Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shana's Story: Serving others, Growing close to Christ

Last weekend Shana and her leader went to Woodleaf YL Camp to serve on Work Crew in the pits where they washed dishes for Wyldlife Weekend (camp for middle schoolers). Shana is 19 and is energetic, active, funny, and admittedly a little sassy. She went to Woodleaf as a camper and went to YL Adventures Santa Cruz (discipleship camp) last year, so it is perfect timing for her to move into new roles as she is growing in her faith. Shana and her leader completed her work crew application together, signed up to go on the work crew weekend together, and then had a blast serving together. Shana encouraged the whole work crew while she volunteered with them. She and her leader put all
the clean silverware away and returned empty dish racks to their home in the kitchen after each meal. It was a great way for Shana to serve the camp. It was tiring but never did she complain. She just kept dancing!

By the end of the weekend everyone was waiting to learn a dance from Shana because anywhere there was music playing you could find Shana dancing. Before we left the work crew coordinator looked at Shana and said, "You ready to teach us a dance?" Shana without hesitation said, "YES!" She went immediately to the front of the room and said to the work crew, "Everybody, stand up!" The crowd stood and Shana proceeded to teach side steps, clapping to the beat, and turn moves. The whole group, while exhausted, loved Shana's dance - which thankfully was only 90 seconds long. We all left encouraged and with a bit of an energy boost for our drives home.

Work crew weekend was a wonderful way for Shana and her leader to serve students, just like she had been served as a camper, and she grew closer to Christ in the process.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Recently, an area in Northern Virginia took a really deep look at what discipleship might mean for their area. They were encouraged and challenged by the process. We wanted to share what they came up with…

We call the kids that are participating in Capernaum our friends, but are they really? Are we developing friendships with them in a way that is reflective of the gospel? Or do we treat our
relationships with them more like work?

John 15:13-17
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his masters’ business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit- fruit that will last- and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

If they are true friends, than they are disciples…
  • Each one reach one…challenge each leader to go deeper with one Capernaum friend.
  • Be intentional and creative in helping our friends process the gospel.
  • Find and develop leadership roles at club.
  • After second time of camp we pushing kids towards work crew or summer staff.
  • Planning a discipleship camp trip.

Don’t assume that where they are at is where they will stay… keep asking: “What’s next?”.

How do you view your friends in Capernaum? Are you peers walking alongside of each other in a journey of growing in your faith together? Are you dreaming big for your friends and praying for God’s wisdom?

Have some great thoughts on discipleship with your friends? We’d love to see them!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Creative Ways of Telling Mark 2

Our friends in the West Valley used this incredibly creative idea to help tell the story of Mark 2 in their club recently. The basis that they worked off of was an idea that they found on Pinterest
  • Make the object but also prepare parts so that each person in your club can make their own and follow along with the story
  • Give everyone a handout with Mark 2 on it and how to shape their paper in order to best follow along
  • Walk everyone through which pieces to attach and how to use the brackets to attach
  • Vary the conclusion/application from the video, but still use video as an engaging and interesting way to bring the Gospel to life
  • Pass out bookmarks to everyone and have them write their name on the bookmark as a reminder of what was talked about in club
Download the sheets that we used:
Jesus Gives New Life

Thanks for trying something new and for sharing it with us West Valley YL!

If you’ve done something new to help your friends engage in the gospel, please send it our way!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Serving in their Community - YL San Francisco Capernaum

As kids with varying abilities spend time in Young Life, they are being given chances to serve and grow in their communities, much like many kids who are a part of traditional Young Life. Every time we hear about opportunities where kids are growing in their faith, we’re celebrating!

Our friends in San Francisco spent time serving this summer! What a great way to build relationships, 
serve and earn some camp scholarship money!

Last summer kids came from various parts of Mainland China to go to camp at Woodleaf, but before they went to camp, they did some sightseeing and stayed in nearby homes. That’s when San Francisco Capernaum kids sprang into action! Our friends in Capernaum helped host the Chinese students, showing their hospitality and service by making lemonade, setting up dinner tables and chairs, serving food, and participating in club several nights. There were so many ways our friends could use their abilities to serve and be hospitable! Plus, in helping to host we earned some money for our very own camp trip which was when our new Chinese friends were at camp. We had the chance to serve them and then experience camp together!

