Hi everyone! I wanted to take a moment to share about my mission year serving at Youthworks Detroit (YWD). There were many program accomplishments, growth in our students, and overall the Lord impacted so many hearts this year.
I had the chance to serve in Detroit from August 2021 to August 2022. I lived with another YWD mission staffer named Anna Luckaz. We were able to stay at Sue Cummins' lovely home in Mexicantown! Throughout the year, as much as I got to push myself in my service, I was also able to receive so much from the support system in Detroit. The Detroit Community Outreach (DCO) is affiliated with the Sword of the Spirit and Servants of the Word. I was able to be in a small group and be poured into when situations with the kids weighed heavy on our hearts. This is where I really felt the power of prayer backing the work we did at YWD. Together we were able to encourage participation from our students and their families through hosting a black history month prayer meeting, Thanksgiving Lord’s day, and worshiping at a coffee shop opening event.
The program that drew me to apply to serve at YWD is called the Bezalel Project. This is a free after school program providing positive relationships, literacy support and dynamic arts to empower 2nd-8th grade students. Our theme this year was called “To the Future” where our lessons, activities, and field trips highlighted career paths and opportunities that are possible for the youth. What inspired me the most this year at Bezalel was the trust that was built with each of our kids. They learned to ask more questions about their faith, share about the burdens in their life, and ask for help. Below is a sharing from an 11 year old girl in Bezalel.
“Bez means a lot to me. It means I love being there because we are treated like kids. It's not just school, It's a fun after school activity... I learned that no matter what people say, I am beautiful and God loves me.”
Next up is our youth group called the Plug which surprised me in how much the high schoolers were searching for a relationship with Jesus, personal growth, and genuine friendships. We traveled quite a bit with our high schoolers. We went to Upstate NY for a fall retreat. This was a powerful time where the students got to connect with other youth groups and to learn how to worship. A highlight for me was our service trip to Washington D.C. We got to serve at many different non profit organizations, explore the city, and most importantly talk and pray about the systemic racism in the city.
Another testimony is depicted in how one of our students identifies as atheist but continues to come each week to the plug, in order to learn more about the Gospel. Just recently, he volunteered to pray for people suffering within the prison system on our service trip to D.C.
One of the main things I get asked from my time in Detroit is how different the city, people, and culture is from my upbringing. How do I approach this gap? And my answer is to listen and to be quiet. This is counter-cultural because we live in a society where everyone is supposed to be an expert on everything. However, I learned this year how to be okay with not having answers and instead truly relying on the Lord to equip me. Silence is so important because it has led to a deeper relationship with Jesus and the kids I worked with this year.
Thank you for all the prayers and support this past year!
- Julie Quense
Please keep Youthworks Detroit, and all of our "Friends of the People of Hope" in your prayers.