All of our Mission Immersion programs are based on the same values and principles.
Variety of Service
We have long term partnerships with dozens of agencies in the greater Asheville area, and we want our youth groups to experience and participate in the work of a lot of them. We believe it allows youth to see a system of agencies and ministries working together to meet the needs of the community. Likewise, we realize that youth have a variety of gifts, and we like to give them a chance to explore those gifts in their work with us. Some work assignments will be physical in nature, such as cleaning, landscaping, or sorting donations. Other assignments will be more relational in nature, such as leading recreation events for children who are living in subsidized housing neighborhoods, or providing hospitality to the clients and guests of some of our local homeless ministries. We hope that every youth participant will experience some service that uses their strengths, and also opportunities to be challenged and to grow.
Reflection Using the Arts
In our daily debriefing sessions, we often use the arts as a tool for reflection. Through Bible study, group discussion, and art projects, we give young people the opportunity to think theologically about the mission experiences that they have had. Where was God at work in the things you saw and did today? What does Scripture tell us about God’s intention for the world, and what does that have to do with what you just experienced? Towards the end of a group’s time with us, we turn the conversation toward their home context. How are things similar or different from what you have seen here? How will the things we have done and the things we have discussed effect the way you live back home? Each group makes a plan regarding how they will make a difference in their own context in the weeks and months to come.
AYM has long standing relationships with dozens of local agencies and ministries. Investing in these long term relationships means we can work together with them to make a significant impact in the community and boost the great work these partners are doing. It also means that AYM becomes part of the long term conversations in Asheville regarding issues like homelessness, poverty, and food insecurity. Having these long term relationships also means that we get to know more of our neighbors who are living on the streets or otherwise on the margins of society. As our youth groups come to work with us they are invit
ed into all these relationships. Often our groups will keep up these connections with these agencies long after their time with us is over!
There are 4 types of Mission Immersion programs that we provide:
Summer Weeks: A Sunday evening to Friday morning program that includes volunteering at 4 to 6 worksites and debriefing programs that include Bible study, group discussion, and art projects as a means of reflection. Towards the end of the week groups will be led in an urban awareness walk, discernment of a plan on how to “take the experience home” with them, and a closing worship. Housing is provided (indoor camping style) as well as most meals.
Mission Weekends: A Friday evening to Sunday morning program during the fall and spring that includes volunteering at a ministry worksite, an urban awareness walk, an evening debriefing program, and a morning worship. Housing is provided (indoor camping style) as well as meals.
Spring Break Weeks: A Sunday evening to Friday morning program that includes volunteering at 4 to 6 worksites and debriefing programs that include Bible study, group discussion, and art projects as a means of reflection. Towards the end of the week groups will be led in an urban awareness walk, discernment of a plan on how to “take the experience home” with them, and a closing worship. Housing is provided (indoor camping style) as well as most meals.
Year-Long Mission Scholar Program: A year-long intensive program for 10th-11th grade youth who are interested in diving deeply into mission, service, the root causes of social injustices, and discernment regarding God’s call in their lives. The program includes mission immersion experiences in all three YMCo locations – Asheville and Raleigh, NC and Memphis TN – as well as regular volunteering in the place where you live. The participants are part of a cohort of students who would participate in the program together.