At the end of July, a group of 22 from our youth ministry (River) went down to Lead the Cause in Orange County for an inner-city mission and training trip. Four years prior to this trip, Pastor Luke took a smaller group down to LTC (Lead the Cause) Portland and the focus of our youth group has been changed ever since. When the Portland group came back, the cause above every cause, the cause for Christ, completely took over our youth ministry and we as a youth group really started focusing on sharing the gospel. Four years later, the majority of our youth has been able to go down and experience what a life changing event LTC is, for themselves.
LTC is a week where Dare2Share ministries equips teens and young adults from around the globe to effectively share their faith and the gospel. This year in Orange County there were four main topics for each day.
The first day taught us the importance of prayer. To get into the practice of praying, we spent the entire day going around the campus praying for certain topics or people. For many in our group, this was the first time prayer had been seen as such a powerful priority in our walks as Christians. Itzel Ceja had this to say about the prayer experience, “It was really cool to pray for other Christians in the church. I know I don’t know any of the missionaries, but that was one of the highlights of the day! It’s important to pray for God’s work and I’m glad that was shown to me.”
The second day was focused on caring for people. This day was spent teaching our group about the needs of the people around us. We took that day to partner with the Dream Center and did an outreach in the park involving food, games and devoting our time to help people with their particular needs. Having gospel conversations was of course encouraged, but the main focus of that day was taking the time to listen and care for people in any way that we could. For Conor Smith, the experience was very eye opening. “The experience made me realize just how many hurts and troubles many people go through. Sometimes even Christian people. The cool thing about taking the time to care for others, is that many of the times, people want to know why. At that point you can point to Jesus.”
The third day at LTC was special because we put into practice everything we learned so far, and started sharing the gospel. The LTC team instructed us to go out to certain places around Orange County and literally start having gospel conversations with strangers. At first, our group was almost discouraged, as many of the people we talked to were not receptive to the gospel at all. However, within the first hour 2 people put their faith in Jesus. These people’s commitments to God set our group on fire. Even the most timid among us were sharing their faith with anyone they saw. Our group was talking to lifeguards, pedestrians, beachgoers and everyone in between. The experience really had a big impact on Lily Germick, “At first we were really discouraged, but then we shared with a guy and he accepted Christ! It made us realize it’s really important to keep on sharing even after being rejected, because there’s so many lost people out there and when you share with just one of them, God can start something amazing.”
The fourth and final day we spent at LTC was focused on the concept of daring each other to continue to share our faith as we went home. On that day, we as a group devised ways to keep the gospel fire burning in our hearts. During this time, smaller cause groups were formed, the group talked of ways to bring this back to the rest of our youth group, and most importantly, we prayed that God would do mighty works through us as we journeyed home. Laura Strathy took this from the experience, “Personally, the dare day brought the training to a close by putting all the pieces together. The first three days got me so pumped up with what God could use me for, but when the speakers compared the progress of one person verses numerous living the Cause, it all kind of made sense. Christ can call all ages of his people to teach and encourage other Christians, and with God’s guidance, the result would be extremely effective and electrifying.”
Overall, the trip had an amazing impact on our youth group. LTC really changed many of the group’s outlooks on life. Even as we went home, we were actively looking out for people to share with. One thing is for certain, and it is that wherever God takes us as a group or even as individuals, we will be an active part of God’s mission.