The Youth Ambassador Program & One Youth’s Experience
By Tracey Stipp, SF Ambassador – Marketing & Volunteer Relations
Samaritan’s Feet is excited to announce the launch of their revised Youth Ambassador Program. Although this program has been dormant for the last several years, its past success and impact on the lives of young people are significant. The program is designed to expose high school students to humanitarian causes in our country and around the world and to motivate them to make a difference – today and for the rest of their lives! Using the vision and goals of Samaritan’s Feet, students will work as a team to raise money, work on a unique project to help people living in poverty and be involved in shoe distributions in this country and abroad. A more thorough description and an application can be found on our Youth Ambassador Program page. Applications will be accepted now through the end of October 2012.
Tania Morales is one of the first students to be an Ambassador with Samaritan’s Feet. Her testimony below will inspire and encourage you about the widespread potential of the Youth Ambassador Program.
How did Samaritan’s Feet Youth Ambassador Program make a difference in your life?
The YAP Program made a difference in my life in the sense that it completely transformed me. When I was 10 years old, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. Yet, it wasn’t until I became a Youth Ambassador with Samaritan’s Feet that I truly heard God’s calling to me. Becoming an ambassador of Christ through the YAP Program initiated the beginning of my life as a serving person. I have dreams now that I never thought I could have. I know that I want to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. I also want to go and serve others. I want to devote my time to helping and giving to people in need. Going to Cape Town, South Africa and discovering a new culture and a new way of life allowed me to be grateful for the things that God has blessed me with. I believe that the work that God did to me through my time on African soil not only bettered my relationship with the people around me, but also my relationship with Jesus. I am thankful for the opportunities that the YAP Program opened for me. It is because of it that I am the person I am today.
What surprised you about your involvement in the program?
One of the things that surprised me about the program was how much fun serving and following Christ’s steps could be. When I thought about the idea of going on a mission trip, all that came through my mind was attending “boring sermons.” In reality it was such an indescribable experience. The idea of serving children and giving them their first pair of shoes was just so thrilling. I was completely astounded by the amount of impact a 13 year old like myself could do in another person’s life.
Can you share a high point or a low point that significantly impacted you?
The most important part of the trip to South Africa was sharing the Gospel to children who’d never heard of Christ before. To me, it was such an important task. I understood that I was literally God’s messenger. When I began talking to kids who belonged to gangs or other groups, I was more than once rejected. Adults would tell me they were not interested in hearing about my God. Truly, it was so devastating to know how people could reject God – the God that had given them life. I had to learn to accept that it was not my job to make people accept Christ because that was God’s job. My responsibility was to let them know about His amazing love.
The lowest point of participating in the YAP Program was returning to the States. I missed Africa, I missed the people, I missed the children, the culture. Above all, I missed helping others. Upon my return to my normal life, I became extremely rebellious. It was a shock to most because the Youth Ambassador Program was supposed to have made me a better person. When in reality, my actions as a teenager showed the exact opposite. My YAP mentor and good friend helped me come back to terms with God. The thing was that I loved God. The problem was accepting the difference in culture between the United States and Africa. It made me mad to know how ungrateful we are here in America. It was devastating to know that there were people without shoes halfway around the world and here people had at least 10 pairs of shoes. I definitely had culture shock. The most important part of this troublesome period in my life, was that it made me a much better person. I realized that I do not have to go across the world to become a missionary. On the other hand, there is work to do here, at home.
What would you say to high school students who are considering applying to be a Youth Ambassador?
Well, for starters I’d day to never give up. I would say that there are people in one’s life that will try to destroy the dreams that they may have, but it is up to us to show how strong we can be and move forward. I would say to work hard in school. It’s a common saying “stay in school,” but in all honestly you won’t get anywhere without an education. Most importantly, I’d say to never forget God. Having a close relationship with Jesus is the most amazing experience in the world. Nothing can be done without God, yet everything can be done if you have Him by your side. Lastly, I’d say that God gave us life to enjoy it. Live, laugh and enjoy the people whom you love. But always, always remain honest, keep your integrity and keep a strong heart wherever God takes you.
There are lots of options available to high school students for extracurricular activities – sports, arts, service, part-time jobs. Why do you think being a Youth Ambassador should be a high priority for how students spend their time and energy?
Being a Youth ambassador comes with a lot of responsibility. Not only must you become an example to the people around you, but you must also become an example of Christ. I recommend that students take being an ambassador seriously just like any other extracurricular activity that they put time and energy into. Spending time as an ambassador will change your life. You will grow, you will cry, you will laugh, but most importantly you will see the importance of life. Taking the time to serve others and to give back to the community will in so many ways transform you. There are not any words to describe the amount of joy that comes from servitude. Being a Youth ambassador should be one of the most important activities in a student’s life, simply because once you start and become involved, there is no turning back.