What is HOPE Volunteer Corps?
The HOPE Youth Corps (HYC) program was established in 1994 by HOPE worldwide and aims to encourage sustainable services all around the world through high school and university students. As as more families and seniors became involved in service trips the name was changed to HOPE Volunteer Corps! Whether it’s refurbishing a preschool in Zambia, disaster relief in a village in the Philippines, or serving the local Maori population in New Zealand, these trips promote an attitude of Christ-like service, lifelong relationships, and a wider world perspective.
As part of a team of volunteers from around the globe, participants engage in service-oriented activities while learning more about the local culture and developing a greater appreciation for their privilege, as well as compassion for the needs of others. Participants also experience and learn many different spiritual lessons as they serve on their respective HYC placements. They will be able encompass the ministry of Jesus by preaching the word (Matthew 4:23), helping the sick and needy (Matthew 4:23), caring for children (Matthew 19:14), showing compassion and love (Matthew 9:35-36) and meeting needs just as Jesus did.
With programs open to both high school and university students (youth corps) as well as singles, families and seniors (single/volunteer corps), these programs aim to build leadership and an attitude of service, while fostering lasting friendships and providing many great memories. On top of that, HOPE Youth Corps are international; so you will be able to meet many of your fellow brothers and sisters from around the world and develop relationships and memories that will last a lifetime.
I have heard so many stories about HYC, but the skeptic that I am, I didn’t buy into the hype at all. I did decide to go because I felt my faith to be stale, and HYC was a perfect opportunity to re-calibrate.
I am terrified of crowds of people; they make me anxious and lead my thoughts inwards rather than outwards. That was exactly what I perceived my HYC experience to be - me sticking to the sidelines amidst a large group of disciples from all over the world for two long weeks. I feared that being in such a situation would bring out the worst in me. I wasn’t wrong for the most part, yet before long it became clear that didn’t matter much at all.
Being in Kathmandu, in the midst of all the dust and bedlam, there was a need for me to give beyond what I was used to.
The scope of the trip is difficult for me to summarise in this short article, but I must mention that the very crowd of people that I feared, were the ones that impacted me the most. I think about the young Nepalese student disciples there, giving their free time to benefit the work of the HOPE school and the training centre, working hard to give other strangers opportunities that they never had. I think about the children in the school, the way whole classes look after each other, and their sweet, playful naivety that warms and comforts.
And I am want to think about the disciples that arrived with me. Dozens of disciples of varying cultures, age and backgrounds serving and calling each other higher in character. John 13:35 and Acts 20:35 came to life every day; even when I was tasked with the menial task of stapling stack after stacks of paper together for three whole days straight, I felt that I was exactly where God wanted me to be at that very moment. I was thoroughly fulfilled; though what we were doing in those few days can feel so small, short-lived, or even inconsequential, I learnt that God only needed giving hearts, and He would make our efforts last.
I especially love that God takes care of the finer details. He oversees the lives of modern society, but I could so clearly see that He was also actively caring for the lives of those seemingly forgotten by much of the world.
Nepal to me was a place where people brought their best and their flaws are challenged in the best way possible. I always felt that having a breakthrough in compassion is a given when visiting third-world countries, but nothing beats the first-hand experience. And these experiences are impactful in the long-term - I am blessed that I could take a piece of those two weeks back home to my ministry.
There is always a demand for serving hearts, introverted or extroverted. The venue is circumstantial, it is how your heart can be transformed from being among this broad gathering of disciples, both local and foreign, that is worth far more than any plane ticket.
Written by Lucien Tan (Nepal HYC, 2018)
I had the opportunity to go to the Nepal HOPE Youth Corps (HYC) with many other disciples from around the world in December last year. The focus of our trip was to serve at the HOPE school: taking care of the young students and helping out with renewal works. On top of that, we had lots of fellowship with the Nepalese disciples.
Having already been to numerous HOPE Youth Corps before, I was excited to see how this experience would soften my heart again. Each past HYC has truly taught me a lot- from loving one another, to Jesus’ compassion.
A part of the renewal work was to scrub the walls before we could paint a new layer. It was a daunting task for hours on end and, honestly, I couldn’t see how doing this would make a difference in the kids’ lives, and I felt like I wasn’t giving much. Adding to that is the fact that I could see that the other volunteers, whose roles were to teach the kids, were more personally involved with them. However, Jiah, one of our GSI leaders for the trip, mentioned how what we do actually helps them to take pride in their school- seeing their school clean and new, and that even the seemingly boring task we were doing, makes a difference in the children.
After school, there was some time when everyone gets to play with the kids before they went home. I was overwhelmed at how clingy they all were and also how much they needed attention all the time. On Christmas day, we had the opportunity to visit the kid’s houses to see their living conditions and to spend time with them. In the house my group visited, there were 7 people living in the house, including the little girl who studied at the HOPE school, yet there were only three beds in total.
