Tammy Klassen is the CBWC youth Leadership Team Director and the annual SERVE Director. Tammy is also a Pastor at Mill Bay Fellowship. I am not sure about you, but I often forget to revisit topics we have asked for input, support, and prayer for. SERVE is one of those events, therefore it is very important to give back to each other to report in as to what happened.
First of all, Tammy, how are you doing after months of preparation and a week of SERVE?
I am tired but excited about what God has done at SERVE this year and am already looking forward and have started planning SERVE 2017.
In the end, how many students and leaders arrived, from how many churches and how many provinces?
312 participants from 26 churches in 3 provinces.
Any videoclips or pictures we can see, and what are their links, so as we read this newsletter, we can tap onto them?
What were some of the highlights of the SERVE week?
There are so many but for me it is always seeing the camaraderie between leaders, the friendships built and strengthened, youth passionately worshiping God, groups working extra hours to get the job done, the challenges overcome, and the impact of the evening messages. One highlight this year was the Prayer Experience – six multi-sensory prayer stations around the theme of darkness and light.
I find it very interesting that SERVE emphasizes young people, but from what I understand, with all the volunteers, fundraisers, and cooks, it is a pretty inter-generational event. Could you describe some of that for us?
First of all we have a wide range of youth leaders in our denomination, many of whom have been leading for years. These dedicated leaders have a passion for seeing our youth grow and flourish in their faith and in their participation in the body of Christ. The volunteers at Emmanuel also spanned a range of ages and with their Mandarin congregation it was also a multicultural event. In fact one of the highlights was the authentic Chinese dinner cooked for us on Sunday night by the Mandarin congregation.
What were some of the struggles that you experienced as a team? And what are some of the needs in the community that you served in an ongoing way and secondly, and as importantly, what are some of the needs going forward?
To be honest I think the biggest struggles we faced involved workload. Some days were carried by just a few dedicated volunteers but they were always joyful in that service.
I think we were able to be a blessing to Emmanuel in doing some projects around the church and helping them prepare for their busy summer or ministry to kids. As well we were able to bless a family that had very recently lost a child by doing some yard work and expanding a rock garden in her memory. The SERVE youth also collected rocks from local beaches and painted pictures and messages of hope to contribute to that rock garden.
How might we pray for future years and what are some of the possible sites that we might be going to? It’s interesting for me to note how much concern we have over the upkeep of large buildings, however we could not successfully conduct such a week without places like Emmanuel and their willingness to maintain and creatively use a large facility.
I think we can pray for continued momentum and for blessing for those hosting from their local areas and churches to be able to find the facilities to make this annual event possible.
While I cannot yet disclose sites I can say I am working towards Manitoba and Alberta in the next couple of years.
Could you tell us the story of the woman from New Life in Duncan, BC who takes time off every summer to make over 300 lunches each day of SERVE and has done that at Duncan, High River, and Victoria over the last few years?
Susan is my neighbour and attends New Life. After organizing lunches at SERVE Cowichan she was hooked. She has now decided to dedicate one week of her holidays each summer to being the “Lunch Lady” at SERVE – and she has almost perfected her spread sheets. I also want to mention Debbie Stevens from Brandon, MB who had worked in the kitchen in Winnipeg, Cowichan, and Victoria. So SERVE is definitely attracting volunteers from all over Western Canada and all are welcome to join the team.
Could you tell us a bit about the speaker, particularly his themes, his effect, other places he has spoken, and if you feel comfortable, could you tell us a little bit about his talk on sexuality to the leaders?
Sid Koop, from Truth Matters Ministries, has spoken at many events and camps and helps organize the Canadian Youth Workers Conference. He is a very dynamic speaker and keeps the youth listening with many personal stories from his own life. He took our theme “Be the Light” and challenged the youth about what that means in everyday life. He told us that it is not glamorous and in fact Jesus tells us to deny ourselves and take up our cross. He challenged us not to get caught up in what the world says is success – nice house, successful career, safety – but to be willing to live a different kind of life for Jesus. And he challenged the youth to learn from those who are older than them – to invite them to share their stories.
Sid is currently working on his doctorate in the area of sexuality and led the youth leaders through a whirlwind hour of exploring how we follow the biblical view that marriage, in God’s plan, is between one man and one woman while showing grace and love and fighting for the rights of those who identify as LGBTQ. This will be the theme of CYWC this year and I encourage churches to send their youth leaders to it.
Might you foresee a time when there is a need for more than one SERVE over the summer?
This is a possibility in the future but would have to be carefully thought out as there is such a benefit for us being able to unite as a clan. There is so much mutual support in this cross-cultural event. I say it is cross-cultural because having lived for significant times in both places, I can affirm that BC and Manitoba have very different cultures and dialect from each other.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you want to share with us?
I think it was great how many of the Island churches worked together to make SERVE a success. Emmanuel Baptist by far carried the weight but other Victoria churches helped out with baking and volunteering, New Life and Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship brought down tents, chairs, tables, grills, and a fifth wheel for the videographer, and Comox sent down three boxes of baking.