It’s hard to believe SERVE 2017 is behind us and the planning for SERVE 2018 is under way!
We are excited to unveil the theme for SERVE 2018, Love God – Love the World, in this issue of the Youth Unlimited Magazine. In Luke 4:18-19 it says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Through our SERVE sites next summer, we long with great anticipation to see students discover Christ for the first time or in a fresh new way and then empower them to reflect his love in this broken world!
However, before we dive too far into SERVE 2018, we’ll take some time in this issue to reflect on a few of the moments of transformation that have already happened to students at SERVE. You’ll read about when the Holy Spirit moved in a student’s life at SERVE through the article SERVE Shoes and when the Holy Spirit visited a man living on the streets through a group of students in the article The Name of Love.
When you think about all the students who participate each summer, all the volunteers at each SERVE Site that plan the week and all the
adult leaders that take the students on a SERVE week, it is clear that God really does use SERVE to make a great impact on this world each summer.
Youth Unlimited is blessed to partner with you through SERVE to connect students with Christ, the Church and the Community.
This is an excerpt from the Fall 2017 magazine. To read more CLICK HERE.
When we brought the SERVEant back we talked a lot in the office about if we should give it a name or not. We thought that some people might ask so we should come up with a plan. We decided that we would take all of our 2017 student registrations and find the most common name of the year and that is what we would pick for our ant.
However, before we tell you what that name is we have something else to say. The spirit of the SERVEant is that there cannot be just one. Ants live in community and so do we. That being said we are only naming our office SERVEant. What you call yours is totally up to you. Below you will see a link to a printable SERVEant. We would love to see how you are serving at home throughout the year! Go ahead and print one off, give it a name of your own, and share pictures on social media with #SERVEant. Let’s see our ant community at work!
This summer at SERVE 2018, the Theme for our youth group mission trips will be Love God, Love The World. Below are our Key Passage and Key Thought behind this curriculum.
>> Key Passage:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
>> Key Thought:
Jesus begins his ministry in Luke’s Gospel by going to the synagogue where he reads from the book of Isaiah. When he finishes, he calmly sits down, and tells those sitting there, “All of this is being fulfilled right in front of your very eyes.” For Luke, this passage from Isaiah is a snapshot of God’s mission to the world. In Jesus Christ, God has come to save us from our sin, to restore our relationship with him, but the good news is more than that.
The gospel is good news for those who suffer, it is good news for those living in poverty and racism, it is good news for people struggling with slavery and bondage in every form. In that synagogue, some 2,000 years ago, Jesus tells us that he has come to reveal God’s love for a world that desperately needs to be reminded of who we are and who we were created to be.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells many parables that imaginatively tell us what it looks like when God is in charge. These are stories that show us what God is like, how much God loves us and how much God cares about our lives in this world. They also show us that Jesus asks all of us to become his disciples so we can participate in this mission by showing others a small sign of God’s love.
In each of the parables, we will read this week, we see how loving God always leads to loving our neighbor. Within the parable of the good Samaritan, we’ll see how loving God means “coming near” to those in need. In the parable of the prodigal son, we’ll encounter God’s reckless love that runs out to meet his children. We’ll hear about what it means to “eat” with sinners and tax collectors and how it is in loving our neighbor that Jesus most often appears. After all, this is what this week is all about—participating in God’s mission to the world by loving our neighbor. This week, we invite you to follow Jesus by coming near to those who need to hear the good news of God’s love and grace. Our hope is that Jesus will appear to you in ways you never expected!
As I’ve heard it said many times, God’s timing is always perfect. I found this true once again through an email from Nicole Jackson, the Youth and Retreat Center Coordinator at St. Thomas Reformed Church (STRC) in the US Virgin Islands. Their church has just completed building a retreat center and they are excited to begin hosting groups. Having received SERVE postcards in the past, she sent an email earlier this summer to explore the possibility of hosting a SERVE in St. Thomas,
Through several emails, Skype conversations, and prayer, we feel God has brought us together to partner through SERVE in 2018. Little did we know at the time of our initial conversations that two hurricanes would hit St. Thomas with such devastation. Below is a note from STRC following the hurricanes on September 25:
“St. Thomas Reformed Church has been coordinating on the ground relief efforts. Our church undercroft that had just been renovated flooded not once, but twice. Yet miraculously, all roofs remained intact and our sanctuary, offices and new retreat center remained usable and dry (relatively!). Our sanctuary is being used as a staging ground, storage area and distribution site for essential supplies that are extremely scarce on the island right now. We have partnered with the Salvation Army and My Brother’s Workshop (MBW) in a free feeding program. Originally, the goal of MBW was to serve at least 500 meals a day. One day last week, MBW staff and volunteers served 957! (You can check out more info about MBW by visiting their website at http://www.mybrothersworkshop.org/ or their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MyBrothersWorkshop
On the Sunday immediately following Hurricane Irma, our church gathered to worship – no power, no sound system, no printed bulletin, but many, many grateful hearts and hands ready to serve. Still with limited gas, impassable roads, horrible traffic, limited cell service and an island-wide curfew it took days to locate and check on all of the church’s families. Miraculously the church has regained power but for most of the island’s residents, it will be 9-12 months before they have electricity and running water. Supermarkets can only be open during certain hours resulting in outrageous lines. Coupled with the tremendous blow to our tourism-based economy, many on the island literally cannot access supplies and resources needed to survive including water, food, infant needs and basic hygiene items.”
Even with all the devastation from two hurricanes, STRC is committed and excited to host SERVE this coming June. An experienced SERVE host church will be sending their youth group in June to assist STRC in hosting their first SERVE experience, hopefully setting them up well to host many more groups in the future! As I observe and listen to all that STRC is doing under such adverse conditions, I’m confident they will have much to teach and share with Youth Unlimited and those who head down to the island for SERVE, just as each of our other SERVE sites do!
If your youth group is looking for a way to care for and support the work of a local church ministering in the wake of the hurricanes, you can learn more and partner with STRC as seen below:
Ways to Donate (any monetary donations to St. Thomas Reformed Church are tax deductible):
Mail a check payable to St. Thomas Reformed Church – PO Box 301769, St. Thomas VI 00803. Please add in Memo: Hurricane Relief.
Also, STRC is humbled by the outpouring of support and offer of volunteer crews. If you have a desire to come to St. Thomas and work on this effort, please contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know many of you may not be on Facebook, but I encourage you to visit their page periodically (it is a public page, so you don’t even need a Facebook account to view it). On the page, you can follow their transformational journey, fully replete with highs and lows and just as many miracles. Here is the link for that: https://www.facebook.com/stthomasreformedchurch/