“Broadway” to Africa and the Middle East…How did that happen?” What do Broadway Musicals and ministry in Africa/Middle East have in common? Well, at first glance...not much. However, this innovative fundraising event actually makes perfect sense. In the greater Denver area, there is a dynamic faith community of music lovers, theater goers, and committed Young Life fans who get together each year to put on a performance like none other. The ‘Big Idea’ surrounding Broadway to Africa (BTA) (a vision started by Shelley Sadler and a few others) was simply to have a musical experience, focused on Broadway show tunes, with the proceeds from the performances going to support ministry in Africa and the Middle East. What could be easier? ...just wait.
Young Life is present all over the country and around the world. From small towns to International, cities to college communities, to 103+ countries around the globe to over 1,300 YL Areas, 81,000 Volunteers and 5000 staff. In the midst of being in so many locations it can become a challenge to be truly together as ONE MISSION. The scripture verse that has surrounded BTA over the years has been Zephaniah 3:17, “...ours is a God who is with us...is mighty to save...delights in us...quiets us with His love...and (even) rejoices over us with singing”--a message we long to share. Ours... We... Us… Together language!
When BTA began in 2011, there were 18 cast members, one performance, one dress rehearsal, and the event raised funding to offset the cost of one Young Life Africa Women’s Leadership Summit serving 35 staff.
Now, 8 years later there are:
92 cast members,
4 months of rehearsals
10 sponsored Camps (8 in Africa, and 2 in the Middle East).
3000 campers who will experience summer camp
Without a doubt, the most beautiful part of the Broadway to Africa experience over the years has been the privilege of watching the Lord move in and tangibly affect not only students in Africa and the Middle East. However, the 125+ people involved in production (i.e., cast and crew, band, costume designers, directors, and “sponsors”) and the hundreds in the audience are also deeply impacted. Broadway to Africa is a really creative and powerful tool in helping change lives both in the US and all over Africa and the Middle East. Steve Larmey (SVP A/ME) reminds the audience each year that “literally thousands of young people go to camp and have an experience that, in Africa and the Middle East, they rarely get to have. When they may otherwise live in utter poverty, war zones, or orphanages, at camp these kids are are fed, cared for, safe, loved, known, and noticed, all in the name of Jesus.” On the US-side Senior Director, Jennifer Condreay who has given her time to BTA since the beginning celebrates that “each year our practice and rehearsal season is an amazing 16 weeks of hard work, joy, and fellowship!”
It may be true that it takes a whole community to reach a community and when you do EVERYONE IS CHANGED! That is what we have seen happen each year at Broadway to Africa.
For more information about how you create your own ‘Kingdom-minded’ event contact Shelley Sadler or to learn more about the production, just click here. This year the production in Denver is June 7-9th. Being one mission is not easy, but it really can be beautiful and you may just find yourself singing. See you on Broadway!
In late January, I experienced my YL Training Timeline class at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City UT. One day as I waited in line for my 3rd film of the day, the person next to me leaned over and asked, “Are you a filmmaker?” I laughed, “Me? Nope! I’m here with Young Life staff for training!” Another “Only in Young Life” moment.
A group of 15 YL staff joined 250 Students from 22 Organizations, Seminaries, and Universities for a week of looking at the intersection of Faith and Film through conversations with each other Directors, Producers, Screenwriters and Actors. It was amazing and so instrumental in equipping me in my day to day work with kids. Robert Redford is credited with starting the festival in 1985 believing that “society relies on storytellers”. Over the last several decades, the chance to share your story at Sundance has become a filmmaker’s dream. Over the course of the Festival over 40,000 people descend on Park City,UT (pop. 8,378). This year, there was an astonishing 14,259 film submissions, of which only a select 112 feature-length films were chosen! The filmmakers are truly cultural theologians in how they identify longing, brokenness, need, and hope. One short film “Period. End of Sentence” was founded by a high school, listing a bake sale and yogathons as funding in the end credits. It felt like “us,” how we’ll do whatever it takes to fundraise get a kid to camp.
So….how did we end up there? The Windrider Forum gathers a group of believers at the Festival to explore faith in the midst of culture’s primary form of storytelling - film. The group was named after the Hebrew word ‘ruach’, meaning “wind” or “spirit.” The class was engaging, challenging and informative. Truly, the Sundance Film Festival may be one of the last cultural events that allow the YL Staffer to truly be 1 step ahead of the culture. We were challenged to have eyes to see and ears to hear where the Spirit of God was moving as we watched.
