I had been studying the Bible for a few months before going on HYC. Over that time, I had been growing in my faith, at things like teen camp, midweeks, and teen devotionals. I had wanted to do HOPE Youth Corps, but didn’t think this summer was the right time. My parents encouraged me to work it out and I’m so glad I did.
There were a lot of things that helped me grow in my walk with God during HOPE Youth Corps. We had devotionals almost every night which were all very helpful for preparing us for what we were doing that day or in the days to come. The fellowship between all of the participants was amazing. I met so many people from all across the country, and a few from Canada and England. I was able to make so many deep friendships with my new family. Because we spent so much time together we truly did become like a family.
While we were on HYC we did a few different service projects. We did some clean up on the streets of North Philadelphia with ODAAT (One Day At A Time). We also did work around Camp Hope For Kids wherever it was needed. But one of the most important things we did during Youth Corps was mentor at risk inner city kids with Camp Miracles. They spend three days with us at camp. We went swimming, went to the waterfront, played gaga ball, basketball, and volleyball. One of the days we even went to the zoo. We tried to give the kids the best week of their lives by showing them how much God loves them, by us loving them wholeheartedly.
All these things helped me grow in my relationship with God and my faith in him. When I got back from HYC I had some great time with the guys that I had been studying the bible with. I was encouraged by how strong my faith had grown, and wanted to respond to all that Jesus had done for me. I got baptized on August 6th! I am so thankful for my time at HYC!
My name is Louis Le Noan, and as a Global Service Intern, I led the HOPE Youth Corps in Haiti this July. The night we arrived at the orphanage in Les Cayes, where we would be staying for two weeks, the children greeted us with hugs and kisses, even though we had never met them before. They also had a song prepared to welcome us! We quickly understood that they were going to teach us a lot.
We went there to help rebuild disciples’ homes, to paint the orphanage building, to start a garden, to clean the beach, and connect with the kids. In the end, we also learned a lot from these children: how to love simply, how to share, how to be excited about friendships and new faces and how to appreciate and live as a family.
We understood more deeply what Jesus talked about in Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’".
I believe that this is what HYC is all about: making an impact and serving a community but doing it together, as a family, and putting our trust and faith in God to see what he can do around us and in our personal lives.
“Sometimes service is simply holding out your hand and showing others Jesus’ love…”
While serving on HYC Jakarta I saw a lot of hurt and pain. I am originally from Indonesia, and seeing the lives of those around me – hearing the same language and stories! I learned that only God can heal the hurt and pain that I saw. In my pride I thought that it was up to me or that I had to go and fix things. But I learned that what I can do is to give love so that others can see God. It is not me changing the lives of others, but God working through me.
Something that also touched my heart is that we served at the same orphanage that my parents helped to start. I remember visiting it when I was a kid and how I donated the swing set that I had before leaving for the United States. When I returned almost 15 years later, I saw that the same swing set was being used! All it needed was a paint job but it still stood strong. The participants repainted the same swing set that I had received as a gift on my birthday while living in Jakarta.
Something that I also hold close to my heart is something that my mom taught me growing up. My mom had helped to serve with HWW Indonesia and had visited many of the slums in Jakarta. Growing up she taught me to never be afraid to touch the poor and hold their hand. I didn’t understand this truly until we served in one of the slums in Jakarta, where all the children just wanted someone to love them, hug them close and hold their hand. Sometimes service is simply holding out your hand to hold and showing others Jesus’ love.
As I write this article, our family is en route back home to Canada from Budapest, and another successful HYC. Our 22-year-old son, Cameron Taylor, was one of the Global Service Interns who helped organize and lead this this HYC, and our 19-year-old daughter, Jillian Taylor attended as one of the HOPEww volunteers. We head back to our homes in Halifax, Canada, once again deeply impacted by the service and the love lived out on these amazing service trips.
This fall, our son will begin his medical school studies, and as I recently reviewed his essay that he submitted with his application, I am both grateful to God for opening this wonderful door of opportunity for our son, and humbled by the role that HOPE worldwide , its leadership and its service opportunities has played in shaping our son’s worldview and convictions to imitate Jesus by loving the poor. In short, Cameron’s essay had “HOPE worldwide ” written all over it. Let me share with you a bit of our son’s journey with selected excerpts from his medical school application essay…
A few hours after Cameron’s birth, I firmly believe that God played a role in our son’s life through the delivering doctor who acted on a hunch, and located a significant problem with one of our son’s main organs. We were transported from Toronto East General Hospital to Sick Kids Hospital where he eventually spent about half of his first year. Our son had major kidney problems and if this wasn’t taken care of, at best he would live a severely limited life, and at worse, we could eventually lose him. Those weeks and long nights spent walking the halls of Sick Kids, holding our son and caring for him as best as we were able, were a roller coaster of emotions and some of the deepest times my wife and I have ever spent in prayer. Our family eventually moved to Halifax, and after more treatments and surgery, we are so thankful that our son is living a healthy and very normal life.
Cameron’s essay excerpt: “One of my earliest memories is of an operating room. I was four years old at the time, and I can still picture the mask covered faces, silhouetted by the overhead lighting, as the anesthesia induced darkness crept in from the edges of my vision. A core belief of mine is that to those who are given much, ( Luke 12:48 “to whom much was given, of him much will be required” ESV), much will be expected. I have been given much by way of experiences that have shaped my desire to become a physician, a career which would allow me to do the much that I believe is expected of me.”
The team at Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary. SKMH opened in April 2012 with the mission to meet the needs of poor children and women of Southern Cambodia. It is managed by HOPE worldwide . Since its opening, nearly 50,000 patients have been touched by the team. On May 26, the hospital honored 31 employees who have served since the hospital’s opening day. Through the dedication of its staff and supporters, SKMH has seen tremendous growth. Since its opening, the hospital has accomplished the following:
· More than 140,000 patient consultations with nearly 50,000 new patients
· 71% of visits have been for women and children
· Nearly 800 children have been born at the hospital since the opening of the Maternity building in November 2014
· 7 Cambodian doctors have graduated from three year hospital training program.
· Currently employs over 180 people
· The Neo Natal Intensive care unit opened November 2015. To date the NICU has served 49 children
· Centralized Medical Gas System for NICU and campus opened in November 2016.
· Surgical department opened in 2015
· Surgical team has performed over 360 surgeries in 2016, not including C-Sections. 86 surgeries have been for children
· Blood bank opened in August 2016
· A Learning Center for children of hospital staff opened on June 12
Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital has been blessed with international support from medical and administrative partners as well as volunteers from around the world to serve and teach. The local Cambodian staff continues to grow and serves as the primary patient care providers.
The team is grateful for all the support that has been given this past five years; however, there remains more to do. Future development includes the addition of a CT scan, upgraded X-ray diagnostic equipment, continued development of staff training programming and pursuit of international accreditations. Please consider how you can make a difference at the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. Go to https://www.hopeww.org/donate . Use the drop down box and select Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital. If you wish to learn more about the Sonja Kill Memorial Hospital, please visit www.skmh.org .
Dr. Rin Receiving the Empathy Amplified AwardClick here to watch .
Jenny Harkabus spent Christmas serving in the Philippines. She wrote this, and also made a short video:
I did not imagine that I would be spending Christmas in the Philippines for my first HOPE Youth Corps experience. This opportunity has deeply changed my perspective on the importance of service in my daily walk.
We are created in God's image, therefore we are meant to help and serve others. I know this to be true because I have never felt so used by God and fulfilled, than the times spent serving and pouring out my love in the Philippines.
James 1:27 says, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Some translations refer to this as true religion. The bible also stresses the importance of giving to the poor (1 John 3:17, Matt 9:21, Proverbs 14:31). God considers caring for the poor and orphans as true religion, yet this can be an area of faith that is overlooked.
I was privileged to spend time with girls who have experienced trauma and abuse at the HOPE worldwide center in Laguna. Many of these girls have been separated from their families, becoming orphans, as a result of the abuse they have experienced. I also received the opportunity to play with children within the community as we rebuilt their homes and provided them with medical care. I witnessed the children’s precious value for human relationships, as they clung to me emotionally and physically. They showed me instant love and respect, which I find to be rare in today’s society. Our focus should be about investing in others just as the children in the Philippines invested in me.
What makes young people want to go on HYC? Hear from several participants from all over the globe, as they share about their motivation for serving on HYC:
On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew delivered a devastating blow to Haiti. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA), the storm took the lives of 1,000 people and displaced 175,500 residents. HOPE Worldwide immediately released $5,000 aimed at providing life-saving aid for members of our partner churches, their families and their communities. Charles Ham, H ww International Disaster Response Coordinator, and Wade Cook, H ww Vice President of U.S. Programs, were soon on the ground assessing the situation and formulating an effective and sustainable recovery plan. Part of that was an appeal for funds, and we were humbled by the response. Over the Christmas holidays, HOPE ww friends and partners rallied support to raise just over $210,000. Our sincere appreciation cannot be adequately expressed in words.
