Pray Like it Depends on God

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

I’ve heard the saying, “You work like it depends on you and you pray like it depends on God.” I’m not sure about the theology of that statement, but it sure does reflect the past nine months of activity for Youth Unlimited.

The Youth Unlimited staff and our 28 SERVE teams are in full preparation mode for SERVE 2017. 1,500 students and leaders will converge at 28 host churches to serve their communities on behalf of God and that local church. Throughout their week, students will worship, study scripture, see a broken world in need of Christ and love the people in those communities. In the process, they will discover the Holy Spirit is also wanting to connect with them, often times changing the course of their lives forever!

When SERVE is done right, it is a win/win/win scenario for students, connecting them to Christ, the Church and communities. In this issue of the Youth Unlimited magazine, you will read stories of God’s blessing on each of those. You will also get a behind the scenes view of the preparation being put in by our SERVE teams in order to better create a space for those connections to be made.

Though I am already looking forward to sharing the amazing stories that develop through SERVE 2017, would you join me and the Youth Unlimited team in praying for the participants, churches and communities involved this summer? Would you pray for the participants to remain safe and in good health, for local churches to build lasting bridges to their communities, for spiritual growth and maturity of everyone involved and, most importantly, for Jesus Christ to be glorified through SERVE 2017?

We know SERVE can be an integral part of a student’s faith formation, and we look forward to the countless opportunities ahead for students to find God at their SERVE experiences. This is why we take our work so seriously, and, more importantly, this is why we depend on God.

Grateful to partner in ministry with you,

Jeff Kruithof

Shout it Aloud

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.” –Isaiah 58:1a

May this be your prayer, today and every day:

God, you are holy, loving and just. I want to walk with you in the adventure of transforming this world. Pursuing justice and caring for the poor are central to your heart and will be integral to the way I think, pray, act, hope, believe, work, spend, live, and love.


I will seek to help a community of people (my church) live out the full gospel message. We will share the good news of Jesus in both word and deed. We long to serve together as a worldwide alliance of Christ followers in unprecedented unity with our families and friends, in our neighborhoods and communities and with people around the world.


 Thanks to for the use of the icons and this suggested prayer. 

Who We Are in Christ

For more than a year the staff of Youth Unlimited prepared for this past summer. We prayed that students who attended a Youth Unlimited experience would come to understand that what we do grows out of who we are in Christ, and that being in Christ changes us and our actions.


Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” This Scripture was the focus of study at 27 Serve sites and at The Chicago Project in 2013. Last summer we were also grateful to roll out our second Live It experience. All total, approximately 2,000 youth and leaders sought to bring hope to a broken world with the love of Jesus Christ through one of our experiences.


We continue to pray that the work of their hands and the words of their mouths will ripple from the churches and communities they served outwards across North America and beyond. Please join us in praying that through their service the Holy Spirit will continue to move in the hearts of each student and will bring about a faith that impacts every aspect of their lives.


It is hard to believe that 2013 is now over and a new church ministry year is upon us, but it is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we remind you once again of our faith-forming experience opportunities for 2014! During these experiences students are going to dive in to the message of Isaiah 58. This Scripture and this year’s theme, Divine Normal: Kingdom Living By Mere Mortals, will confront apathy, empty religion and indifference to the needs of others. This is God’s call, his heart’s cry for his people, that they use their God-given potential to help those in need.


As youth workers responsible for assisting youth in their faith formation, please know that Youth Unlimited is here to help you. Much thought, many prayers, lots of work and hundreds of volunteers are eager to partner with you in the coming year.

Share Your Story

It was 4:00 PM, and I found myself sitting in the Arby’s on South Washington, my heart pounding, my hands shaky and my mouth dry as a cork. For the first time in my life I was inviting a student to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


If you were raised as I was, sharing your faith story or testimony with someone may be a foreign idea—something only done by missionaries. In 1 Peter 3:15 it says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”


It’s easy to understand why sharing our faith can be a fearful experience. There is risk involved. We could be thought of as a fanatic, or perceived as thinking we are better than others, or accused of being judgmental, and yet Christ desires us to show and share his love to the world—in our case, to students.


Telling others about Jesus does not have to be scary, though. For example, if I asked you to tell me about the time you lost a loved one, or how you coped with being laid off, or how you survived a difficult class in school, I know you could, and I’m guessing you might even highlight how Jesus helped you through it. When we are able to walk alongside those (students) struggling with similar life experiences, there will be natural opportunities to share your story and Jesus’ role in it. In the context of a real, authentic relationship, sharing your life story gives your students (believing or unbelieving) glimpses of hope in a world devoid of hope apart from Jesus Christ.


Back at Arby’s . . . I’ll never forget his quick, yet monotone response: “No thank you.” What Lord? Really? NO? I stepped out in faith, was obedient, and this is what I get—a NO! How could this be? Later that evening I was reminded that I have the opportunity to tell others about Jesus, but he has the responsibility to change hearts. That young man had not said no to me; he had said no to Jesus. Thankfully, Jesus does not always accept our first responses. God had helped me to plant a seed in this young man’s life, and only God could bring that seed of faith to bear fruit in his perfect timing. Even though the student’s response was not the one I had been praying for, it was the most alive I had ever felt as a Christ follower!


This summer as you find yourself on a faith-forming experience like Serve or Live It, ask yourself if God has placed someone in the group that needs to hear about Jesus through your story. My guess is that the answer will be yes! I hope that the articles and information on the following pages will be a blessing to you as you prepare. It’s also my prayer that God will help you discern the Holy Spirit’s whispers this summer, and give you the boldness to step out in faith.


When God blesses you with the opportunity to help someone invite Jesus into their life, here are some Scriptures verses you might find helpful. Start by writing John 3:3,7 in the notes section of your Bible, and then go underline those verses. In the margin near John 3:7, write Romans 3:23, and then go underline that passage as well. Continue this process in order using the following passages: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19, John 3:36, John 1:12, and Revelations 3:20. These are basic verses that will help your friend make an informed decision on whether on not to accept Jesus into their life. As you end with Revelation 3:20, “I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in,” you can ask if they want to invite Christ into their heart.