One thing I love about the YS convention is that no two programs are the same. I really like that things don’t happen the same way at every big room. Last night’s big room was especially unique because there were three speakers and all of them were students. They made it clear that they were not exceptional students (although obviously they are in many ways), but that they could have been any kid in our youth groups. The difference came when someone gave them a chance to serve and see ministry happen first hand.
Jaime Colburn went to Kenya and was inspired to start a ministry called “Walk Humbly” where she collects shoes for people in Kenya. She bases her ministry on Micah 6:8. Her goal was to collect 150 pairs of shoes. She had a barefoot mile at her school and asked people to come and bring shoes to donate and then walk a mile on the track barefoot. Since it started, this ministry has collected 4,200 pairs of shoes.
Zach Hunter was the name I recognized because he has a couple of books out. Zach is a modern day abolitionist and he began an organization called “Loose Change to Loosen Chains.” There are more than 27 MILLION slaves worldwide. If that last sentence didn’t stir something in you or shock you in anyway, you need to read it again until it does. There are 17,500 slaves in the United States. The Emmancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the United States. Zach was outraged about this realization and decided to do something. He took two things that are underestimated–loose change and teenagers–and put them together to end slavery. He estimated that perhaps 2 million dollars has been raised from this campaign.
Jordan Foxworthy had the awesome opportunity to go on a Compassion International trip with her father and visit her family’s sponsor child. While she was there, she learned about the problem of Malaria. Malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa and 20% of the child deaths in Sub-Sahara Africa occur because of Malaria. A mosquito net greatly decreases the chance that a child will contract this disease. Jordan started an organization called Bite Back to send mosquito nets to Africa. It costs $10 to send a mosquito net. Jordan’s organization has raised $600,000.
When asked what advice they had for youthworkers, here are some things they said. They each affirmed that they could have been any kid in our youth groups. They are all shy, sit in the back kind of kids. Zach said that his youth pastor probably didn’t think he was ever paying attention, but he was.
“Give kids the opportunity to see injustice or poverty firsthand.”
“Allow kids to be exposed to real situations.”
Zach quoted Tony Campolo: “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
Zach also said a variation of this: “Youth can tell when you love them. Kids can tell when we view youth ministry as a bigger step to the pulpit. Teach your youth how to love by loving them the way that God does.”