by Matthew Littrell
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs
up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
-Isaiah 43: 18-19
When I read Isaiah, the message of this piece of scripture particularly stands out to me. In Isaiah 43, the prophet Isaiah is giving words of encouragement to the discouraged and exiled Israelites. Isaiah is trying to get the Israelites to understand that their God is the same God now as He was in the past. The same power God exhibited when He brought his people out of Egypt and saved them in the wilderness is at work all around them today. Isaiah is trying to tell them that God made a way in the wilderness then, and He can and will do it again.
Each Monday morning, I give a glimpse of this context to our youth. I want each youth to understand that the same God at work in the Bible is at work here in Charleston. The same power God exhibited when He forged a path for the Israelites and raised Jesus from the dead is at work here in this place. That same God is at work today, preparing a way into all your hearts. I then pray that each youth will begin to experience the transformative power at work this week.
However, I did not truly understand what it meant to experience the power of God until I had time to interact with the groups this week. One of our main discussions was about being willing to be uncomfortable. Many youth on these YMCo Summer Mission Immersion Trips are stepping into the uncomfortable world of service for the very first time. Many have never had the opportunity to serve their neighbors in need of a hot meal. Most have never handed out water bottles and snacks on a hot day to locals in the community. These trips are about embracing the uncomfortable and striving to be vulnerable.
by Will Macaulay
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those
who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom. And they are getting
killed. And their lives are being taken as they pursue justice and peace for all.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil
against you, falsely on my account. And they get imprisoned for the crime they didn’t commit.”
Liturgies from Below, Cláudio Carvalhaes
After my fifth week of programming in Asheville, I’ve decided to take a moment to reflect
on the mission of YMCo; as well as my own personal mission. Included in YMCo’s mission is the
pursuit of justice, the encouragement of creativity, and the transformation of people and
As far as my own personal mission, I believe in my purpose of creating peace and
discovering what that entails in the few communities that I call home. For each, I believe that a
basic understanding of what justice looks like among the people and contrasts of a community
is the cornerstone of beginning to create peace.
Here in Asheville, our curriculum is focused on how everyone can contribute to
addressing the core issues around us that result in extreme poverty, hunger, and pain. While we
believe volunteering at various agencies to provide basic relief to the symptoms of poverty is
both necessary and, to some extent, a responsibility to the privileged, simply slapping a
bandage over the most vulnerable and marginalized groups is not enough. On top of
contributing the time and resources available to us, it is insulting and inhumane to turn our eyes
away from the things that cause many to go hungry, or go without shelter, or remain stuck in a
cycle of poverty.