Madison's Trip to Italy!

Hey everyone! My name is Madison Gotthardt. I’m a 17 year old student, heading into my senior year of high school. Almost a year ago, my mom and I traveled across the globe to Budapest, Hungary as a part of a conference connected with her work, an organization called Communitas. The conference is called the Connect Conference, filled with missionaries and church planters from around Europe. Last year was my first year attending Youth Connect, and to say it was life changing would be an understatement.

I had no idea what to expect going in, but when my mom offered last year, I couldn’t deny the opportunity. Thanks to the funds that you helped me raise and the prayer support you offered, I was able to attend the conference. If you’d like to read the blog post I wrote immediately following the trip, click here, but I’ll give you a quick synopsis. There, I met students from everywhere around the globe: Germans living in Sweden, a Dutch family living in France, Scots, and fellow Americans living in Colorado, New Jersey, and Minnesota. They had all been together through Connect since they were little kids, and I was the new kid in the group very late in the game. Here’s a part of my blog post that sums it up quite well:

“Over the course of the week, I had the opportunity to get to know all the members of my group– 11 teenagers from across the globe united solely through Christ. We bonded over music, Star Wars, and everything in between. We joked about weird culture differences (ex: soccer vs football, the metric system). We stayed up until 2 in the morning playing Mafia. We debated various theological issues and discussed how we, as followers of Jesus, can be a greater light to the world. They welcomed me into their family, as if I had been there all along.

I recall that during one of our morning sessions, we began lamenting about how much tragedy and brokenness our world is consumed with. One girl, who lives in France, spoke of how ISIS has declared war on the country she lives in. Those of us in the states talked about the Black Lives Matter movement, the police shootings, and our current political election. Another spoke of the Syrian refugee crisis. When we were starting to become overwhelmed, a member of our group interrupted to read a passage from Isaiah. She asserted that God created each of us to be a part of this current generation–to play an active role in spreading Christ’s kingdom amidst the current events occurring in our world. I was flooded with a newfound peace and assurance.

Because of this trip, I have a lifelong family spread across the earth, and I think that’s pretty rad.”

The trip challenged and expanded my faith in many ways. Many of us disagreed on theological issues, but we knew at the core, each of us held a steadfast faith that Jesus Christ was the driving force in each of our lives. I had known that people could love Jesus and each other wholeheartedly and disagree, but it was at Youth Connect that I was able to truly witness and experience this firsthand. Additionally, my narrow view of the world that came from living in the beautiful bubble of Santa Cruz was hugely diversified. I was able to see how clearly and tangibly Christ’s Kingdom was active and expanding way beyond America. Jesus is moving in every corner of the globe, and I got to witness that.

This year, I plan on attending again with my mom. However, the conference is includes more spiritual renewal and relational connection,
and it’s in Italy! As opposed to going from session to session, it will be more focused on spiritual growth, wrestling with global issues for the next generation together, and simply being able to reconnect with cherished friends. Heading into my senior year and as I am preparing to go to college, I am confident that this is a much-needed trip. I’ve missed these friends a lot since I last saw them face to face, and I cannot wait to see them and grow together.

The trip is from August 1st to the 6th. This is where you get to come in! First and foremost, I need prayer. It is intended as a spiritual retreat, but I would love prayer that I will be able to come into the week filled with Christ and have an eager and open heart. Additionally, as I’m sure you’ve seen in the news, there is a lot of turmoil around the world, so please pray for safety during my travels and as we get to explore the sights of Italy. Lastly, pray for genuine rejuvenation and that my time would result in a heart that is ready to expand Christ’s kingdom back home.

Beyond prayer, this is a costly trip. I need to raise $2000 to cover plane ticket costs and the cost of the Communitas Conference. I am confident that this will be a fruitful and valuable trip, and I ask you to continue in this journey with me, or for those of you who are new to my travels across the globe, I invite you to pray and see whether God is calling you to partner with me in this exciting and worldview-expanding endeavor. Here’s a line from my support letter last year that I feel still rings true: “To partner with me is to help shape my global mind as a young follower of Jesus, so I feel this is long-term investment.” We’re a team, and I promise to continue to share with you and keep you updated on how this investment impacts both me and you.

Big or small, the results of your financial gift will have an important and lasting impact, and I am so incredibly grateful for whatever is in your heart to give.

I look forward to partnering with you in this journey! Feel free to ask any questions! And as always, even if you’re unable to make a financial contribution, I would love to see your support in the comments.


Organizer and beneficiary

Madison Gotthardt
Soquel, CA
Kelli Gotthardt

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