Here are some tips for recruiting today's generation of young disciples, who have so many options available to them for spending their summers.
We strongly believe in making YMA an affordable resource for all parishes and schools. That's why we created the YMA Diocesan Discount Program for your parishes and schools. Through the program, the diocese agrees to strive for at least ten subscribing parishes and/or schools. Then parishes and/or schools receive a 20% discount when ordering! We also provide a free webinar to help parishes and schools learn how to use Youth Ministry Access. The diocese also receives a complimentary subscription for review and demonstration purposes. Best of all, there's NO COST to participate!
Happy 2016! You may be a little bit like me - I am already done with all the New Year posts and smart sayings and pithy quotes on making this year count. It's not that I don't want to make it count,but I know myself. I have made resolutions in the past and then when they get lost on my desk at work or get covered up on my bulletin board or I just figure things aren't dire - and the world won't end if I don't follow through on those little promises.I did decide on one thing this year though and think it might just have a pwoerful impact on lots of things - to be real in my ministry. I coordinate summer mission trips for high school youth - Young Neighbors in Action - and that's probably how you found this blog. I have been bringing, leading or coordinating mission trips since 1997. I haven't had time to have a garden, a summer vacation,workon a tan or learn to sail on the lake. I have often wondered, even, why I haven't decided it was time to do something else - or have gotten tired of it or discouraged at not making a big enough difference. I guess when it is your passion - the thing you were born to do - it can't leave you. For that I am grateful. But for being real in this area - service - what do I expect it to look like?
It’s always fun to try to guess the future. But history has shown that even our best guesses can be a little off. I’m still waiting for square tomatoes and grouch pills.
When I was about 8, I remember getting up early one morning - really early and offered to help my mom get breakfast ready before all 8 of us went off to school. She handed me dishes and silverware having me set the table. She was making something good - I could smell the eggs and bacon and see some oranges ready to go on a platter. There was a knock at our back door and I looked at my mom wondering who would be here so early? She handed me a grocery bag and said to answer the door. The bag was heavy. I could see a loaf of bread, jars of peanut butter and jelly, milk and cereal. I held the bag - barely -as I opened the door. I was surprised to see a little neighbor boy, Tony, dressed in his school uniform pants, barefoot and hardly awake. I wasn't sure he could even lift the bag, but I put it into his hands and he walked off. He lived next door to us. I went back into the kitchen and finished helping my mom and I could hear my brothers and sisters upstairs getting ready for school - ready for the breakfast wafting up the staircase. I wanted to know why she gave that bag of food to Tony and how often. Before I could ask, she said, "Jane, their mom is sick, their dad isn't there to help with things and the children are hungry. We have to help when we can. We have to help when we see a need." That was it.
It is National Migration Week in our church and our bishops have encouraged us to pray for peace, unity and hope for all those having to leave their homes aid countries to make a better life. Migration hits close to home for me. My husband came to the US to flee war in his own country and has made a life here that has always included a little homesickness, longing for family, friends, food, language and music from Iran.We have worked hard to keep traditions and have a sense of pride in Persian culture with our family. Really, the food is amazing! He now volunteers with World Relief and has had the privilege of helping to settle a new Afghani family this past few months. Ali and Soheila were brought to the U.S. after helping our military in Afghanistan - they couldn't stay - their lives were compromised by their support of our troops. Soheila was 8 1/2 months pregnant and would be delivering her little one far from family and home in a very different culture. Little John Iman was born a few weeks ago - healthy and beautiful with a hopeful future. They invited us for dinner on Christmas - so we went of course with gifts and food and looking forward to snuggling with the baby.Their little apartment is furnished with second-hand furniture and dishes, mismatched tables and lamps, but filled with warmth and welcome. Kind people have given them all they need for the baby and they are planning their future with excitement and purpose. The dinner was delightful - yummy food from old family recipes - laughter, stories, taking turns holding John and best of all, sharing faith. On our way home my husband said, " I have never stopped being grateful for the chance to live here - and for the freedom and peace we have." That's it my friends...peace, freedom and hope are gifts! Pray a prayer of thanksgiving tonight for all God has given us!
I have been bombarded with incredible Advent messages this month. It seems like my Facebook friends and those I follow on Twitter and Instagram all have something to say about how to prepare for Christmas. I started out great - reading, listening, trying to incorporate the great ideas in my life...but then life got in the way! I felt a little guilty deleting beautiful Adventy images and stories...all designed to help me NOT do what I WAS doing - being busy, too tired to think without falling asleep with the Scripture on my lap. It occurred to me this morning as I sat with a cup of coffee looking at the fog and snow outside my kitchen. Life is exactly what is important. The Advent message I need to remember is "have I made room in my heart and home for Jesus?" To that I can say yes. With a week or so still ahead of me to prepare I will just think about how I can welcome all who will be around me this Christmas. How can I make my home a place to share my faith through hospitality, kindness and generosity? How can I make room in my heart for the stranger, the lonely, the hungry? It's not just an Advent message, but a life in Christ message. Blessings and happy Advent to you!