“Filmmakers are the poets and sages of our time” was a mantra we kept hearing. Each filmmaker risks to say something, to tell a story, to ask a question about real issues – mental illness, the death penalty, race, immigration, disability. And yet so many directors paint the world as they see it – broken, dark, unjust, without any sign of hope. The average Netflix user watches 71 minutes per day….numbing, consuming, grasping for something, being spoon-fed some version of truth. When I think about my Young Life kids’ learning about life through a screen, it doesn’t seem fair, it’s not the whole story, it’s not often a complete picture.
One film called “Gaza,” showed raw and broken snapshots of daily life in a war-torn streets of the Gaza Strip. I was trying to have eyes to find a glimmer of hope amidst scenes of wreckage, but I struggled. Another YL staffer later said, “You know, they have Young Life in Gaza.” Young Life in Gaza!! I got tears in my eyes, there it is: hope! God’s writing a way bigger story sending light onto the streets of the Gaza strip.
So we wrestled with questions - how can we, as believers, become redemptive storytellers? How do not only be students of students but also be students of the culture? It’s what YL does so well, we go into the world of kids. What if we watched with a different lens – looking for hope? Then we would truly have a message worth seeing and sharing.
Keep an eye out:
Some of our favorite films to look out for include “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” “The Farewell,” “Luce,” and “Moonlight Sinata.” Missed it this year? No fear, you should save the date for the next year it is offered.
Written by: Kaitlyn Ousley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A recent 5 for Friday ‘ONE QUESTION SURVEY’ asked a simple question about supervision:
“What are the top three qualities you want in a supervisor?” Hundreds of you responded! Thank You, for responding! Below are the qualities that were listed to choose from:
encouragement and affirmation
clarity on expectations
empathy and compassion
disciplined and focused
solid communication skills
coaching and mentoring skills
flexibility and accessibility
clarity on expectations
wise and strong knowledge base
AND THE TOP 3 ANSWERS WERE…..
FLEXIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
SOLID COMMUNICATION SKILLS
The results may not be surprising because the qualities we want from a boss are understandable.
We want to be noticed so we want someone to SEE us, (Accessibility)
We want to give input so we want someone to HEAR us. (Communication)
We want to learn and grow so it makes sense that we want someone to stretch,develop and CHALLENGE us. (Leadership)
But wait, in the COMMENTS section these desired qualities were also suggested:
Speaks truth in love
And what about these attributes that didn’t make the list:
High EQ, CQ, OQ, SQ (all the Q’s)
So, what about a second question- “How do you 'get’ what you need from a supervisor?”
We know that no one can be all of the things listed above. Besides, our ability to receive good supervision is filtered through our own perspective. Although we may never agree on the most important qualities in a supervisor because of our own uniqueness, there are different qualities we need in a supervisor as we grow, mature and change.
Bottom line: You can’t design your supervisor, but you can design your supervision.
Supervisors, have the conversation with the people you lead. Let them know what you expect and what you can offer them. Let staff know why you believe what you believe about supervision. Importantly, it’s not just up to the supervisor to design.
Staff person, a form of “leading up” is letting your supervisor know what you need in supervision. In no way is it a demand, it is a conversation. Sure, you won’t be asking your supervisor to be MORE confident, but you can ask them to be clear regarding expectations. Maybe you let them know you respond best when you have time to ask questions for clarity or that mentorship is of great value to you.
Together, you can work to meet the needs.
Now what? So, do you as the supervisor or staff person need to have a conversation? Is it a good time to provide clarity or ask for what you need? If you think yes, then do something about it right now. Make a call now, set up a check-in, write out what would be helpful and discuss supervision. Supervisors want to be effective and as staff people we need to be supported----Have a conversation.
Written by Reid Estes email@example.com
There is a large pool of potential volunteer leaders in your area right under your nose. Many have a vibrant faith, love teenagers and all of them are on campus doing contact work every day.
Who would that be? Teachers!!
Let me ask you a few questions:
Do you actively seek out teachers to be members of your team?
Do you do contact work with teachers, seeking out believers, striving to know them and helping them to become missionaries to their classroom?
I highly encourage you to do this. Teachers do more contact work with kids day in and day out than you or I would ever be able to accomplish. Partnering with teachers to know more kids will help ministry grow and go deeper.