HOPE ww will be repairing 44 houses at an average cost of $2,500 each. The work will focus on making homes safer and stronger to withstand future disasters.
Thank you for supporting HOPE worldwide as we work with refugees around the world. In the wake of the growing refugee crisis, we strive to do all we can to help families and communities displaced by tragedy. Your gifts allow us to provide food, clothing, supplies and love to thousands without a home.
Millions of people have now traveled 100's of miles to flee violence and civil war. They have little more than the clothes on their back. Their lives will never be the same. The political and social implications of the current refugee crisis are complex. But our mission is to compassionately serve those in need, regardless of background or affiliation. We are partnering with churches and local organizations to provide basic supplies and services to refugee families. On the “wishlist” below, you will find a few specific supplies needed today. Purchase these items online and they will be sent to the family in need!
See how God provided in an amazing way for Anthony Herrera:
I want to just first off thank the God that I serve! He is a super hero, he surprises me when I don't know it and he reminds me that radical Christianity is Christianity. I have two things I want to share with you all about this life changing fundraiser I experienced this past weekend ! First and foremost, I must thank my amazing boss Tammy Guadagno for allowing me to do these HYC trips and giving me the opportunity to dream! Tammy thank you for your extra-mile heart and desi re to always give back to the community, it multiplies into many people's hearts! This fundraiser Is the most I've ever made before !I made $1,325 from 11-5 and I cannot tell you again that we literally have a father in Heaven that is not a father who created money, he is a father all about the heart!!! If we change our heart he can give us this green paper to go wherever we want to go!
First thing I learned from all of this is that our success comes from opportunities, I am not nearly successful on these fundraisers on my own. It is the people who help me get here that allowed me to become successful! So I want to say THANK YOU EVERYONE for allowing me to be successful! I take no credit and give all my credit back to God! Once again thank you so much guys this means the world to me!!!!! So everyone I want to challenge you take as much opportunities that you can! When God sees your heart he will bring you success.
Secondly, I learned a valuable lesson from my roommate Gary of what religion means to God:
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:26-27 NIV
Religion that our father accepts is to be set apart and serve the poor! HYC engraves this new religion in your life forever, you will redefine this lost Christianity in the world and stand out ! So please I dare you guys to speak out loud of your fundraiser, put aside your worries and TRUST that he will bless you! HYC is so life changing, it helps us revive our culture here in America! I pray that God uses my experience to challenge you guys to trust in him more! Be radical in the way you want to fundraise and he will most definitely be radical to you !!!!
Read the following article on Eleanor’s experience on HYC:
“My name is Eleanor Frost, I am a student from London, UK, and I am nineteen years old. This past Christmas, I had the privilege of spending ten days at the HOPE Worldwide school in Kathmandu as part of a HOPE Youth Corps program. This was a project that my family has supported and talked about throughout my childhood. Because of this, I felt very emotional going to the school for the first time.
Whilst visiting the school, I was able to spend time with the children, and be involved in reinstalling the toilet block, and building a basketball hoop. I was so inspired by how hard the children worked, the respect they held for their teachers, and their eagerness to learn. I was lucky enough to get to know Class 4 (those aged between eight and nine). Spending quality time with the girls in that class was very impacting for me. I felt that I could so easily have been in their position; the only difference being the geographical place of our birth.
The importance of the school was made clear to me when we visited the homes of some of the children who attended the school. I went to the house of Padma (6) and Dhan (5), who were so excited to show us around. Their home consists of one room with two beds, and the only water source is a communal tap on the street.
January 18, 2017 - This past weekend, HOPE worldwide USA Chapters followed Dr. King’s example by identifying needs in their communities and taking action. Volunteers of all ages stepped up to meet the specific needs across the nation.
Come join us this October for HOPE ww 's annual conference! Everyone is invited to attend. You'll meet our global leadership team, hear important updates about programs around the world and learn how together we can live out the compassionate ministry of Jesus. Check back soon for more event details.
U.S.-based supporters and volunteers are invited to join us to explore how we can more effectively, respectfully and passionately serve the poor and needy in our communities and around the world! Registration is now open for the NW Regional Volunteer Conference. Click below to register early, as space may be limited.
Noah Kreider grew up in the church but, just like many Kingdom Kids, he wandered a bit before finding his way to God. A HOPE Youth Corps in Dallas turned his life around. This was a couple of years ago, and now Noah is one of our most trusted Global Service Interns. Noah has led HYC in Bolivia, Croatia, and Manila in the Philippines this past Christmas, one of our most radical trips. Read what he had to say about his most recent HYC…
“This past Christmas, I was able to do something very special. I traveled to Manila, in the Philippines, to lead a HOPE Youth Corps along with Hannah DeSouza. I have been fortunate enough to be on 8 different HOPE Youth Corps around the globe, and this one was nothing short of special. Along with 35 participants from around the world, we went on a mission to try and give back this Christmas.
HOPE "Youth" Corps is not just for the young in body, but also for the young at heart. Several of our trips are open to all ages, especially our more challenging international ones. Read Suzanne Uhl's account of her recent adventures on the Nepal HYC:
“I’m not dead yet.” As bizarre as that sounds, that sentence sums up my decision to sign up for a HYC trip. Not the most inspiring motivation, I know, but that’s where I was at. I’m a 53-year-old college professor, a married mom of two HYC veterans (Jud is 16 & Shane is 20). I don’t exactly fit the HYC mold, but I traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal in December 2016 and that trip forever changed me.
Initially, the plan was to simply be the chaperone for my son during a summer international HYC. My job allows me the freedom of summers off so it seemed perfect. Long story made short, he was accepted in the Scotland HYC with another chaperone and I wasn’t technically needed. So, there I was: hopes up, hopes dashed. That’s when it occurred to me: “I’m not dead yet.” Being a chaperone wasn’t my only HYC option. So, I signed up for the December, Nepal trip. My boys were excited see mom go on an adventure and my husband was happy to let me chase a dream, even though it meant I’d be gone over Christmas.
Kathmandu is an amazing place of simplicity, profound poverty, enormous smiles, crazy drivers, unending kindness, lousy water, and staggering beauty. It is a paradox in so many ways and it just might be the most captivating place on the planet.
Since 2010, the HOPE worldwide Community Service Brigades have brought medical relief to thousands of children suffering from the debilitating impact of poverty. We are excited to announce that on the 3rd annual CSB in El Salvador this November ( click here to see how many were helped ), we launched the "Nutrition Optimization Program" sponsored by our new partner, art & eden. Together with Susan Correa, founder and CEO of art & eden, we are beginning a journey towards providing anti-parasite medicine and a one-year supply of multivitamins to every child we treat. This equates to 1 million vitamins in just the first year alone! The essential anti-parasite medicine, Albendazole, coupled with a daily multivitamin supplement, combats the ill-effects of a severely nutrient-deficient diet and helps restore normal, healthy childhood development. We look forward to a brighter, healthier future for the children of Central America!
For more information about this program or to apply for a 2017 CSB, please visit hopeww.org/csb .
Photo Credit: Novus Photography
Participants in this program will enjoy a mix of hands-on patient interaction and important learning exchange opportunities with local medical staff, all while experiencing the amazing culture and sites of Cambodia! For a complete description of the program, and to apply, visit hopeww.org/hsc .
Dr. Navy Kong, our local Medical Corps coordinator, shared the following trip objectives:
Provide free primary healthcare including medical, optical, surgical and dental care to the rural poor of Cambodia by working closely with Cambodian health professionals with learning exchange opportunities at Baray-Santuk Referral Hospital, Baray Santuk Districts, KomPong Thom Province, Cambodia.
Partake in a “Compassion Tour” through an in-depth tour of the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE (SHCH) and the HOPE worldwide Medical Centers (HMCs) with good staff interaction, Q and A time and discussion of needs, opportunities, etc. While in Phnom Penh, observe inpatient and outpatient rounds with opportunities to consult based on expertise.
Provide direct humanitarian exchange while visiting Home Base Care patients of HOPE worldwide – Cambodia. Lend social and emotional support through providing food and educational materials for 200 students as well as hunger relief for 100 OVC/AIDs destitute families. You will also have an opportunity to participate in a music therapy program for 200 homeless patients at hospices in Phnom Penh and the Kandal province.
Enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of Cambodia and diverse cultures.
"Something just clicked for me..."
