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Posts by: Will Chester

Snapshots of Service: RezYouth Missions Trip 2017

July 19, 2017

After spending three days focusing on the idea of "mission on our doorstep" at the Provincial Assembly, eighteen students and four leaders from RezYouth joined fifty others from Anglican youth groups around the country on a mission trip to Chicago.

We partnered with City, Service, Mission, a ministry that hopes to transform students so that they'll make an impact in their own communities. Our students got to know Chicago—the real Chicago, where most people live and raise their families—through service projects and immersion activities in the neighborhoods of Uptown, Albany Park, Lawndale, and more.

In some ways, this wasn’t a traditional youth missions trip. Yes, we went to Chicago in order to serve, but more importantly, we went to learn—about the triumphs and challenges of this city in our backyard, about our diverse neighbors living there, and about how God is on mission through the Holy Spirit to bring justice, peace, and knowledge of himself to Chicago.

As one student put it, "By going in with the primary goal of learning, rather than simply helping someone out, I felt like I actually served much better." And another, "I realized just how human these guys are—guys that I had formerly just labeled as ‘homeless’ or ‘in-need’." Below are two more testimonies from our students. They represent well the impact of this trip on our entire team.

—Will Chester

Gwyneth's Story:

At the conference we listened to many global and local Church leaders. One night, a Nigerian bishop came to talk to the youth about persevering in faith and loving Christ, and he shared his story about how he came to Christ. This was one of the most influential sermons.
After the Anglican Conference, we traveled to a neighborhood [on the north side of] Chicago. One of my favorite things we did was serve at a soup kitchen. All the people were fed with such dignity and grace. Upon arriving, the guest would be seated at a table with fresh flowers. As a waitress, I would come, welcome them, and bring them their food. Bus boys would refill their drinks, and when they were finished, their plates were cleared and they could stay and talk or leave. While serving, we shared the Gospel with them and invited them to our local church plant. This experience was so humbling. It was amazing how kindly the homeless men and women were treated and how much thought was put into serving them.
I also enjoyed an immersion activity we did. Each group was given $3; we then roamed through a chosen neighborhood, talking to people about its culture. With our $3 we bought something to represent the culture we visited. My group of four went to a Middle Eastern town and had a conversation with a 16 year-old Muslim girl and a local shop owner. The store owner showed us his handmade caps, hijabs, and burkas. Once we finished we bought bracelets with our $3. Later we compared and contrasted the similarities and differences of our beliefs.
I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. It was such a humbling experience and changed the way I thought about Chicago, Christ, and the less fortunate.

William's Story:

After the Provincial Assembly, we travelled to Chicago for our missions trip. We were in Chicago for a little over three days. Saturday, we helped out at a food dispensary in the morning and then drove back to Albany Park. Albany Park is an extremely diverse neighborhood. Just walking down the street, we saw signs in Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Farsi, Portuguese and Turkish. We went into ethnic stores and stopped at food trucks to talk to locals and learn about their cultures. I could tell that locals were so blessed by us just wanting to learn about their culture from them. After returning for this activity, we went to two different retirement homes to play bingo with their residents. Although most of them didn’t speak English, we could tell that the adorable elderly residents were quite happy to have us there (although, they were very competitive about their bingo and a few of them were definitely making fun of us in Korean).
On Sunday, we went to Lawndale Community Church, a mostly African American church. I really enjoyed this experience and was shocked when, during the sermon, the pastor said that both of her sons had been shot in some gang-related violence. I will definitely be keeping the brave people of Lawndale in my prayers. At the same time, I think I learned that, for all the violence the news shows in the South and West Sides, these are very human communities with normal people inhabiting them (which to me, makes the violence all the more terrible).
From there, we went on an immersion activity. We were each given $2 to find dinner and directions to a neighborhood. The goal was to experience what homelessness and extreme poverty is like in different areas of Chicago. My group took the train to Lakeview. We ended up pooling our money to buy a pizza, which we ate with a homeless man named Ken. Then, we got our dessert in the form of free cherry pie samples from Trader Joe’s. That night, we visited a homeless shelter and talked to its residents. A friend and I talked with a man named Ishmael about books, superhero movies, and the city. This experience was so humanizing, and broke all of my stereotypes about the homeless. I was so blessed to speak with and learn from these people.


