I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Ten.” Write for five minutes; unedited.
On July 12, I began a trek with seven youth and another adult for the ELCA National Youth Gathering. We traveled with 138 other youth and adults on three buses. Our trip was a full ten day trip from beginning to end, but the main purpose for our trip was the National Youth Gathering which is held every three years.
This year’s gathering was held in Detroit Michigan. The last two gatherings were held in New Orleans as we helped residents pick up and clean up from Hurricane Katrina. 30,000 youth and adults (yep way more than ten) gathered every night in Ford Field to worship with the entire body of Christ gathered there in that place. We also listened to amazing awesome speakers who talked about social justice, racism, and making a difference in our communities. Together we learned what it means to Rise Up together; to rise up and spread God’s love throughout the world and especially to the city of Detroit as we were gathered there.
Each day 10,000 youth and adults went out to engage in service projects. There were two launch groups; one at 8:15 am and another one at 10:15 am. We were in the second launch group on Saturday. Our group went to work for an organization called O’Hair Park Community Association (Learn more here: O’Hair Park) We helped them trim branches along a service road.* It was a hot humid day, but the youth never complained. They were kind, courteous, and listened intently to the stories of the Detroiters who were gathered there with us. And they worked HARD!
Every night we worshiped together and heard from wonderful speakers who reminded us of the power of “where two or three are gathered in his name.” The youth came out each night full of vigor and power and ready to conquer the world. They came away knowing that they can make a difference. They learned what it means to proclaim justice, build bridges, and offer hope. They raised over 400,000 for ELCA World Hunger and the Walk for Water. We are waiting on numbers for how many heads of hair were donated and how many pints of blood were donated.
These youth give me hope for the future. In a world that continually often thinks that our church is dying, I don’t see that at all. I see a church that is full of life; that isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and fight for what is right. I see a church that understands that all of our stories matter. I see a church that is all about action and not just words. I see a church that is ready to Rise Up together.
And in light of today’s prompt I had to share this Top Ten List that a woman (Kathy Schaeffer) shared on an ELCA Youth Ministry Network FB page today. It is so much fun and captures the gathering so well. Enjoy my friends! 10–Want to walk everywhere; 9-Keep asking people, “Where are you from?”; 8-Have uncontrollable smiling; 7-Shout out “Jesus is” until you finally say, “Good News”; 6-Unfazed by rain! Just pull out a rain slicker and say, “Let’s go!”; 5-Keep clipping “God Loves You” clothespins on people!; 4-Helping people everywhere! (Called the local food bank, Habitat for Humanity and Literacy council all in one day!); 3-Want family members to wear the same colored t-shirts!; 2-Try and high 5 everyone they pass by!; 1-Talk about going to church early this week in order to get a seat “on the floor” and up front.)
*This is where my five minutes ended.
It's truly a good thing when teens get excited about helping others. I love seeing them get out of their own head space – it's a good reminder for me to do the same. 🙂
It really is fun to see them get out of their own head space. It is a good reminder for us all! 🙂
This is inspiring! I work with high school youth and I am encouraged by the servant heart these kids are developing. It's an exciting thing to watch. While I know I am there to connect with them and let them see Jesus as much as possible through me, it's even better when I see Jesus through them. Thank you for sharing this tonight!
Jen, I love their servant hearts as well. I agree there is nothing better than seeing Jesus through them.
Great work, and a great list!
speak on dear, speak on.
I will! 🙂
Thanks for the encouragement that Jesus IS alive and well and still working through many believers on this earth! So encouraging! And I'm gonna work on that uncontrollable smiling this week. 😉
How is that uncontrollable smiling going?
Brave woman, taking so many young people outside of their comfort zone! But, what an amazing, life-changing experience. Makes me so excited for our future leaders!
Annie, it really is incredible to watch! Makes me so excited for our future leaders as well.
Welcome home, Tara! I've missed you.
Thanks! I've missed you too!! xoxo
Sounds like a great time of learning and growing! Welcome back home! and Happy Friday to you!
after reading your list, I giggled. I totally want to get clothespins and sneak them onto people! (and it won't ruin their clothes if they somehow make it into the wash. Stickers, on the other hand…eew.)
What a delightful report of your trip and the passion of our youth. I agree. It's easy to hear people negativing and reporting the death of the church…but we will speak life. We will speak of the good report and God's vigor stirring. It's Joel 2:28.
Thanks for sharing so much in so little time! Loved it!
(#20 this week)
Tammy, I am glad the list made you giggle. The clothespins were so much fun. There were many times we would get somewhere and realize one of us had been sneakily clothes-pinned on our walk to Ford Field. My youth decided to buy band-aids and write God heals on them and then would randomly high give someone leaving the band-aid behind. Speak life…indeed reminds me of the Christian song by that title. Glad you loved this post!
Oh, I love your list! I especially like the clothespins and the high fives.It sounds like you had a wonderful time on your retreat! It's great to hear about how the church can still capture the attention of youth and keep their hearts on fire for Christ. God is so good. Blessings to you this weekend, friend!
Thanks Carrie! The high fives and clothespins were so much fun! God is indeed good.
What an amazing way to empower and engage kids in Kingdom work. Love the 10 list too!!
Indeed! Thanks Tiffany!
awesome! fabulous account, and thanks for doing Detroit!
The youth conference sounds amazing. What a gift to be able to be part of something that impacted 30,000 kids. I will be praying that the momentum that began in Detroit will continue. Blessings!
Thanks for the prayers, Mary. They are so greatly appreciated. The ELCA Youth Gathering is so hard to put into words…such a phenomenal experience.
Sounds like an encouraging blessed time. It is wonderful to think that we are passing the baton of faith to the next generation…and to hope it is in good hands. I pray they handle the gospel rightly. Stopping in from FMF.
It was! Thanks for stopping in, Leah!
Wonderful. Good News! Media has sad stuff…Christ in youth is the good news!
Jennifer, Yes! Jesus is Good News! 🙂
Amen and Amen!!! I love this recap, friend!
Thanks friend!!! 🙂