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.”
In January of 2012, our family became more involved with HOPE worldwide as a Chapter was created in our congregation in Halifax. Later that summer, in August of 2012, our son was able to attend his very first HOPE Youth Corps in Philadelphia, an event which further helped to shape his perspective.
Cameron’s essay excerpt: “Along with my experiences of the healthcare system in this province already mentioned, there are several other experiences which have increased my interest in becoming a physician. One of the earliest of these was a service trip in North Philadelphia. Mentoring inner city kids and running a summer camp for them opened my eyes to the possibility of a life lived in service to others. I began to consider how I might best use my talents for such a task. Seeing as I was rather gifted in the sciences, I decided to try and pursue a career in medicine.”
Meanwhile back in Halifax, our HWW Chapter grew and began to get involved in more and more local service projects, as we prayed and explored ways to help serve those in our community. One of those ways is through what is known locally as the “Sunday Supper” program. In this, each Sunday evening, approximately 200 “guests” from our community who may be going through some life challenges or experiencing difficulties in their life, are treated to a warm meal, and an even warmer smile by a number of volunteer groups, various churches and community organizations. Our local congregation and HOPE worldwide of Canada have been privileged to be able to be involved with the Sunday Supper program for over 15 years.
A few years back, one of the needs that was observed by some volunteers was for a drop in “Foot Clinic” for the Sunday Supper guests, as foot care and treatment are especially important for those who may be experiencing homelessness.
Cameron’s essay excerpt: “In my grade twelve year…I began to take an interest in biology, (and) I also began volunteering at the Walk In Our Shoes (WIOS) clinic. The clinic afforded me the chance to interact with and provide free foot care to disadvantaged individuals in Halifax.”
Then in December of 2014, our entire family decided to take our Christmas and spend it in a “non-traditional” way and we traveled to Delhi, India to take part in our first HOPE Youth Corps as a family!
Cameron’s essay excerpt: “The skills I learned at the (Foot Clinic) clinic also came in handy when I visited a leprosy colony in India. Whether it is by treating a fungal toe nail in Halifax or bandaging lesions on the foot of a leper in India, the ability for medicine to communicate compassion regardless of language has had a supreme impact on me. These volunteer experiences showed me that a career in medicine could fulfill my desire for a life lived in service to others, which has also served to further my interest in becoming a physician.”
Participation in HOPE Youth Corps not only helps develop a heart of compassion, but it also helps our youth to grow and expand in their leadership skills and abilities. Cameron applied for and became a HOPE Youth Corps Global Service Intern after coming home from HYC Delhi in 2014, and co-lead his first HYC in Philadelphia in June of 2016. He also co-lead the HYC Budapest in July 2017.
Cameron’s essay excerpt: “Not all of my experiences have played readily to my strengths. Some have revealed weaknesses, and subsequently allowed me to work on growing in those areas. (Such as) leadership in group settings. I would rather follow someone else’s plan or be delegated to, than be the one coming up with the plan and delegating. Leading service projects here in Halifax and abroad has helped me in this area. To assume that all my weaknesses have been entirely overcome would be false. Although I have experienced growth in some areas, there is still much to learn and grow in. Along the way there have been challenges that have made my weaknesses apparent and therefore forced me to be humble. The sum of these experiences is great, and I believe the expectation of what I do with them is also great. I view a career as a physician not just as an opportunity, but also as a moral obligation; not just as a decision, but as a duty.”
Our family is eternally grateful for the opportunities that our fellowship of churches has to offer to our youth and to our families; and for the eternal impact that HOPE Youth Corps has had on each one of the Taylor family.
Like all parents, we are trying to do our best to help our children navigate life and search out ways to put their God-given talents to work in a meaningful and fulfilling way as they mature and search out a career path. From my vantage point and from my experience, I would whole-heartedly encourage parents, youth and church leaders to look at the role that HOPE Youth Corps could play on that journey. My simple wish is that not only would many parents be given the opportunity to send their children on an HYC, but that many more would be able to “take” their children and their families on an HYC and be forever changed by the experience, the lessons learned and the bonds of brotherhood formed literally around the world!
(All excerpts from Cameron’s Application for Medical School Essay used with his permission)
A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico today (Tuesday, September 19, 2017). The earthquake buckled buildings, cracked foundations and brought rubble down on all sides of Mexico City. The U.S. Geological Survey has said the quake had magnitude 7.1 and was centered near Puebla. At this time dozens of people are reported dead and many are hurt and missing. We have local chapter partners and church leaders that we have been able to make contact with, but your prayers are needed more than ever.
Please check back for updates.
Visit our Global Disaster Response page to donate and empower a quick response and recovery!
