From Fast and Furious to Just Being: A Serve Story
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From Fast and Furious to Just Being: A Serve Story

Going on Serve is great. One of my favorite parts about Serve is not the delicious food, not meeting up with new leaders, not joining in the impromptu volleyball games (although all these things are great and inevitably always present in abundance!). I love all these things for sure; but one of my favorite things about Serve is that I get to rent a van.   Yeah, that’s right: I get to rent a van. Great stuff happens in a van full of eager and excited students. There’s the singing, the endless containers of cookies, the stories, the Madlibs, the coloring contests (these are… Read More

Faces of Youth Unlimited – Jeanette Hielkema, Brandon Bajema and Trent Elders
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Faces of Youth Unlimited – Jeanette Hielkema, Brandon Bajema and Trent Elders

Jeanette Hielkema Q: Where could we find you at 10:00 AM on a Saturday morning? A: Depends on the weather. During the summer I’m out in the gardens. In winter, I’ll be in my favorite chair with a good book and a cup of coffee. Q: Where’s your favorite place to meet with students, and why? A: My favorite place is Tim Horton’s or a pizza place. I like them to be able to have something in their hands. Our conversations flow easier when the total focus is not on talking. Q: What do you do to stay relevant to youth? A: I refuse to grow up! I accept their challenges… Read More

Who We Are in Christ
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Who We Are in Christ

For more than a year the staff of Youth Unlimited prepared for this past summer. We prayed that students who attended a Youth Unlimited experience would come to understand that what we do grows out of who we are in Christ, and that being in Christ changes us and our actions.   Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then… Read More

The Unexpected Prairie
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The Unexpected Prairie

When asked to think about cultural diversity, most people understandably think about urban communities with people from all sorts of different backgrounds. But increasingly, this same diversity can be found in the rural communities out on the northern plains as well. Many of our neighbors come from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, and they bring with them a wealth of diversity, cultural strengths and Kingdom cooperation. The native people settled here because they loved, even worshipped, the sun. They took advantage of the natural resources the land provided. Today, the descendants… Read More

What Youth Leaders Really Want in a Mission Experience
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What Youth Leaders Really Want in a Mission Experience

With the goal of continual improvement in mind, Youth Unlimited asked ten Sending Church youth leaders to explain what they hope for in a North American mission experience. Here’s a glimpse at their answers.   TRUST: Taking a group on a trip means that you must trust the leaders who will guide you through the experience once you arrive. It’s nearly impossible to have a great trip without a good host organization or church to guide you. That’s why Youth Unlimited is dedicated to building strong Host Church teams. A new Host Church learns the best practices of short-term… Read More

Learning, Growing, Serve-ing – Hosting a Special Needs Serve
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Learning, Growing, Serve-ing – Hosting a Special Needs Serve

Special Needs Serve is tiring, emotional, and frustrating at times, and yet it is the highlight of my year!   I am amazed at all of the things that God has taught me. Over the last five years I have grown in my understanding of my own faith, my relationship with God and others, have experienced God in surprising places and have had a lot of fun in the process. (Never underestimate the fun factor!)   I work to orchestrate a Special Needs Serve that incorporates special planning and support in addition to the typical Serve template.   Youth mentors are important… Read More

The Story Behind the Service
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The Story Behind the Service

God’s story of redemption is the most powerful love story that we can share with one another. As youth leaders, we desire to share God’s story, and engaging students in experiences like Serve is a way for them to connect with God personally. It is an honor to serve alongside students and share with them in witnessing God’s redemptive work in new communities across the country. Those stories are what kept me involved with Serve for seven years and eventually led me to my career in youth ministry. Serve is known for setting up great worksites like building houses, or working in… Read More

Finding My Own Faith
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Finding My Own Faith

I grew up in a tumultuous home. My family was lower class, and I was the middle child of a somewhat recovered alcoholic father and a mother who was trying to piece together what her newfound faith in God meant for her and for her household. As a child and well into my teen years, my mother’s journey toward God was a hodgepodge of regurgitated televangelists’ theology. Our family bounced from church to church, receiving offerings of extreme grace one Sunday and being pelted with hell-fire-and-brimstone the next. I learned about Jesus at a young age. This foundation of knowledge… Read More

Share Your Story
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Share Your Story

It was 4:00 PM, and I found myself sitting in the Arby’s on South Washington, my heart pounding, my hands shaky and my mouth dry as a cork. For the first time in my life I was inviting a student to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.   If you were raised as I was, sharing your faith story or testimony with someone may be a foreign idea—something only done by missionaries. In 1 Peter 3:15 it says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do… Read More