Resilience & Prayer

Resilience & Prayer

“In March 2020, soon after the pandemic began, our team began praying virtually every morning,” Derek Jacobsen, Executive Director of Greater Iowa YFC, said. “Those virtual prayer meetings are still going strong today in 2021: Each day, we gather together virtually in prayer. It has kept us focused on ‘the why’ as well as provided us with a daily touch point to encourage each other. We will continue this virtual daily prayer after the pandemic is over.”

Not losing their focus on prayer and Jesus has helped the Greater Iowa YFC team to see opportunities in a challenging time for ministry.

Neta Siebert, who is the Parent Life Director at Greater Iowa YFC has seen how the pandemic has given her the chance to be a lot more creative with ministry

“It’s easy to get wrapped up in routine. But during a pandemic, you’re not always able to follow your routine. We had to get creative about how we reached the teens. We called on the phone and used Zoom and FaceTime. That creativity – and looking for new ways to connect – is something we will continue long after the pandemic ends,” she said.

Once small group gatherings were permitted, the Greater Iowa YFC leaders found ways to spend time with the kids they had been reaching out to and building relationships with even through virtual ministry.   

Angie Stephen, Campus Life Middle School Director in Mason City, Iowa was about to transition to in-person small groups during summer 2020, which is where she got connected with Hannah*.

“We learned about Hannah, who walked all over the city because she needed transportation. We had received a bike donation, so she was selected to receive the bike. Consequently, we ended up organizing bike outings around the city with the kids. Soon, Hannah started attending church and said yes to Jesus. She told me that even though 2020 had been a tough year for a lot of people, it was actually the best year of her life because of Greater Iowa YFC. That teen also ended up joining the Greater Iowa YFC Core Ministry, which is a group of Christian students who are reaching out to their lost friends.”

Our YFC leaders know that feeling connected and having the opportunity to spend time with ministry leaders and other peers is an absolute necessity for the kids. Otherwise, their mental health could be greatly affected.

Katie Zickefoose, who is the Campus Life High School Director in Mason City, said mental health issues are so prevalent among the kids her ministry team reaches.

“We put together a suicide prevention conversation over Zoom. We invited people from the community. We asked everyone, ‘What can other students and people of the community do to help?’ We provide additional resources now in the event of an emergency like that and what the red flags are.”

“During this pandemic, we see that the kids are anxious, which leads to a lot of mental health issues,” Derek said. “Kids are lonely and need connection. There is a sense of feeling lost. Not just spiritually lost, as many are, but also lost in terms of wondering what they will do with their lives. They are already worrying about how they will navigate life as an adult.”

The pandemic has been and will continue to be a hard time for the 11-19-year-olds YFC reaches. But the Greater Iowa YFC team, along with the rest our YFC ministry sites, is staying focused – and resilient.

“Somewhere in the midst of this pandemic journey, Greater Iowa YFC chose a word to carry our organization. That word is RESILIENCE. Whether you are a teenager, a volunteer, or ministry leader — you need resilience. It means to bounce back. We can’t control the hardship of the pandemic, but we can control how we respond to it. It is a daily journey. And the walk of faith. But we are choosing to bounce back. This is a message that we are all living and are sharing with the kids in the Greater Iowa YFC program,” Derek said.

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