Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One Crazy Summer!

It’s been a full Summer, to say the least!

At the tail end of May, Eric travelled to London where he spent time developing a partnership with a local church there. The church is seeking to reach out to the European youth and growing population of immigrant young people in London. He also spent time working with MTW missionaries on a strategy to better minister to our MKs across Europe.

After London, Eric traveled to Hungary to participate in the European Leadership Forum. The ELF is a grass-roots gathering of 500 conservative evangelical leaders from 50 countries across eastern and western Europe. The GYFM seeks to partner with the ELF in providing our Institute training to European leaders struggling to engage the emerging generation in their countries. Many participants expressed leaving encouraged and better equipped through what we had to offer.

In June, we travelled as a family to Harvey Cedars Bible Conference in NJ. Eric was invited to speak at Victory Jam summer camp, sharing the gospel with over 400 students from all walks of life. God also provided many opportunities for us to encourage youth pastors and their wives, and to share the vision of the GYFM. We saw the spirit work in many lives during the week and came away encouraged as a family in ministry.

In July, we travelled to Ridgehaven in NC to serve during MTW’s Re-entry conference, followed by MTW’s Summer Conference. During Re-entry, Eric and Rebecca lead the mission kids in a time of debriefing and processing through their time on the field—helping them to wrestle through cultural, emotional, and spiritual issues of transition and adjustment. Then, together with the Ridghaven staff, the GYFM lead a weeklong summer camp experience for TCK’s –involving hiking, rafting, ropes course, and swimming, as we spent time in Bible Study, singing, one-on-one counseling with the youth, and offering seminars and consulting with mission parents.

Later in July, Eric travelled to New York to serve during MTW’s Cross Cultural Mission Internship program. This time is focused on preparing new missionary families to serve cross culturally. Eric spent his time training, leading an event for new MKs, counseling mission parents, and building relationships with new missionary families in an effort to set them up for success as they go to the field.

Then in August, our Global Youth and Family Institute offered it’s third foundations training module in STL in partnership with Covenant Seminary. Through this course, leaders receive training in a variety of models and methods for engaging the emerging generation with the gospel. In fact, our GYFI is about to graduate it’s first class of 8 candidates in our certificate program. Some are headed to Africa and Europe, while others are serving in culturally diverse and unique ethnic groups within the US.

Support update: 81% Praise the Lord!

We still need $1,600 per month. It is our prayer that God would raise up…

  • 25 people to partner with us at $25/month
  • 10 people to partner with us at $50/ month
  • 5 people to partner with us at $100/ month

Would you consider increasing your giving by one of these amounts and letting us know by email?

If you have not been able to give or give regularly, would you be willing to join us at one of these amounts?

How? Go to www.gyfm.org OR

Send checks to: Mission to the World, PO Box 116284, Atlanta, GA 30368 (MEMO: Larsen Support Account 29256)

Above all, your prayers are what we need most! There is no way we could sustain without the love and prayers of God’s people surrounding us and going with us. Thank you for sending us and partnering with us as together we work toward Reaching the Nations and the Next Generation!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Check-out my interview in InVision e-magazine

Why Next Generation Ministry Matters
by Melissa Kelley

“Reaching the nations and the next generation.” That’s the mission of Global Youth and Family Ministry (GYFM), led by MTW missionaries Eric and Rebecca Larsen. GYFM provides support and care for MTW missionaries and their children—often referred to as Third Culture Kids—and ongoing training for those seeking to influence global youth culture. Following is an interview with GYFM director Eric Larsen.

Your path to youth ministry is personal. Can you talk about your own experience as a Third Culture Kid (TCK)?

I was a military brat, missionary kid, and PCA pastor’s kid. And by eighth grade, I was on my 12th move, eighth school, and third continent.

I had a really difficult transition from Australia to the U.S. after graduating from high school and moving to Covenant College. I remember sealing up my Australian belongings in a box and shoving it in the back of my closet; I stopped reading letters from my Australian friends; I changed my accent. I remember thinking, “I can’t continue to straddle multiple worlds when others can’t do that with me.”

Many years later I finally learned to make peace with that part of who I was. God helped me unpack the box again, helped me become integrated in who I am. My father always said, “You minister out of who you are.” I think that getting in touch with our own stories, as well as spiritual gifts and temperament and giftedness ... all of those things are woven together, and God’s uses those to uniquely express Himself and reveal His gospel through us.

Why are you compelled to work with Third Culture Kids? Why is it a priority for MTW?

TCKs are uniquely equipped to impact a globalizing world. We hope that as the church invests in TCK ministry, we will see an emerging generation of missional leaders raised up. Also, we want to help them learn how God has hardwired them for crossing cultures—it may be that God is weaving this into His calling on their life.

But beyond that, we think it’s important to undergird mission families by surrounding them with a web of support. Adolescence is tough enough to navigate without the compounding effects of mission service: isolation, spiritual warfare, the intensity of frontline ministry, and the challenges of growing up cross-culturally.

You’ve said that ministry to youth is more critical now than at any other time in history. Why is that so?

Reaching the next generation is a must for the church—and the church should always have that orientation. We see in the Bible that God is always reconciling generations to one another, and that the burden is on the older to reach out to the younger—not the other way around.

But several things are unique at this point in history. More and more, the church is emptying of young people. There is an exploding global youth population (by the end of this year, 50 percent of the world’s population will be under the age of 25—that’s three billion people). Also, there’s the phenomenon of the extension of adolescence around the world. Kids are thrust into adolescence earlier and earlier and are extending it later and later. Now, it’s common for that period to stretch from 10 to 30 years old.

We’re also seeing a global youth culture where kids have more in common with one another than with the adults around them. Some of the key factors causing that include media, technology, and the common experience of abandonment.

How would you like to see the church engage with youth?

One big problem is the systemic adult abandonment of kids. Adults are not engaging young people. We have to raise up an army of folks who will engage young people together, as a church. We need a community of faith to rally around kids and care for them. It’s a great opportunity for the gospel, for a church to say, “We’re going to go after these kids.” We want to equip leaders to mobilize the adult community of faith to do that, to be catalysts, to become champions of the cause, to become a resource for their local area. And we want to ground them biblically and theologically to do that work.

How does your partnership with Covenant Seminary help accomplish your goal of training others to do youth ministry?

It’s important to see youth ministry movements as integral to our church-planting efforts around the world. So we’re involved in training cross-cultural youth ministers sent as missionaries with MTW, as well as equipping and encouraging field leadership, national leaders, and indigenous churches in engaging the emerging generations in their context.

Our Global Youth and Family Institute (GYFI) is based out of Covenant Theological Seminary, which has adopted GYFI’s training modules as its curriculum for a master of arts or master of divinity concentration in global youth ministry. So, training is a key piece of our vision. We also provide training all over the world—in Nagoya, Japan, several times a year, for example, and also at an annual European leadership forum.

It’s good to see Covenant Seminary and MTW—two PCA agencies—partnering together in this effort. It results in a theologically robust program where training is grounded in practice and kingdom mission.

To learn more about Global Youth and Family Ministry, visit www.gyfm.org