Six representatives from the USMN were privileged to take part in the UNIFY Conference last month in the beautiful Swiss Alps. Sponsored by the Christian mission movement of YMCA Europe, a group of 165 YMCA representatives from 20 different countries gathered for 3 days of inspiration, worship, prayer and encouragement. Though the general sessions and breakouts were all in English, fellowship during the meals, fellowship times, and prayer featured conversations in numerous languages. The diversity of culture and experience made this a unique experience for everyone involved.

Scott Reall and his team from Restore Small Groups (Peter & Erin Keene,  Janele Nelson) twice led a very popular breakout session on “Journey to Freedom”, the signature program of the USMN. Following the conference this team traveled to Germany and then to England to present the program to various other YMCA staff members. “Journey to Freedom” is already well established in the Ukraine.

USMN National Director Larry Whittlesey and Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA Volunteer Chaplain Michael Flott completed the US delegation. Both shared their reflections about the experience during our March national conference call. They were especially impressed by humility and passion of our European counterparts, many of whom live amidst areas of conflict. Building connections with friends like Juan Simoes Iglesia, General Secretary of YMCA Europe, made this an extremely beneficial experience for Larry and the work of the USMN.

We wish you all could have been there, but we’re grateful the US was well represented at this international gathering. We look forward to continuing to build on this foundation as we seek to stand alongside of our YMCA counterparts all around the world who lift up the “C” in their YMCA.