Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. —Hebrews 13:1–2
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. —John 14:27
Kenilworth Union Church began international travel with young people in the 1980s when our Pastor Emeritus, Gil Bowen, was asked by parents to take high school students on a month-long trip to East and West Germany. These Europe trips continued until after the Berlin Wall fell, at which point, the church began traveling with students to Nogales, Mexico to work, serve and learn.
Since then, the IMPACT program has hosted mission trips to destinations such as Panama, Bahamas, Guatemala, Jamaica, Belize, and Cuba. These diverse places of great need provide a stark contrast to the environment in which our students grow up which is part of why they are eager participate. Students thrive in these life-changing trips where they have a unique daily opportunity to learn about and encounter Christ’s love with each other and with those they meet.
IMPACT is a program of Kenilworth Union Church Youth Ministry. It is an experiential program for high school students, regardless of church affiliation, that challenges participants to live and grow in Christian faith and love for the world.
IMPACT 2019 Colombia
Colombia suffered from 50 years of civil war, the “Colombian Conflict”, which pitted guerrilla armies and criminal syndicates against each other and against the Colombian government. Through a long and persistent peace process, including unconventional ideas and efforts, the conflict was brought to an end and peace has returned to Colombia.
Decades of war broke up communities, destroyed families and sent waves of refugees toward the cities to find safety and security. Bogotá now is home to huge swaths of poverty where help and hope is needed now more than ever.
For the IMPACT Colombia 2019 mission trip program, we will partner with Praying Pelican Missions, with whom we have worked before and who have partnerships with several churches in Bogotá.
Praying Pelican’s model is to partner with local churches to build up their ministry and serve their immediate needs with visiting teams. Needs often include support for construction and outreach ministries, homeless ministries, children’s and youth ministries. The exact nature of our work in Colombia will be finalized with the partner churches during our site visit at the end of February. This is a custom trip and they are working closely with us on every detail.
As with all Kenilworth Union Church mission trips, safety and security are paramount. Bogotá is a large City with many kinds of neighborhoods—just like Chicago. Our team will be housed in secure lodging, travel in private vehicles provided by Praying Pelican and be accompanied by knowledgeable local staff on all our work and ministry projects.
Director of Youth Ministries, Silvi Pirn, will be offering a presentation for parents and participants on January 27 and April 7 with more detailed information.
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, in all the places you can,
At all the times you can, to all the people you can,
As long as ever you can. —John Wesley 1703–1791
Mission Trip Program General Information
IMPACT meetings and events are always open to all high school youth regardless of mission trip registration or church affiliation.
- Mission Trip Registration Open: Reveal Night (last Sunday in October) through Dec. 31
- Mission Trip Registration Prerequisite: Three hours Kenilworth Union volunteer service
After Dec. 31, IMPACT meeting attendance is required for the mission trip program, as are continued service and fundraising. Meetings after Dec. 31 remain open to those who are not registered, however, there are three meetings specifically for mission trip participants during this time, a program orientation in January, a trip information meeting in April and a trip team night in May, which those not participating in the mission trip may choose to skip. Each year the program presents a different theme related to life and Christian faith in our individual lives and in the larger community. Previous themes have included Stigma, Poverty, Scandal, Violence, and Fear. Exploring the theme might include special guest visits, hands-on activities, small group discussions, or other program plans that get youth thinking about living their faith in deeper and more meaningful ways. Unless otherwise announced, meetings are for youth only.
About the Mission Trip Program
- When is Mission Trip? Typically is the first full two weeks after school ends for New Trier in June each year.
- Where to? Each fall, the mission trip destination for the following year is kept top-secret until Reveal Night. Usually held on the last Sunday evening in October, Reveal Night is when the next summer’s mission trip destination is revealed and the registration period officially opens.
- Registration starts on Reveal Night and closes December 31.
- Priority If trip space is limited, upperclassmen and youth who are active in Kenilworth Union Church and/or IMPACT in the fall are given priority. Registrations beyond capacity and late registrations are accepted, but those individuals may be waitlisted for the trip until space becomes available on the trip roster.
- Two Weeks The mission trip program runs two back-to-back weeks of mission trips each June and this may expand as the program grows. Applicants can apply for one or two weeks. Applicants can mark their preferred week, but each week’s team will be made up of youth from all grade levels and communities. For that reason, we cannot guarantee placement in the preferred week. Every effort will be made to schedule around existing conflicts that are known during the application process.
- IMPACT Meetings January–May, generally Sunday evenings; are required for mission trip participants.
- Fundraising during the program provides for the cost of the work projects and staff.
- Volunteer KUC Service Hours Three hours of KUC/Impact volunteering are required to register for the mission trip program. A total of ten hours service through IMPACT/Kenilworth Union Church are required before the trip, three of which must be off site. These can be completed any time during the 12 months prior to the trip. Some volunteer service requires registration. Volunteer opportunities can be found in upcoming events or on the full volunteer calendar.
- Commissioning Team members are commissioned prior to each trip on Youth Sunday in May at 10:30 a.m. worship service at Kenilworth Union Church.
- Cost The program fee, which includes all program costs January–May plus the mission trip with airfare, varies from year to year depending on the costs associated with the trip. The cost is typically $1450–1650 per person. Scholarship support is available.
Note: Exact details of each year’s mission trip are established after the program leaders have had a chance to visit the mission site and make the final determination about logistics, security, lodging, and projects. The site visit typically occurs in February or March and the detailed trip information meeting for IMPACT participants and parents follows in early April. Before then, only the destination, mission partner, and general information about the trip and travel requirements is available.
About the Mission Trip
- Group Size: 50–70 each week, including college and adult leaders.
- The group travels on the same day, though sometimes on different itineraries.
- The large group stays in one location—typically a camp, retreat center, church, dorm, or similar.
- Teams: The large group is divided into work teams for the mission trip projects. Each team is made up of 9–12 high school students, two adult and 1–2 college leaders. KUC youth leaders weigh many factors to determine the right team placement for each participant. High School participants in grades 9–11 are given the opportunity to suggest three teammates, one of whom will be placed on their team. This team preference opportunity is explained to the participants during the program. The teams are announced at the IMPACT team meeting in May.
- Projects: The kind of projects each team is assigned to depends on the needs of the communities in which we serve. We typically engage in work projects and relational ministry. In the past, we have built homes, installed cement floors, dug trenches for footings and foundations, build schools and additional classrooms for schools, painted homes and rooms, repaired residences and churches, directed VBS and sports camps for children’s, offered tutoring and reading sessions, done home visits to elderly residents, organized activities at nursing homes, helped with feeding programs and soup kitchens, etc. The emphasis is on relating to the local people we are serving, so there is always ample opportunity for interaction.
A Typical Day on a Mission Trip:
7 a.m. Wake up, breakfast and get ready for the day
8:30 a.m. Travel to project
9 a.m. to noon Project/ministry
noon to 1:30 p.m. Lunch and lunch group devotional time (discussion)
1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Project/ministry
4:30 to 6 p.m. Travel back to lodging site, shower, rest, free time
6 to 6:30 p.m. Dinner
6:30 to 11 p.m. Evening activities: meeting/worship/devotional/discussion and free time
11:30 p.m. Lights out
Typical Week on a Mission Trip:
Day 0 Evening before travel day, group meets at Kenilworth Union Church for trip kick-off activities and overnight stay at church for early group travel the next morning.
Day 1 Travel and arrival day, travel, get settled, orientation with mission partner
Day 2–6 Work/ministry days
Day 7 Fun day
Day 8 Departure and travel day