Dean, McNutt set up neighborhood games

Ellis Dean, right, explains the Encounter God program in the Town and Country Mobile Home Estates. (Photo by Jim Jarrett)By Jim Jarrett

Ellis Dean could see and hear the children having fun as they yelled, laughed and chased each other outside last week in a lot at the Town and Country Mobile Estates.

Dean is part of Encounter God, a ministry reaching out to elementary and middle-school youth in the mobile home park and surrounding neighborhoods. It gives kids a safe haven to play, learn about character and the Bible.

“It’s fun trying to make a positive difference,” said Dean.

Dean and Kyle McNutt organized the 2-month-old program in the neighborhood. Dean is a minister who works at Willow Bend Elementary as a physical education aide and assistant coach. McNutt, a Frenship Community resident, began the Encounter God Ministry in 2006.

“Our ministry focuses on No. 1, going out and doing the service like the mobile home park,” said McNutt. “We’ve also got an intern program where we train high school and college students in the importance of serving the community as well.”

McNutt said the ministry tried several projects before starting to work with kids in Town and Country Mobile Home Estates.

About six times a month, they meet at a mobile home, rented by the Fellowship Church of Lubbock, to play games outdoors such as football or kickball.

Ellis Dean

• Age: 53.
• Church: Experience Life.
• Family: Wife, Cindy; daughters, Maci and Ami.
• Favorite food: Mexican.
• Work: Minister, Encounter God Ministries and physical education aide/coach at Willow bend Elementary.
• Community involvement: Works with Encounter God, a ministry designed to help serve others in the community. The ministry works with Mission Lubbock and in the Town and Country Mobile Home Estates.

“The kids know it as their clubhouse. They love it,” said Dean.

The clubhouse also helps kids develop positive attitudes.

“We do a lot of character training and our spiritual training in the clubhouse,” said Dean. “We do a lot of devotions and Bible studies.”

When Dean and McNutt recently asked kids what was going on in their lives, one child raised a hand and said, “this club.”

“We just went ‘wow,’” said Dean. “They like the games, but I think they like the relational side of it, too.”

Dean said as many as 35 kids show up to the clubhouse. The group averages between 25 and 30 kids. When it started, 13 showed up, said McNutt.

Kyle McNutt, kneeling with his Encounter God ministry co-workers. From left are Gina Wilson, Judy McClendon, Casey Spencer, Ellis Dean, Maci Dean and Ami Dean. (Photo by Jim Jarrett)“Every week, we are getting more and more kids,” said Dean.

Both men also reached out to the community recently with a cookout. It gave them a chance to meet some of the people living in the park. Fellowship Riders, a Christian motorcycle group partnering with Encounter God, also passed out food packets, said Dean.

“Each time they come, they give away $1,000 to $2,000 of food,” said Dean.

McNutt said the ministry has grown rapidly.

“We figured we’d be at this point with 10 or 15 kids regularly,” he said. “ … It has definitely grown quicker than we expected.”

Now, they want to grow their ministry and take it outside the park.

“That’s the goal,” said Dean.

“This is our first step. What we are beginning to see is kids coming in from other neighborhoods. Our longtime goal is to get this ministry going and multiply it in other communities. Hopefully before long, we can get someone to lead this ministry. Then Kyle and I can go start another one in another community.”

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