We hope and pray that every single person who serves Young Life cross-culturally will return home fired up to make a deeper impact in their own neighborhood. We pray everyone will have a greater understanding of the heart of God to serve and love the last, the least, the lost, the forgotten, because of how God revealed himself and his work through Young Life around the globe. As you and your team ponder ways to serve more deeply in your own community, we encourage volunteering in your local Young Life area reaching out to teenagers through Young Life, WyldLife, Capernaum, YoungLives and Young Life College and Universities. Volunteers have been the backbone of our 75+ years ministry!
We also realize upon returning from an Expedition you and your team may be more acutely aware of people of all ages and walks of life living in the margins of your own community. We offer some key scriptures and ideas as a guide to help you dive deeper into service and live out a life of generosity.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:35-26,40.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27.
“Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.” Zechariah 7:10.
Hunger Relief and Food Insecurity – Every county in the United States has people of all ages without access to the nourishment they need to live the life God intends for us. Find out in your community who are the most nutritionally vulnerable. Are there children going to school without breakfast? Is there a resource for reduced cost food for the working poor that needs support? Are there veterans, seniors, or homeless in need of hot meals?
Vulnerable Children – There are many ways to care for kids who don’t receive parental support in your community. You could volunteer as a tutor, coach a sports teams, or serve as a mentor or Sunday School teacher. In addition, every community has a Foster Care system with many needs. Foster children often need pajamas and clean clothes and backpacks with school supplies as they are often quickly displaced from their homes.
Seniors – Volunteering to bring meals to shut-ins, spending time at a local church or community senior center, or driving the elderly to appointments is a great way to serve this treasured population.
Refugees & Immigrants – For centuries upon centuries people have been forced to flee their homes because of violence and persecution…including Jesus and his family. Women and children comprise a huge percentage of refugees today. This population needs our love, attention, understanding and resources.
Prisoners – The United States prison system currently has over 2.2 million adults incarcerated. Scripture calls us to care for the prisoners, yet this is one of the most under-served populations in our nation. Consider a prison prayer or pen pal ministry.
Sick and Suffering – There are many hospitals and convalescent facilities in your own community wherein countless folks never receive visitors. If you have the gift of music or enjoy reading outloud or playing board games, why not see about sharing your time and gifts? Hospice volunteering is a wonderful way to care for those suffering and in the last stages of life.
When in doubt, look around you! Service does not have to be complicated! Who lives next door or across the street? How can you best serve and love your neighbor? Can you do yard work? Take out garbage cans? Bring a meal? Invite someone over for dinner? Feel free to add in your suggestions in the comments section of our blog for your ideas on how you serve the Last, the Least, the Lost, and the Forgotten.
Written by: Michele Sbrana