Seeking to love Christ and each other, YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) creates opportunities for participants to engage with the poverty of their city, equipping them to become servant leaders in their own communities.
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.
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.
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.
YES has adopted a 4 step service learning process known as E4. The Strategy behind E4 is to move students from observers to leaders. This is accomplished by a stair-cased program centered upon carefully chosen Service Projects.
We first EXPOSE them to the reality of the poverty in the world through interactive curriculum. The students are presented with various questions: What is the true mission of the church, and what does it mean for each of us that we are members of the body of Christ? What are the stereotypes that exist within all of us that prevent us from putting the needs of others before ourselves? Is poverty a complex or simple problem, and what is our place in the solution?
Lastly, they are ENTRUSTED with various leadership roles on weekend trips, and most importantly, with continuing the mission of YES in their communities, to inspire, lead, and educate others.
We then ENGAGE the students in strategically chosen service projects that bring them together with people who are in need. Each project is chosen based upon specific criteria known to be meaningful in service-learning contexts. With each step, the environmental or cultural tension of the service project becomes more complex. This “created tension” is by design, and provides the kind of context conducive for real spiritual transformation.
For the students that have participated in 2 weekend service-learning trips, they are then eligible for a week of leadership training, where they are EQUIPPED with tools to guide others in service.