We named our ministry what we hope to be: YOUTH EQUIPPED TO SERVE. Our YES community seeks to live into our name and to embrace our calling to love and serve every person who Jesus died for. We struggle to be true servants of our Lord and His world, building bridges where there are walls and creating communities that foster joy and healing.
Through every circumstance and experience, today and always, we hope to be guided by these values: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, COMMUNITY, AND EMPOWERMENT.
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: A barrier that often keeps people from serving is the view that some individuals are more deserving than others. YES counters this with unconditional love; no human is more deserving of love than another. As each is created in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ, each is entitled to compassion, mercy, and love. In YES, we work to extend this love to all, especially to those who are often considered undeserving or unworthy.
COMMUNITY: Being in community means serving the needs of others before serving one’s self. In YES, we recognize that if everyone is looking out for one another, then no one needs to focus on themselves; one is taken care of by their neighbors as one works towards serving the community’s needs. This understanding of community starts in the group gathered for a YES trip and expands into our view of the city we serve. When we first seek to take care of those around us in our community, we too will be nourished and supported by this work.
EMPOWERMENT: YES seeks to empower participants in their own communities by equipping them with the tools needed to serve. These tools include a perspective uninhibited by stereotypes, an attitude of readiness to meet the needs they encounter, and the ability to take initiative. We emphasize that a YES trip is not a singular event. Rather, it is a starting point for a life of service in Christ, a life centered on loving those around us.
We seek for these values to show up every day, through every experience we have and with every person we encounter. This process of cultivating hearts of servants is an endless one that requires a constant awareness of this: Am I oriented towards myself or others? Have I turned my servant’s heart off? Have I caused division or do I perpetuate division with any person or group of people? To live with awareness of who we are for others requires a constant connection to God through prayer, and a continuous examination of my own heart.
Often when we feel called to a role or responsibility, we tend to jump quickly to what we have to do and what success looks like. What are the events we must we plan? What are my tasks and responsibilities? What results do I want? What statement do I need to make? Sometimes time is of the essence and you have to just do. But it’s always possible to pause and/or pair the necessary doing with self examination.
Who must I be? How must I be? What is my motivation? How have I contributed to the problem? How do I educate myself so that I don’t presume to know what’s needed? Before we move, we must be still and examine our hearts. While we move, we must continue to examine our hearts. We must take time to remember that every work we enter into for the life of the world must be the Lord’s, not our own. And the work must begin with our own internal selves.
A key part of deep self-awareness is never throwing in the towel. Without wanting to, I can become neglectful of others by relaxing my efforts and thinking thoughts like these:
- Oh well
- I’m over it
- There are other things to worry about
- Yeah…but what about…
- I just want my life back
Looking away from the needs of others goes beyond potentially harming them. There may be long term effects on my own heart. If I’m serving myself, I’m not examining myself. Being deeply connected to and seeking to relieve the suffering of others is where we find our true selves, our joy. Serving others is the only way that I am truly served. And taking time to examine the state of my own heart is key to serving the hearts of others.
We will never be fully capable. We will never be 100% ready. We serve with and through our brokenness. However, approach and motivation, the state of my internal self, needs to be oriented towards Christ and the other. Or, my actions have the danger of being rooted in self interest and self glory. The Lord has called us all to join Him in HIS ministry, so examining ourselves and our motivations is key to participating in the work He is calling us to. The Lord calls the church together to be equipped and formed to be SENT OUT. Embracing this truth…that the world, the whole world, is deeply loved by the Lord…allows us to embrace our love for HIM by going out to care for the world that He died for.
On YES trips, we begin with Exposure: exposure to the world around us, to the poverty and brokenness within us, and the reality of the experience of the people in our own communities. Before we engage with others, we stop to examine our own hearts and to understand the true needs of our cities, the world, and the Lord’s beloved people. The work we do for others can’t be ours. It has to be that we enter into the Lord’s work.