Brooke Hammer, a teen from LA, went on the Philadelphia (Track 1) HOPE Youth Corps this past July; it changed her life and she was baptised a couple of weeks ago! Again and again, God changes the hearts of our youth through service, as they strive to become more like Jesus. Read about how God transformed Brooke's heart on HYC.
"Going to HOPE Youth Corps has had a huge impact on my life. I had studied the Bible for a long time before I went but I wasn’t ready to become a disciple. My heart just wasn’t in the right place. I wanted it to be, but I didn’t know how to get it there. When my parents brought up the idea of going on one of the HYC trips I was interested because I thought it would be fun, but also because I secretly hoped it could help change my heart and get me to a place where I wanted to study the Bible again.
When I arrived in Philadelphia it was inspiring to meet the staff and the rest of the participants. The love I felt from them, and constantly saw them give to others, served as an example to me throughout the program. They all worked joyfully non-stop; cleaning, building, painting, and repairing to improve the community for the people who lived there. We also had the opportunity to help at Camp Hope for Kids, a program for inner city youth. Seeing what the kids went through every day gave me a new perspective on how generous God had been to me. That gratitude softened my heart and, together with being surrounded by the giving, spiritual HYC workers, helped me turn my focus back to God.
I remember one night in particular when I went out to pray with one of the participants I had become friends with. She was already a disciple and listening to her prayer really got my attention. She talked to God about everything as though they were best friends and were having a normal conversation. I wanted that kind of close relationship with God too. I can’t fully describe it, but something just clicked for me that night. It was then I decided I wanted to start studying the Bible again. Not wanting to wait, I called my teen leader from Philadelphia and shared with her all that I was feeling. Once I got home we jumped right back into some Bible studies. Three months later on October 23 2016, I decided to make Jesus the Lord of my life and was baptized.
It has been so amazing to experience this myself, as well as to hear about the many other participants from HYC getting baptized. It shows me that this program has changed, and is continuing to change, so many hearts. Not only did participating in HOPE Youth Corps open me up to a true relationship with God, it also gave me some amazing friendships. Thank you to the HYC staff and all the participants for everything you have done. God truly changed my heart through feeling your love as we served others side by side, and I’ll be forever grateful. I am already looking forward to my next life changing adventure at HYC next summer. I hope so many of you will get a chance to join me."
"Being accepted to serve on the Bangkok HOPE Youth Corps as a family was a dream come true for so many reasons! Then the reality set in; we would have to come up with around $10,000 CAD (US $7,500) to cover our flights and the cost of the participation fee..." Krista Wiebe shares her creative, and successful, fundraising ideas.
"God has been blessing us in so many ways in our efforts to raise the funds and I want to share some of the fundraising ideas that we have tried (or thought of trying!). We started by creating a website explaining who we are and where we are going, including a link to the place where we are serving for HYC, and also advertised our events on our website. We also set up Gofundme pages. This was a great tool to get the word out as we could post a link to our friends on Facebook. We had a couple of bigger events that were a lot of fun and we were able to engage our friends, family and coworkers. Getting to share with them about what we are doing was a big part of our success. Some people didn’t go to the events but bought tickets or gave us money to support our trip.
A coffee house fundraiser is a great idea, especially if you have talented friends! We rented a venue and sold tickets (we needed to make sure we at least broke even on the cost of the venue). We purchased coffee supplies and asked friends to donate baked goods. We decided not to set a fixed price for these items, instead telling people to contribute what they wanted! We also recruited friends to perform, including singers, musicians and poets. We were able to borrow the sound equipment from our church and utilize some tech-savvy volunteers to make sure everything ran smoothly. Even with our costs (venue rental, a license for music, coffee supplies and printing tickets) we were able to make a profit of close to $1,000!
International Day of Giving
The International Day of Giving is an annual giving campaign supported by the International Churches of Christ and friends of HOPE worldwide. Funding from the International Day of Giving provides the foundation of resources to operate HOPE ww, strengthening vital programs in over 60 countries through a global network of love and compassion. Your general fund support through the International Day of Giving enables HOPE worldwide to deliver quality outcomes for the poor, sick and suffering around the world.
Justin Schrenk has just come back from South Africa, where he served on the HWW Singles Corps. It is so heartwarming to see young men share the compassionate heart of God!
Serving the poor internationally through HOPE worldwide has quickly become a major highlight in my 8.5 years since becoming a Christian. It is a program I have come to believe in, as I have seen the impact firsthand in Guatemala, Nepal, and most recently, South Africa. HOPE worldwide is truly shining as a light in these communities. It is bringing more than just financial means. They are bringing full hearts and faces the community has learned to love and trust.
Good news from the Philippines! The story of how a couple reached out to during HOPE Youth Corps last Christmas undergo a transformation.
God uses our service for His good. He uses it to reach people. They see Jesus when they see us serve and be humble. Sometimes serving, loving and helping is a more effective witness than handing out church cards, or inviting someone to Bible talk. HOPE Youth Corps and other Volunteer Corps have an impact beyond the service projects we get involved in. Again and again, people turn to God because of what they see, not because of what we tell. Last December, a group of about 80 volunteers served for two weeks in Daanbantayan, a part of the Philippines that was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan three years ago. There were volunteers of all ages, but predominantly teens and students, and they came from all over the world. Most had never met before but bonded during their time in Daanbantayan, whilst serving a community in need. They painted fishing boats, they taught children, five homes were built, they visited and spent time with families, they ate the local food, had quiet times together in the mornings and daily devotionals and discipleship groups. They laughed, they danced, and yes, they also cried.
The local people were watching. It was clear that this group was special; they had given up their Christmas to travel to the other side of the world and serve a people they did not know. Aimee Sericon was one of the local women. When she saw this large group serving, she came forward and offered to help also. On Christmas Day we had a party for the children of the daycare center run by HOPE worldwide. Aimee helped to serve the food. Some of the sisters on the trip started talking to Aimee, in particular Jo Donado (Melbourne, Australia) and Isa Gonzales Araneo (San Diego, USA). Both of them are originally Filipino and were able to talk and connect to Aimee. They began studying the Bible with her that same day and went on to meet every day until the end of the trip.
Every year, as HYC participants apply to go on volunteer trips, they are faced with the daunting question: “How do I pay for this?” It is always so impressive the faith, planning, and creativity of our volunteers! Read about Carley Lloyd, a disciple in Los Angeles, how she raised money for HYC:
Fundraising for HOPE Youth Corps has not been easy for me in any way. Raising money has tested my faith tremendously. For all three Youth Corps, I have had to remember that all I can do is trust that God WILL provide. There were many situations where Satan tried to get a foothold, and discourage me from wanting to continue to raise and save money. I had to constantly remind myself that God is a faithful God, and I cannot lose heart, despite the challenges and lack of support I sometimes felt for wanting to go on Youth Corps. I learned that God was teaching me about my character in these times of trial. I needed to start working hard and making sacrifices, in order to pay for my trips.
For my first HYC in Philadelphia, I was still in high school with no job. I had to get creative. I raised the majority of my money by making edible fruit arrangements. I advertised at school, and made them more affordable than the actual company "Edible Arrangements". I made about $350 on Mother's Day that year. After that, people started to spread the word (at school/social media), and I began to make them for gifts and parties, earning around $20-$30 for each arrangement. I also wrote fundraising letters to disciples and family members, expressing how much I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and go serve in a new place. Many people contacted me with jobs they had for me, which included house sitting, dog walking, yard work, house cleaning, and so much more. People will see your desire to volunteer and want to help in any way they can. For my recent trip to the Zagreb HYC, I had to make more sacrifices. It sounds a little silly, but I decided that I would cut out Starbucks. I absolutely love my coffee, but I knew that this is what I had to do. In the end, I saved around $300! I then started to sell my clothes on the app "Poshmark", which allows you to sell clothes for decent prices, which helped a lot.
Helena Lethlean, a teen from Melbourne, Australia, sacrificed her gorgeous long hair to raise money for her trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, over Christmas. Read her story:
"When I first heard about the opportunity to do a HOPE Youth Corp from a friend at church, God put it on my heart almost immediately to sign myself up. The thought of paying for it never even occurred to me, and within a week or two, I was filling out an application to participate in a HYC to Kathmandu, Nepal in December 2016.
A couple of weeks later, I received an email stating that I had gotten into the program. I was over the moon, and for the next few months, I eagerly awaited the Christmas holidays. I had heard nothing but good things about HYC programs, and was more than keen to experience one myself.
God works through HOPE Youth Corps in many different ways. Read Anna’s story and the miracle God performed on the plane ride back from HYC:
My name is Anna Fenstermacher and I’d like to share about the ways that God moved in my life and the lives around me these past few months.