During my 11 years in the classroom, I found myself connected much deeper to kids than my 10 years as a non-teacher volunteer or my last five years on full-time staff.
Our area has been blessed to currently have over a dozen teachers actively serving in my area. Some of these teachers simply lead a Campaigners group, while others serve in a full-on capacity. Many of our teacher-leaders have a minimal role in club but a considerable role in introducing our other volunteers to kids from their classroom.
When allowed, our teachers champion club and Young Life events. In more closed schools, they merely introduce kids to leaders at after-school events. I spend much of my time with teacher-leaders, encouraging them on how to be intentional with kids.
Here are just a few examples of the impact teachers can have when they are involved in their local Young Life area:
They can spend one passing period per day being intentional in the hallway.
They can use their before-school duty station to start conversations with kids they don't know well.
They can spend one planning period per week connecting with other Christian teachers to pray for the school.
Imagine what happens when a new teacher catches a vision to invite a cabin full of kids to summer camp.
Much of the expectations for teachers is the same as is is for my other leaders, but some of it is more flexible. I seek to be intentional to avoid events during busier school times (quarterly exams, meet the teacher night) or not expect to see them at club on those days.
Ultimately, I discovered during my time as a teacher-leader that ministry gave me life even when I was overwhelmed by my teaching load. Being connected to students deeply through the Young Life ministry gave me a greater purpose and led me to pursue my calling versus just having a teaching career. Leading Young Life during those years kept me in the classroom for years longer than if had I simply been teaching my subject.
Seek to help teachers find their calling and fulfill the calling to truly be missionaries in the classroom through the mission of Young Life.
For more information or resources for connecting to this vast pool of potential volunteers in your area, contact Carrolton Area Director Michael Cone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about teachers in the mission HERE.
Football has started, kids are in school, and fall is in full swing. Of course the reality of Young Life is that “fall” is in full swing by mid-August. Here at the “beginning” of the year I’d like to offer a few thoughts, things that might make your year more productive.
An idea that has captivated me recently: Kaizen (the term means small continuous improvements).
Small adjustments can make a BIG impact:
Here’s the effect of a one-degree change in a flight plan:
After 100 yards, you'll be off by 5.2 feet. Not huge, but noticeable.
After a mile, you'll be off by 92.2 feet. One degree is starting to make a difference.
After traveling from San Francisco to L.A., you'll be off by 6 miles.
If you were trying to get from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., you'd end up on the other side of Baltimore: 42.6 miles away.
Traveling around the globe from Washington, D.C., you'd miss by 435 miles and end up in Boston!
Sometimes this is called “1 Percent Improvement.” Over time, 1 percent can make a big difference. The question is: WHAT 1 percent are you going to focus on? What small thing could make a big difference for your area, committee or club next year? What would produce the greatest impact if you focused your energies on a few critical small changes*, and didn’t get distracted by the hundred loose ends tugging on you daily?
*Notice I didn’t say “easy changes,” (they never are), and you have to stay with them doggedly to get the benefit.
ACTION STEP: What if next year … ?
You spent more time planning committee (or club) meetings and always finished on time?
Every adult meeting started with a great devotional, a kid sharing, or a leader giving a ministry update?
A group of adults prayed for club every week?
You identified the 10 most important donor relationships for the area and did a great job thanking them and keeping them informed?
You identified the three critical things that would make your area/club better and focused on that till it happened?
You get the idea. I don’t know what your 1 percenters are, but you do. Think about it. It’s worth it.
A lot of people are focused on football right now, but I’m thinking, what will be the few “1 percenters” that will be my highest priority this year?
— Written by John Evans (email@example.com )
“This is a true story of six strangers picked to live in community and work together to find out what happens when people start getting REAL!”
When we kicked off the GLOBAL CITIES FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM in Hong Kong we felt like we were getting ready to live a season of MTV’s Real World “Young Life Young Life.” We didn’t know exactly what would happen if we put three 22-year-olds from all corners of the earth in one global city to live and work together for two years. It had the potential of getting messy really quick. What happened was nothing less than a miracle and far exceeded our hopes and dreams!
