Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Arturo, Prayer and Young Life

Blog Post by Derek Cormell, New Mexico/El Paso Regional Capernaum Coordinator

I had the privilege of meeting Arturo a couple of months ago. Arturo loves Jesus deeply and has a special care for and understanding of disability… he also has Cerebral Palsy. 

Arturo and I sat down to talk about the mission of Young Life to reach every kid and how at Jesus’ table there is room for everyone! Arturo expressed that he had been in prayer for some time for a vehicle through which to proclaim the Gospel to people with disabilities in a relational way, little did he know, he was praying for what we do in Young Life. 

We also were unaware that our divisional team has been praying for Capernaum to begin in the city of El Paso. Arturo has joined our local high school Young Life team and is currently in new leader training. 

Our prayer is that soon, as we get a community of caring adults around Capernaum, Arturo will be a Capernaum leader here in El Paso! In the meantime, we are excited to have Arturo serving with us, bringing his gifts and abilities to our team as we learn together. His heart for all kids will impact Young Life, and we hope, help launch Capernaum. I am excited to see how God uses Arturo to live out the Gospel with high school students.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hundreds of Meals, Hundreds of Dishes, Hundreds of Hearts

Twice a year, for the last several years, our Arizona Capernaum friends have served thousands of meals, washed thousands of dishes, and touched thousands of hearts. During the off-season of camp, we head to Young Life’s Lost Canyon in Northern Arizona to serve as the work crew in the dining hall for 6 days for two outside groups. It’s labor intensive. It’s exhausting. It’s hard work for the most
able-bodied among us. Why do our friends with intellectual and developmental disabilities eagerly join us? It’s simple; they have a deep love for Jesus and a yearning for the opportunity to answer His call. John 13:14-15 says, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”.

Imagine having the water basin and towels ready, the heart of a servant, the chairs in place, and yet there are no feet to wash. So often our friends with disabilities are ready and willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus for others, and yet there are limited opportunities to serve. These special work crew weeks help fill that void. It’s hard to imagine being excited about long, hard work. Our friends work alongside adult leaders, often starting at 7:00 am and not finishing until after 8:00 pm. Yet they look forward to serving, and in the brief breaks between serving meals, cleaning the dishes, and setting the tables, our friends fill the space with laughter, affirming each other, and even participating in holy yoga classes.

They are fully present all week long because this service brings them closer to their God. The result is
deeper relationships for them, and consequently, deeper relationships with others. Typically as we serve participants of Holy Yoga and Revelation Wellness, our Capernaum friends expose the beauty and ability of a person with special needs to those that may have never encountered this before. One yoga participant described it this way, “In the midst of a week where it’s easy to be preoccupied with looks, physical health, and appearance, seeing Capernaum folks joyfully serving was a reminder to focus on what’s truly important”. The week always ends with tears, hugs, and proclamations of gratitude and inspiration from those that were served, all thanks to the faithful hearts of our friends. Next time you need your feet washed, just remember there just may be some Capernaum friends waiting to help. You just might see the face of your Savior smiling up at you through one of these friends.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

YL Palestine - Bethlehem Discipleship Camp/A Special Day!

In a country where children with special needs are often considered a shame for their families and put into group homes, Young Life has the unique opportunity of going into these facilities and sharing the love of Jesus through Capernaum ministry. YL leaders from the community love on these teens and young adults through weekly clubs and meetings and summer camps. 

Sadly, in Palestine, these kids are normally kept separate from general public and an average teenager in high schools would not have any opportunity to know, let alone go to camp with, anyone with special needs. However, for 53 Palestinian kids from the local YL club in Bethlehem that changed
last November, when they were given that opportunity to attend a YL discipleship camp. 

The three-day camp consisted of messages about finding God in the hard times, Jesus came for everyone, and how to read and understand scripture. On the second afternoon of camp, after hearing the message about Jesus coming for everyone, these teens prepared a carnival for 80 kids from the special needs homes. They set up booths and decorated the field to create a wonderful festive atmosphere. But more than this, the teens worked and played alongside of the special needs kids all afternoon. They pushed wheelchairs, helped the special needs kids play different games, danced and sang and laughed together. It truly was a special day. 

After the carnival, the YL leaders met with the HS kids and asked about their thoughts and feelings about hosting the special needs kids at the carnival. Most said that this had been their first interaction with anyone with special needs in their life and it was their favorite part of camp. It was a life altering experience for all of them.

