By Aaron Matthias-Long (St. John, Emmaus)
For a week in June, 16 youth from Regions 7 and 8 experienced a week
of Theological Education with Youth called “Crossroads” at the
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. I was one of those fortunate
Of the 16 youth who participated, nine were from our synod.
I arrived at the seminary thinking that I was in for an experience like
past experiences: fun, interesting, and maybe I’d learn something.
I was in for a shock. I experienced an intense week of learning, bonding,
and growing in my faith.
I thought the event was going to be a couple of service projects around
the Pennsylvania and Maryland area with a few learning experiences about
what it means to serve. In my essay for the event application I expressed
my reasoning for wanting to go to this event. But I didn’t think I
would actually “discover ways of serving, explore themes of justice,
and experience public ministry where the gospel intersects the world” in
the way that I did.
After meeting the other participants and creating unbreakable bonds of
friendship, we traveled to Maryland to learn firsthand about homelessness,
seeking justice, call and vocation, the importance of community, and amazing
ministries like Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee
We listened intently to many speakers from the Lutheran Center in Baltimore,
and had a meal with volunteers from the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. After
learning and sharing a dialogue with many people, we experienced some physical
labor at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Baltimore.
Personally, I learned a lot from this experience. I left the event wanting
to change the world but understanding that it may involve changing one person
at a time.
This event was very intense when learning about worldwide issues, and
yet fun when spending free time with friends playing games. We not only
learned from our adult speakers, but also from each other in reflection
groups, which was a time in which we could ask each other questions about
anything or what someone else learned from the day.
This event inspired and renewed me and I now want to use what I learned
to make a difference in the world. I know that since this event I am a changed
person and hopefully a better one.
I now want to take that next step from loving service to seeking justice.