There are primarily two needs of every Young Life area: 1) People, and 2) Resources. Since Hong Kong Young Life’s beginning five years ago, our biggest need has been — PEOPLE! People who understand Young Life and the unique culture of Hong Kong. We had open doors at schools but didn’t have the people to walk through those doors. Since we were too young to have “grown our own,” we needed to find a creative solution, which birthed the Global Cities Fellowship. The fellowship was initially a two-year program designed for young people with Young Life experience to come to Hong Kong to be team leaders and be a part of a training leadership program all done in community to eliminate loneliness and build a greater sense of team. Time, Experience, Responsibility, Community and Fellowship became some of the tenants of this program.
We expected to have all Americans but ended up with one American , one Thai and one of Nigerian-British heritage. We couldn’t have designed things any better. Why? Because of their intentional community! They each were able to bring and share their knowledge and experience of Young Life, Hong Kong culture, and youth culture. Each week they spent three hours in training together growing in Christ, learning Young Life principles, and discussing how to implement them in Hong Kong in their individual school context. They also lived life together — shared apartments by gender, socially hung out, were inclusive of each other and treated each other like family. We learned that the combination of experience and background was far greater than just having people come who know Young Life. The fellows’ diversity has made us a much stronger team and continues to breed more diversity and unity as we identify future cohorts. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133: 1).
The benefits far outweigh the costs of the fellowship, but they are still a reality. Hong Kong is the third most expensive city in the world, and providing housing for the fellows is expensive. Also Hong Kong Young Life currently carries a majority of the burden of their cost as opposed to the traditional Young Life sending process, and your situation may be different. That being said, the fellowship answers our need for a pipeline of staff associates and helps us “grow our own” faster and develop a rich environment of diversity and cultural understanding, making our team stronger together.
Cohort 2 (Hong Kong Young Life Season 2) launched this past month with the orientation of three more fellows each with their unique background to Young Life, Asian culture, Hong Kong school culture, and Hong Kong culture. We are excited to see the outcome of this group’s community. There is a cost to community — but it is a small price to pay!
If you are interested in talking more, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Suzanne Sittko (email@example.com)
This is how I remember it …
YOUNG LIFE INTEREST MEETING, SEPTEMBER 1999
The Time: 7–9 p.m.
The Town: Mackay, Idaho
The Location: According to my handwritten directions — the house 5 miles down a county road on the left-hand side just passed the split rail fence.
The Purpose: Interest meeting to start Young Life.
The Agenda: Starting club at Mackay Junior/Senior High School — enrollment: 92.
Coffee, pie and brownies
Introduction and sharing
Discussion about kids at the local school (Mackay High — Home of the fighting Mushers!)
What is Young Life?
12 adults (1 local pastor, 2 ranchers, 3 teachers, 5 parents and 1 forest ranger)
3 dogs were left in trucks parked outside.
For much of my more than 40-year career with Young Life, this has been my life. It involves driving a few nights each week from small town to small town all over the Western United States with names you have never heard of and on county roads you have never been on. It involves traveling with the hope of getting to talk with people about bringing Young Life to their community.
One of many pivotal moments was at a Young Life interest meeting sitting in Hilda Goddard’s living room one fall evening. “We need to tell our neighbors in Challis, Idaho, about this Young Life thing!” was the reaction of Harold, (one man in attendance) at the end of the night. I soon discovered that the “neighbors” in Challis lived at least 60 miles away! My understanding of the word “neighbor” began to grow that night. The gap of distance was overcome by the closeness of circumstance. Even internationally, I have been struck by the countless villages, townships and small towns dotted all around the globe that share common traits and challenges. My constant prayer is that there are people in these places who will reach out to these kids to love them, walk with them and tell them about the hope that comes with a faith in Christ.
Harold, whether he knew it or not, shared the heart and vision of Jesus. He understood how God works through the ministry of Young Life to not only transform individual lives of students who attended Mackay Junior/Senior High School, but to a greater extent, the entire community. The book of Matthew tells us that “Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives” (Matthew 9:35, MSG). Jesus wanted His message to get to everyone, so He went places most people would pass by. He had a heart and vision for the next small town!
We pass by our small towns and villages every day, giving them very little thought, but there are so many!
Here are a few interesting observations that I have learned in the past year.
In the United States there are 18,025 small towns.
There are over 32,000 schools in small towns; 18,000 are secondary schools.
21 percent of the U.S. population lives in small towns.
94 percent of the total square miles of the U.S. (3.4 million square miles) are considered rural.
At-risk behavior statistics in rural communities are identical to urban centers.
Here are some facts that you won’t find on any U.S. government website.