The summer of 2015, while serving on HOPE Youth Corps in Austin, Texas, we built safe and stable homes for families who couldn’t afford to get on their feet. We dug holes in hundred-degree weather. This challenged each individual in a different way to give up their own desires and put their trust and hope in God. After experiencing this environment of physical reliance on God, it was on my heart to apply for HOPE Youth Corps again the summer of 2016. God orchestrated for myself and 20 other volunteers from across America to serve in Vancouver, Canada; working to better the homeless community and connect to the Vancouver Church of Christ.
Not only does HOPE Youth Corps bring together volunteers from across the world to serve God, but it challenges each individual person in a unique way to grow in their trust and relationship with God. Each person on this trip had to step over the line of fear to bring hope and light to the world that stood before us. For me to take a leap of faith, I had to surrender my own desires and let God use me. David Louis and Marin Lusk, our site leaders, brought us together each morning and night-opening up each time together with a prayer. As we communicated with God, we gave up our fears, we told Him about our dreams for Vancouver, we reflected on the ways that He moved in that day, and ultimately we put our trust in His strength.
Responding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew, HOPE worldwide has rushed to distribute lifesaving supplies of food, water and blankets to remote regions of Haiti. Our relief team managed to arrive in Les Cayes on October 9th with supplies to distribute. A more detailed assessment on the ground will supply important information on how we can best meet the immediate and long-term needs. A second relief team led by Wade Cook and Charles Ham arrived October 10th, bringing more supplies and further assessment resources to inform and enable HOPE worldwide as we assist the Haitian people.
Please support our effort by donating to the HOPE worldwide Disaster Response Fund by clicking on the red badge below.
HOPE worldwide volunteers gathered in Baton Rouge Louisiana over Labor Day Weekend to help victims of the recent floods which devastated areas of Southeast Louisiana. The catastrophic floods, being called the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy, claimed 13 lives and destroyed numerous homes and communities - resulting in upwards of 100,000 homes being damaged.
Along with our partner Operation Blessing, about 140 HOPE worldwide volunteers gathered from over six states in Durham Springs, Louisiana offering much-needed helping hands to people whose homes were ruined, many of whom lost all their possessions. The eager volunteers came with willing hearts and able bodies to do physical labor for people who just couldn’t do it alone. They gutted homes - clearing out furniture, electronics, dry wall, and carpets - emptying homes of all contents ruined by flood waters. Neighborhoods in the affected areas were left with both sides of the street lined with large piles of debris--moldy mountains of personal effects, signs of the long road to recovery for many famililes.
It was moving for residents and volunteers alike who witnessed the power of people coming together despite differences in the face of tragedy. Wade Cook, VP of US programs, himself an eager volunteer, said “Weather doesn’t discriminate and neither do people when tragedy strikes. The spirit everywhere was one of unity.” Wade continued, "The only questions we asked were 'Are you flooded and in need?' If so, you are Louisiana!"
For a more vivid depiction of what happened during the ‘Labor of Love’ weekend watch the inspiring video update created by HOPE worldwide media partner ICOC Hot News.
We send HYC/HSC to far flung places all over the world. One of the most encouraging things of the recent past is the way our volunteers have had an impact on the local churches.
Read what Anu Dangol, Nepal HWW leader, has to share about the positive influence of the HYC and HSC groups that have served in Kathmandu:
“In 2015, for the first time, we welcomed both a Singles Corps in November and a Family Corps in December over Christmas. The Singles Corps came first and worked very hard at the HWW school. One of the things they did was to pave the whole playground so the children would not have to play in the mud during the monsoon season. They also revamped the computer lab, and raised funds for new computers.
It's amazing what a two week HOPE Youth Corps can do for your heart. HYC China was absolutely incredible! This trip was a lot of firsts for me - first time in Asia, first time teaching a language I've known my whole life, first time co-leading as an intern, first time eating pig ear, etc.
This was not, however, my first HYC. I have been blessed enough to go on a HYC for the past six summers, and each time, I feel like God transforms my life in a new way. We travelled to Gansu and taught English for a week at the #5 high school in that province.
The HYC in Philadelphia helped me first of all to realize how much I have and take for granted. While the life that I have at home has definitely been a struggle for me at times (and led to me falling into depression during my sophomore year of high school), when I was in Philly I met kids who had grown up in places where there is violence and killing happening all the time. Being able to help clean up the streets and alleyways there really impacted me because the people were so grateful and had hope that their city could change in the future. It personally made me feel grateful for the life I live and everything that I have, even with its struggles. Our own lives can appear challenging – and yes, sometimes they are – but it's important to remember that most of the world has it worse than us.
Secondly, the friendships I made on HYC are ones that I feel will last a lifetime. I learnt so much just from talking and interacting with the group. I was shown that to build long-lasting friendships you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Opening up and sharing my story with everyone was challenging for me, but it led to me connecting with people on a really deep level and making bonds that I know will never be broken.
When most people think of Kenya, or Africa in general for that matter, they probably think things like: dry, hot, profound poverty, etc. However what I saw was none of those things. I saw life, joy, love, and true wealth. Throughout my time in Kenya, God opened my eyes to see the things that He values, the things that are truly important.
To be honest when I found out I was selected to go to Kenya, I wasn’t fired up at all. I had a couple of options ahead of Kenya on my list of Youth Corps destinations, which were all a lot more within my comfort zone. It wasn’t very long until I realized that it didn’t matter where I wanted to go. I didn’t choose Kenya, God did. He had a reason and I’m glad He chose Kenya because I would not have wanted to go anywhere else.
I went into HYC with no expectations, mostly because I had no idea what it would be like and to refrain from dealing with fear or anxiety, I went in with a blank slate. Little did I know that I was in for the best experience of my life. Being at HYC for two weeks had me going through different emotions that stretched my faith and my ability as a person. Being surrounded by people of different cultures and backgrounds I was amazed by how we were able to connect, and what connected us, was God. There is no other explanation for what brought us so close. Everyone’s love for God and the passion to carry out his mission moved me beyond words. Going in, my faith was questionable, but seeing God work through people, such as the founder of ODAAT and Camp Miracles, I began to fall more and more in love with God.
With ODAAT (One Day At A Time) I saw that despite what people went through (Drug Addictions, Homelessness, and HIV) they still were so grateful and that in itself humbled me. I saw how blessed I was to have a family who loves me, a roof over my head, and countless amount of things I took for granted. It brought me to tears to know how much God loved me and everything he had done for me despite me constantly hurting him and pushing him away. ODAAT taught me so much and to see people making an effort to better the lives of those less fortunate amazed me. I was so grateful for God’s love.
The girls that I lived with for two weeks constantly encouraged me with their lives and their scriptures. They built me up and were vulnerable with me. I was blown away from their compassion and faith in God. It was so amazing to see God work in their lives and I was honored with what they shared that with me. We cried together, laughed together, shared our fears and our struggles, and helped each other. I’ve never been so vulnerable with a group of people in my life. The guys also encouraged me with their love for God and persistence to live by him. They shared their stories as well, which was surprising to me because I was so used to guys not being sentimental. We all bonded and got so close. Seeing how much the world needed God and it was such a sobering experience.
This was my second year doing Philadelphia HOPE Youth Corps and I came out spiritually stronger than before. I prayed a lot before HOPE Youth Corps that I would change and I truly feel as though I did. Going into HYC I was so weak spiritually and I had no idea but after many lessons and deep conversations I came to a realization that I was not doing well spiritually.
A lot of the work we did last year we did again this year, but the only difference was that it had more of an impact on me. Seeing the poverty in Philly was hard for me last year but by the end of the two weeks, I went back to my perfect little word. Coming back to Philly a year later and seeing that a lot of things hadn’t changed it really hit me that my life isn’t normal. As we heard stories at ODAAT (One Day At A Time), one woman said something that really made me reevaluate my relationship with God. She was talking about her life story and stated “Satan looks attractive before he’s destructive”. After she said that I realized that I did not have the same fire for God that I did when I was first baptized. I had let Satan sneak in and make me lose sight on what’s most important, my relationship with God and living my life for him.
Going to Nairobi, Kenya was always a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I wanted to go and just help in any way possible. This summer I got the opportunity to do so. It was something that I have never experienced before. I went to Africa knowing what I wanted to work on, but instead came out with a whole different mindset on so many things. It showed me what it actually means to be content under any circumstance. Humility was shown as we went to
Makindu to build houses. Little did they have yet they were joyful and grateful. A bed, little clothes, and some dishes was enough to the people in the village. The little kids even slept with goats. It opened my eyes to see gratitude on a whole different level. We made some bricks out of mud (dirt and water mixed together). We stepped on the mud and mixed it with our bare hands. The effort it took to make the bricks was so intense that sweat was running down our faces. This was not an easy clean duty; the mud went everywhere, so I was very dirty by the end of the day. I found mud inside my ears, nails, and toenails. We had made over 1,000 bricks that day. Even though it was exhausting, it was so much fun. Seeing older men and women do the same thing while not complaining was very inspiring and admirable to see. Their hearts were full of joy and happiness; they were just grateful!
