A Reflection on SERVE@Home

We have been living in a time when plans have been canceled or postponed at the speed of sound. One day we were sorting out the details about going away on SERVE and excitedly coming home from the Leadership Summit, then a week later, we were hunkering down for a 6-month lock-in. We didn’t foresee this.

It was/is hard, this new world. If there was a glimmer of hope for ministry during this time, it came in the form of SERVE@home as a hands-on practical way to, within a COVID reality, still be a model of creative Kingdom hospitality and compassion. 

As a SERVE team at Covenant CRC in Edmonton, Alberta, it was important to remind our church community that in spite of the world seemingly shutting down, the needs of our surrounding communities were still real. 15 students and leaders experienced that first hand.

Each morning we gathered for devotions, listening for what Jesus was saying to each one of us through Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. Powerful messages absorbed through personal reflection to set the pace for the day.

Each reflection tied into what that day had in store for us. Between moving a young family from one home to another, preparing meals for those shut-in and who could not afford food that week, delivering these meals, hosting a COVID-safe BBQ, sorting clothes and toiletries for those in need and the list goes on. As Jesus once said after seeing the crowds of people in need, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”. 

At the end of each day, we listened to each other. The stories of where we saw God and His amazing work in action. 

SERVE@home was an answer to prayer for our church. A community that desperately needed community. Where grace and compassion revealed itself through God’s redemptive story that is as real today as it was when He promised to Abram, “and all nations will be blessed through you”

About the Author: Ron deVries lives in Edmonton, AB, and is the ministry ambassador to ThereforeGo as well as a Regional Catalyst for the office of Faith Formations of the CRCNA.

Faces of YU: Ron

Get to know Ron DeVries from Edmonton, AB

  1. What is your role at Youth Unlimited?

I am the Canadian SERVE Director.

  1. Where are you from, and what brought you to Youth Unlimited?

I am from Alberta, Canada. For the last ten years, I had served as the Youth Ministry Consultant for the Christian Reformed church, Classis Alberta North. Following many conversations with Jeff at Youth Unlimited, we could see how a Canadian Director could be a blessing for Youth Unlimited, who would be working alongside a US Director so we said, let’s try it.

  1. When you were a student, what was the most faith-formational experience you had?

I had grown up in the Christian Reformed Church where our youth group experiences began at age 16 and ended around the age of 25 or when you got married. At the age of 22, I had a friend who died in a car accident and this hit home for me. The fragility of life became so clear and Christ became so powerfully real to me in those days.

  1. What were you most excited about for SERVE 2017?

I was most excited about the possibility of seeing youth from across North America experience the Authentic Communities that God has laid out for our teams.

  1. If you were a student now, what would be your favorite things about SERVE?Ron deVries

The SERVEant and the SERVE 2017 Authentic Community Blend coffee would have been my favorites for 2017. Oh, and the shirts were awesome this year!

  1. What’s your favorite youth group game to play?

Four on the Couch – The purpose of the game is to get everyone from your gender in the four seats on the couch (or position on the floor).

Players sit in a circle. One chair, or spot, in the circle, should be open.

Have everyone write their name on a piece of paper. Collect the papers and pass them out again so that everyone has a paper with someone else’s name on it. Players should not show anyone who they have.

The player to the left of the open spot says someone’s name. Whoever is holding onto the paper with that name must get up and move to the open spot. Then the player who moved must trade papers with the person who called the name.

The player sitting to the left of the new open spot then says the next name and the process continues.

By memorizing who has what name and what the names are of those on the couch, players try to get their gender to occupy all four seats on the couch. When one gender does this successfully, they win.

  1. When you were a student, who was your greatest mentor and why?

My dad was my greatest mentor because of how he lives for Christ.

  1. What’s your favorite late night snack?

Peanut Butter sandwiches.

  1. What type of service project do you love so much that you could do every day?

Working in places that reach out to those who are on the fringes of life. It is hard work, but all of God’s children are important to the kingdom

  1. What’s your favorite vacation spot?



This is an excerpt from the Fall 2017 magazine. To read more stories click here: https://www.thereforego.com/magazine/

The Year I Went To All The Canadian SERVE Sites

By: Ron deVries

The summer of 2017 will forever be etched in my hard drive (and human brain) as the year I thought it would be a cool idea to visit every Canadian SERVE site.

I knew it would be a lot of traveling and although some things prevented me (I am reminded of the two and half hour delay waiting somewhere in the seemingly far reaches of highway between 427 and 403) from spending more time with each of these incredible sites.

Here are a few highlights for me.

  • Watching our host teams in action made me swell up with Christian pride. I witnessed Kingdom people doing Kingdom work and truly reflecting Authentic Community.
  • Visiting various work sites and being inspired by the “Hands and Feet” of so many who GAVE UP a week of their summer to GIVE OF their hearts to God’s children. Amazing!
  • Worship leaders and speakers who ran with this year’s theme using a variety of voices and then collectively, shared a message of hope in all areas of this great land.
  • Finally, hearing stories of God’s sovereign nature and love for this world through students who will forever be changed by these faith forming experiences.

Thank you to all the host teams for a job well done.

God is good.

About Ron:

Ron is the Canadian SERVE Director. He lives in Alberta with his wife and enjoys sailing, motorcycling, hockey, and talking about youth ministry. To learn more about the Youth Unlimited staff click here.

About SERVE:

SERVE youth mission experiences are all-inclusive, five to seven-day trips for middle or high school age students. More than just a short trip, SERVE is a faith-forming experience where the communities, congregations, and students involved all experience lasting transformation. If you are interested in learning more about SERVE and signing up for SERVE 2018 click here.