Well, for starters it is Sherwood Park, Alberta, which in the 1960’s when I was a kid might as well have been Sherwood Forest.
Trinity Baptist Church provides all sorts of leaders and initiatives: Wayne Larson, a former Area Minister and Chair of our Ordination Examing Council; Mike Engbers, who has been influential in Children and Families work and in summer programs for children in general; and Graeme Watt, in Youth Ministries and his ‘Make a Difference Challenge’, (www.madchallenge.ca.), which is the topic for this newsletter. Claire McLean, our interim Youth Leader, told me about Graeme’s work. The attached letter not only tells you the story of this exciting initiative, but gives you Graeme’s contact information. I draw your attention to the powerful story of the 13-14 year old girls and the link to the International Justice Mission (http://www.ijm.org/ ).
I am in the process of refining and reframing a project that I started last
year with my group called the MAD Challenge and I am wondering if you would
be willing to help me promote this with all our youth groups.
Last year I wanted to find a fun, creative, tangible way to engage students
in issues of social justice beyond just teaching and talking about it or
showing some videos and leaving them there. So, I created that MAD
Challenge. MAD stands for Make A Difference and it is a collaborative
competition in partnership with International Justice Mission. Here is how
The challenge goes for 8 weeks in the spring.
Students form and register a team of 4-6 students to compete against the
other teams in the challenge.
The objective of the challenge is for teams to create a project of their
choosing and raise as much money as possible during the 8 weeks
We focused on Human Trafficking last year and I taught about God’s call to
justice and we brought in Mark Wollemberg from IJM to speak to the students.
Each team is paired up with a mentor that helps them along the way and
ensures that their project is legal, ethical, etc. The mentor also
encourages the team and helps to guide the creative process.
Each team also has a parent or adult who manages their money and acts as an
accountant for the team.
Last year our winning team was a group of 4 13-14 yr old girls and they
raised almost $4000 in 8 weeks through various projects in the community.
The best part about this is that the students go out into the community with
these projects and tell the story of what they are doing…fighting human
trafficking and raising awareness. IJM sent us boxes of bookmarks and info
sheets for teams to give to the public. The media caught wind of this and
wanted to cover the story but the challenge was over by the time that got
There are so many layers to this challenge and the students learn teamwork,
basic business principles, how to manage money, how to raise awareness in
the community, and what it can look like to participate in the redemptive
work of Christ in the world as a teenager.
Most importantly, the MAD Challenge empowers these young people to act and
do something while living out their faith in tangible ways.
At the end of the project we donated $10,000 to IJM as a group and we
couldn’t believe what we had done in only 8 weeks with a bit of effort
creativity and passion.
This year, I am opening up the competition to the world! I am having a
website designed that will go live at the end of February that will allow me
to coordinate teams from anywhere in the world. Teams will be able to
register online, create a team profile, submit their funds through the
website and share stories, videos, pictures etc.
The Challenge dates are set for April 14th – June 9th and the registration
deadline for teams will be the end of March. A grand prize will be awarded
to the winning team and I am trying to get IJM to agree to send the winners
to participate in whatever IJM project the MAD Challenge will be funding in
order to experience first hand the work of IJM in a foreign country. Isaiah
58 is the scripture passage that will drive us and create the underlying
“why” for what we are doing.
I have already spoken with several of our youth pastors but I would love to
have you help me in spreading the word. My goal is to have 100 teams
registered by the end of March. Mark wants to help me out with this and is
going to help by coordinating and mobilizing teams in the greater Vancouver
area and Steve Roadhouse will be helping me get the word out through his
network as well.
I have such a passion for this project and a vision that has captivated my
heart and the hearts of my students! I see a generation of students coming
together across Canada fighting for justice and telling the story of a great
God who compels us to Make A Difference by His spirit alive in us!
Let me know what you think of all this and perhaps we should chat on the
phone as well. Let me know if you have questions.
Thanks for reading. I hope this makes sense!