I have never experienced life in the Kingdom of God as much as I did over the fourteen days I spent in Nairobi! I built so many inspiring friendships; I talked through my doubts, and sought to heal some old wounds with my peers. Most impactful however, were the lessons that I learned from the people I was able to serve!
The two big things about serving in Nairobi that really impacted my heart can be summed up in Romans 5:3-8, specifically verses 3-5 and verse 8. They read:
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
The first part of this passage, that talks about suffering, makes me immediately think of the conditions under which many of the people of Makindu (a community three hours outside of Nairobi) lived. Their homes were small, and made of dirt or scrap metal. Children shared rooms with goats, and women in their mid-late fifties walked miles to get water. Yet, this passage also reminds me of the perseverance and hard work that was so evident in every single individual that we served. The people of Makindu were so hopeful and full of joy because they persevered through their suffering, developing a hard working character and a hope that they would be alright no matter the circumstances! It was so inspiring and convicting to witness!
HOPE Youth Corps in Philadelphia was extremely life changing. Going into HYC I had been praying for God to reveal in me any and all bitter feelings or sin, and to show me how He wanted me to grow. God answered my prayers in more ways than I could have possibly imagined. Initially it was really hard to be a part of a huge group of people that I had never met before. It was also hard knowing that I was one of the oldest physically and spiritually of the group. But God definitely humbled me to my core.
He showed me what it was like to truly serve and give of myself to people who I had never met through picking up trash in inner city Philadelphia. He showed me that while I have problems in my life, I have so much to be grateful for in comparison with the children that I met while working with Camp Miracles. The vulnerability, love, and joy that I experienced from the other participants truly humbled me and showed me that God’s kingdom is so much greater than I could ever imagine. God personally humbled me through a sprained ankle and vertigo, while on the trip, in order to teach me humility in relying on others and asking for help. God has shown me that family is being with people who serve together and work together to bring the love of Christ to anyone and everyone. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to go on HYC Philadelphia Track 3 and learn all these things along side amazing brothers and sisters.
My time in Kenya was by far the best and most impactful experience of my life. From building bricks, to spending time at the children’s hospital, I learned so much about myself, others, and God. When I was applying for HOPE Youth Corps, I prayed God would take me somewhere where I could learn how to love others the most, because my theme scriptures for the year are John 13 (the washing of the disciples’ feet) and John 15:13. Kenya was the answer to my prayer, and I am so grateful that my first choice didn’t work out.
I have to say that the most impacting part of my time was the few days we were at the Kenyatta National Hospital in the pediatric ward. I was on an oncology floor, working with children in some of the wards. 60-70% of the children had retinoblastoma, which is a cancer in the eye, and almost all of them had only one eye or an eye patch the entire time. The first day we were at the hospital, we were only with the kids for a total of maybe two and a half hours or so. They were fairly reserved initially, but as we sang songs with them and held them, we felt them warming up. By the second day, after having only spent a couple hours with them the day prior, they were ECSTATIC to see us. My group was asked to help on another floor for a little while and while we were gone, the kids were asking for us, asking us to come to them. Seeing how joyful these precious children were to see us made my heart so full, and made me feel as though we were actually able to help relieve and distract them from their physical pain.
The third day we were there, I had been playing with this beautiful 3 year old girl named Shantel. She has retinoblastoma in her right eye so she is only able to see out of her left eye. The first day I met her, she was incredibly shy. There was a language barrier between us because she couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t understand Swahili. Yet despite this, we built a connection by me merely holding her, throwing her in the air, spinning her around, playing ball with her, etc. Our last day there, when I put her down to leave and say goodbye, she burst out in sobs when I walked away. Immediately I realized the impact God’s love had on these children. Going into the hospital, I felt so helpless and hopeless for these beautiful children who were suffering and in so much pain. I was frustrated that I couldn’t speak Swahili with them, that I couldn’t heal their pain, and that I had nothing to give them physically.
Helping to lead an HOPE Youth Corps (HYC) for the first time was an experience that led to incredible growth for myself. At the time it felt more like being stretched beyond my limits, but looking back on it now I see that what I viewed as limits in the moment were simply opportunities for God to work in ways far greater than my faith. When I was insecure in myself, I had to be wholly secure in God. When I was at my end, God was just getting started. When I was uncomfortable, the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) was able to work wonders that would have been impossible otherwise. I learned very quickly where my comfort zones were and were not, and I learned that God was going to take me to where those comfort zones were not. Through the opportunity afforded me in helping to lead an HYC, God took me beyond my comfort zone and allowed me to realize that the cross of Jesus is all about going beyond comfort zones.
There were many areas on the HYC which were beyond my comfort zone. One area was leadership. I prefer to be delegated to rather than being the one delegating. Similarly, I prefer to follow a plan rather than being the one who comes up with the plan. Preparing and delivering lessons was also beyond my comfort zone. It usually takes me several weeks to prepare just one lesson for the campus ministry back home, so having to deliver six lessons over the course of two weeks most definitely stretched me beyond where I was comfortable. Another area that stretched me was cold contact evangelism. Reaching out and inviting strangers to study the Bible on campus is not a strong point of mine. I find it awkward and uncomfortable, so having to lead others who were equally if not more awkward and uncomfortable with the whole idea was certainly even further beyond my comfort zone. The area of drama was also beyond my comfort zone. Seeing as the HYC was an American site, there were predominantly high school aged teens on the trip, and several of these teens were not disciples of Jesus or were fairly young in their walks with God. Therefore, understandably, issues such as gossip and flirtation came up as we served on the HYC. I wasn’t comfortable with such things when I myself was a high school student, and time had not helped to make it any more comfortable for me. In all these areas I was forced to go beyond my comfort zones.
HOPE Youth Corps (HYCs) all around the world require financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual sacrifice from their participants and leaders. But for every area in which they sacrifice, they receive a hundred fold in return. Such was the case with the recent HYC in Philadelphia which reached its completion in June. Over the course of 12 days, the 20 participants and the leaders experienced and learned lots serving both in Schwenksville, PA, and in North Philadelphia. Although the trip started and ended in June, the fundraising and planning efforts began months before then, and the impact of the trip has already extended far beyond that time frame.
Over the first couple days of the trip, our team was able to work with One Day At A Time (ODAAT), an organization that helps individuals recovering from all sorts of situations in the neighborhoods of North Philly. Started by the now deceased Henry “The Rev” Wells, ODAAT runs several half-way houses throughout North Philly where people getting out of prison, overcoming addictions, or dealing with HIV/AIDS can receive support. The HYC team was able to clean out one of the main administrative buildings that ODAAT runs, as well as help set up for an upcoming charity concert that was scheduled for later that week. Out in the surrounding neighborhood, our team had the opportunity to help repaint some city blocks as well as do some landscaping in some of the nearby lots and playgrounds. Many of the participants were taken aback by how grateful and appreciative the members of the community were. Despite the perceived “rough” appearance of the neighborhood, many passersby stopped to share kind words or even brought water for those working out in the sun. What appeared to have the greatest impact on our team was the stories that those who worked with ODAAT shared from their own lives. Hearing about what the neighborhood and the individuals have been through and some of the current situations went a long way in showing the our HYC team what exactly we were helping accomplish in the short time we were there.
My name is Melissa George and currently, I am a sophomore in college studying to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. I am currently in the process of transferring to Nursing School and a different ministry. The past two years, I was part of a larger campus ministry and this fall I’m moving into a ministry where I will be the only woman in my college. Being part of the Glasgow Hope Youth Corps has been a mountain top experience that prepared me for what God has in store for me this fall. The experience helped me to see how God can use anybody regardless of size of the ministry (big or small) to glorify his Kingdom.
Philippians 2:1-4 came alive for me. The two weeks I spent in Glasgow allowed me to see the power of just doing what the Scripture teaches. HOPE Youth Corp Glasgow gave me a glimpse of what unity feels like as people from different nations came together in one spirit and purpose. You might ask, what does that look like? Well every day we ate together and met in disciples’ homes (Acts 2:42-47). We encouraged one another daily (Hebrews 3:12-14), shared our faith together (Matthew 28:18), confessed our sins to each other, (James 5:16) and prayed constantly (Colossians 4:2). We continued to learn from the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3: 14-17).