We then asked what her hobby was and she said that it was washing the dishes. Confused and unsure if she understood us, we asked what else she likes to do for fun, and she said she likes to cook for the whole family. Hearing her answers made me realise how she had to fill in adult roles in taking care of her younger siblings and cousins, since her father has to work every day and night to provide for the family. Listening to her go on about her hobbies also made me realise that the kids are really deprived of attention; they only get to be kids when they’re in school. I was encouraged to know that the little service and love that I give does make a difference in the kids’ life.
Looking at the little girl and her family, I see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 come to life.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
It was about seeing that obeying God’s commands about love is fundamental to what the meaning of love is. To be patient, kind, not self-seeking, serving and loving to the children, also helped me to better understand about how He sees the world with compassion and love. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity for my heart to be stirred.
Written by Chanel Susantyo (Nepal HYC, 2018)
In December of 2017, I was blessed with the opportunity to give my time, effort, and eagerly excited heart to serve in Cambodia. We spent two weeks in Phnom Penh serving the community. The Hope Volunteer Corps (HVC) in Cambodia was the second international trip I’ve joined with HOPE worldwide. Looking back, it had been an amazing experience - working hand-in-hand with the other participants and with the locals. As someone who has grown up in a neighbouring South East Asian country, I see the resemblance in how open and eager the culture is towards those lending a helping hand, albeit I do understand that we can’t compare (especially considering that spending only about two weeks, we’re barely scratching the surface!). The main bulk of our time was spent at a local primary school on the border of Cambodia’s capital city, constructing from the ground-up what we hoped would be a functioning toilet for the school of the 250 students. In addition to that, at the school we were also presented with the opportunity to interact with the students both inside and outside the classroom. As someone interested in public health and community development, initially what came to my mind was that this was an amazing experience to contribute to the ongoing hygiene and sanitation programs being implemented across developing nations globally. What I learned from conversing with the locals, and the Cambodian disciples helping to manage the HVC program, was an even darker tone to the project, the school we were to spend our time at was highly disadvantaged due to the crime and drug-induced goings-on during the nights in the area. In addition to that, as a school, necessary basic resources that I have taken for granted such as basic hygiene facilities and running-water were often lacking. This stirred up feelings of injustice and indignation. One thing I did not expect was how we were often greeted with open arms and kisses, and even with language-barriers we were able to understand how grateful the children and community we served were, touching hearts and touching lives through the little contribution we could make.
I was able to see how much all this time, effort, and outpour of love is nothing in comparison to what God has placed into our lives. Even this opportunity for myself to join a HVC was actually a mix of both being terrified of not knowing what it would be like spending two weeks with absolute complete strangers, and the deep butterfly-inducing excitement of spending some little time I can hope to contribute doing what I love most in the world- serving communities in developing countries. Cambodia being one of the countries I had always dreamed of one day being able to volunteer or work in, was a dream come true when I saw the listing of HOPE volunteering sites and programs being held in 2017.
One of the most profound moments I felt God used us on the HVC program was through the day where in small groups, together with staff from the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE, we were able to join for Homecare visits, hear stories, and give hugs to outpatients living with varying conditions including HIV/AIDS or Tuberculosis. I believe God presented that opportunity for us to mutually impact each other’s lives and show us that love brings warm healing to not just our soul, but to the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. From the HVC I learned that hard work is not just seriousness - God gave us a sense of purpose and joy. I choose to see and believe that He has a greater purpose for all of us. We may not see it from our perspective right now - but God allows his wonderful plans to unfold through the right pieces falling into the right places at the right time.
To me, this verse has always stood as the ground for why I dream of serving local communities. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Not to grow or experience for my own gain, but to hopefully impact lives through the love and care I should always remember came from Christ first. Therefore, evangelising through my actions. One of the greatest motivation to serve on the HVC trip is because I believe that only with pure love in action can a person direct the attention of the people around you to see the extent of God’s love, compassion, and grace.
Having lived in Australia for the past four years, I watch as people drive themselves deeper and deeper into dissatisfaction in their lives. In a society of instant gratification and where every basic need has been provided with ease, it is easy to fall into the traps of self-centeredness and feel hollow. Coming back from the HVC, there continues to be great purpose burning in my heart that if we are to humble ourselves at Jesus’ feet, continue to pray, and seek our purpose in placing God as a priority, He will show us a way. He wants your whole heart, attention, and priority to be placed front and centre on Him. Luke 10:27 says this: “He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'". By making the decision to fulfil those two most important commandments can we then find inner peace and solace. Months after taking the volunteering trip to Cambodia, I still continue to live by the belief that to fully comprehend what love is and how we can continue to love as Jesus does, we ought to live with conviction that we’re accountable to no one but God. To me, to seek righteousness means to live with God as the only person we fully love first - then can the rest of our lives be pieced together to fulfil our life’s destiny. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I honestly did not know what I expected, but one thing I can say - I’m glad to have made friends with the other members of the trip - we’ve grown a community that would bond us forever. I believe one of the greatest reasons the trip could be considered such is a success is due to the great diversity and mix of the participants, with members from varying countries, cultures, and age groups. The humble learning attitude each member brought into giving their all into everything from mundane tasks as pouring cement or brick-laying, to fervent prayers and singing worship songs together, was what made the experience memorable. I want to thank all of them for showing me what it really means to go the extra mile and to dream of a better tomorrow.
