24 March 2007

Support Letter, by Heather Deifell

Hello to my encouraging Loved Ones,

I am on the cusp of an incredible, new stage in my life: planning a year-long trip around the world to go to ministries, especially with those working with youth, to serve, train, and encourage youth workers. It's exciting to begin moving forward in a call God set in my heart 3 years ago, a call to a specific, purposeful global mission trip.

I'm aware that this call has been influenced by many of the experiences God's put into my life. I worked with The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club (TSABGC) in Asheville as the Program Director for almost 6 year which led me to the Urban Ministries Certificate program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte. As I finish this certificate, I'm now switching gears to the MA in Christian Leadership program. I have also been working with the senior high youth group at Montreat Presbyterian Church (MPC) for over 5 years. In November I began doing social work at a local elementary school by providing community support for children who have significant behavioral & circumstantial challenges, most coming from the government housing neighborhoods in Asheville. Through all of these experiences, God has given me a passion to serve urban youth and facilitate the training of youth workers with a similar passion.

There are several components to this mission trip.
  • To serve in whatever capacity ministries desire. We hope to help further develop & support youth programs, teach English, facilitate building play spaces, and serve to meet any ministry needs. I would also like to learn, observe, and survey what each ministry is all about: the mission, leadership, staff, volunteers, and population served. This research of urban ministries will be for the Center for Youth Studies as well as for my own career development as an urban youth worker.
  • To facilitate education about and research for the Center for Youth Studies website. This website is an amazing resource for youth workers. I will be writing for the “encyclopedia” component in hopes to build resource lists of ministries that will be accessible through the Internet to anyone seeking missions to support and/or serve around the world. I hope that through plugging youth workers into the networking component of the website, communication between ministries will be facilitated. This will hopefully lead to forums on the website and local collaborations between ministries. Please send me your email so I can keep you linked to developments in our progress with youth and youth workers.
  • To train and encourage youth workers. Shawn Stewart, MPC's youth director and Youth Specialties trainer in South America, is serving as my mentor for the Mentored Ministry component to the MACL degree. He is supervising me this spring in developing trainings to bring and implement in ministries around the world. One such ministry is the Ministry of Hope which is closely affiliated with Montreat Presbyterian. I joined Shawn, 2 other youth leaders, and 9 youth in a mission trip to Malawi in June of 2006 to work with the Ministry of Hope (many of you helped support me in that blessed mission trip -thank you!).

I'm working closely with Shawn Stewart and Dean Borgman, founder & director of the Center of Youth Studies and Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary CUME campus in Boston. I'm blessed to be mentored by two gifted, experienced men who are helping me prepare for this unique mission experience. I'm also blessed that the Center for Youth Studies (see attached letter) and MPC have endorsed this trip. I’m thankful that my sister, Hope, will be my traveling partner for at least 6 months.While in Malawi I was blessed by many experiences but two specific experiences have helped to refine my vision, influencing my call to a global mission trip. One was observing Shawn’s training of Malawian youth workers in the village of Salengo. As I watched, God impressed upon me the similarities between Shawn’s training and my own experience facilitating trainings for my staff at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Asheville, NC.

The second experience was meeting a director of an urban youth ministry in Lilongwe. After sharing, he invited me to come train his staff. I told him my vision of returning and asked him what kinds of trainings he felt his staff would benefit from. He expressed his desire for program trainings such as education, arts, and games. Then he expressed their need for training of “the psychology of these youth.” As I’ve reflected of his requests I am amazed at how God has been preparing me for a different kind of call through my experience with The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, my undergraduate degree in psychology, my current pursuit of a MA in Christian Leadership with a Certificate in Urban Ministries, and a new experience in social work with behaviorally challenged kids. Through all of these rewarding experiences, God has called me to train and equip youth workers around the world to bring Christ's love to this next generation.

This trip is much bigger than me. I know that God is using me to encourage ministries around the world, spread the knowledge of their mission, vision, and needs to others, and bring valuable resources to missionaries working with youth around the globe.

Some of you may be able to support me financially. As best I can see the budget for this trip is $15,000, of which the MPC missions committee saw fit to support me with $3,250 leaving a balance of $11,750. Checks can be made out to “Montreat Presbyterian Church” with “global mission trip” in the memo (NOT my name... so this to can be a legitimate tax write-off for you) and sent to:

Heather Deifell
c/o Montreat Presbyterian Church Missions Committee
P.O. Box 279
Montreat, NC 28757

But I know first hand that prayer is the most valuable support given. Please pray that as I pursue God's call I will discern His will for this trip, ministries to visit, designing our itinerary, being flexible, preparing trainings, working out logistics, and raising funds. Also pray for us throughout this trip for safety, discernment, wisdom, encouragement, and communication. Thank you.

Blessings in Christ,
Heather Deifell

p.s. Remember to send us your email so we can keep you updated along the way.
p.p.s. Please feel free to pass this along to anyone who might support this unique mission trip.

Resources needed: high capacity flash drive for power point trainings & documenting surveys/ resource lists/ research or a used, small laptop with Internet abilities

Projected itinerary-leaving June:
fly NYC (or Atlanta) to Johannesburg, South Africa
by land up to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (via Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, & Kenya)
fly Addis Ababa to Calcutta, India (into southern India)
fly Calcutta to Bangkok, Thailand (into Laos, Cambodia, & Vietnam)
fly Bangkok to Hong Kong, China (into southern China)
fly Hong Kong to Sydney, Australia
fly Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand
fly Auckland to Vancouver, Canada
fly Vancouver to NYC (or Atlanta)