Applying the Word to our lives had a monumental impact on me. Not only were we striving to grow individually in our relationship with God but we did it together. The consistency transformed & trained my mind and my thoughts to think like Christ and the fruit of it was gratitude and pure joy. It made me realize the truth in what God says, my words are not burdensome. and I couldn’t help but notice how God was using us to be his ambassadors.
For example, we lived in a hostel, where we met two Swedish girls who worked there. Fortunately, we had two Swedish sisters who were part of our group they connected with. We were able share the Word with them. I also met another guy who was visiting all the way from Michigan, really close to where I am from, who was really impacted by our fellowship. I saw Acts 17 come alive, where God arranged places so people would have an opportunity to find him, and we were his instruments by just practicing the Word!
I am so grateful that I had the amazing opportunity to serve at HYC Hawaii. I was excited to go to Hawaii because I’ve never been and I was excited for the opportunity to serve.
The service opportunity that affected me the most was feeding the homeless at a beach. It was so humbling to see how when we offered them lots of free food but they would only take a small portion. I said “You can have more food. We have plenty.” and then they would say they had more than enough! Then they all thanked us and said, “God bless you.” It was just so crazy to see that our giving them leftover food was so special to them. We have so much that we take for granted. Most of us just eat from our pantry whenever we want! We have houses, beds, food, clean clothes and we are still consumed with materialistic things. I have so much and I seem to always want more. To see that these people have so little and are content with what they have is so convicting.
Please watch the following video below as two HYC Hawaii participants share their experiences while on HOPE Youth Corps! The video is definitely worth the watch! It’s incredible to see the impact just a few weeks has had on the participants and on the people being served!
Link to HYC Hawaii video is here !
If you feel compelled to sign up for a HYC, we still have some spots still available! Check out https://www.hopeww.org/hyc to see what sites still have open slots! But hurry, sites fill up quickly!
A year ago Anthony Herrera, a young student from Los Angeles, signed up for the Novosibirsk, Russia, HOPE Youth Corps. He doesn’t speak Russian, but he, along with a group of 15 non Russians, joined 40 teens and campus students from Russia and Ukraine (yes, you read that right… Russia AND Ukraine) for two weeks of service followed by one week of camp, in Siberia. It took faith and guts, but Anthony was game!
The group needed translators obviously, so everyone paired up with someone who could help with the language. Anthony joined a young Russian man named Makar Donskoy. They served orphans, the homeless, and veterans. They had fun, and they built a strong friendship over the three weeks. A few months later, Makar was baptized. We published that story a few months ago, about how the HOPE Youth Corps program played a big role in Makar’s transformation: Read the story here!
As I woke up to travel to Haiti, for a mission trip with HOPE worldwide Singles Corps, I looked around at my room, my car, my family, my dogs, and everything I have. I took note of what I take for granted every day and knew it would only be a week away from all the comforts of living my life in the states.
This would be my second trip with HWW to Haiti. Haiti holds a special place in my heart. Many of my friends are from Haiti and what better way to show them how much they mean to me than by serving in their country. I was leaving my comfy bed, running water, hot showers, A/C, mosquito free home, and abundance of food for a hard bed covered by a mosquito net, a toilet that doesn’t flush without the assistance of water being dumped in it, cold bucket showers, heat in morning, noon, and night, and food served on other’s timing.
What do we really want out of serving others? Do we really do it for their sake or just to feel good about ourselves? The world is so vast and so many people need help; so how do you choose where, and when to go?
I wanted an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and do work out of my direct vicinities. I wanted to be able to meet people from other cultures and share/help in the struggle they face. I wanted to be a vessel ready for God’s work. I chose Nepal, because I used to work for a Non-profit Organization that helped refugee children get adjusted in the US. A lot of the Children we worked with were Nepali/Bhutanese. I wanted a chance to see the country of these kids that had captured my heart. This trip made me realize that God will stretch us beyond what we think we could do.
I was sick and in pain for almost the entirety of the trip, which made it difficult for me to have a serving attitude. Nonetheless, God tugged at my heart to just look past the physical and mental pain and see the vast reach He has. Here I was surrounded by a group of people from all over the world, who individually responded to the call of God to go in a foreign land and minister to strangers and to other brothers and sisters.
The trip was adventurous; we started it with a trekking experience. This was one great icebreaker; I know many people connected through this experience. Along the same line, the great adventure of the trip was working at the HOPE worldwide School.
My Lord, What am I doing here? If you ever ask yourself the question, pause and look around. Amazingly, being there in Nepal despite what seemed unfavourable living conditions, etc., it was a small taste of what Heaven could be like. I was surrounded with people that share the same mind, and desire to serve. God used these people to remind me that it was not about me, that I was there for a work He had prepared ahead for me (as Ephesians 2:10 mentions). God wanted me to remember to share in the spirit with others, to value those that were less fortunate or even my peers, and share the blessings/gifts I have received.
Seeing people willing to let go of SELF, to focus on others, and take hold of the task at hand, created moments of awe for me. There are no real words to describe it, as I believe this is personal to each. I loved the devotionals in the morning before we headed out to help at the school. I loved hearing the kids sing when one of us taught the class. I loved seeing so many of us, volunteers, humbling into doing whatever work was asked of them. I liked the fact that we addressed the issues we saw as we worked and did not focus only on the original plan, but all were willing to go beyond to accomplish the work original designed and more.
I was profoundly stricken and humbled in my entitled behaviour by seeing how, even though we were there to serve, the Nepali people served us more; it was mind-boggling, delightful, and uncomfortable at the same time. This was truly the most personal touch for me. To see the contentment and unassuming attitude of these people, reminding me that I was gaining more from this experience than I was giving.
As I was thinking of where I was and what I was doing I realize how grateful I was that God had me in this community of believers and that we had a program such as HOPE worldwide that could help me go almost anywhere around the world to minister to people I may have never gotten a chance to see. Nepal, certainly kept a piece of me. I cannot imagine not having had this experience. Though it was hard to come back to the U.S.A. and tryimg to get back in my routine, I do not look at it as a negative side effect of my trip, but more as a continuous reminder to seek out where else God would like for me to use my serving gifts. So, as long as God allows it, I want to be able to go back to Nepal or to other places and serve and minister to those that meet my path.
They are many opportunities, many of them next door to you. We are, as believers, called to share our faith and through serving we have an opportunity to do that. Maybe you can’t do/afford HOPEww, maybe you need to budget, or fundraise… but if in fact there is something you could do to go, why wouldn’t you?
“To me this was more valuable than anything money could buy.”
Jane Doyle, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, writes about her family's trip to Nepal with the Kathmandu 2015 Christmas HOPE Youth Corps.
Luke 14v.12: “ Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. ”
When I think about giving to others without expecting anything in return, I think about the way Jesus gave his very life on the cross, knowing that nothing we could ever do would be able to repay that price. I love that for everything Jesus commands, he sets an example by doing it himself to a degree that we could never match. I can’t imagine having Jesus’ level of compassion or heart to give.
Being on the HOPE worldwide Singles Corps helped me to see his love in a new light. It was a convicting realization that of the all of the ways Jesus could have spent his time on earth, he spent it having face-to-face interactions with hurting and desperate people. Despite the fact that God knew us intimately even in the womb, he still sent his son to be face to face with us.
Zachary Parnell, 24, a campus student from Philadelphia, was one of our "master builders' on the Philippines HOPE Youth Corps. He is also one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.This is what he shared about his time on HYC...
"I truly had no idea what it meant to serve. Sure, in church I see people "serving in the song ministry" or "serving in children's ministry". But what it meant to serve outside the church walls became clearer to me on this HYC.
I quickly realized that my focus on the HYC and back home was not on serving God, and that needed to change. Through helping build houses, serving communities, and seeing children's eyes light up, I started to feel a longing to serve and wanted to focus on that and nothing else. The HYC took me back to the roots of God, and our relationship, and reawakened things in my character I thought I had conquered but hadn't. And I'm better for it.
I realized that the intention to serve must be there but must also be followed by swift action. I realized that we can do godly thing after godly thing, yet miss the point of service altogether, which is love. Doing everything in your power and with the faculties God provides to make someone who is sad feel happy, and choose to be used by God to give them Hope. It's all about seeing the need through the crowd and going in faith to see the right and not the wrong.
God wanted me to focus again on our relationship, God wanted to use me emotionally and spiritually instead of just physically. God wanted me to boast in my weakness so, in turn, glory is given where it's due. Physical activity doesn't always mean you're being productive if you're not using your activities and gifts to glorify God and reflect God's glory.
We tend to do things so fast that we can forget why we are even doing them. This HYC experience put me in touch with my heart, and helped me realize that I need to be monitoring and checking where it's at often. I need to be asking myself if I'm comparing myself to others, or if I'm comparing myself to Jesus. Am I doing this in response to God's Love?