For some the prospect of taking a leap outside your comfort zone to serve your whole heart in projects and communities in foreign surroundings may seem daunting, but to me - I believe this may be my calling.
I want to encourage all of you that there are endless opportunities for us to serve and be the pure-hearted servants God calls us to live and love by. Look around - see the needs. Act. Be the light. Impact.
Written by Maydeline Suherlan (Cambodia HVC, 2017)
Eight months ago, as part of the July 2017 HOPEww Volunteer Corps (HVC), I had the incredible opportunity to travel to and serve in Lusaka, Zambia as part of an international team of 40, including campus students, singles and two families. In the two weeks there, we all worked very hard to refurbish a pre-school in Mtendere township, where vulnerable children attend, through activities such as painting, landscaping, and restoring and making new playground equipment, to name a few. Amongst all these activities, the trip was made all the more rich and memorable by meeting new people and building great friendships, learning and teaching devotionals, interacting with the local church and disciples, and experiencing the rich culture Zambia has to offer.
Since I spent a part of my childhood in Zambia, this trip was very special for me. Going into it, I expected that I would perhaps learn something about service and compassion, but what I found was that I learned another side to love. In my nature, love is very much about doing things but not necessarily about the heart behind it, and so I find myself doing things in the name of love, and yet sometimes with an apathetic heart. But seeing the gratefulness and love of the people we were serving, and of the Zambian disciples, and how they continued to give to us despite what little they had, made me realise that a deeper love takes sacrifice. To me, even with Jesus dying on the Cross, the action carries so much more weight because of the sacrifice and cost behind it. Coming back from this HVC, I decided I wanted to do my best to live my life with that same kind of love - not a superficial love, but one that is motivated out of a genuine care for others and at a cost to myself. This HVC has encouraged me to desire to grow deeper in my love for God and others.
Furthermore, during this HVC I had opportunities to grow spiritually and in leadership. Having quiet times, devotionals, and D-groups every day, evangelising and running Bible talks at the local university with the participants and Zambian disciples, and leading a Sunday service enabled all of us to grow by learning and leading these activities. This trip has also motivated me to learn more about leadership, both generally and spiritually, and to do more to help the poor and needy.
These trips allow individuals to remove themselves from comfortable environments at home, and engage with people who have needs that we sometimes don’t realise. Living every day by spending time with God and disciples, and loving the poor, has definitely helped me learn more about God and desire to grow closer to him and his church. I highly encourage anyone and everyone to go on one of these trips and experience the relationship building, cultural exposure, and lessons of love and service that are sure to follow.
Written by Dylan Panacheril (Zambia HVC, 2017)
HOPE Youth CORPS and Volunteer Corps in 2016 were in July in two locations: Port Moresby and the Central Highlands. Look out for more service opportunities in 2018-19!
Join us for the first ever HOPE Youth Corps to the beautiful country of Fiji. Amidst the natural beauty is a largely rural population where many live in poverty with limited access to health care, education and social services. The two week program begins with a weekend orientation in Nadi and then a road trip across the main island to the capital city, Suva.
In Suva we will be working on a variety of activities based around an orphanage which will include: conducting classroom teaching with the children, painting various parts of the school, setting up a new library as well as spending play time with the children. In the evenings we will be with the church in Suva, encouraging the different ministries. On the second week we will move to a village outside Suva for a community service program. This will include different projects working with the locals: the construction of a play area, painting, light building work, playing and reading with the children plus immersing ourselves in the culture by living in the village. We hope you can join us and be a part of a once in a lifetime experience in Fiji!
Fees and payments
As with anything, costs and sacrifice are involved and it goes without saying for these HYC programs. Costs will include a registration fee per person (which will be differ for each program) and payment for plane tickets. I would encourage everyone who is interested to attend a program to start saving money or even put on fundraisers now! It is worth it.
The cost of the 2015 HOPE Youth Corps Fiji is A$1650 plus airfares to Nadi, Fiji. Airfares typically cost between A$600 to A$900 from the east coast of Australia. Please book return flights to Nadi as soon as you are registered as flight costs go up quickly. Plan to arrive on Friday December 4th or early on Saturday December 5th as we have an orientation day on that day! For those coming from the USA, you will need to leave no later by the evening of December 3rd due to time zone (day change).
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25:40