A Thread in the Tapestry

The following is an excerpt from our Spring 2016 magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

A Thread in the Tapestry

by Kyle De Boer

Joining forces for the third straight year, three Montana congregations are collaborating to host Gallatin Valley SERVE. We are an eclectic bunch with diverse gifts. Farmers and ranchers work side-by-side with educators and entrepreneurs. The unique community of volunteers for GV SERVE is the locale in which youth and adults offer their gifts for something greater than themselves. SERVE volunteers and participants are the needed characters in a much larger, gospel-centered story of love and transformation.

Youth are an integral part of Gallatin Valley SERVE. Consider a large tapestry—one larger than the size of a tall Dutch man! This aesthetically pleasing piece of art conveys a message as you soak in its magnitude. Step a little closer, and you begin to notice the detail of this magnificent work. Step even closer yet, and you notice how small strands of thread comprise this masterpiece. Students are some important strands of the thread that comprise GV SERVE.

Before GV SERVE came into existence, three “youth”, functioning as adult leaders, led a group on SERVE to Sioux Falls, SD. Ranging from 22 to 25 years old at the time, these three individuals returned to the Gallatin Valley with a conviction to host SERVE. Support for SERVE quickly expanded to include: area councils, high school students and many adults. Preparations were underway.

Since the inception, youth keep the pulse of GV SERVE beating, possibly even racing! On our day away, students want to summit a mountain. Their effort to conquer the high elevation is motivation for our adults to keep up! Students can step out of their comfort zone in order to engage the opportunities that are part of Montana. Conversation around the supper table can get quite loud in the Fellowship Hall as stories of relationships and service are swapped. Singing, clapping and dancing are expressed in evening worship, in both a church sanctuary and an alpine shoreline. Students from different churches in Montana join with peers from across North America to enter into a story that is much greater than themselves. All the while, adult volunteers and leaders have the privilege of learning from and growing with these important strands of thread.

I have the privilege of seeing both youth and adults integrate their gifts with Christ’s work in Montana. GV SERVE keeps the eyes of our Host Churches open to our community. With wide eyes, our congregations are able to engage the Gallatin Valley in continued and new ways because of the SERVE participants. However, the Gallatin Valley is only a small part of the large tapestry that God is weaving.

Youth are empowered at SERVE to live a transformed life of love and service at home. After seeing a new community and joining in Kingdom service during SERVE, adults and students have an opportunity to enter God’s redemptive story in their church, community and family. Some SERVE participants return home to provide support for a local non-profit. Some seek reconciliation with a parent or friend. Others allow the grace of Christ to shape their view of self.

Gallatin Valley SERVE has taught us that whether we are on SERVE or at home, we can continue to offer ourselves as thread, purposed and placed by the master weaver, Jesus Christ.

To connect with Gallatin Valley SERVE, click here to visit their Facebook page.

Don’t Eat the Last Twinky

The following post is from How to Plan a Mission Trip. To view the original post, click here.

For years, I have invited long term missionaries to the trainings I do with short termers. One story in particular stood out… the missionary recounted how the remoteness of their field left little room for luxury. Each time they returned to the USA, they brought back a package of Twinkies for the freezer. On a family member’s birthday, they pulled one out… put a candle in it… and sang Happy Birthday.

One summer, a short term team came. The missionaries offered the typical “mi casa es su casa” to the team but were horrified a few days later when one of their children ran in blurting through tears “They ate the WHOLE Twinkies package!”

Undoubtedly, the short term missionary was hungry for a late night snack, walked to the fridge and said to a teammate “Dude, they have Twinkies in here! Want one?” One simple act of inconsideration obliterated a year’s stash of birthday hope.

Short term missions can easily deflate, discourage and undermine the work of a long term missionary. How do you make sure that your team does the opposite on your visit? Here are a few principles to follow.

