This fall, young people across the country are being exposed to to new perspectives on poverty through Youth Equipped to Serve’s weekend trip program.
Below is a reflection on an important part of every trip, the prayer tour. If you haven’t been on a YES trip before – consider how an experience like the one described here might offer a new perspective to the way you engage with the community that surrounds you!
Prayer Tour Perspectives
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, St. Paul calls us to “pray without ceasing.” How fitting that the first evening of every YES trip starts off with a prayer tour. Driving through our host city between prayer stops, we learn statistics about poverty and homelessness and discuss scenarios about what we would do if we were in a less-fortunate situation.
In Oklahoma City, we stopped at the Oklahoma City National Museum and Memorial. We learned the symbolism of the building and split into small groups to walk among the chairs, each representing a victim of the horrific 1995 bombing. We picked out specific names written on the chairs to pray for and talked about what stood out most to us.
Next, we drove to the Children’s Hospital. Here, we talked about what we normally do when we get sick or injured (go to the doctor) and how that might change if we were struggling financially. We also went through a scenario where our child’s class is going on a field trip, but it costs $15. What would we do? Would we try to cut from other areas of our budget to allow our child to attend, or simply tell him no?
Some Realities of Poverty
Additionally, we stopped at a grocery store and learned how on average, low-income families only spend $2600-$3600 on groceries per year. That is only around $3 per meal per person. We considered what food groups we would have to do without if we only had that much to spend- healthy foods like fruits and vegetables would probably be the first to go. Unfortunately, these scenarios are not made up; people are living this reality daily.
These scenarios are eye-opening and help instill a greater spirit of gratitude. When we truly feel this gratitude, the next step is to share our blessings with others.
We end the night at the church we are staying and debrief. Everyone has a chance to share their thoughts- When someone is speaking, they are considered the most important person in the circle. Hearing everyone’s unique perspectives on poverty and about the different activities helps us to grow closer as a group. This activity allows participants to see Christ more clearly, both in people in the group and strangers at each stop.
Youth Equipped to Serve is a program of FOCUS North America that creates opportunities for youth to engage with the poverty of their city, equipping young people to become servant leaders in their own communities. Learn more on the YES program website: www.yesnorthamerica.org