In all my years leading Young Life, one of the highlights has been the YL Expedition spring break trips I took during college. Hunter Lambeth and Bart Scarborough took a handful of us leaders from UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University to volunteer at Pico Escondido Young Life camp in the Dominican Republic. Do whatever you can to get on one of these YLX trips! -Drew Hill
What Is Young Life Expeditions?
by Colton Parks, Regional Coordinator for YL Expeditions Latin America.
Welcome to the Global Era, where we are no longer confined by the borders we’ve always known. We are living in a time where the Kingdom of God is visible advancing across borders, cultures, and continents. Young Life Expeditions is an answer to the gospel call in Mark to “go out into the world”. Expeditions acts as a vessel to send out high school kids, college kids, and adults who have said “yes” to serve and partner with Young Life ministries in over a hundred countries worldwide.
This new global perspective on ministry is having a resounding impact in areas and cities across the map. The relationships formed during these short term service trips are designed to be ongoing; connecting areas and Young Life leaders that are thousands of miles apart. It is an outreach tool, an opportunity for discipleship, and a chance to explore a new frontier. Whether it’s a campaigners group, a Young Life College area, a donor trip, or a volunteer leader spring break trip, these trips are changing lives, shifting perspectives, and leaving a lasting impact on both those who go and those who host in international countries.
Young Life Expeditions allows people of all ages, languages, backgrounds, cultures, and histories to say “yes” to serve, partner, and proclaim the gospel united as one in countries across the world!
In August of 2015, I led an expedition to a country in South America and one of the trip participants brought one of his YL club kids along with us. We were a group of 8, all of us over the age of 25 except for Alex*, the 16-year old high school kid.
Alex had just had a tough year. He almost failed out of school, had been branded by his whole grade as a screw-up, was told he would never be able to play contact sports again due to concussions, was in the throes of addictive substance abuse, and to top it all off, was charged with a DUI two months before the trip. Alex was at the end of his rope, and the thought of traveling to South America with 7 older guys who “had it together” was no doubt daunting.
We served for 5 days at Young Life club sites in the city, meeting staff and high school kids, and working to improve the places they do ministry, before taking a bus to remote mountains for a climb. This week turned Alex’ life on his head. “I have never felt more OK with myself than when I’m with you all.” As Alex started to re-think home life, he was able to spend an entire week with his Young Life leader with no cell service and no escape from the conversations that eventually came. Alex and his YL leader hashed through the year of challenges and setbacks, and talked about the peace and fulfillment that only Jesus brings. Alex came up a new person. He had a new perspective on serving others, on looking beyond himself, and accepting Jesus as the only true answer.
There are many, many stories like this in Expeditions- stories of kids seeing the Kingdom of God clearly in environments where need, poverty, and brokenness is rampant. Expeditions levels the playing field – it puts all of us in a vantage point where Jesus becomes evident as the only redeemer, answer, and savior.
If you’re interested in putting together your own expedition or joining an already existing expedition, go to YLexpeditions.com.