Thanks San Fran! We love the ways that you are looking for chances to serve within the mission of YL! Thanks for being a part of what God is doing in your own area and internationally!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

1:1s Capernaum Bookmark

During their leadership weekend, the Young Life Arizona Region put together "bookmarks" for 1:1 opportunities for leaders and kids. What a wonderful way to show leaders some examples of how to spent time with kids in contact work and one on one.

Thank you David for this great idea!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

YL Capernaum Ministry Continues in Bulgaria

Did you know that Capernaum is in almost 40 countries? There are YL leaders, around the world, building relationships with teenagers with disabilities. Together, they are growing friendships, having dance parties (sounds familiar right?!), making crafts, baking, singing, laughing and learning about the God of the Universe being madly in love with them. We are going to start sharing stories from around the world of these great ministries. Would you stop and pray for these leaders, kids and the ministries that they represent?

Remembering reading about the amazing ministry happening in Bulgaria? Well, it’s still happening….

It is very exciting to see the growth and opportunity for Capernaum Young Life in Sofia, Bulgaria. Last month we had a special club for Christmas where many kids heard about the birth of Jesus for the first time! The joy and happiness it brought to our friends was quite overwhelming for our leaders and the teachers who have invited us to the school. Thank you for bringing us Young Life Capernaum!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Connection and Belonging by Brad Mowry

I stood in the doorway to the living room – I was frozen. It was a typical Sunday evening for us. We had several pizza boxes spread out on the dining room table and about 30 college students packed in our house. All of these Young Life leaders-in-training had come over to eat and hang out as usual.

But tonight was different. There was something added to the scene that I had never seen before.

I grabbed my pizza and headed into the living room. My sons wrestled with and chased college guys around the house, the din of conversations and the ambience of the football game could be heard, and Hannah lay on her therapy mat in the middle of the room.

What made this evening different from every other pizza night, was that there in front of me, Kristen
was on the mat next to Hannah. She was combing Hannah’s hair with her fingers and talking to her.

Hannah was cooing and laughing and looking in Kristen’s eyes – hearing her and being heard.

Why did I freeze? What was so different about this scene? In the 11 years since Hannah was born, this was the first time that someone other than a family member had taken this kind of notice of her. And, more than that, had really connected with her.

The Young Life podcast “On the Frontier” recently referenced the following quote by Brene Brown from her book, Daring Greatly:

“Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment.”

“Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world…"

Kristen took the time to truly connect with Hannah in a way that was meaningful to Hannah. Hannah was seen, heard, and valued by this young college-age woman who would eventually become her first Young Life leader. 

So Hannah and Kristen made a connection, but Hannah needs more than that. Hannah yearns to belong. She has a right to belong, and I want that for her and all of my friends with disabilities.

How does one find belonging?  Brene Brown says, “true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.” What I have come to know from parenting a child with
significant disabilities and befriending others with disabilities, is that no one presents their “authentic, imperfect selves to the world” better than people with disabilities.

This is a gift that people with disabilities have to offer the body of Christ. Because people with intellectual disabilities are often vulnerable and very accepting of others - presenting their authentic, imperfect selves in relationships - they help us to do the same.

Able-bodied and able-minded people can, and often do, hide our authentic, imperfect selves. I hold back from letting you see the real me: I might not tell you my internal struggles, I can wear loose clothing if I put on a few pounds, or utilize the “comb-over” if my hair thins any more. I will smile when I’m really sad, and tell you I’m fine when I’m not doing well at all.

But Hannah cannot hide her “authentic, imperfect” self (and I don’t believe she wants to). Hannah’s perceived “weaknesses” are not hidden when you spend time with her. Being with Hannah encourages me to abandon my attempts to fit in and to forsake my need for approval.

We need to discard these false attempts not simply because we are being inauthentic, but because we will not find true belonging while we continue to attempt to deceive others or ourselves.

Disability ministries like YL Capernaum offer the church the opportunity to enter into relationship with a group of people who are much better at creating a community of belonging, when we invite them in.

If belonging is based in presenting our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, and people with disabilities do this better than most of the world, we ought to be falling all over ourselves to invite people of all abilities, in the midst of our imperfections, into our churches. We are robbing ourselves of true connection and belonging by not seeking out friendships with those with disabilities.

Brad Mowry works for Young Life – an international ministry reaching out to adolescents. Brad is the Coordinator for Young Life’s ministry with adolescents with disabilities in the Eastern and Greater NY Divisions (an area that covers everything from Ohio to Virginia to Maine). The Mowrys have 7 children and reside in Western Pennsylvania.