At a school where the values of community and faith are both prominent core values, many organizations aim to foster their existence. One of these organizations, Gustavus Youth Outreach, strives to share the word of Jesus Christ by engaging with youth ministry.
Gustavus Youth Outreach (GYO) serves the community by providing planning and support for church lock-ins and service projects. Taking teams of three to seven Gustavus students, GYO travels to churches throughout the region on “bookings.” These “bookings” often include songs, games, worship, bible studies, and skits with youth groups of all ages and sizes.
“The first booking I led my first year was to a church in Cosmos, Minnesota. During this specific booking, one of my friends told the kids to propose to me for him with a toy ring. After the game, the kids at this church told us we should get married so we have been “GYO married” since March 2015. This story will stick with me for a while and I will never forget those kids and that church,” Matthew said.
“I joined GYO because I am passionate about helping youth through their years as high schoolers and middle schoolers.” – Matt Ouren ‘19
In addition to serving churches around the area, GYO gives youth the opportunity to be servant leaders themselves.
“We have recently added a service component through Lutheran World Relief which allows us to serve more indirectly. We pack backpacks for kids in third-world countries so that they can have an equitable opportunity for education with quality supplies,” Junior Kristen Matthews said.
“GYO brings a way to serve the Gustavus community.” – Kristen Matthews ‘18
Operating beneath the Office of Church Relations, GYO’s main purpose is to serve the community and provide an opportunity for Christian youth ministry.
“GYO brings a way to serve to the Gustavus community. Our organization is one of the few that seeks to serve outside of the Gustavus community,” Matthews said.
Matthews is one of three GYO coordinators that lead the program and organize bookings. Matthews has been a part of GYO since her first year at Gustavus, and is now serving her third year in a leadership position. Also working alongside Matthews are Sophomore Matt Ouren and Junior Kelson Oram.
“I joined GYO because I am passionate about helping youth through their years as high schoolers and middle schoolers. That was a tough time in my life and I jumped at the chance to help these youth through sharing my faith,” Ouren said.
Ouren has been involved with GYO for the last two years. As a coordinator, he contacts interested churches, plans the bookings, and helps put the teams together.
“If you love Jesus and kids, Gustavus Youth Outreach is perfect for you.” – Kristen Matthews ‘18
“GYO enables me to practice and grow in my leadership and planning skills,” Ouren said.
Like many other service organizations on campus, GYO leaves lasting impacts on its volunteers.
“This organization fills me so deeply because we get to do outreach to kids and teach them about faith. The people in this organization bring so much joy to me. I have made so many lifelong friends through this organization and it keeps me energized when I am greeted with smiles and love. The community that this organization brings is unlike any other. I love that this organization seeks to serve because I think it is important to give back,” Matthews said.
With a variety of different service organizations on campus, GYO brings service, faith, and youth together to provide a unique opportunity for servant leadership.
“If you love Jesus and kids, Gustavus Youth Outreach is perfect for you,” Matthews said.
Acting as servant leaders, role models, and counselors, the coordinators of GYO continue to serve the Gustavus community both on and off campus.