Many small town high schools adjust schedules around the harvest or hunting seasons.
The nearest Walmart may be over an hour away.
The local high school may have special parking for students’ tractors or horses.
It is a community event when a new fast-food restaurant opens!
Young Life leaders have been known to reschedule summer camp dates to not interfere with the County Fair.
… And there is a pretty good chance that you have a small town “neighbor” right down the street within 60 miles or less. So what do you do? Four steps to think about the NEXT school!
Never Forget to Pray — Get a map and draw a circle with your town in the center of a 60-mile radius. Pray for towns in this circle; pray for the towns that jump out at you; pray as you drive through them; pray for the Lord of the Harvest to raise up workers. Do a prayer walk through the town. TRY THIS: Set an alarm on your watch to remind you to pray at 9:38 (Matthew 9:38). Pray each day for one or two of the towns in the circle of your “neighborhood.”
— Ask your committee, leaders, friends, who knows somebody in these towns? TRY THIS: Contact Young Life Alumni & Friends to help you find people in town who may have a Young Life background. Make some calls to pastors, civic leaders, and business people.
eXtend a Hand — Get a leader, a committee member, club kid, friend and make a road trip! TRY THIS: Go to the town; spend time in the community. 1. Pray at the school. 2. Eat at a local restaurant. 3. Meet with a local pastor.
Take the Next Step — Mobilize someone in the town to host a meeting of people who care about the kids in their community and need to know more about Young Life. You can check out the Small Towns Tool Box to give you ideas for this meeting.
There are Small Towns everywhere we go. Slow down, take some time to notice them and then do the NEXT steps. Email me if you would like to receive the Small Towns Newsletter or would like to attend the Small Towns Summit in December. To learn more or if you have any questions, check out the resources below for help.
Resources to Help: Small Towns — The Atlantic Magazine
Small Towns Director — J.C. Bowman — firstname.lastname@example.org, 208-866-0540
Jump Starts — Don Stuber — email@example.com, 360-789-6676
Ken Purnell — firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-620-0270
Written By J.C. Bowman
“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38)
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their words; that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20, 21)
Lists. We use them all the time. Every time I go to Costco I have a hand-scribed list from Marni. I see others just like me in the grocery store… lists on paper, lists on phones, and calling in for a verbal list. Everyone in the famous movie that was on Schindler’s “list” actually lived. It was a powerful list.
More than fifteen years ago, I challenged a campaigner group to pray for ten of their unsaved friends. A mom called me and asked if I could come by while her son was in school. I came by and she marched me into her son’s bathroom and there on the mirror was a scrappy piece of paper list of ten kids names. “What is this?” I told her that these were the kids her son was praying for… all were in 9th grade. Today, everyone on that list knows Jesus and 4 of them are on Young Life staff.
We list out projects. We list out prayers. We list out who can come to a gathering. We have wedding lists. We have Christmas card lists. We are list people… and today, I want to challenge you to consider a new type of a list. The “Discipleship List.”
The Discipleship List was an assignment that really stuck with me when I went through the official “Young Life Practicum I and II” sometime in the late 80’s. This list has two parts. First, who are the kids that you are discipling? Second, what are you wanting them to learn, experience, and do while they are under your tutelage?
It starts with YOU knowing the kids that you are discipling. (Discipling means teaching them to follow Jesus with their life, to love the word, prayer, to have fellowship, to be obedient, and to strive to follow the great commission.) The famous quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You want to have a plan for who you are discipling.
Again, it starts with a list. Who has the Lord laid on your heart to “pour into.” We call it so many things in Young Life. There are phrases you might use that I don’t: my campaigners, small group, discipleship group, student leadership team, green beret campaigners, student leaders, etc. I would say it is as simple as a list. Who are the kids that you are going to give it all to? You are pouring your life into them – you are available to them always, and your life is an open book. They know they are on your list, and you know they are on the list.
I remember going to a restaurant that was owned by long-time Young Life supporter Bob Farrell. Sometimes when you went to his Stanford’s restaurant you would see a person following the waiter or waitress around the restaurant. They literally just followed. At times, it even felt a little awkward. Well, it was actually a beautiful thing. They were “in training.” Bob wanted them to see it all, the full scope of what it meant to take care of multiple tables, crunch time, mistake orders, etc. Who is following you around? What are you wanting to make sure they see?