This HYC experience has me asking myself if I praise God when things aren't going so well, or if I only praise God when things are going well. This HYC has sharpened my eyes for the detail of neglected things, and has struck my heart to make me wonder if I always have the humility to do something about it. "Let the person you've become on HYC be the person you are when you go home". Those words by Aaron in our last devo struck home. If you can say that, it means some amazing things go down on a HYC.
Lastly, God revealed my heart as I've never felt it and experienced it before. It was as if I had loved for the first time, and was scared because I wanted it to last forever, it was a glimpse. I want more glimpses.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve alongside Godly people striving to live out the aspect of Jesus' ministry that many neglect. I'm not sure what God has in store going forward, but I feel different upon returning back to the West, truly different."
If you want to experience what Zach is talking about, apply here:
Having a hard time to believe you can raise enough funds for your HOPE Youth Corps or HWW Singles Corps trip?
Anthony Herrera is an enterprising young man, with a lot of faith, and a heart to match. He is incredibly resourceful when it comes to fund-raising for his HOPE Youth Corps trips. And then he shares his faith as he raises funds. By the way, he is only 18 years old! Amazing!
He had some tips he wanted to share...
"Hey everyone ! I have been given the amazing privilege to share with all of you on how I have personally fund-raised for HYC and about the motivation that kept me going, when I knew there was so much money I didn't have!!!
- Pick up every coin you find ( in 3 months from just finding random coins I made $60)
- Fund-raise at your local fast food restaurant ( Chic fil A., Panera, Rubios etc.). The big thing that is needed for this fundraiser is connections ! With this fundraiser you must desire to have the opportunity to let everyone know about this , whether it's on social media or flyers! There will be an information booth of your cause, and the cool thing is you meet new people as well as invite them to church !
I had the chance to meet a single mom and she is now studying the Bible ! Please pray for her!
- Do the announcements for church and explain to the whole congregation your desire to volunteer ! I made at least 5-600 dollars doing this. When the church sees your desire, you will be blessed!!! This job includes baby sitting, gardening , watching dogs, painting fences , pulling weeds, the list goes on !
Many disciples have work that could be done around the home, and would love to get to know you individually ?
- Email family members and explain to them your hunger to be right with God, to volunteer, and be forever changed !
- Go to other churches and let them know about your fund and see how they can help fund for you !
This is probably the most ideas I can think of, but besides money, God truly cares about our heart and where it is at.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Satan will tell you lies ! He will tell you that money is something you will never receive. There were so many times I hoped for more money and was not satisfied with what I got . God does not desire a heart that doubts him! We must stay cheerful because God knows our heart and people may see you smiling on the outside but God knows everything about you.
Do not lose heart, brothers and sisters, because we serve a God that sees our big problems as the size of a mustard seed! We can easily put hours into the fund-raiser, but if your mind is not governed by the Spirit, you will not seek prosperity. Thinking the way our flesh thinks will show God that we doubt him. The song "Oceans" states ".. spirit lead me where my trust are without borders ".
Let your trust for God be without borders, and he will bless the faithful ?? This heart of service of your fund-raiser will reflect how your HYC may turn out . Happiness is not gratefulness , gratefulness is happiness. I would challenge you all to FAST and PRAY because when we offer our body and time to God, he will do MAGICAL things ! Be sure to write thank you letters once you have received your donations .
Once again huge shout out to Chic fil A for really being a huge resource and positive impact on my life . Be sure to eat a chicken sandwich that comes with great service.
“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.”
Romans 8:6-7, 10
"It has been seven months since my Hope Youth Corps trip to La Paz, Bolivia and since that time I can honestly say that that Youth Corps was one of the best and impacting experiences of my life. I thought that when I left I would fall back into the pattern of seeing the world and living my life how I always did before, but it’s been months later and there isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t think about the lessons I learned about myself, about God, and about others from that trip.
Before coming to Bolivia my heart was more calloused than it had ever been spiritually. I felt every time I chipped pieces from it I would form a new callous around it. I felt stuck, and I was waiting for moments and situations to change me, but I didn’t realize I didn’t need to see those things to change me I needed to see God, and being in Bolivia helped me get to that point. I always wanted to believe it was my “calling” to help people and serve, but in reality it’s every disciples calling, and every disciple’s heart should want to give back because we’ve already been given so much.
I learned that church family is the same everywhere, and it’s something special to know that I can go to a completely different continent than my own, meet people completely different from me, and we still have the same goals and love each other as if we actually came from the same blood line. I learned not having “enough” is a lie. What I lack at times is not having enough faith that God will provide for me, because there were Bolivians that I saw physically not having enough yet still gave. So me feeling like I don’t have enough to give wasn’t a stuff issue it was a heart issue. I learned that God is big and my problems are small compared to him. I learned people need help with more than just physical needs, they need help with emotional needs as well. Being hopeless at times is worse than being without food or clothes. Being there to comfort, listen, and show love can have bigger impacts than I thought it could. I learned serving as a group brings unity and it pushes one another to go past comfort zones. I learned I can set an example without saying a word, but with my actions.
But most importantly I learned that my life is not my own, and if I live it like it is I’m not really living at all. I feel so honored and blessed that I was able to build friendships, been able to serve some of the most amazing people I have ever encountered, and see the beauty of Bolivia. That almost a week and a half trip has shown me more than anything years before. I had to save up almost a year’s pay checks in order to go to La Paz, but it was one of the best investments I could’ve ever made. I just want to tell you thank you so much for the opportunity to have that experience, no words could really fully express my gratitude."
When you go on a HOPE Youth Corps, you have no choice but to focus. Plucked away from the comforts and conveniences of home, the volunteers are left with each other, their service work and God. We interviewed Nathan Cheong, a 16-year-old who has recently returned from his first HYC experience in Cebu, Philippines to find out more about his experience.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
A: Not feeling good enough. Everyone else knew what they wanted, they were spiritual, could quote scriptures, seemed to have a better connection with God.
I told my dgroup there how I felt, that I wasn’t doing as well spiritually and I told them that rather than just feeling this way, I wanted to learn from them to become a better disciple. I had a great time with one of the brothers, Chris and he helped me realise that I’m not the only one. We’re all struggling; it’s just how we deal with it. I had to go to God and not deal with things my own way.
Q: What is something you’ve learnt about yourself?
A: I realised that I am more empathetic than I thought. On Christmas morning, we had a devo on humility by a brother. He shared about a guy there with no legs and it hit me, how much I had and I literally broke down, seeing him and what he didn’t have and yet how grateful he still was. That’s when I realised I was able to care that much.
Q: Our theme is Focus. What was your focus on this HYC?
A: I wanted to be out of myself. To be vulnerable, build more relationships. In Singapore I’ve always stuck to my comfort zone, with my own group of friends. And it really worked out; I talked to everyone and there were some overseas disciples I got really close to. And even with the other Singaporeans, this was the first time our group of friends actually sat down and had a deep conversation – not about superficial things like football but about what we saw in each other that needed to change.
Q: What was the highest high on the trip?
A: Christmas carolling. At first, it wasn’t all that exciting. We were tired, after building houses for 4 days. But when we got to the place and started carolling and giving them gifts, they started to cry with gratitude. It hit me how much what we did meant to these people, and I finally understood why it is better to give than to receive.
Q: What is something you’ve learnt about Filipino culture?
A: They are really open! We went evangelising and it wasn’t like Singapore where people are like ‘no, get away from me’. Most of them said ‘okay I’ll be there’ and they actually were there! The church of 20 had over 800 people at their Sunday service that week.
Q: You’re back. What’s next?
A: My theme for the year is ‘It’s all about You’, to have faith and believe in God’s sovereignty no matter what. I’m struggling with that because of O Level results and things not going my way, but I really want to focus on that this year. I will also keep building deeper relationships with my friends, by talking more about how we feel and what we want this year – all that deep stuff, and not like how we were.
Q: So you have all these plans, how will you keep this focus?
A: When we came back, we divided ourselves into smaller groups to keep each other accountable. My group has me, Steffi and Jared in it and I share with them my struggles, even this week itself when I struggled to have faith. That’s how we will keep the focus!
If I had to sum up HYC Philippines in 5 words, it will be: Growth, Maturity, Spirituality, Gifts and Gratefulness.
This past youth corps has been an emotional roller coaster. I spent the first half of the year saving up for this trip and the other half, imagining its sights and scenes.
I went for my first youth corps when I was 17, in Chennai, India.
At that time, I was not very mature. Though I had much zeal, I was lacking in knowledge. I went there with a few of my best friends, expecting a good time, not expecting the way this trip would impact my life, more than I could imagine.