1. Go as a servant rather than a consumer. Ask short term participants to discuss how they would want a guest to behave in their own home. Then ask them to apply these thoughts to their stay as a guest with the missionary.

2. Let the missionary set the pace. Sometimes a short term missionary attempts to help by being proactive and creates more work for the host. Show your willingness to help, but let the missionary tell you what to do, how much and when.

3. Remember, they may want something different. It may be that help with the dishes is far less important than the enjoyment of carrying on a full conversation in English. Missionaries have physical and emotional needs that result from their location and service. Be sensitive to these needs and try to meet them, even if they are not so obvious at first glance.

Faces of ThereforeGo – Winter 2016

The following is an excerpt from our Winter 2016 Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here

Aaron Au

Q. Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning?

A. One of the incredible Farmer’s Markets that we have in Edmonton. I love the local produce and goods.

Q. What’s your favorite place to meet with students, and why?

A. I often meet students (or anyone for that matter) at our local, neighbourhood coffee shop, the Carrot Arts Coffeehouse. Our neighbourhood plays such an integral role in the lives of my wife and me and our church plant and the Carrot is one of the hubs of our neighbourhood. In a community that is struggling to overcome poverty and crime, it’s fun to bring people into a warm, safe, inviting place and show them what our neighbourhood is really about!

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. I’ve been loving the many resources that Tim Keller has on the Gospel in Life website and their new YouTube channel. I’m learning how, as a church planter, the message I preach and the ministry I live has to be grounded in the truth and expressed in love and grace in a way that makes sense for the culture we’re in and connects with people’s hearts.

Q. What do you do in your free time?

A. I love my sports! I play goalie in ice hockey and also enjoy cheering for the Blue Jays.

Annika Bangma

Q. Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning?

A. On my family’s farm, having coffee with my husband, parents, and grandfather – and planning out weekend projects; which could include anything from fixing fences, to mucking out a chicken coop, to refinishing antique furniture.

Q. What do you do to stay relevant to youth?

A. I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, I don’t have to do much to “stay relevant”. I simply need to form caring relationships with students and they will KEEP me relevant (and they are also quick to let me know when I’m missing the mark)! In practice, this means taking a caring but “unknowing” stance and letting them see that I am actively looking to learn about their world – asking them things that aren’t immediately obvious to me about their choices, likes/dislikes, etc.; and showing up at the events they are involved in (concerts, games, etc.).

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. The list of ThereforeGo Serve Outcomes. 2016 will be the first summer that our church is hosting Serve in many years, and we are utilizing the Outcomes to set the tone for our entire ministry year.

Q. Where would you like to travel someday?

A. My husband and I have a goal of visiting every United States National Park in our lifetime. Sixteen down, forty-three to go!

Natasha Veder

Q. What do you do to stay relevant to youth?

A. I talk to my own youth! It’s more important to me to know what my own students are into than the general teen population, so I find out what movies they’re watching, what music they listen to and attend some of their sports games and school performances.

Q. Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning?

A. The first place you’d want to look would be my couch or kitchen at home. If I’m not there, check my local independent coffee shop, a nearby thrift store or I might be hiking one of BC’s beautiful mountains!

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden

Q. What is one website that you visit every day?

A. Facebook – I get world news updates, updates on my students lives, learn about youth ministry resources from my colleagues in other churches and can keep in touch one-on-one or in small groups with my students.

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

The following is an excerpt from our Winter, 2016 Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here

An Introduction to the 2016 Serve Theme Adapted from the 2016 Spiritual Life Guide

I can remember my friends saying that over and over in my life. Sometimes it was with wide eyes, searching to see how I was going to cope with tremendous pain; like the time I was 9 and tried to jump my bike over some barrels – epic wipeout. Or the time I was running hurdles in high school, miss stepped and face planted into the track. Other times they could hardly get the words out, because they were laughing hysterically; like the time I embarrassed myself in front of the new girl.

