An emphasis on service does not have to stop with the close of summer.
There are opportunities to impact communities near you in only one day of service.
To catch a glimpse of this, I chatted with Tony Myles, who is the site leader for The Big Day of Serving in Akron, Ohio. Keep reading to see how God has used The Big Day of Serving to impact Tony and the people of Akron, OH in a transformative way that only God can…
Site Leader for The Big Day of Serving in Akron, OH
Lead Pastor of Connection Church in Medina, OH
Q: Why do you choose to be a site leader for Big Day in Akron?
A: First off, I believe that one day really can make a difference… not just in what happens that day, but in the relationships that are forged through it. In terms of why I ended up being a site leader for this event over the years, I so appreciate the partnership among churches. I’ve been a part of events similar to this, only in those scenarios I had to do all the work from the ground up. It’s been amazing to partner with such an amazing network of youth workers from all walks of life who found Group Mission Trips and decided to give it a try through this opportunity.
Q: How long have you been doing Big Day in Akron?
A: Four years, which ironically (or Divinely, however you choose to see it) is about as long as this particular city has had a department devoted to community investment. We were their first big initiative, which prompted them to say, “The Big Day of Serving helped put us on the map. We owe it big time!”
Q: How have you seen Big Day projects impact Akron over the years?
There are different projects each year, so that in itself has been wild to track – whether we’re investing into a neglected cemetery so people can visit the graves of their loved ones or painting the gym where LeBron James learned how to play basketball. My personal takeaway has been in the relationships I’ve formed with the Mayor’s Office. Just this past week, I felt pulled by God the night before to share Jesus with them during a meeting. About a dozen city employees heard me give a 60 second glimpse of how this is not just a group of kids doing good deeds but about a real God who wants to bring heaven to earth through our actions.
Q: Do you have a favorite story from Big Day?
Hopefully, the next one.
One that stands out from our last project is how a local church heard about our event and signed up the week before. Not only did they bring people of all ages with, but they even got up on stage and helped lead worship at our rally when our scheduled band canceled at the last minute. They literally were an answer to our prayers, and we (since they gather as a congregation about a half-mile away from where we met) were an answer to theirs.
Q: Why are you excited about Big Day Akron in particular this year?
One of the great things about an event like this is the partnerships among youth workers and pastors we form in creating it. Although I’ve been prepping the event as I have in previous years, one of our team members will be leading the charge on the Big Day of Serving itself as the man-on-the-ground so I can serve another need. Anytime that can happen, you know that you’re a part of God not just stirring your heart…but the hearts of others.That’s pretty special.
Q: If you could tell a youth leader one reason to bring their group to Big Day, what would it be?
A: I’m not going to sell anyone on this. I could, but I won’t. Let’s face it…there are a billion things you could be doing on this particular day, or whenever the other Big Day of Serving events are happening. Any one of those options could be God-honoring.
But that’s just it – this is one of those things. It’s absolutely a God-honoring opportunity that is more than a day of doing random deeds with a Christian rubber stamp on it. I watch the city employees strategically participate from afar in our worship rallies, even though most of them don’t know why. In their words, “There just something special about this group of kids unlike any other we’ve worked with.”
You and I know what that secret sauce is. It’s Jesus, and we’re joining Him in bringing the Kingdom of heaven to earth through this event. Pray about this opportunity, and respond as He leads you. There are more than enough places to get plugged in…the harvest is plentiful, whether the workers are plentiful or few.
Thank you for loving students and for teaching them about service,
Amber / @youthministry