MOVE 2013 experiences challenge students to consider what makes people ‘Invisible’

MOVE-webOn April 12-13, almost 300 students and youth workers from throughout the Northwest Conference converged on First Covenant Church in Minneapolis, MN, for MOVE 2013—a weekend of teaching, worship, service and experiential learning. This year’s theme was “Invisible: Who are you not seeing?”

The weekend kicked off with a worship service that featured a performance by hip-hop artist Stephone, praise music and a challenging message from Amy Williams, an 18-year youth ministry veteran who ministers to teens involved in gangs, youth on probation or parole, and those lost in the juvenile justice system. As a certified Gang Intervention Specialist, she heard God’s call to move into a Latino gang neighborhood in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community to be a “Hope Dealer” doing street outreach.

“Your perception of someone determines your reaction toward them, but perception is not reality. There’s more to a story,” Williams said. “People are invisible because of the way you see them. The responsibility is on you to make sure they are not invisible.”

Williams challenged students to take a “helicopter view” of those around them—to try to see people as God sees them.

Before heading to bed Friday night, students spent time with their youth groups preparing for the next day’s experiences and enjoying games facilitated by the staff of Lake Beauty Bible Camp.

On Saturday morning, youth groups fanned out to 13 different agencies and ministry sites across the Twin Cities for three hours of service, which ranged from preparing meals for homeless, to organizing storage rooms and cleaning stained glass windows along with other cleanup projects, to playing with shelter kids, to the restocking of supply shelves at thrift centers and distribution warehouses.

Steve Moen of Living Hope Ministries expressed how grateful he was for the MOVE help. The groups moved massive storage shelves, cut insulation, tested computers and more. One of the leaders brought out his tool belt and pitched in with carpentry needs.

“They did the things that I don’t have the time to do [with a busy ministry schedule],” Moen said.

Saturday afternoon students and leaders were given $1 each and were challenged to go out into the neighborhood to find lunch. Some creatively pooled their resources and figured out how to create a lunch for their group. Others chose to fast and donate the money to other people looking for food. Later that afternoon, students had the opportunity to hear stories of invisibility arising from their own group. These stories highlighted the personal sense of invisibility that can come from family struggles, physical limitations and the awkwardness of feeling left out.

“This year’s MOVE experience was valuable for our group because it opened our eyes to the hard work being undertaken by urban ministries to meet the needs of often invisible populations, and helped us come to grips of issues of invisibility in our own communities and selves,” said Ben Pease, youth pastor at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN.

MOVE 2013 concluded with another powerful worship session and message from Williams, who shared her insights on spreading hope to those around us.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but boy, hope is a powerful thing,” Williams said. “As Christians, hope is an assured thing for us. We know that there’s hope—it’s not a ‘maybe,’ it not an ‘if.’ … Hope is being a light in someone’s darkness.”

Visit the Children, Youth and Family media page to see a video and photo gallery from the event.