My first year of Young Life training my trainer Jeff said, “What do you want to make sure your sophomore followers of Christ leave with in two-years?” Oh my, did this open up my mind of the possibilities! I wanted them to know so, so much. You could, and should, make some notes right now, on what you want your kids leaving within 6 months, in a year, in 2, or even 3 years. (If you have a Wyldlife and a College ministry – you could have a 6-year plan.) What do you want to make sure they know about Jesus? About the Holy Spirit? About the Word? About scripture? About lifestyle evangelism? About service? About how to “do Young Life?”
In Young Life, at least in this 5 for Friday, I would hope people would make a “list.” Who is in your life? What list do you want to make sure they end up learning, experiencing, and doing?
Here is a sample list to get your mind going – would love to have others add to this list by sending me an email: email@example.com
My brainstorming of what a list could look like of what to impart:
Have an accountability relationship/partner
Treat your body with respect – temple of the Spirit
Be able to write down 50-75 high school/junior high students by name from memory
Develop a plan for your disciples
Practice Spiritual Disciplines:
Be a “come with person” – bring people with you to club, church, run errands
Lead a Campaigner Group
Give your testimony
Go on Work Crew (Summer)
Go on Work Crew (Weekend)
Do a service project
Have a quiet time for 30 straight days.
Do the Thread Journal — and give one away
Have a list of 10 non-believing friends
Be a student leader for Monday Club
Speak well of others
Written by Eric Scofield (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We all have pictures in our mind of what Young Life camp looks like, right? However, there are a few camps happening this summer that look a little different from what we typically picture in our minds. Let’s take a look at two camps to see what I mean: one you know and one you don’t know.
Let’s start with the one camp you probably don’t know: Nyarugusu. You don’t know it because it’s not a Young Life camp; it’s a refugee camp. Located in western Tanzania, between 139,000 and 400,000 refugees from DR Congo and Burundi live here in tents. Some have been here for over 20 years and some have just arrived. Over half of these residents are under 18 years old. They have fled warlords, rebel groups, tribal wars, genocides and food shortages.
One of these residents is a Young Life leader Pascal (name changed). He decided to follow Jesus at a Young Life camp in Congo and became a Young Life leader before he and his family were forced to flee insecurity caused by rebel groups. Pascal is recruiting leaders and working with our team in Tanzania to begin Young Life in Nyarugusu. We hope to bring kids from this camp to a very different kind of camp soon.
Now let's look at the camp you know: Timber Wolf Lake. Fast forward to July 3rd of this year. Picture 46 kids rolling off a bus at the welcome. Some are in headscarves, most laughing and speaking to each other in Arabic, a Burmese dialect or in Kiswahili. They are from Syria, Myanmar, Congo and half a dozen other places. All of them are from Southport High School in Indianapolis. Their leaders, Joe and Rachel Snyder, direct the area on the south side of Indianapolis where tens of thousands of these refugees have been placed. Many of them are part of the club at Southport High School. On July 3, 2018, they will experience a new type of camp...and Jesus' love for them.
- Across the world there are currently 22.5 million refugees and over 65 million people displaced internally in their own countries. More than half of these people are kids.
- Over 56% refugees live in sprawling tent camps in Africa and the Middle East.
- Over 3 million refugees live in the US.
There are hundreds of thousands of kids, most of whom have experienced trauma people in Western Europe or the US cannot imagine. Most of these kids do not know, or may not have even heard of Jesus, and are being gathered in unprecedented numbers into our countries and neighborhoods. What an opportunity we have as a mission that cares for kids who are lost and looking for a place to belong!
In YL Africa/ME we are committed to figuring out how to reach these kids. And people like Joe and Rachel are showing us all how to do it in our own cities. Ministry to widows, orphans, strangers and captives—this is real gospel ministry. God has positioned Young Life perfectly to be His hand in the lives of these kids and God is literally dropping these kids from the worst and hardest places on the planet into our backyards. Wow! Join the leaders in Africa, the Middle East, the Snyders and others as we figure out how to love and reach these kids and their families.
Written By: Steve Larmey
**If you, or someone you know, is working with refugees in a YL context please email (email@example.com ) The YL Global Innovation and Training office so we can help them connect to others who are reaching these students in these unlikely places.
Ever wonder how you pack for a Young Life camp in Uzbekistan?
Author: Gary Parsons
A YL Staff leader’s packing list can include anything from t-shirts to shaving cream to candy and costumes. We asked Gary Parsons to give us a little insight into what goes into packing and preparing for camp over in ___________.