What a beautiful way to disciple traditional YL kids and to reach kids with disabilities!  Will you pray for YL Palestine as they continue to reach kids with the Gospel?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

One on Ones at Camp and in Life

By Lyn TenBrink

You know those moments when someone is intentional with wanting to meet you for coffee and just hear about your life? That’s a one on one.

That same special feeling and the same intentionality are what a one on one is like at camp, or any other time, with our Young Life kids and friends. It is a gift. A gift of intimacy, generosity and care in the most holy of ways.

To begin, we thoughtfully pray and think through a kid’s context and where we see the Gospel story intersecting, and we sit down and generously care through questions, stories and sharing.

TheologyThere is a great YL resource on the basics of “Sharing the Gospel One on One”.

This document offers great theology and the whys of a one on one. This is just as true for Capernaum as for traditional kids. But we may need to think about this a bit differently with Capernaum friends or for any traditional kid who learns uniquely or who may have experienced life in drastic ways.

Daily or Weekly
Also, most YL camp weeks have a specific day of the week scheduled for one on one’s. But with kids who learn or process uniquely a one on one may need to be part of every day. With the kid to leader ratio in Capernaum this should be possible. When camping on traditional YL trips, this may need to be pre-thought through for specific kids around consideration of a daily one on one for kids who simply need more adult interaction in their life or a model of someone actually caring intimately about what they think and how they have experienced the week. For certain kids, especially kids who have experienced trauma or simply process and learn differently, a one on one can be the most likely entry point for the gospel - more than anything else they experience all week.

The whole camp week is designed for sharing the Gospel. With kids/friends it is important to allow them to respond to what they are hearing, experiencing and feeling in their own way. So having questions, visuals, word cards, a device may be essential to them responding. They have listened and participated in most things the camp week has had to offer. A one on one is their turn to respond in whatever way is most comfortable for them and it is our chance to listen or learn how to respond and share the gospel in their context.

So what are some ways to prepare for one on one time while at camp with a kid who processes or learns differently?

Prior to Camp Week:
  • Have trip leader connect with speaker and get scripture stories that will be shared from up front. 
  • Meet with your team and decide which leaders will be doing one on ones with specific kids while at camp. 
  • Collect information from your team experiences, family members/guardians or teachers on the best way to communicate with each kid/friend and find out the best way they can communicate with you. Do they use a device? Do you need word or picture cards to point at? Do you need to walk or have a gadget to maximize their attention? Etc. 

During Camp Week:
  • Pay attention to where the talks are intersecting with what you know about your kid/friend. 
  • Pay attention to the “experience” you are having during the week that may help process talk content. 
  • Tell kids or friends early in week that their leader will be spending one on one time with them some time during the week to get their response to what they are experiencing. Perhaps say this in a variety of ways so kids understand what is coming is a positive experience. 
  • Ask questions about what they are hearing about Jesus to glean understanding. 
  • Ask about what life experience they may have had that may complicate or get in the way of what they are hearing. Let them know in their way that they were heard. 
  • Contextualize all of that with them in their way. 
  • It may be helpful to ask “yes” and “no” questions around their processing of the gospel. 
Post Camp
  • Follow up with additional one on one is key upon return home. Often when kids/friends get in the comfort of their own environment processing is easier but it is also important to bridge camp learning to home in a concrete way. 
  • Notice what you learned about God and your kid/friend in the one on one process. Thank God. Replicate it for life. We all need to be known in this most intimate of ways. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

James' Poem: A reflection of serving on Summer Staff

James spent a month serving on summer staff last summer. Since then, he has continued to walk with his Young Life leader and grow in his faith. Together they are pursuing Christ and leaning in to the truth. Recently James wrote this poem in reflection of his year post-summer staff! (We have permission from James to share this)



I love that I awake with breath in my body

That you are in my mind and heart


I love that you took away sin no matter

How bad I screwed up

I know you are with me all the way so I

Pray to you


As often as I can

Even though I don't go on my knees

I do believe you will listen to my prayers

All I can really do is say thank you


For giving me a chance with


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

YL Mozambique - Sitoe’s Story “Persistence, Courage and Faith”

Beira, Mozambique is a port city on the Indian Ocean. The site of a rebel stronghold during the 16 year civil war which ended in 1992, there are still reminders of that conflict throughout the city, including the run down Grande Hotel, formerly a place where Frank Sinatra sang and now home to
over 1,000 families who live without electricity, running water or walls. Despite such conditions, people rise up in hope. Sitoe Cesar Bira is one example. A visually impaired young man in his 20s, Sitoe is an example to others of persistence, courage and faith in spite of adversity. When he was 12, he was asked to leave school due to severe sight issues. Four years later, he applied and was accepted at the Visually Impaired Institute in Beira, Mozambique where he learned Braille and continued his studies. There, he completed high school with honors!