Moving on 2 years later, I thus decided to go on another youth corps. This time, alone. I was not with my best friends, and I made the choice to step out of my comfort zone. It was exciting to prepare for the trip, as I read the book of Luke, putting my heart through several rounds of hard questioning. I wanted to make sure my intentions were right and pure. I wanted to be able to give my 110% and leave Philippines without any regrets.
The first few days of the trip was tough as I battled insecurities of leading my own d-group, striving to be a servant as Jesus was, and being outwardly focused. I remember doing my quiet time on the first day about Jesus calming the storm in Luke 9:22, and I was reminded that on this boat through the stormy seas, Jesus is in it with me.
There are many things I have learnt on this trip but I would like to emphasize just one.
We were tasked to build a house in 3 days. Yes, a house.
It was cool to actually pick up a nail and a hammer and attempt to hold it all together. I say attempt, because half the time I was failing miserably, and needed to call for reinforcements. But Amen, God looks at the heart.
We had the privilege of spending three and a half days with Kuya (older brother in Tagalog) Renaldo, and his family (His wife, Ate Gazelle and his 3 children Jairo, Micky and Meljohn). We cooked with them, ate with them and set off for their home as early as 8.30 in the morning, leaving only when the sun had begun to set.
Kuya Renaldo’s family was one of the many families affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon had swept away their entire home. They had nowhere to go, living in the streets for a period of time, eventually settling at Renaldo’s mother in law’s place, already home to 5 other family members.
I spent a huge amount of my time playing with the kids and it was hard not to choose between favorites. The one kid that completely stole my heart was Ginny Rose.
Ginny, Ate Gazelle’s niece, is the most joyful 2 year old ever! She has the sweetest smile and I grew attached to her immediately. Her father was a cheat and had left her, her mother and her 3 month old brother for another woman.
I was drawn to her as I felt empathetic, instinctively desiring to protect her and making sure she grew up well. She would always run towards me when she saw me and fell asleep in my arms during lunch.
We had to say goodbye to Kuya Renaldo’s family on the 4th day, and we bought them presents because it was Christmas. We got all the children toys, a few clothing items as well as groceries for the rest of the family. I have never seen happier kids, literally screaming at the sight of their new toys, opening their eyes wide as they smiled from ear to ear.
The family was extremely grateful for the groceries and Ate Gazelle even cried when she received our gifts.
The most heartbreaking yet comforting thing to hear from Kuya Renaldo’s son, Micky, on the last day was “Ma, we have a house! Our house is so beautiful”
As I think about this experience, I feel extremely emotional. It was hard to say goodbye to this family, who trusted us with building their house and their children.
Going for this HYC was truly a stage of growth for me as I reevaluate my priorities and the things in my life that make me happy. So many times on the trip I caught myself being self-righteous and prideful. Back home I take my family for granted and complicate life.
It comforts me to know that as much as I do worry for Kuya Renaldo’s family, and love them to bits, God loves them more.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I love that God’s grace renews for me daily because I know that I need his grace so badly. Through this HYC, my biggest take away is that it’s not the big steps that matter most but the baby steps that help you progress.
2016 is upon us, and I don’t know what God has in store for me. What I do know is that He loves me and will take care of me.
As I sit comfortably on my queen size bed and type all these things I am forced to remember that my journey is just about to begin. I want to live every day and do everything that will bring glory to God, where my treasures are stored in heaven. Even if these treasures in heaven do not exist, I will still seize the day, and make the days count! Carpe Diem!
I am still as imperfect as before. But I know that I’ll be living out the spirit of HYC daily, no matter where I am. I will love my family and do my best not to take them for granted, and I am back to be the change I want to see.
“Our human compassion binds us to one another – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Nelson Mandela
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan aka Yolanda, the deadliest typhoon in history, left villages devastated, children orphaned, spouses widowed, and communities grappling with the overwhelming task of rebuilding their lives. This storm completely blindsided these who were unprepared, burrowing a deep feeling of despair and heartache that seemed at the time to be unyielding and relentless.
In many ways, my life in 2013 mirrored the same emotional tragedy of those who survived Typhoon Haiyan. The New Year in 2013 started out with great hopes as my husband, Tom Alessi, and I etched out our short and long term future. We dreamed of volunteering as a family one day to serve those less fortunate.
In June, I was completely blindsided, left in deep despair and feeling lost in the abyss of grief and heartache. My life as I knew it came to a screeching halt when we suddenly lost my seemingly healthy husband of 15 years to an undetected sudden cardiac death. Needless to say, the remainder of that year felt like a horrible movie as I was cast in the unwanted role of a distraught, grieving young widow swallowed up in emotional chaos, with two fearful little girls left confused and dazed by life’s raw reality. A seemingly strong and rooted faith of 25 years that somehow left me wounded and nearly broken seemed to be called into question.
Now, two and half years later, the rebuilding is steady and ongoing in my life and in the lives of the Filipino communities. The typhoon of “loss” seems to be a distant memory to us who have lived through it. The fears have subsided and have since been replaced by the determination to move forward and to find laughter in the smallest joys of life.
The rebuilding of the Filipino communities could not be done on its own but needed the help of compassionate strangers. I knew I could not climb the slippery slope of grief alone. I needed help to tear down the isolating walls that I built around me and to welcome the compassionate and loving arms of those waiting to console us. These very arms represent the arms of our Lord who is full of compassion and mercy.
For us, 2015 has been a year of service. Whenever I felt the wave of grief come crashing through, I remembered Jesus as He fed the 5000 shortly after hearing his cousin John was beheaded (Matt 14:10-21). I would seek out ways to serve, give of my time and money to the family of believers and the mission. The quote I started out with from Nelson Mandela has a deeper meaning to me, as we decided to spend Christmas break serving with the HYC Philippines team.
This was a different kind of Christmas for us as we made our way through the rural communities lined with tin roofed shacks, the compassion we felt for these people hit a chord deep within us. The hope we have in Christ was being poured out on to them through our acts of service. The joy we felt from our love for God which was being expressed through the warmth of our hugs to the children in the poorest communities, to the lonely old man who lost his wife seven years ago and chose the bottle as his only friend, to the family who lost everything in the typhoon who can now enjoy the home we built for them and to the mentally challenged little boy who found his way into my arms and heart, Juwaven aka “Bibi”. My soul continued to be fed when God unexpectedly met my deep need as a mom as I gained insight and sound advice on how to raise future young disciples from two devoted families from San Diego, an elder’s wife from Australia, a father of a teen from Singapore and an Aussie single brother who leads the preteen ministry in his country.
For the past year, I have grappled with the fear of how to raise two preteen girls as an only parent in a world that was determined to swallow them up. These fears were relieved because my girls were surrounded by rising teen and young campus leaders from across the globe who have a contagious zeal for God, an unabashed love for one another, and a deep sense of commitment to live out Jesus’s mission of not only seeking and saving the lost but of responding to the cries of those in need. My girls have living and breathing examples of who they can aspire to be. When my 10 year old says I want to be just like Patty Burrage when I grow up, I know my desire to see them become disciples is within reach, and I would spend every penny I have a thousand times over to give them this opportunity because it gives them a fighting chance to be unified in the Lord with me and their dad some day.
HYC in Fiji was truly a life changing trip.
I went to Fiji thinking I was going to change lives and I had no idea that at the same time, my own life was about to be changed.
Serving and visiting the kids at the orphanage, saving a school from shutting down, and being welcomed into a village and serving them were all needs that needed to be met. Meeting the needs of people and also sharing our relationship with God had a huge impact on many. I just graduated nursing school, so I was taking care of wounds and infected bug bites, I even had to take someone to the hospital. He wasn't a disciple but still had the heart to want to serve. On the trip, we had an encouraging talk about where he was in his relationship with God and how he wanted to get baptized when he went back home.
There was also a girl I really connected with, her name was ZQ. By the end of the trip, we looked at each other as sisters. She and I were about to go reach out, and all of a sudden I just got this feeling of confidence. I asked her if she was up for a bible study. She looked at me confused and asked if I had someone in mind. I told her I just knew that God has someone planned for us to study with and she told me yes. So we prayed for the rest of the bus ride, and on the third person we reached out to, we had a study with her on the spot. She was so eager to know more about God and felt so broken in how she was chasing other things to fulfill herself rather than God. She saw her need for God and wanted to continue to study the bible.
There was so much encouragement and love from everyone on this trip. My heart has forever been changed. I feel the deepest lessons I have learned from my trip to Fiji is that with faith nothing is impossible, and I got the opportunity to experience and see what true love looks like. I am already looking forward to the next trip I can be a part of!