Once I overheard my dad whisper that phrase to my mom after I was recognized for an achievement. He knew that it’s not just the negative things that leave a mark. Affirmation, positive circumstances and good relationships also connect deeply within us and leave a mark of confidence and strength.

Just walking through everyday life we encounter people and circumstances that leave a mark on us. Some are hurt like a bruise. Some are good and show up in a smile. Some are as obvious as a new tattoo and some are hidden deep and unshared.

Through the book of Mark we see Jesus Christ walking through everyday life with people. He helps them identify hurtful marks this world has left on them through circumstances, misplaced values, wrong philosophies, bad decisions, negative relationships, etc. Through love and grace he gives understanding, forgiveness and wisdom. If they follow him, those marks are healed and even, as mind boggling as this is, can be redeemed for strength and used to build wisdom and confidence in others.

Jesus also identifies strengths and abilities, uniqueness and character traits that reflect God’s image. From a little boy with a lunch to the old neglected woman, he is quick to identify positive traits (marks) and whisper that God the Father approves.

Through a study on the book of Mark, we hope that students will allow Jesus to walk with them through their lives, redeeming the difficult times and leading them into making a positive mark on others, their community and this world.

A key prayer we pray is that they will have friends who walk with Christ and with them, through difficult times, wide eyed, helping them work through the pain. And friends who also see their incredible God-given potential and can whisper that their Heavenly Father approves.

The purpose of the 2016 curriculum is to enable students to encounter the person of Jesus Christ in very real ways during their time at Serve. Held in tandem with their ministry of service, relationships with peers and mentoring from small group leaders, this curriculum will allow students of all places in the walk of faith to meet more fully a Savior who humbly came to serve so that his love would be poured out for us.  

Now I Know

by Tim Ryan
Director of Junior High Ministries
West Shore Evangelical Free Church

The following is an excerpt from our Winter 2016 Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

I was blessed with the opportunity to take a group of senior high student mentors and special needs students to the Fruitland Special Needs Serve in July. As a youth pastor, I’ve had many opportunities to take students on mission trips, but I’ve never experienced anything quite like a Special Needs Serve!

First, we experienced the embrace of the entire church family. I was personally blown away by the commitment to the success of the week by a large portion of the church body. They had thought of every little detail and were so sensitive to the needs of the visiting team members throughout the week. As I talked with one of the host church volunteers, I discovered that he and his wife had taken the entire week off from work so they and their two girls could serve our team through transportation, meal preparation, small group lessons and more!

As the week progressed, it became apparent that many others in that small church had made tremendous sacrifices to make it all happen. Everyone on our team felt cared for—as if we were visiting family for the entire week! This was evident when Adam, one of my students, was referring to the hosts as brother, sister, mom and dad!

The host team also did a phenomenal job finding worksites that were very meaningful; yet adaptable to special needs team members. It was a joy to watch special needs students and their student peer mentors working side-by-side helping ministries do the work of Jesus’ hands and feet. In some cases, that meant sorting and prepping eyeglasses and hygiene supplies for shipment around the world. In other cases, it meant preparing fresh produce and packaged foods for distribution in the community. In every case, we were blessed to learn more about the agencies we worked with and the impact they make for God’s Kingdom.

On our last night, our site leader asked the peer mentors to finish the statement, “I used to think ______, but now I know _______” (regarding students with special needs). The answers that my students gave to that one question alone spoke volumes to just how deeply God used the week of Serve to stretch and grow their faith. One student related how previously she thought that students with special needs couldn’t really fully understand God or worship him in a deep or meaningful way. Now, as a result of her special needs Serve experience, she knows that students with special needs are blessed by God to connect with him directly without many of the self-conscious barriers that she came to recognize in her own relationship with God.

Toward the end of the long van ride home, I asked the students about next year. Every single one expressed a desire to do it again if they have the opportunity!

