A church in Oregon serves as the hub for community youth to make a difference around the country.
Calling themselves the “Dangerous Hope Mission Group,” a large group of community kids take time out the third week of June every year to travel the United States, helping people in need of help with small-scale home repair, yard work, construction, restoration, and sometimes simply working with youth in need of friendship and guidance.
At the helm is Nancy Crandall, who started the mission group with Oregon United Methodist Church in 2010, coming from Sycamore UMC. She and her husband, Kip, oversee the trips each year.
She wanted to get a youth mission group together, and collaborated with several mission outreach programs around the country, including Tennessee-based Mountain T.O.P. in 2011, 2014, and 2017, Minnesota’s Youthworks in 2010 and 2015, and Reach Mission Trips, Colorado, in 2013 and 2016.
The Crandalls’ daughter, Emma, has spent the past three summers serving on staff at Mountain T.O.P., and Emylyn Wright, a Judson College student, who served with the group for several years, is working this year as a staff member for Reach.
Altogether, local youth have congregated to serve in Cumberland Mountain, Tennessee; Lake Traverse, South Dakota; Niagara Falls, New York; and Sylacauga, Alabama.
The name “Dangerous Hope” came from the 2015 trip through Youthworks to Niagara Falls.
The group stopped in Findlay, Ohio to listen to a sermon from Kip’s brother-in-law, Tom Lyberg, at Trinity Lutheran Church.
There, he gave a sermon called “Dangerous Hope,” and it resonated powerfully with the group.
Crandall also feels the name serves to remind the public that it’s not simply an “Oregon United Methodist Youth Group;” the group has roots in the church, certainly, but youth from all over the community is welcome.
“Some are part of our church, some are from other churches, and some belong to no church at all,” said Crandall. “Getting our youth out and helping the world is our goal; it’s not about having to be part of our church.”
The mission work doesn’t stop outside the state limits, either; putting their skills to practice, the group constructed shelving for OUMC, helped clear out the pegboard at the Village Bakery building, and helped out the Beaver family home, just north of the Pines Meadow Vet Clinic, after they suffered damage from flooding weeks ago.
It is also common to see “Dangerous Hope” members volunteering at the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center, located south of Oregon on Illinois 2.
While the focus of the trips are to help the communities, Crandall says the youth learn a lot about themselves along the way.
“The kids learn important skills like home repair, light construction, and safety measures,” she said. “However, I think the coolest thing to see if their interactions; the way they get to know each other, and the bonds they form.”
That sentiment is echoed by the kids.
“Without this mission team, I wouldn’t have been able to encounter these amazing and inspiring experiences,” said Ciara Swan, a 14-year-old member of OUMC. “I love our mission group.”