My name is Michelle Charon. My husband and I have a full house with four teenage daughters.
Our older three girls are disciples of Christ, and the youngest one is on her way to making the
same decision to have her own relationship with God, and become a disciple herself. We are a
busy household, and love serving in the Kingdom of God. My husband is a deacon and
together, we lead our local Chapter which helps serve with Hope worldwide in our local
community, as well as helping to lead our Youth and Family Ministry. We have strived to raise
our girls to love serving, and pray that they are drawn to those in need. We also pray they
continue to use their lives to serve those less fortunate than themselves, to show Jesus’ love
where hearts are hurting and in need of the truth, to show people that God loves them, is
paying attention, and will give them comfort through disciples who are willing to show His love.
We have been so fortunate to have made the decision to send our girls to HOPE Youth Corps
every year. Our older three have been on a total of seven trips between them, and our
youngest cannot wait until it is her turn to go and serve when she is old enough.
In sending our girls on these trips to Denver, Philadelphia (twice), Mexico, Vancouver, Dallas,
and Bolivia so far, we have seen changes in them that only God can provide. Once their eyes
were opened to serving in such a deep and powerful way, and how much good it does for their
hearts and characters, they were hooked on serving with HOPE worldwide!
They have seen things that we could not possibly have shown them while we live in the suburbs
of Massachusetts in our comfortable home with our easy lives. They so look forward to
traveling each summer to a place where they learn something new and challenging about the
people they serve, as well as the spiritual lessons they find, as they give their hearts to the
people and each other, rely on God, work harder than they thought possible, give more of
themselves than they knew they had, and gain so much more as they exhaust themselves to
meet all of the needs.
My girls have come back from HOPE Youth Corps completely different from these experiences.
They love how spiritual the whole crew can be, the new friends they make that love God as
much as they do, the discipleship groups they attend where they can be real, learn to be more
giving, open up about how much it hurts to know they can’t do it all, or make everything better
in one trip.
The bond they form with the people they serve alongside is a very powerful thing. They make
friends that become best friends, closer than they could ever imagine, by having gone through
the same serving experiences. They meet future college roommates, learn to love people they
never would have thought would be a good friend, laugh until it hurts about the memories they
make, skype with their new 20 best friends after the trip is long over, cry because they miss the
bond they made in that new place, fly across the country to visit those new best friends, and
thank God every day for these experiences.
We will forever be grateful for the experiences that HOPE Youth Corps brings and the blessings
that come from serving and bonding, as well as hard work. We have seen our girls cry about
the people they meet that are so in need. They have kept in touch with the children they
mentored, sent packages to the orphanages they’ve left behind, prayed for the families and the
lives they’ve touched, and smiled from so many good memories of times that only they can
If there is one major thing that we think has been the most powerful in helping shape our
daughters into the strong, faithful women they are today, outside of our family, hands down it
would be the spiritual growth they gain from serving and the amazing job that HOPE Youth
Corps has done in making these trips possible.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of the volunteers and leaders who work with
HOPE Youth Corps. Your work is not in vain, and your sacrifice is changing the lives of the other
volunteers like my girls, as well as changing lives all over the world of those who benefit from
these service trips.
We cannot wait to see our lives change once again as we look forward to joining in as a family
on one of the many opportunities to serve on one of the Volunteer Corps open to families.
September 6, 2017
HOPE worldwide has been on the ground in Houston, Texas meeting needs and actively organizing volunteer efforts. The Dallas and San Antonio Chapters have sent groups of volunteers and supplies to help Houstonians recover. HOPE worldwide and the Greater Houston Church are currently working with countless displaced families and individuals who have lost their homes, their cars and their livelihood for the time being.
Austin Wright, a student at the University of Texas San Antonio, started his internship with HOPE ww by organizing 51 volunteers from San Antonio to help with the Harvey relief efforts! The volunteer group was a diverse mixture of college students, young professionals, singles and married couples. They helped six different families in northern and western Houston clear out the debris from their homes.
Teams of volunteers gutted houses and took ruined furniture to the curb as you can see in some of the photos. They ripped up flooring, removed base moldings and cut out damaged sheet rock.. Some houses had to have two to three feet of sheet rock cut out as that reflected how high the flood waters invaded their houses. In all the neighborhoods, people were working on Labor Day to gut their houses and begin the slow process of rebuilding their houses and their lives.
August 30, 2017
The devastation from Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt throughout Texas and Louisiana, as heavy rains and catastrophic flooding are expecting to continue for days. Although the full extent of the damage and death toll will not be clear for some time, we know that this storm is unprecedented. HOPE worldwide was able to deploy our HotNews team to Houston and they are gathering footage from the devastation as we speak.