The Call for Help

For me, it’s still typically unexpected, the call for help. I don’t know why I am not quite used to it yet. After I’ve met a need or given assistance, when I am riding the high of the Holy Spirit convicting me of righteousness, I wonder why I don’t intentionally listen for it more.

Why wouldn’t I walk through my daily life, moment by moment, looking for ways to help others, watching for opportunities, and anticipating the moment when they ask?

I know my life is not my own. I was bought with a price and it’s no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me. (I Corinthians 6; Galatians 2) For years I’ve been reminded that Christ took on the form of a servant and I should as well (Philippians 2).

At any given moment I know my agenda and schedule must flex in submission to the Holy Spirit and his desire to work through me to care for others, but I consistently need to shrug off the human nature and the culture of my current planet in order to exhibit Christ in me. He would and he wants to answer the call for help through me.

I have to remind myself that my real homeland is where he rules and reigns and at any given moment Christ may have a different agenda or schedule than I do.

Along with my personal pursuit in this area, we have a corporate or Kingdom call for help. Maybe your youth group can be a part of flexing their summer schedule in order to care for others in:

  1. Roselawn, Indiana – (6/25-7/2). This Host Church has an astounding community outreach. When I was there last summer, I met so many new followers of Christ. Adults who said, “You would not have wanted to know me three years ago, but by God’s grace I am new…”.
  2. Ripon, California – (7/9-7/16). A couple congregations have multiplied their strengths and coordinate a vibrant connection to the streets through a church planter and a city mission, among other work sites.
  3. Austin, Texas – This Host Church is willing to take groups just about any time for Spring Break or for a summer trip. The congregation is a community of entrepreneurs, musicians, homeless persons, business people, etc. all coming together for God’s grace and hope and taking it into the streets and community.

The Host Churches in these communities are calling for your help. Would you take a group of students to assist them in reaching their community for Christ?

Adam Settle Serves

Adam Settle was born with a rare metabolic disease, Cobalamine-C dysfunction, that prevents him from effectively metabolizing protein, which may result in damage to neurological systems including eyesight and brain function.

Despite his underlying medical struggles, Adam approaches life with a can-do attitude, believing there is little he cannot accomplish. His spirit has touched the hearts of many in the community. He is considered by some to be a mascot for the Northern York High School, encouraging the players and students as a coach, physical trainer and security guard. As a freshman, he was featured as a guest player for the varsity football, basketball and volleyball teams.

Adam Serves | Youth Unlimited | Teen Summer Missions

Despite being legally blind, Adam loves to participate in ball sports, ride his bike and paint. Adam has developed a small following of patrons. Of his many abstract paintings, the most sought after are: Sandy – the Hurricane, Meadow with Flowers, Stained Glass, Sunset and Roosters.

Jerry Meadows of Youth Unlimited, spoke with Adam about his experience this past year at Serve, and the following conversation was recorded:

Why did you want to go on this Serve?

I’ve never been on a mission trip with a church team and everyone else in my family has. I have 7 brothers and sisters and they’ve been to Honduras, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, the UAE, etc. My family is on a mission for Christ and I wanted to go.

I have traveled a lot and even went to Cambodia on a family trip a few years ago but this was different. I got to go with my church and my peers.

What was your favorite worksite on Serve?

Two of them were pretty good. At one, we sorted eyeglasses, and eyeglasses mean a lot to me since I am legally blind. Those glasses were going to people who couldn’t buy them or people in another country that couldn’t get them. At another work site, we sorted donated food.

Honestly, for some of the days I did not feel good at all. I was very hot and that made me tired. The Host Church and team took really good care of me and made sure I rested enough and kept encouraging me to do what I could but not push myself.

What do you do in your free time?

Well, I never have free time (laughing). I’m always doing art. I’m doing full time art – full time business and full time school. I like to keep busy.

Do you enjoy any sports?

Football, basketball, volleyball, soccer – all of them. Some of them I play, but I help the trainer and encourage the players.

What kind of art or business do you do?