“You load up the biggest bag you can carry of potatoes on your back and hike up four hours to the site where you will be hosting kids for a week of camp and then you repeat that hike five more times to get the rest of the food and supplies up there before the kids arrive. It’s a good time for prayer as you seek God for the hearts and lives of these kids and their families, communities and future of their country. You pray for the wars to stop, for Christian persecution to end and for clubs to be safe from government raids. That’s the Uzbek version of our 10 hour bus ride to camp.”
The commitment is the same in neighborhoods all over America as it is across the world. Loving kids unconditionally wherever they are and whatever circumstance we find them in, doing everything we can to create an opportunity for them to hear the gospel and to know the love of the Father.
In Matthew 4:19-20 Jesus calls us to be fishers of people, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for people.' At once they left their nets and followed him.” Dale Bruner said it best when talking about this portion from Matthew, “Come be my students and I will turn you into fishers of people. Jesus furnishes his invitation with an exciting promise. It is the promise of catching persons and of being effective with people.” As leaders go off to camp this summer across the globe we must hold on to this central truth, that every day we must follow Jesus with all that we have and trust his life living in and through us to bring the gospel alive in the lives of kids we serve.
The calling is the same across the world whether it be in Uzbekistan, Nicaragua or Texas. What we pack in our bags physically may look very different, but what we pack spiritually is filled with the same life of the Holy Spirit and the same calling to be fishers of people. In John’s gospel chapter 15:16, Jesus says, “you did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last and the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” This summer all of God’s resources, wherever you serve in the world are available to you through this truth. Ask God and he will supply all your needs.
Camping Internationally may require some creativity in what we pack but no matter where you are we BRING the same thing- a heart devoted to Christ and passionate toward adolescents. If you want a checklist of what to pack for camp this Summer- double click HERE!
Author: Vern Hill, Cesar Castillejos
“This experience changed the way I saw myself, my life, the world, God’s love, and everyone around me!" -2017 SLP Student Session II
Since 2002, the Young Life Student Leadership Project (SLP) has been ushering in God’s kingdom by training students to be multi-ethnic leaders and sending them into clubs, communities, and the world.
Make SLP part of your Froward Plan to transform kids who will transform your club, area, and the world!
SLP is a 10-day leadership development/discipleship program for high school students completing their junior or senior year of high school. To promote a deep sense of mission, each SLP group is racially diverse, gender balanced, socieo-economically varied, and host students from different parts of the country. This summer approximately 100 students will attend SLP at sites in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; St. Paul, Minnesota; and St. Augustine, Florida. Nearly all students who have experienced SLP’s transformational program of classroom instruction, service, and personal formation become active professionals and volunteers in ministries and nonprofits in their communities!
The purpose and content of SLP mirrors FORWARD’s goals. This makes it easy to include SLP in any FORWARD Plan. SLP has four “Pillars” of learning that interlock with Forward’s four strategies.
Deeper – SLP students learn and apply spiritual practices. Students are taught and have quiet times in scripture and prayer each day. In addition, students experience worship and regular prayer times with others.
“I learned hearing God and understanding is a matter of practice.”
Together – Cultural Awareness is another pillar of SLP. Students explore the impact of their own ethnicity, learn about healthy interactions with others, and experience cross-cultural life with their SLP peers.
“I found there is something to be learned about God through every brother and sister I have in Christ.”
Innovation – SLP students learn to be effective, innovative leaders by understanding their Calling. Primarily called to love God and serve others, SLP students explore how to do successful ministry based on their unique passions, talents, life experiences, and the opportunities God places in their lives.
“Sometimes we decide something for our own future, but God has better plans.”
Growth – Using the example of Jesus, SLP students learn Servant Leadership principles. Students are challenged to identify a personal mission for the 12 months following SLP. This year this will include organizing a project in their area in conjunction with YL Expeditions “YL Serves” on MLKJ Day, 2019.
Here are some practical ways SLP can serve your ministry:
- Areas can send a student to SLP to help advance FORWARD in their community.
- Big Areas and Metro Areas can send several students for a shared SLP experience to help initiate multi-ethnic ministry between schools and within a community.
- Regions can send a cohort of students to SLP to create a network of young leaders in the region and promote student led projects.
- Divisions can support an SLP site for their Division, identify and send students who show staff potential as a gateway to staff development.