To see more photos from the trip, follow us on instagram at churchrezyouth!

Provincial Youth Gathering

March 26, 2017

Every three years, over 1,000 Anglicans from across North America gather for an incredible time of worship, teaching, and prayer at the Provincial Assembly. Usually these conferences are a plane-flight away, but this year's conference is being hosted by Resurrection at Wheaton College!

As part of the Assembly, a Youth Gathering has been organized where youth groups will join the adults for morning sessions and then have their own breakout sessions with prominent speakers, in addition to games and other activities. This is an all-inclusive (food + lodging) three-day experience!

Additionally, since the theme of the conference is "Mission on Our Doorstep," we'll partner with other Anglican youth groups for a four-day mission trip to Chicago. I visited the missions organization we are partnering with and they are the real deal. I expect that our students’ hearts for mission and for the lost and the least will grow through this experience. 

Please speak to your child about this incredible opportunity. You may have already seen the Save the Date that went home with them from RezYouth. For more information and some FAQ's (safety? how will we pay for this?), please see our info site here and attend the upcoming Student/Parent Info Meeting on 4/19, from 6:30-7:00pm, in the St. Timothy room.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Tell me more about the Provincial Assembly…
Is this event for youth or adults?
 
BOTH! And we don’t just mean that youth are invited to a conference that’s really for their parents! Will has been working with a team of Anglican youth pastors from around the country to make sure that that our afternoon and evening programming is specifically targeted at Junior and Senior High students. Our students will have their own breakout sessions, their own time with plenary speakers, their own worship, and their own games and activities. The significantly discounted rate for youth is evidence of the Province’s investment in our students. 

My child is only able to come to the Assembly and not the mission trip. Is that okay? 
Yup! 

Who is supervising? 
RezYouth leaders will be staying in the dorms with students and supervising just like we would during a RezYouth retreat. 

I would to like to register my child to come to the conference, but I don’t want them to participate in the Youth Gathering. I want them to attend the conference with me. 
The RezYouth registration form is only for RezYouth students participating in the Youth Track. 

If you want your student to join you for the entirety of the conference and do not want them to participate in the Youth Gathering, you must register them with you using your information on the Provincial website. After filling out your information, under additional fees, enter the number of youth ages 13-18 who will be joining you. The additional ticket cost of $135 will be added to your adult registration. (Please note: only youth who are participating in the Youth Track may stay on campus with RezYouth students and volunteers). 

All adults must register through the official registration form. Don’t forget, if you live locally and do not need to stay on campus, you can register for a reduced price of $175 by using the discount code CHICAGOLAND. This code is strictly for local residents; please do not use this code for out-of-town friends, or if you would like to stay on-campus. 

Tell me more about the mission trip…
Who are you partnering with? 

We will be serving under the direction of the Center for Student Missions (CSM), which runs student mission trips in eleven cities in the United States and Mexico. Their purpose is to provide an “urban ministry experience that transforms lives, influences churches and communities, and honors Christ.”

What’s the CSM philosophy? 
CSM is a bridge-builder. They partner with existing organizations who have been serving the city of Chicago and will continue to do so long after our group leaves. In addition to serving, CSM wants students to experience the city and learn about its challenges. That means learning about the history of the neighborhoods we’re serving, eating at local restaurants, and getting to know folks living in the city. CSM is committed to doing ministry under principles discussed in books like When Helping Hurts.

What kinds of things will our students be doing? 
Since our group is so large (including the other youth groups from around the Province), it’s impossible to give an exact itinerary, but activities will likely include volunteering at soup kitchens, prayer tours of neighborhoods, and (for high school students) immersion activities to experience what life is like for people on the margins.

Is this safe? 
YES! Our students will be staying on the campus of North Park University in the Albany Park neighborhood. CSM staff members will accompany us everywhere we go. 

It sounds great, but how will my family pay for this? 
We completely understand that money can feel like a significant barrier to this type of experience. That is why all students participating will be required to help fundraise to cover costs. RezYouth will lead a seminar for students on how to write support letters that are inviting and respectful. Additionally, while $399 is a steep price-tag, it is actually quite affordable in comparison to similar week-long experiences. We are confident that if a student is excited about growing their heart for mission through this experience, they will be able to raise every dollar needed.