I had gotten several commissions to do art for individuals and some for companies or churches. A couple that I know from church are actually flying me to Florida to do a beach painting for them.

I started a business called, Adam Art.

Any last thoughts on Serve?

It was a great feeling to experience it with my friends and make new friends.

I had so much fun at Serve.

Life Changing Serve

Three high school students from Ferry Memorial Reformed Church in Montague, MI attended Huron Serve in July of 2015.

Sure, they enjoyed getting to know some new Canadian friends and trying poutine for the first time, but they also allowed Serve to change their life in larger ways. Many of the work projects at Huron Serve were in small rural communities. As one student, Seth, experienced working with people in rural poverty, he said, “Serve opened my eyes to see lots of people in need in areas you wouldn’t think there would be a need – in a small town”. A freshman, Cecilia, adds, “I didn’t realize so many people were in need”.

Huron Serve encouraged students and leaders to look at the world through someone else’s eyes and to build relationships with those they came to work alongside. The youth leader, Mike, appreciated this aspect of Serve. “I thought I was helping others before (in other service projects), but it was more about making me feel good about myself, not thinking about how they feel”. Seth agreed that treating someone with dignity and getting to know them is important, and he says, “It is more than giving someone on the street a bottled water, it is sitting down and drinking water with a person.”

A senior (now a college Freshman), Lauren’s, experience with Serve was one reason she changed her major from English to Social Work. She has always had a big heart for people on the margins, but her experiences at Serve working with homeless and people living on the edge of poverty helped her realize what she really wanted to do.

As a leader, I am enthusiastic about my Serve experience. I took three quiet, introverted students with prayerful confidence that they would be enfolded by their small group teams and find a place to belong and to serve. I appreciate that the the Serve experiences I have been on emphasized a relationship with God at the core of all we do – including serving others. We are encouraged to treat all people with dignity and respect. The feeling wasn’t that the volunteers come with answers or even with “help”, but that we work together; in fact, getting to know someone and hearing their story may be the “help” that we both need most.

Fall “Faces of ThereforeGo” Part 2

The following is an excerpt from the ThereforeGo Fall Magazine. To read more, click here.

Zan Ingalls

Q. What do you do to stay relevant to youth?

A. Having three children, ages 20, 18 and 15, keeps me relevant. I get to learn the lingo of the day. Also, working at a juvenile detention center with ages 13-19 gives me a definite inside scoop. I listen to their music and watch their shows and have open, candid dialogue with them. I intentionally ask them questions about why they do what they do, why they think like they think and what their motivation is. I have literally asked them what I can do to impact their peers. Their responses have shaped how I deal with the youth of the day.

Q. I never leave for youth group without my _____

A. ability to be flexible. I plan what I am going to say, and in some cases send the “planned” talk ahead. Sometimes what I’ve planned gives way to what God plans. In youth ministry (and ministry in general), nothing can shock you!

Q. What resource has inspired you for ministry lately?

A. Purpose Driven Youth Ministry and Soaring with Eagles have inspired me. These books have blessed me to open my mind and perspective as to how to be a blessing to this generation.

Q. What do you do in your free time?

A. I like bowling, playing in the water (beach or pool), roller coaster rides, spending time with family, watching a good movie, cooking and trying new restaurants with Liane. I have also written two books and am working on a third.

Q. Where would you like to travel someday?

A. I would love to go to Africa.

Devin and Gaby Mulder

Q. If your students described you in five words or less, what would they say?

A. That’s easy! “Devin and Gaby are crazy!” We hear this just about every week, but they continue to come and bring their friends, so we assume it’s a positive thing.

Q. What do you do in your free time?

A. In the little free time we have, I love to sew clothes for myself and Devin engineers tall bikes (a double-frame bike that sits five feet tall).

Q. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for a youth group fundraiser?

