Saturday, June 11, 2011
Apostolic Youth Corps: A life shaping experience
I just want to take some time and make an informal plug for Apostolic Youth Corps. It's been a wonderful blessing in my life as well as in the lives of others that I have observed.
First of all, what is it? In case you are new to the UPC or have otherwise been living under a rock for the past several years, Apostolic Youth Corps is a program that allows young people to experience foreign and home missions work hands on through a series of long and short term trips that take place during the summer. You have to fill out an application and if you are accepted, you have to raise your own budget. If you need more detailed info you can visit the website: www.apostolicyouthcorps.com.
I went on the AYC France trip in 2009 with 20 other young people and 4 chaperones. I had recently taken 2 semesters of French in high school and that fueled my decision to choose France. I knew absolutely NO ONE before the trip. We met in JFK terminal one, went through security and boarded our flight together. We flew overnight to France, landing in Paris at about 8 am. For the next 10 days, we saw incredible sights including the Eiffel Tower, the Lourve museum, a chateau or two, several walled towns from medieval times, the US memorial in Normandy and many other incredible things. We ate lots of delicious French food and took great pictures and shopped in cute little French shops and had an overall splendid time. Although these experiences were somewhat lifechanging, the more incredible experiences happened in the church services.
It was evident in that first Sunday morning service in Melun that the God that we serve in the US is the same God they serve there. Every service that we attended was powerful. The people were worshipful and exuberant and there was a tangible spirit of revival. We visited several churches. Some were larger such as the church in Melun and the two we visited our last Sunday in Paris. And some were much smaller, like the little church in rustic Longwy whose congregation may have been even smaller than our little AYC group of 25.
We sang and testified and preached and did dramas. The testimonies and sermons were interpreted but the songs were not. The people worshipped like they knew every word and the presence of God fell despite the language barrier.
One of the most memorable services we had took place in a Philipino church in Paris. They met in the 3rd story of a building and they had no air conditioning. It had to have been upward of 90 degrees in there. BEFORE the service started. After everyone crammed into the room and things got pumping, it was so hot, we were all dripping with sweat. We didn't even care. We still sang and shouted and danced in the presence of the Lord. I cannot explain to you what this service and all of the others did to me. My horizons were widened, my vision renewed and my faith strengthened.
Another blessing for me was the opportunity to meet some of our foreign missionaries. They are some of the sweetest, godliest, hardest working people you could ever meet. Anytime that I get the chance to meet a foreign missionary I enjoy talking to them. They have wonderful stories to tell about how God has provided for them and the great things that have happened during their ministry. Spending 10 whole days with Brother Brochu as our tour guide and getting to meet the Nowaki's was a wonderful experience.
It has been 2 years since my AYC trip. I still think about it a lot! I've kept in touch with most of the people who went on the trip. Last year was my first year at Indiana Bible College. The only person on the entire campus that I knew was a girl that I went to France with. Needless to say she was my lifeline and I call her one of my closest friends today. During second semester, we were joined by another girl from the trip and next year yet another girl from the trip will be attending IBC. I've had the privilege of meeting up with several other people from the trip from time to time and even got to attend the wedding of two other AYCers. Today, one of the girls from that trip is back in France for 3 months working as an aimer. Two more people will be going back this summer as well to work as aimers. Another girl from the trip is on another trip to Spain for two months this time.
Obviously, I believe in AYC and it has had a positive impact on my life. I fully intend to go on another AYC trip some day, maybe a few of them, Lord willing.
So, to recap, AYC trips give you the opportunity to:
1. Meet new people and forge new friendships
2. Submerge yourself in a culture and language that is not your own
3. Experience that culture in an educational manner
4. Experience powerful moves of God in an unfamiliar environment
5. Experience hands-on missionary work
6. Meet missionaries and other wonderful people who labor for God on a daily basis
7. Establish connections and a base for future endeavors
Even if you do not specifically feel called to a foreign field, it is still an excellent opportunity. So think about it. Pray about it. And then YOU GO!
Posted by Kristen at 2:16 PM