This post was written by blog contributor and Marketing Assistant Meghan Krause, a global studies major at Multnomah University.
For the past 13 years, Youth and Educational Ministries Chair Dr. Rob Hildebrand has led students on trips to Germany and Japan for hands-on ministry training like they’ve never experienced before. This spring, he took his Global Youth Ministry class to Okinawa and Yokosuka, Japan, for 10 days.
The yearly international trips are due to the partnership Hildebrand has developed with Cadence International, a ministry focused on serving the U.S. military. Multnomah alumni who worked with Cadence International initially instigated this partnership by asking Multnomah to send teams of students to overseas military bases so they could serve at some of Cadence’s numerous youth retreats. Some of these retreats have as many as 400 people in attendance, which definitely means this partnership is beneficial for all!
A unique aspect of this partnership is that Multnomah usually returns to the same communities, working with them for years at a time — this allows deeper relationships to be fostered and maintained between MU students, Cadence missionaries, and the middle school students we serve. Multnomah students have partnered with Cadence youth groups in Germany for the past 9 years, and we just completed our fourth year of partnership with Cadence Okinawa, and our first year of partnership with Cadence Yokosuka.
Students who partake in this class and partnership are met with the responsibility of ultimately coming alongside our Cadence friends and assisting them with their middle school retreats.
“We counsel, lead programs, speak and build relationships with the young people there with the hope that they will hear the message of Jesus and be transformed because of it,” says Hildebrand.
MU students also learn from the missionaries who are serving at these bases and get some first-hand experience in using their gifts in ministry. Ultimately, the goal of this class is to have students gain experience through practice while also learning from the wisdom seasoned Cadence missionaries offer.
This year, two teams served in Japan at two different bases – Okinawa and Yokosuka. In Yokosuka, we assisted Cadence’s Youth Minister, Multnomah graduate Beth Mabry, with running her first Escape Middle School Retreat for this community. She asked us to plan workshops, games and devotions for the four-day camp. Our group of four students taught on modern day idols, forms of worship, and the theology of cultural engagement. We also ran the morning devotions, teaching students the importance of solitude with the Lord, and how that shapes their communal and ministry engagement (based on Henri Nouwen’s thoughtful structure). We also enjoyed just simply being in community with this group. From playing games and doing crafts, to going on beautiful hikes, this Naval group opened their arms and welcomed us.
Junior Skylar Stevens had many firsts on this trip: It was her first time flying, first time leaving the country, and first time engaging with military kids. She had recently chosen to pursue the Youth and Educational Ministries major, and this trip helped make her feel more settled in her decision. “I think that being part of the Japan trip helped me to see a little piece of God’s calling for my life,” she says. “I’m hoping to go back to Yokosuka and work with Cadence again as soon as I can.”
We were fortunate enough to just be in community with the middle schoolers and the young navy sailors throughout the camp, developing some relationships we hope to continue deepening. Seeing how this Cadence group loved each other was encouraging and even gave some of us some definitive direction for our future ministry work. We are extremely grateful for this partnership between Multnomah and Cadence and the experience we gained from being able to partake in the ministry work Cadence Japan has started.