A. Our craziest youth ministry fundraiser is the Chili Cook-Off Dinner and Auction, which raises funds for sending kids to Serve. Directing 40+ teens while trying to put on a nice dinner for the congregation usually feels like being at a zoo where they’ve opened all the cages! Even in the chaos, it ends up being one of the best fundraisers of the year and the teens always work really hard to make the event a hit.

Q. Where would you like to travel someday?

A. We’ve both had the privilege of traveling around the world, so our next dream visit would be to Nepal. It sounds a little cliché right now since everyone is going to help with earthquake trauma (which is totally valid), but Devin’s best friend has taken several mission trips there and is now moving to Nepal long term. We want to plan a trip to witness the seeds he has sown in that country.

Q. What is one website you visit every day?

A. If I’m being totally honest, Pinterest has me tied around its finger. I’ll usually look at Pinterest more often than my emails. Devin enjoys passing time with a good laugh, so he usually watches comedic videos on YouTube.

Students | Churches | Faith-Forming Experiences

The following is an excerpt from the Youth Unlimited Fall Magazine. To read more, click here.

Wow… where did that year go? With each passing year, I am forced to admit that my parents were right when they said, “the older you get the faster time flies”!

As we step into a new church ministry year, I’m praying God has refueled your passion for him and the students in your church and community! It is critical you have those in the right order—passion for Christ and then a passion for students. If those are in the reverse order, you will be ministering to students from your own strength and come this winter, you will be worn out, with a passion that went from a roaring fire to a few remaining embers. So please, start this year by investing in your relationship with Christ.

Our team has been working hard the past several months, preparing for the upcoming church year. We, again, have over 30 churches hosting Serve. The majority will be for high school age youth groups, but we will also have middle school and special needs sites too!

This past summer we assisted churches in a new way, customizing the Serve experience for those that maybe needed a shorter experience or the ability to broaden the age group to include younger and older participants. We’re glad to have been able to better serve churches in that way, and we look forward to continuing to meet the needs of more churches next summer as well.

The speakers and devotional material at each of our experiences next summer will be taking the students into the book of Mark, enabling students to encounter the person of Jesus Christ in very real ways during their time at Serve. Held in tandem with their ministry of service, relationships with peers and mentoring from small group leaders, this curriculum will allow students of all places in the walk of faith to meet more fully a Savior who humbly came to serve so that his love would be poured out for us!

As you begin making plans to get this ministry year kicked off, please remember that we are here for you! Our ministry exists to further the Kingdom with students, churches and faith-forming experiences, and we would welcome the opportunity to assist you in any way we can. So, whether you are in Canada or America or from somewhere between the east coast and west coast, we are here for you.

Humbled to serve you in ministry,

Jeff Kruithof

Executive Director

Youth Unlimited

PS – Youth Unlimited was blessed this summer to watch the Holy Spirit work in the lives of so many students through Serve and Live It! To read those stories and testimonies and see pictures, be sure to check out our blog, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

