal ministry up there. It was great to be able to catch up with him.

Joining us was another former staff member, Laurie Vos who is now working with the Iowa Department of Human Services in Oskaloosa. She was our volunteer coordinator in Pella, and also did some work helping us get our Winterset ministry started. It was great to see her again.

Anyway, just some random thoughts going through my head this afternoon.

Straight Ahead Ministries Conference

By Shane Vander Hart 

I just posted on my recent trip to New Hampshire for the Straight Ahead Ministries Affiliate Day & National Conference. Check it out.

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