The Central American Camp On Wheels (C.O.W.)
Written by Rodolfo López and Kevin Suwyn
Young Life Staff are Creative, Entrepreneurs and Innovators. Innovation is not just something we are giving attention to now - but rather - it IS who we are as missionaries, pastors and leaders. Over the past few decades the International YL staff and leadership have exemplified the heart of Innovation as much as anyone in the Mission. Taking a concept from the ‘idea’ stage to something that is translatable across geographies and leadership is sign of a true genuine ‘movement.’ One such idea that has slowly made its way across the mission is the Camp on Wheels or COW.
There are a few simple steps/questions that a leader needs to answer to create a Movement/Innovation. Read below to see how the staff in Central America answered those questions step by step.
Step 1: DEFINING the Problem/Opportunity
We know it’s true: camp was the best thing to have ever happened to so many of us as teens. Marty Caldwell and Dan Jessup were prodding us to consider how mobile camping could help us with high quality camping even though most countries don’t (and probably won’t) own their own facilities. We had to take everything we loved about the ‘core’ of YL Camping and fit it to our International ‘context.’
Step 2: DEVELOPING a Solution
As we met together to consider, dream and pray with the local Costa Rican team, other questions came to the surface as well:
- What about the thousands (and millions) of our young friends who won’t ever get to go to camp?
- How do we remove hurdles of funding and distance?
- How do we train and support new ministries (countries) in leader-centered, gospel-centered camping?
- How could we take camp to them, if they couldn’t come to us?
This pushed the conversation to new places as we considered implementing a Camp on Wheels.
Step 3: DECIDING what to Measure
In a “Mega Club” (a one-day activity) we have the capacity to bring together more than 700 kids simultaneously, providing a place that is safe, healthy and fun. We have witnessed first-hand the success of this project as a highly attractive and innovative tool for the most disinterested kids to hear about Jesus. In Costa Rica, the last five COW's have been a key strategy to helping double our impact of kids reached over the year.
In countries like Nicaragua, we have had the opportunity to carry out a series of Mega Clubs helping local areas impact more than 3000 kids over a months’ time (30% being first timers). This happens in coordination with local team of volunteer leaders and community adult support who are the key facilitators during these events.
The teams in Panama, Honduras, and El Salvador have benefited tremendously by traditional-camping support, and now have developed their team toward healthy leader-centered and gospel-centered camping. COW still is on-call to join in, but as countries have grown, more responsibility is being taken locally in each country.
Step 4: DESIGNING the Pilot
Going back to the planning stage: We moved forward, not really knowing what to build but knowing that we needed to act on something. We shared ideas with Skeet Tingle (Camp Manager at Wilderness Ranch) who made vital decisions, built the COW, packed it, and shipped it. Meanwhile, in Costa Rica we worked on the “urban day camp” or Mega-Club idea.
- The COW team would work in concert with the local area leaders, prepare a place, obtain the permits, and involve parents and former leaders.
- Leadership teams would invite their far-out friends and campaigner groups would join this effort as they reached out to their friends as well. The COW team was gathering volunteers to set up, run, and take down the “camp.”
- One version of COW would be this amazing day event with unique leader/kid events, hospitality, and closing with an evening club event. This also became a way to model and reinforce great “club” principles and proclamation to the local leaders.
Additionally, we made plans to send the COW to new country ministries with a team. This augments the substandard camp property with a camp-in-a-box set of resources. But even more importantly, brings COW-brought training, a camp speaker, and head counselor when needed. This allowed the receiving team’s leadership to focus on bringing their kids to camp and being the camp leaders.
Step 5: DELIVERING A Model
What came out was a "complementary" approach of truck/trailer and key "space" and "wow" components:
- Augment a rented property having basic services for traditional camp in new countries. This provides an excuse to send seasoned leaders to support the new work, do assigned team training, and model Christ-centered, leader-centered camping. It was a hit.
- Mega-Club set up in the center of cities, offering simple points of leader-kid connection like carnival games, inflatable climbing wall, wii, octoball, field hockey etc. This has supported area leadership right at home, within walking distance, and in plain view of where kids live: culminating in the verbal proclamation of the Gospel.
We are thankful to God for the creative and innovative way He has surprised us through COW and we are also very thankful for all the people who in one way or another support us, be it through prayers, volunteering or giving financially. This keeps us dreaming of reaching the next kid.