New SSC Coordinator Promises a Summer of Change
By: Laura Poff
The Salvationist Service Corps teams and locations were announced by the Territorial Youth Department earlier this month. This summer, the young adults will visit Poland, South Africa, Fiji and corps around the Southern Territory to love, serve and disciple others as they grow in their faith.
Jovanie Smith, territorial young adult and mission deployment coordinator, participated in two summer mission teams before joining the Youth Department last year. She hopes that this summer will be as meaningful to these young adults as it was for her.
“Those summers shaped me into who I am,” she said. “There was a sense of letting go and learning to take a leap of faith. I realized my strengths and weaknesses; it was a pivotal moment of my life where God needed my attention.”
She said that the program is an investment in young adults both financially – team members are paid and given scholarships for their time – and spiritually.
“I learned how to step up and be an example and became a leader,” she said. “The experience forces you to be aware of others.”
The cultural shift is also an important, and often popular, aspect of the program. Students who have never left the country have a unique opportunity to see The Salvation Army as they never have.
“You appreciate what we have when you go to another Salvation Army and it’s just a shack,” Smith said.
“Mission South, which stays within the territory, will also experience different perspectives, visiting mostly rural corps and making an important stop in Charleston where they will learn about social justice.
“Be prepared to be out of your comfort zone,” she warns future applicants.
Each year, Smith is tasked with selecting leaders and building teams that will be a good fit. She said that much of this selection process comes down to meetings with each applicant and getting to know them on a personal level. A leader must be respectful, spiritually mature, trustworthy, and they must take the process seriously.
“All of our leaders this year are very different,” she said. “They don’t fit the mold and I don’t want all of the same people.”
During the application process, each young adult is given the opportunity to request his or her preferred location, but the choice is ultimately up to the Youth Department team as well and often comes down to personality, dynamics and the type of work that each location will require.
“We may not agree with what you feel is best for you,” she tells applicants.
Ultimately, she hopes that the summer will be as life-changing for others as it was for her.
“Sometimes we put our own borders up,” she said. “If you have the wrong mindset, you’ll miss the whole purpose. It shows you who you really are.”