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  • YPM-INM-AC-2017

By: Evanmichael Drexler
Fishburn UMC, Hershey, PA

Last July I was thrilled to be a participant in our conference’s Youth Leadership Camp. It was an experience that changed the lives of all who participated.
I and 15 other anxious youth spent 4 days at our conference’s beautiful camp Wesley Forest, cut off from our families, our friends, and our cell phones.
It gave us the opportunity to step away from the world and truly examine what God may be calling us to do in our churches, and our communities. It also was
an opportunity to examine who we were in Christ, and most of all, what it means to be a leader.

We had a brilliant team of counselors and an excellent set of speakers, from Kris Sledge to the Bishop herself, who taught lessons on topics such as problem solving and servant leadership. But one of the greatest parts of the experience was the closeness and camaraderie we began to feel as a group. There we were, 16 more or less strangers suddenly thrust together for several days; days in which we became a team of friends who were able to unite and accomplish seemingly impossible tasks, overcoming almost insurmountable obstacles. It was truly a Godly experience,
and the lessons learned on those days will never be forgotten.

The Encounter with Christ Bolivia Mission Program was started in 2001 by then District Superintendent Jane Allen Middleton in the New York Conference.  After coming to the Central Pennsylvania Conference, Bishop Middleton worked to establish a similar mission here, and the two conferences now work together on many Bolivia mission programs.  Volunteers in Mission (VIM) Teams have traveled to Cochabamba, Bolivia, annually since 2002 to work with the Bolivian Methodist Central District.  Bob & Ginny Stevenson, who joined  First UMC Hershey in 2009, were involved in the Bolivian Mission in the New York Conference from its inception, leading VIM teams to Bolivia annually from 2002 through 2008, and now are coordinators of the Bolivia Mission Initiative in Susquehanna Conference.  Several PA volunteers traveled on joint VIM Teams organized by NY Conference in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010.  In 2007 two teams organized here went to Bolivia—a medical team that started a clinic in El Alto and a multi-functional team that worked in Cochabamba.  Another PA team led by Bishop Middleton traveled to Bolivia in 2010 to perform medical and construction work.  A full container of medical equipment also was sent to the El Alto clinic in 2009.  Financial support is provided by various Susquehanna Conference congregations for the El Also clinic, a children’s program in Cochabamba and missionaries in La Paz.  Bolivian style sewn goods and simple jewelry made by women's cooperatives in two of the Methodist churches in Cochabamba are sold at mission presentations and displays at Annual Conference at various other locations throughout the year.

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By Korrine Terroso, McKendree UMC, Airville

We have all heard the phrase "separation of church and state," and many of us
have been told, you can't preach in the schools. Well, that's only partially true. The
separation of church and state means that teachers cannot teach one religion as better
than another. They also cannot share their personal beliefs. These rules do not apply to
students. Students have the right to practice, share, and spread their religions in
schools. Personally, I have had the experience of sharing my faith by praying before
games. I have spent six years playing field hockey and four years running track. Early in
my athletic career, my mom shared with me the fact that as a team, we can pray before
game, but I never had the courage to lead it. Then, during track, I was put on a relay
team, and my relay team decided to pray as a group before we ran. This experience not
only strengthened my faith, but it also allowed me to meet other Christians. Even after
praying with the distance girls for years, I still found it difficult to approach the 50 field
hockey girls. Luckily, God used another girl to begin prayer for Dallastown Field
Hockey. Two years ago, Karley Marquet, a senior and captain approached the team
and said "I'm going to pray before we play, does anyone have a problem with that?" No
one did, and this ministry has continued since Karley graduated. It's such a nice site to
see 50 girls take a knee before each game and pray to God. Even better, we pray for
safety and guidance, not victory!

The other touching aspect of this story is related to our coach. Our coach is not a
woman to go to church or even realize that Sunday is a day of rest for many, but she
stood quietly away from us as we prayed each day for the first year. Then this year, I
noticed her staying for the prayer when she accidentally walked over too early. In
addition, one day, she was talking to us about having practice over the weekend:
someone mentioned Sunday being open, and she quickly said that, that would not work
because many of the girls have church. That was a breakthrough for her! This
experience was super-exciting for me, and during the season, we had a pastor come to
speak to us before our biggest game of the year. Overall, praying before games has
been a great ministry for our team, and I would encourage others to ask God for the
courage to lead their school groups in prayer.

One more important fact, I go to a public school!

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