Mon, Feb 18 2008
Yellow Jacket Staff Writer
Kelsey Hitzfelder has always had a taste for hospitality, but for the next three months she's taking it to the next level. She will be going to Amsterdam, to use her experience and skills to minister to the travelers and other temporary denizens of the city.
Hitzfelder found the ministry because she was looking for an internship. She's a Christian Ministry Cross Culture Major, and has grown up serving in various capacities. She had always thought the concept of a Christian Hostel, run as a way of witnessing to people and showing them what a Christian looks like, would be a cool idea.
She researched Christian Youth Hostels on the internet and found Youth Hostel Mission Amsterdam, a Christian Group that runs a Hostel in the red light district in the city. The YMHA operates two hostels, one on the outskirts of the city and the other in the middle of the city. Hitzfelder will be working at the one in the middle of it all, named the Shelter Jordan.
For the most part, the ministry consists of doing what needs to be done to run a hostel: working the front desk, serving and cooking food, book keeping and other daily activities. However, every night they have a non-mandatory Bible study as well, where for a few minutes they talk about a subject like prayer, sin or forgiveness, but always with the aim of working in the Gospel message.
Every Friday, they change it up with a bit of a ministry service, where the staff uses music, drama or possibly even pantomime to witness to people. Whatever the people there are good at is used to spread the Gospel. Another regular event is a monthly free meal, which always attracts a crowd.
The biggest downfall to the Hostel outreach is that people don't stay for more than a couple of nights, certainly no longer than a week. A supplementary ministry really helps to augment their primary purpose.
If a family wants to live in Amsterdam, but doesn't have the money, YHMA will give them room and board in return for their service as cleaners. They have a month to search for other employment and housing, while living with the staff in the Hostel and seeing how they live their lives as Christians.
The YHMA regularly recruits volunteers from all around the world work there for anywhere from a few months to a year. Hitzfelder has had multiple mission work experiences, having been to Africa for two months, worked in her church since the age of fifteen and gone to Mexico twice. In her words, “If you can make people feel comfortable with food, music and a comfortable atmosphere, they're more likely to open up and receive the Gospel.”