A Look Back at Brighton Serve 2015

The following is a reflection on Brighton Serve 2015 by Linda Jeronimus:
“As the Father has sent me, so I send  you.  Receive now the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21b
Our church responded “Here I am (we are) Lord.”
From prayer shawl makers, prayer partners, kitchen help, worksite volunteers, creative Gems, encouraging words, those who donated food and items needed to make our church home to 40 youth and leaders, to the sound and overhead booth experts, the clean up crews, the tech savvy, drivers, financial help, to the host team planners, what an amazing church response! Brighton Fellowship showed what Serve is all about! Our church family embraced the teams that came in and encouraged them to go out as we are called.
We sure did not do this alone. We thank Ajax Serve for letting us job shadow last summer. In February, a group of us attended Youth Unlimited’s Summit in Grand Rapids where ideas and encouragement were shared by all. (Thanks also to Alesha and Jerry for keeping us on track, you helped make our first year as a host team a very positive experience! Please know that you are an important part of our team!)
And now, we had a great week! Gord Park was our speaker for the week and our worship band was FMReset. Together they shared their gifts through words, thoughts and ideas, testimonies and music – inspiring!
During the days we worked at different homes in Brighton and Colborne through an organization called Community Care. Much of the work in Brighton was painting, yard work, some renovation work and light construction. We also had a chance to offer a free car wash with the Fire Department donating all the supplies needed. On Friday, we had a Food Bank Drive at No-Frills with many shoppers picking up groceries to fill up the van. The Food Bank sent us a thank you note for the large supply of food and money donated. Great job to the youth and leaders for helping feed the hungry!
One of our jobs was in the Frankford area, getting an old building ready to set up for a Community Partners for Success program. The building was nothing special to look at on Monday but by Friday there were fresh painted walls and a finished mural at the front entrance!
Another one of our jobs was the New Life Girls Home, a home for young women struggling with issues. A Serve team worked one day and were invited to come back and be treated to lunch the next!
We learned to be flexible. We had a really neat opportunity to be part of a community track event. We showered everyday at the local high school and for the first time the community was hosting a twilight track event with a steeplechase run.  Some of our youth and leaders wanted to participate so…..everything got shifted 20 minutes and we all put on our Serve t-shirts and cheered our youth and leaders. It reminded me of running the race set before us with a “cloud of witnesses”!
Lives were changed and the Lord breathed his Spirit into all who were here. Youth and leaders shared how the Lord changed their hearts and made them stretch in ways they could not imagine.
Below are just a couple excerpts of some of the notes we received:
From Heather – “What a wonderful service you have initiated to show God’s love in the community. I have been blessed by the wonderful people who have worked diligently to fix up my home. I am more grateful to them and all the people at your church who have contributed to this wonderful service to God and the communities you have helped.” Heather gave all the youth at her place little gifts, it felt like Christmas! She has no money and still gave gifts and a donation to us for next year.
From Alice – “To everyone, I had a wonderful time with all the young people also the leader Eric, it was a wonderful day. I got all my windows nice and clean.” (Alice has come to church every Sunday since.) One of the youth sent a beautiful letter to her prayer partner, an elderly lady and one of the youth also sent a beautiful letter to Alice. Both these women are sharing the letters with others to read!
We also received a thank you from John, a youth leader from Flint, Michigan who has no support from his church. Two of his youth committed their hearts to the Lord during Serve and John was overwhelmed. He told me I had to tell our church that he was truly encouraged by the love and support of our congregation and said, “This church is Spirit filled – it is so obvious.” He told us he was going back encouraged to continue to work with the youth and share the good news of Jesus!
I can go on and on, we were so blessed and we thank the Lord that others were blessed through us.
God has an amazing way of using our plans to change hearts. It was all in his plan from the beginning. We were overwhelmed.
Thanks to the Lord for all He has done!


After Serve – The Other 51

What do people experience after Serve?

A lot of people who go on Serve find that they are:
1. More thankful for what they have and want to be more generous with it. After meeting people with great needs and seeing God as the Provider we need to practice giving thanks in all circumstances and giving all we have back to him.
2. Quicker to pray about just about everything. Be ready for the Holy Spirit to prompt you and be obedient. You might have had a very close connection to God on Serve – keep it by praying without ceasing.
3. Emotional about worship and changed lives. Fan the flame beyond your emotions to a place of deep transformation and conviction. Make worshipping and caring for others what your life is all about.
4. Ready to serve in his/her own backyard. Sometimes volunteering close to home doesn’t seem as exciting but it is where we can truly be in community and see God work consistently. Grow to a place of maturity where serving others becomes exciting because that’s what God is doing and not just because that’s what your friend is doing or there is a trip involved.
5. In a spiritual battle. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you got home and messed up somehow. Set your attention and your affection back on God (Colossians 3:1,2) and be sure to stay close to your youth group or a couple friends from church for the rest of the year.

To those who were at Serve this past summer, continue to Serve the other 51 weeks!