Sitoe was also a Young Life kid. A few Young Life leaders in Beira met Sitoe while doing contact work at the school. They had already heard about him because other students at the School for the Visually Impaired admired Sitoe for his intelligence and his efforts to reach his goals in spite of his circumstances. The YL leaders invited Sitoe to club where they got to know him, became friends with him, and learned about his hope of going to college. At Young Life, Sitoe learned about Jesus, who provides hope and freedom in difficult circumstances. Sitoe claimed that promise and accepted Jesus as His Savior.

Because of his academic record and his determination to continue his education, he applied for and received a scholarship to the Alberto Chipande Institute of Science and Technology where he worked hard and graduated with degrees in political science and diplomacy. His aim was to do an internship for a foreign embassy and applied to several in Mozambique but was turned down. Sitoe didn’t give up even though he received many rejections. His Young Life leaders came alongside him during this
time and encouraged him to trust the Lord for resources and the strength to overcome his physical limitations. Sitoe’s persistence, courage and faith finally paid off. The Australian Embassy in Mozambique offered him a scholarship to take post-graduate diplomacy courses at an Australian university. His classes begin this February.

Sitoe has been able to rise above his challenges because he knows that with God, all things are possible. To Him be the glory. 

Will you join us in praying for Sitoe and the Young Life ministry in Beira?  

Friday, May 12, 2017

YL Forward - Guest Post by Pam Harmon

Are you as excited as I am about YL Forward?
YL Capernaum is positioned to serve and lead as we go Deeper In Christ through discipleship; go Together as we build a diverse, global team; go for more Innovation as we constantly improve the way we reach the next community with the gospel; and go for more Growth as God calls us to expand God’s kingdom in schools, in communities, in cities - throughout the U.S. and around the world.

As we read Young Life’s values moving Forward, let’s listen to the ways in which we have the opportunity to lead and serve within our context:

1. The Gospel - Living according to and communicating the whole gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the opportunity to communicate the good news of Jesus’ extravagant love for our friends through our actions and our words!

2. Scripture - Acting under the authority of Scripture and relying on the Holy Spirit to empower our ministry. Let’s be sure we are first spending time in God’s Word and praying for the power of the Holy Spirit before we try to do any “ministry” on our own.

3. All Kids - Reaching adolescents of every ability and all economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through innovative approaches. Doesn’t this make your heart sing? All Kids! Every ability, all economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds! Where is God calling you to be innovative in the next year? Where are you going to learn that is outside your comfort zone?

4. Ecumenical - Collaborating with followers of Christ from various traditions and local churches worldwide. Our friends and their families must have the opportunity to be involved in local churches for life long community and spiritual development. Many many churches are missing an important part of the body. We have the opportunity to be collaborators with other organizations and churches in our communities.

5. Diversity - Welcoming those whom God calls to our mission - men and women of all ethnicities and abilities who are committed to the common purpose of introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. Let’s be creative about building a pipeline of service opportunities for our friends within Young Life. Let’s spur one another on in this.

6. Health - Encouraging our staff and volunteers in their personal and spiritual health so we may minister our of a consistent and growing relationship with Christ and His followers. We want to be in this mission long term; we must take care of ourselves and our relationship with Jesus and serve out of the overflow and abundance of our relationship with Him.

7. Stewardship - Observing the highest standards of stewardship of all the resources placed in our trust. We are so blessed with precious friends, families, volunteer leaders, staff, funds, reputations, etc, etc. Let us treat these resources with the utmost honor.

What a gift to enter in to the Forward movement knowing that we have a clear set of values that are so consistent with who we want to be throughout the mission of Young Life. All Kids AND Diversity in Leadership as we introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and encourage them to grow in their faith!