Updated: Jun 3, 2019
"But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." --John 20:31
In 2018, the fruit from the seeds we had begun in 2015 truly began to take a deeper root and grow. We experienced huge blessings from the Lord as He directed our steps. We had two new churches: Virginia Beach Community Chapel and Gateway Bible Church come on an EY2S mission trip. Several student missionaries realized they wanted to apply to become leaders of future trips because of the impact the trip made on them. And our staff has grown to include five full- and part-time year-round staffers.
For the first time ever, EY2S developed and printed our own devotional study guide called “Breakfast with God”. Featured in the book are five practical biblical lessons with questions to guide student thinking and application. Our book features a daily "Stop and Think" section to help students problem solve how to be the difference in their churches. We want students to use their solutions in the weeks after their mission trip to lead change. Students also use their books to reflect on how a person in the group has shown a Christ-like characteristic.
This year we chose our summer worksite to be at the home of Brandon and Schylar. This wonderful young couple have been working with Urban Discovery Ministries and One Died for All Basketball Camp for several years. These two have given to those in need and are very dear to our hearts. So to be able to bless them and their little puppy with a 20x24 back deck and front porch, while serving the needs of their neighbors and going on prayer walks was an amazing opportunity!
This year at Vacation Bible School, we received challenging news. We were told we were no longer permitted to use the name of Jesus or God. Yet despite this, God has been gracious to keep the door open for us at Young Terrace Recreation Center. After some thought and research, student missionaries figured out how to work around the new guidelines. Student missionaries still taught Biblical stories and played Christian music, just without using the name of God or Jesus. Through all of this, they persevered in sharing the love of Christ to the children at Young Terrace. God was faithful to enable the children to speak His Name, allowing an opening for missionaries and leaders to share the gospel.
Another huge blessing in 2018 was the opening of the door to volunteer at Young Terrace Recreation Center during the school year. This is a great opportunity for us to set down roots in the community and build relationships. We currently have several staff members and volunteers weekly playing and working with the kids in the after-school programs.
Because of the impact an EY2S mission trip has had on them, student missionaries have begun the express the desire to return in future years as leaders. They have testified that EY2S has changed their life to focus more upon the Lord.
Miguel Vargas, a student missionary who wants to eventually apply to be a leader found that going on an EY2S mission trip encouraged him to lead and build up others who came from different churches. "Initially I wanted to show my friends, then it became, these people are also my people," he said. "I truly feel that all people are my brothers and sisters when I am serving with them on the mission trip."
His friend Justin agreed, "I want more input from other people. And I feel that being a leader will force me to get better."
After the trips in Norfolk, six students who went on an EY2S mission trip, plus four staff members and leaders, went to Jamaica to volunteer at the summer camp in Buff Bay. This trip opened up the door for EY2S to be partnered directly with Buff Bay Baptist Church, Pastor Allen, and the summer camp for the next five years. We are looking forward to adding this to our future trip roster!
Another huge blessing for this year is that our staff has further expanded. In January of 2018, Samuel Doster joined EY2S as our Director of Operations. As a part of director of Operations, Samuel was the on the ground leader for the summer, running the day to day actions of each week. After working as summer leaders in 2018, Emily Sobel, Lydia Dowdell and Samantha Page joined on staff as well as Director of Logistics, Director of Development, and Director of Communications respectively.
We ended 2018 with a trip to La Paz Mexico in 2018 taken by Jeff and Sam. We are excited to possibly partner with Rancho el Camino for future trips.
This year has been jam-packed with events and exciting progress! We are so excited to see what they Lord has in store for EY2S in 2019!