For some reason traveling to the other side of the country is always exciting. The thrill of stepping onto the plane and hours later walking out into another time zone never gets old. As you spend special moments with other friends in the West Coast you notice some of the stores they have are different than yours, you notice the scenery of the breathtaking mountains that fill the background of each setting, you notice the warm welcoming hugs that they give you as an outsider.

I had the privilege to go spend a fun week in the Vancouver area. I love my job, it’s not always like this, but this is definitely a good part of it. The goal of this trip was to try and connect with other ministries to build strong relationships. Looking back on this trip I would say it was successful. Hundreds of other youth workers gathered together at a conference called CYWC. It’s a great feeling seeing a friend you haven’t seen in a while show you that they still have their K.I.R. sticker on their phone, laptop and bible. When it comes down to it we’re not trying to promote a name but rather it’s a way of living, it’s a life style. It can seem hard to be real in our world these days. It seems like it’s easier to just put on a fake smile and never express how we are actually feeling. Let’s be a generation that encourages each other to be there for each other at all times. Let’s find our identity in Christ and understand who he has made us to be.

Let me share a few highlights with you from this trip. 3 YFC friends showed me around and brought me by some beautiful water. As we were walking around making jokes an older gentleman interrupted our party. This homeless man asked us.  “Excuse me, I just lost my job and was wondering if you could loan me a few dollars?” We reached into our pockets and said, “well can we buy you something to eat. We had a small chance to talk about life with our new pal Travis. At the end we prayed with him and he went off back to the cold brutal streets. I’m challenged by all of these homeless people that fill up our cities. What can we do? The answer is to definitely not ignore them. Even by recognizing them as a person, looking at them in the eyes can go a far way. My friend Iona taught me that we don’t always have to respond to the poor the exact way each time. But that we should stop to hear what God has to say. Maybe there are times when we should just stop and talk to them, maybe some moments we only smile and keep going. If we were to help fill the needs of every poor person we our self’s would be poor and out on the streets. So as much as I want to say, “let’s just empty our bank accounts”… really that’s not wise at all. We need to be open to what God says and do what he wants us to do in that moment. Did you know that there was a time in the bible that Jesus actually turned down people? He still loved them and had compassion but in Mark 1:34-38 when sick people came to him he could have said “Everyone check this out, I’m about to blow some more minds and do lots of radical things” but instead he knew the fathers voice so well and when God told him to move on he did, he didn’t let people make decisions for him. How many times are we influenced by others when we see the broken needs of this world? Sometimes we are so focused on pleasing people or doing a bunch of great works that we forget to stop and listen to God. What if we took that more serious and we prayed prayers like “God what should I do next? Do you want me to turn down this opportunity”. What if he told you to do something that doesn’t make sense? All I know is that it’s worth it, as long as it doesn’t contradict the bible you’re in a good place.

Later in the week I got to visit an indoor skate park in Vancouver. It is run by two influential skaters called Dean and Mark, they work for Young Life and Youth unlimited. It’s a neat partnership. Every time I sit in Tim Horton’s listening to them my mind explodes with ideas. These guys are legends in skate ministry as they have been doing it for maybe around 20 years. As we skated this amazing spot, I watched them connect with the skaters that come out. I love it that they don’t push Jesus on them, they genuinely love these skaters and they care about their community. They do a short thought of the night with them and as all the sweaty skaters sit down in a circle to listen they leave them with an idea about how they have purpose in life and how they are all created for a reason. Even though it’s so far away, I’m looking forward to the next time I get to go back and skate that nice long rail they got there. What a good set up, it’s really fun. Proud to know those bros.

My last night of this trip was maybe the most exciting. Green, yellow and blue were the colours of spray paint that I picked out to paint a big mural. As I painted a big back drop for my friend’s church it said the word “Journey”.  As we walk with faith it is such a journey, sometimes it’s great and we feel so happy and sometimes it’s such a low and we can actually feel really sad.I guess it’s called being human. There are many emotions in life, but one thing we all have in common is we are all on a journey. I encourage you to never give up no matter what part of the journey you’re on. I hope you are on the path that is leading to eternal life. All the sweet things God has for you are so amazing and I would hate for you to miss out. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your best friend, take time today to chat through things and turn away from sin. You don’t have to figure it all out right now, he takes you the way you are.

As the youth night finishes a handful of us enjoy going out eating wings. On that late night I paused and looked around the table and realized, “Wow, these are great people! Even though I don’t live here, these are true friends”. Thankful for relationships God is building through the East and West.