Mennonite Mission Network and Franconia Conference collaborate with summer Youth Venture

Lora Steiner

youth-venture.jpg ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Mission Network and Franconia Conference) — Last year, Mennonite Mission Network and Franconia Mennonite Conference collaborated on the first Youth Venture experience in Israel.

This summer, Franconia Conference will again partner with Mission Network to offer another Youth Venture learning experience in Nazareth, Israel, and will add a new location: Mexico City, Mexico. Both trips will take place in July 2008.
“This is a relevant collaboration because it brings Mission Network’s skills and Franconia conference’s relationships together,” said Steve Kriss, director of communication and leadership cultivation for Franconia Conference.

village.jpgThe Israel experience will be led by David Landis, Franconia conference associate for communication and leadership development, who also led last year’s trip. The group will begin its time in Nazareth volunteering at Nazareth Village, a first-century recreation of life during the time of Jesus.

They will then travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where they will live with Palestinian families in the West Bank.

Landis hopes this year’s trip will be more educational and experiential and allow participants to meet with Israelis, Palestinians, Christians, Muslims and Jews.

An orientation will be held in the Philadelphia area.

The Mexico experience will be led by Franconia Conference staffer Lora Steiner, and will be hosted by Mexico Mennonite Conference, one of the Franconia’s partners in mission.

The first part of the trip will be spent in Mexico City, participating in service projects with local Mennonite churches and living with families from the churches.

The group will then travel to Oaxaca to explore some of Mexico’s past and current context, visiting Mayan ruins, a coffee plantation, and exploring the city.

Mennonite Mission Network works to partner with area conferences, congregations, and other groups in order to promote collaboration and networking.

“This partnership [between Franconia and Mission Network] allows us both to bring our vision and passions together and to work on these trips collaboratively instead of each trying to do something alone. It’s been a wonderful way to bring all of our unique gifts together,” said Arloa Bontrager, Mission Network Youth Venture director.

western-wall.jpgBoth trips will focus on building relationships and understanding the complex issues and perspectives that affect people in both regions.“These experiences are an important way to cultivate young leaders by giving them the opportunity to be out in the world and not only to serve, but to experience and learn as well,” said Kriss.

Youth Venture offers young adults age 14-20 the opportunity to join with other teens for one-to-four weeks of service in July or August. Youth Venture recruits a team leader and invites participants into groups that will live and work together in various North American and international mission projects, pray, and study the Bible together.

“We want youth and young adults to come away with a vision for a lifetime of service and mission, whatever that may look like for them,” said Bontrager, “Hopefully their understanding of the world and how God is working can be shaped and expanded through these experiences.”

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