my dear friend jason raitz, the middle school small groups pastor at willowcreek, lost his home to a fire yesterday (in -9 degree chicago weather!). jason’s family was not in the house at the time, though his brother was. his brother has some minor burns, but is ok. but it seems they have lost everything (or, at the least, most everything). the middle school ministry team is coming around jason and his family, and there’s lots of support; but this will still be a very challenging season for jason and tracie and their kids.
please pray for jason and his family.
here’s an article about the house fire, which doesn’t even mention jason, but focuses all of how bill hybels used to live in the house.
also, ys staffer mark matlock was experiencing some left arm tingling, chest pain, and facial numbness yesterday, and wisely went to the hospital. they did a cat scan and other tests, and have ruled out a stroke. but mark is still in the hospital for other testing, under the care of a cardiologist. mark was to be on a plane this morning, for a planet wisdom event in florida. it’s not clear yet if he’ll be released in time for an afternoon flight, or will have to stay through the weekend.
please pray for mark, his wife jade, and his kids. pray for the doctors. and pray for those at the florida planet wisdom site, who are scrambling to make sure the event is still great, whether mark makes it to florida or not.
yup — here’s the big announcement i’ve alluded to a couple times. i’m pretty pumped. we’ve been friends with the planet wisdom gang for a while, and walked down the road of considering merging with them a couple years ago — but the timing didn’t seem right then for a few reasons. as we (ys) were considering our desire to expand into student events more, to compliment our student line of books (invert), we thought it was silly to create something new, when the planet wisdom tour and website is already fantastic, something we’ve promoted, and something we could really help expand.
mark matlock, the main dude at planet wisdom, has spoken at our events for years, and has published a bunch of books with us.
here’s a great announcement video the skit guys helped us make:
and here’s the press release:
SAN DIEGO, CA, July 22, 2008 – Youth Specialties, a world leader in youth ministry resources, has acquired Dallas, Tex.-based Planet Wisdom from Wisdom Works Ministries. Planet Wisdom, a ministry dedicated to teens and those who care about them, hosts student tours, maintains a robust web site and offers a variety of published resources including books and curriculum. Terms of the acquisition, which was effective today, were not disclosed.
“Youth Specialties and Planet Wisdom have enjoyed a long-standing relationship and have a deep admiration for one another so this acquisition makes a lot of sense for both organizations,” said Youth Specialties president Mark Oestreicher. “We have been anxious to expand our services to include student and parenting events and resources, and this acquisition will allow us to do just that with an organization we love and respect.”
“It’s been evident to us that our organizations strongly complement one another and our missions are closely aligned,” said Mark Matlock, founder of Planet Wisdom. “This acquisition will afford us the resources we need to grow and build our events, web site and content of the Planet Wisdom tour beyond what we could do alone. Our commitment is to continue to deliver the quality resources and services we are known for, while improving and expanding our ministry to students, parents and youth workers through innovation and creativity.”
Planet Wisdom will launch the eighth year of their popular student tour in October, with events in 13 cities planned between October 2008 and April 2009. Mark Matlock will again serve as main speaker and presenter, with long time performers The Skit Guys returning, as well as worship leaders Dutton.
Matlock is a long time speaker and presenter at the annual Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Conventions, as well as the author of more than 10 books with Youth Specialties publishing. He is currently developing a training curriculum called Real World Parents which will roll out in the spring of 2009. Real World Parents is designed to train youth workers to present parenting resources that encompass a partnership between parents and youth workers in the spiritual development of teenagers.