Italy Beach Week

by Drew Crowson

This was my first time to Italy. I had only been working for International Students since January and already my concept of what youth ministry looks like had been changed. Gone were the structures and brick and mortar youth groups of my past and in their place was a richer, organic experience of sharing God’s love with one student at a time.

In July of each year, Youth for Christ's International Community Youth Ministry in Europe partners with an organization called Outpost to run a small camp for a week on the beach in Italy. We use a US military base in Pisa as our campsite, setting tents up on a field. Each day the students get to travel to a beautiful beach and are allowed to be themselves for the day. At night, my colleague Brice and I ran games and programs for them and then Chris O’shaughnessy shared a lesson from his life and presented the Gospel.

The students were able to hang out with people like themselves—third culture kids—and felt at home and welcomed by the staff on hand. One student, Andrea Carracosa, looks at this week as the highlight of her year each year. At the end of the week, she was already talking about how great next year’s was going to be. Andrea is Guatemalan, but her family moved to Germany when she was 13 to get away from the violence in Guatemala City. The International Community Youth Ministry in Düsseldorf has been her home base in a time in her life where not much is stable. She has been one of my favorite students because she attends everything I plan. It’s been great to see God work in her life as she has struggled with defining her faith for some time and I have had the privilege of seeing her seek Christ this school year. Italy Beach Week has been a huge part of her spiritual journey.

Students like Andrea need to know God loves them. They need to see that you can follow Jesus and have fun along the way. Third Culture Kids need to be introduced to the Love that never changes when everything else in life does. Club meetings and trips like Italy Beach Week are enormous parts of what God is doing to reach the Third Culture Kids around the world.

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