Brooke Hammer, a teen from Los Angeles, went on the Philadelphia (Track 1) HOPE Youth Corps this past July; it changed her life and she was baptized a couple of weeks ago! Again and again, God changes the hearts of our youth through service, as they strive to become more like Jesus. Read about how God transformed Brooke's heart on HYC:
Going to HOPE Youth Corps has had a huge impact on my life. I had studied the Bible for a long time before I went but I wasn't ready to become a disciple. My heart just wasn't in the right place. I wanted it to be, but I didn't know how to get it there. When my parents brought up the idea of going on one of the HYC trips I was interested because I thought it would be fun, but also because I secretly hoped it could help change my heart and get me to a place where I wanted to study the Bible again.
When I arrived in Philadelphia it was inspiring to meet the staff and the rest of the participants. The love I felt from them, and constantly saw them give to others, served as an example to me throughout the program. They all worked joyfully non-stop; cleaning, building, painting, and repairing to improve the community for the people who lived there. We also had the opportunity to help at Camp Hope for Kids, a program for inner city youth. Seeing what the kids went through every day gave me a new perspective on how generous God had been to me. That gratitude softened my heart and, together with being surrounded by the giving, spiritual HYC workers, helped me turn my focus back to God.
I remember one night in particular when I went out to pray with one of the participants I had become friends with. She was already a disciple and listening to her prayer really got my attention. She talked to God about everything as though they were best friends and were having a normal conversation. I wanted that kind of close relationship with God too. I can't fully describe it, but something just clicked for me that night. It was then I decided I wanted to start studying the Bible again. Not wanting to wait, I called my teen leader from Philadelphia and shared with her all that I was feeling. Once I got home we jumped right back into some Bible studies. Three months later on October 23 2016, I decided to make Jesus the Lord of my life and was baptized.
It has been so amazing to experience this myself, as well as to hear about the many other participants from HYC getting baptized. It shows me that this program has changed, and is continuing to change, so many hearts. Not only did participating in HOPE Youth Corps open me up to a true relationship with God, it also gave me some amazing friendships. Thank you to the HYC staff and all the participants for everything you have done. God truly changed my heart through feeling your love as we served others side by side, and I'll be forever grateful. I am already looking forward to my next life changing adventure at HYC next summer. I hope so many of you will get a chance to join me.