Compassion means “with suffering” and it reminds us to walk alongside others in their moments. The language of “walking alongside” has impacted the way we do missions–we’re thinking more broadly and of longer-term impact. In the last few years, we’ve moved from the language of “short term mission trips” to “compassion experiences.”

For many youth ministries, their venture into compassion experiences is, for the youth and many leaders, a first-time broadening of their experience, particularly on a geographical scale. There are many organizations offering significant opportunities overseas, including CBM and International Teams. If your group feels called to international experiences, you can find them!

International and regional experiences take time and initiative to establish. Regional experiences include serving in a different part of Canada, which is a cross-cultural experience. Opportunities like Serve with CBWC or Tidal Impact with CBAC are well-established venues.

However, this “awakening” or opening of the eyes to global issues doesn’t have to start far from home. I’m reminded that at one time CBM’s motto was: “Start local, go global.” There are many local experiences a church can participate in: soup kitchens, food banks, serving at long-term care facilities, cleaning up neighbourhood parks. Find out what your youth are passionate about and seek out opportunities to serve. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what you do, all of these experiences teach compassion, giving, and obedience to Jesus. They’re all calls to love others.

Did you know you have access to youth ministries across CBOQ? Try reaching out to another local church and join in what they’re already doing. Two years ago, First Baptist Church-Welland and First Baptist Church-Dunnville joined Montreal Chinese Baptist Church to serve in their community for a week. If you’re not sure who to reach out to, contact Alvin. If you’re a ministry that would welcome another group to work alongside you, let Alvin know.

This isn’t to suggest you constantly jump from location to location. Establishing your group as a reliable partner is a big part of compassion experiences. That said, it’s okay to consider different experiences or use different experiences to progress from where you are to where you want to be. There are numerous ways to help youth experience God’s work in different contexts. Let’s utilize the connections we have to provide those transformative spaces.

We can help one another consider ways to broaden the experiences of our youth to serve and glorify God’s redemptive work.