Some of you may know that over the last year, I have worked with Katrina Bitar, the YES Program Director, in helping lead YES trips. Some of you have been on YES trips, but I’m not sure if all of you know what YES is.
YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) is a service learning program in which teens are exposed to the life of our underprivileged brothers and sisters, and here they learn to encounter Christ in the faces of “the least of these.” It is truly a remarkable program.
I was recently asked to write a brief paragraph on my experience as a YES Trip leader; it will be included in the YES monthly newsletter. I’m going to go ahead and post it here so you can get a brief glimpse of the overall goal and experience of such a trip.
I highly encourage you to push your teens to participate in any YES trip that is accessible to them. The next scheduled trip in Southern California is in February, and I will be sure to post more details as the time draws near. But for now, enjoy the paragraph and check out the YES website below.
A YES Trip Leader’s Perspective
Simply put, YES Trips are amazing. Having worked with teens for the last few years, I have felt the need to continually tap my mind and others’ minds in attempt to convey the depth and beauty of Christ’s Gospel. Any reality of the Gospel that I might wish to convey in typical youth ministry settings would take a good deal of time; I suppose you could call it “long-haul ministry.” The basic commandments of Christ (love God; love others), in other ministry settings, must be bent and refined with words, but on a YES trip, teens have the opportunity to experience exactly what Christ is talking about when he commands his disciples to love him in the face of “the least of these.” YES trips foster a true sense of living not only in the personally and spiritually formative Gospel, but also in the social justice Gospel. On YES trips, teens respond to the words of Christ’s apostles; “We have found the Messiah. Come and see,” and for these teens, seeing becomes believing, and their belief compels them to love God through serving and loving their neighbors. As a result, participating teens return to their homes and parishes having been transformed through their encounters with the living Christ, and for them, the only words that can convey to others the depth and beauty of Christ’s Gospel are, “Come and see.”