Last week, 5000 Young Life Staff gathered in Orlando to celebrate Young Life’s 75th birthday! The room was filled with people representing every aspect of ministry in the mission. We had people from around the world, unfortunately not all 99 countries that we are in but close. We had people from YoungLives, Capernaum, Multi-Cultural and Urban, Suburban, Wyld Life, YL College, Private Schools, Military Bases, Small Towns, Inner Cities… you name it, they were there.
Young Life did a lot of spectacular things in preparation for the conference and while we were there, but one of my favorites was how they chose to make the Work Staff Team representative of the mission. The team was made up of 60 folks, chosen from among over 400 applications. People came from around the globe to serve on this team and they worked hard. Harder than we can imagine and covered details that we’ll never know about.
We had the privilege of having three of our Capernaum friends serve on the Work Staff Team along with three coaches (amazing Capernaum leaders). They each brought their unique personalities and
On night one, Young Life had every flag from every country in which we have ministry. A woman walked out on stage and with a spotlight on her, delicately played her cello while all 99 flags were paraded into the gathering space for all of us to take in the greatness and vastness of what God is doing around the world. Kara was so moved by this that by the end of the week in our journey back to Nashville, when I asked her what her greatest highlight of the week was, she said “the flag ceremony, I was just so amazed by how big God is and how awesome it is that people do ministry in those places. I couldn’t believe that I got to see that. I cried the whole time.”
It wasn’t Magic Kingdom or Universal Studios. It wasn’t free swag or all of the new friends that she made. It wasn’t a daily trip to Starbucks or endless amounts of great food. It was the picture of God at work around the world at the same time that He’s at work in our hearts.
Jessica, who served as Kara’s coach, said that every day Kara prayed out loud for the international staff and volunteers. She “thanked God that they could be free to talk about their faith and not be persecuted for it”. And then she would end her prayers asking God to help her and the work staff to “serve not with a ‘have to’ or with haste, but with love”.
May our hearts cry out in the same way and our memories be greater for the kingdom perspective that Kara has reminded us of!