Month: January 2016

Youth Group’s 30 Hours of Fasting is Filled with Transformation

Participation in a YMCo mission immersion experience includes a challenge to continue the conversation about mission and justice in your home context. Pleasant Hill Presbyterian is doing just that! In November their high school youth participated in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine. This is an event whose aim is that “students will grow closer to Christ and each other as they fast together for 30 hours and raise funds to fight hunger.” The 30 Hour Famine created a space for youth to form an awareness, on a small scale, of what people dealing with hunger face daily, and for them to learn where this awareness intersects with scripture, faith, and the call to do justice. While they were fasting, and experiencing the mental and physical effects of hunger, they spent time learning about how lack of food effects people worldwide. They reflected on this experience through worship, prayer, and an art project known as a Smash Book. They also used these 30 hours to serve the hungry in their own community by working in community gardens and serving breakfast at a shelter in Atlanta, and raising more than $1,000 for hungry children worldwide.

Visit this link (Anna’s Reflection) to read Anna Steingruber, a PHPC 9th grader’s, personal reflection on the 30 Hour Famine experience. In her reflection, she writes that through the experience, she is able to “see now how strong the hungry are, maybe not physically, but definitely mentally stronger than [she] may ever be.” She also notes how easy it would be for us to contribute to the work to alleviate hunger. She says, “We have enough food. We just need to figure out how to get it to people who need it.”

What is your group doing to help get food to people who need it? Or, are they doing something to help folks get the other resources that they need? If so, YMCo wants to hear about it!

If you’d like to use PHPC’s experience to start a conversation about hunger in your own community, here is a study guide created by YMCo to do just that. 30 Hour Famine Study Guide

To view photos from the 30 Hour Famine and to check out PHPC’s Smash Book, visit YMCo’s Tumblr site!

PHPC also created a video of their 30 Hour Famine experience. View it below!

Martha asks, “What are we going to do about it?”

Martha is a 6th grader in Asheville, NC who goes to Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church.  Among the many things that Martha enjoys, she is a performance poet.  She wrote a poem recently about seeing one of our neighbors in Asheville who is living without housing.  It’s powerful.  In fact, it’s so powerful that we made a video recording of it so we could share it with you.

Martha’s poem video

Here is the text of the poem:  We All Have That Moment

In the poem she brings up some important points.  She asks, “Why has humanity gotten to this?”  She talks about how we tend to flee from such thoughts and sights, but in the end we can’t really avoid the issue of homelessness.  She ends her poem by asking “That man doesn’t go back to his house.  So what am I going to do about it?”.

In addition to the video, we have made a study guide that has some questions.  We invite you to take Martha’s lead, spend some time to reflecting on homelessness in your own community, and create a plan concerning what you are going to do about it.

We All Have That Moment- Study Guide

And if you want to hear more from Martha, check out this video of an interview we did with her!

Interview with Martha

Are you a youth who is doing something to make a difference in your community?  Do you or your youth group have a mission project you are working on in your town?  Do you have some social justice related art that you want to share?

Tell us about it!

Mission That’s More Than A Week

I’ve been at this “youth mission” gig for a while now.  Almost 20 years as a youth minister, and about eight of those through Asheville Youth Mission.

It’s been wonderful to watch what God has done through all of this— more and more youth groups coming to work with us at AYM from a wide variety of places and denominations.  It’s been amazing to see all the partnerships grow, including our work with more and more ministries and help agencies around Asheville, and partnerships with multiple camps and conference centers in the mountains of NC.  Most importantly, it has been a blessing to see the impact that so many youth have made on the community of Asheville, and how our friends and neighbors who are living on the streets, in poverty, or otherwise on the margins, have also made such a huge impact on our youth.

About three years back we at AYM made a realization— that this kind of ministry can’t and shouldn’t be contained in Asheville.  This led us to the expansion of our work to a new location, Raleigh, NC.  Katherine has done a great job building and managing our ministry in Raleigh, while Debbie has also been outstanding in keeping up and adding to our work here in Asheville.  But just like any ministry or any organization, it must keep growing.  We must keep searching.  We must keep discerning what else God is calling us to do and be.

So, the staff and I have been in a lot of thought and prayer about where all this is going.  We have talked to lots of folks and gotten a lot of wisdom and insight from our friends, our colleagues, our Board of Directors and our Support Team.  What we have come to understand is that all of the ministry happening through our AYM and RYM Mission Immersion programs, all the weeks of summer mission trips, all the mission weekends, all the day projects done with our camp and conference partnerships… it’s all just the tip of the iceberg.  Sure, we are making a really significant impact in Asheville and Raleigh (like, over a million dollars of money we’ve saved our partner agencies through the work of our youth volunteers!).  But… just think of what all these youth groups are doing AFTER their time at AYM and RYM.  All those youth groups, in all those communities, continuing their work of Christian service in the places where they live every day!

That is what Youth Mission Co is all about.  We have developed YMCo as an umbrella organization that can cover all that we are doing now, and all that we hope to do in the future. The “co” is about connection.  It’s about collaboration.  It’s a collection of the stories about the ministry that youth are engaged in all over the country.

Asheville Youth Mission and Raleigh Youth Mission will continue their programming, and we hope to add more locations in the years to come.  But above all that, YMCo is about sharing the great social justice ministries that youth are doing EVERY DAY in the places they call home.  This blog, along with our other YMCo social media, will be an open resource for youth and youth ministry leaders to see what young people are doing around the country, to be inspired by it, and be empowered to participate themselves in the coming of God’s kingdom.

So, keep your eye on this blog, and on all our social media, in the weeks and months to come.  We look forward to hearing from youth around the country about how God is using them to cross boundaries, build relationships with our neighbors in need, and transform their communities.


Bill Buchanan is the Executive Director of Youth Mission Co, Asheville Youth Mission, and Raleigh Youth Mission.  He lives in Asheville, NC.