On Friday, March 16, Northwestern College will feature a “ministry of Christian friendliness” as MAD Skills Poetry, presented by YouthHope, takes the stage in chapel.
MAD Skills, which stands for Making a Difference with Skills, gives teens at YouthHope a chance to express themselves through poetry, dance and drama.
YouthHope is a Christian ministry in Illinois that primarily focuses on low-income kids in three different communities. On a weekly basis, YouthHope takes 500 low-income kids and teens under its wing and provides them with after school activities, a Christian youth camp and other youth services.
NW’s Director of Worship Josh Kuipers said, “We invited MAD Skills to campus because we highly value diversity in our chapel services; a diversity of voices, a diversity of viewpoints and a diversity of gifts used to point people toward Christ. MAD Skills is a very unique group that presents people’s stories and the truth of the gospel in a way that we do not experience too often in our little corner of Northwest Iowa.”
YouthHope’s mission and ministry is to help broken lives become whole. They want to provide kids and teens with Christ’s love and to show them they are part of a community that cares. This ministry is something Kuipers believes in.
“They are reaching kids in such a creative way,” Kuipers said, “empowering students to unleash the power of their own stories and experiences, while developing their abilities to express themselves, to speak up for what’s right and to advocate for change and justice through art.”
The main purpose of YouthHope’s MAD Skills concentration is to build confidence, character and expression. MAD Skills hosts two large poetry events each year: one in the fall and one in the spring. They also put on events and poetry slams throughout the year at churches and on college campuses.
Although YouthHope’s programming is available to all students in the community, their primary focus is those who are underprivileged.
“I think it is refreshing that MAD Skills doesn’t just tell kids to not do drugs, to not be involved with gangs, to not sleep around,” Kuipers said.
“They go beyond that, attempting to show their students that there truly is abundant life in Christ, and that through their poetry and through their testimony they really can make a difference and be a positive force in the world around them, even amongst a bunch of college students in Northwest Iowa.”