HOPE worldwide is on the scene in Texas and Louisiana and already responding. In the few days since this storm made landfall, the HOPE worldwide disaster response team made an early needs assessment and started helping to supply food, water, and tools for many affected by the storm. HOPE worldwide is now actively preparing to mobilize our network of amazing volunteers to continue to deliver aid and implement more extensive clean-up and recovery efforts. These efforts are made possible by compassionate donors from around the world and in conjunction with our network of nonprofit partners.
Many of our HOPE worldwide community members in Houston have been affected and we are getting reports of total material loss from many families. There are an untold number of homes and people affected, and the additional flooding and rainfall is set to make the situation even worse. It is already apparent that recovering from this disaster will take years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
HOPE worldwide has boots on the ground in Houston and we will be able to mobilize our volunteers to meet specific needs.
We will keep you posted!
The HOPE worldwide Team
August 29, 2017
"This disaster is going to be a landmark event." That's how the head of FEMA described the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. "This is a storm that the United States has not seen yet," he added.
I’ve lived in Houston for a total of nine years, and have witnessed many incredible storms, hurricanes, and even tornadoes, but nothing close to Hurricane Harvey. The destruction will be as nothing seen before in the U.S.
This morning, a local official called the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey "an 800-year event." The National Weather Service described the damage as "unprecedented" and "beyond anything experienced." According to the Insurance Information Institute, flood damage may equal that of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in United States history.
We ask and thank you all for your fervent prayers on our behalf! We could see as much as 50 inches of rain, and many of our members will have their homes flooded. The cleanup will be a massive undertaking, perhaps taking years. Your love and support means so much to us here in Houston.
We are grateful that as far as we know all of the disciples in our churches are safe and many are helping their neighbors. We mourn with the families who have lost loved ones.
We know that we serve an amazing omnipotent God who cares and who can! I have every confidence that the Greater Houston Church will come through this trial with faith and love as we live out Phillipians 2:14-16: " Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain ."
We look forward to glorifying our God as we serve our community in the coming weeks, and know many of you will be joining us in doing so. Please keep us in your prayers and God bless.
Lead Evangelist, Greater Houston Church
Allison Reynolds from Manchester, England shares her HYC experience:
I had a lot of fear going to the Philippines Christmas 2016 HYC. For someone who has barely flown at all, four eight hour flights were scary enough. And then, what about all the diseases and dangerous animals? Would I be of any benefit? How safe were the slums to take a typically English twelve year old boy? What if he got lost? And what about the finances – just think what else we could have done with all that money!
Having now been on the HYC I can honestly say that it was the best money I have ever spent and I would go again and again if it were possible for us. It’s hard to describe how amazing the time was. My husband described it as a taste of heaven. Yes, we get to help the poor and have an impact, but for me that was just a drop in the ocean. Spending two weeks with a group of young fresh excited disciples was so inspiring. Hearing all their stories of how they became Christians was faith-building. The depth of the friendships that were built in that short space of time is a true miracle from God.
Before going, I was hopeful that the young disciples would spend some time with my boys and reach out to them. They did far more than that. I hardly saw them. Every time I walked into a room someone was chatting with Jon (15) and someone was playing cards with Ben (12) or tickling him. They had spiritual chats with them, shared bible studies and prayed with them. Ben sobbed when we left. “But I have made such good friends here mum, and I’m not talking about the children – I mean the grown ups!”
Half way through HYC, one sentence said by Jonathan made all the cost, planning, effort and overcoming my fears worthwhile. He said “Wow mum, this is so much more meaningful than what we could have been doing this Christmas”. My eyes prick with tears every time I write or share that sentence.
About three weeks after we came back, I had the best spiritual conversation that I’d ever had with Jon. I was so excited. His best friend in the church had decided to get baptised and I could see God working in lots of ways to open up his heart. He started to take his bible studies more seriously. I’d seen him take steps forward in his faith after the last two teen camps that he had attended and this was another big step forward but he still wasn’t quite ready. I had it on my heart for some time to write this article, but I kept putting it off because I wanted to be able to end it by saying that Jon had become a Christian.
And now, eight months after our return from the Philippines, I can write this article with the ending that I wanted. Jon was baptised at the London teen camp and it’s like a different person has come back! If you are considering going on one of the HYCs that are open to families, I can’t urge you strongly enough to go. It might just be the catalyst that is needed to stir your children’s hearts towards God.
September 6, 2017
August 30, 2017
We will keep you posted!
The HOPE worldwide Team
August 29, 2017
Lead Evangelist, Greater Houston Church