YS

This post was originally posted at YouthSpecialties.com; follow the discussion there or start a new one here.

Our group of students just got back from a trip to Creel, MEXICO. As one would expect after a momentous trip, these students are ready to take on the world. They saw a different part of the world that most of them had never experienced, served those that were in need in big ways, and jumped out of their comfort zones with leaps and bounds.

I want to harness this energy and keep the momentum going by challenging them with stories of others who are using their gifts creatively to change their world. Here are four that I’m going to be highlighting in the next few weeks with my students… maybe you could, too.

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This first one hits close to home (for our students) and yet has a potentially very far reaching arm. Jason Salamun is a friend to our student ministry and a local church planter here in Rapid City, SD. He’s shared with our students before at our Wednesday night rally services, so most of our students would recognize the name or, at the least, his face.

Jason is doing something simple, yet profound. He’s challenging himself to lose weight and, in the process, he’s challenging his online community, friends, and family to donate a dollar per pound that he loses in the next three months to one of six great causes listed on his site. I think it’s an awesome idea; check it out at ThisMustChange.org.

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The Laundry Love Project (LLP) grabbed me from the first time I watched the following video. LLPs are regular opportunities to help people who are struggling financially by assisting them with doing their laundry. Relationships are built, and LLPs become small communities of common concern in which participants often find that they receive assistance and benefit with other areas of their lives. LLPs are just one of several initiatives of the JustOne nonprofit organization.

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The Freeze Project is another simple idea to challenge our communities with social injustice issues. The idea is to have a group of people gather at an area and do a pre-determined group “freeze” in a very public, high traffic place — an action made popular by Improv Everywhere — and putting a twist on it to bring awareness to social injustice issues. Nice!

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Here’s another one that seems particularly relevant to my group of students right now. We just got back from distributing shoes (and food, clothes, etc.) to the Tarahumaran Natives in the mountains of Copper Canyon. The idea behind TOMS Shoes was founded on one premise: “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.” What a profound way of doing business.

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Take these ideas and challenge your students with them. Maybe do one of them as a group, making it your own. Or just challenge students with these stories so that they can be encouraged to change the world with their own God-given ideas and gifts. Imagine what change could be affected through the Gen Y generation!


Shawn Michael

Husband, father, musician, pastor, Internet junkie, and Foursquare District NextGen Rep for the Gateway District