Christ is the perfect example of serving others, as he humbly takes on the role of a servant to wash his disciplesâ€™ feet during the Last Supper. Christ says, â€œI have set you an example that you should do as I have done for youâ€ (John 13:15). For the last 9 years, the Senior High youth of my church have participated in one of Group Mission Tripâ€™s week-long mission trips. Many of our Senior High youth are active in sports and have full time summer jobs. When it comes to the summer mission trip though, the youth and adults agree that this reminder of Christâ€™s humble nature as a servant, trumps the summer pay check or the air conditioned house. As a youth leader, I am very proud of the Senior High youth in that they see the greater significance of leaving their busy lives behind, in order to spend a week serving in Christâ€™s name. Sure, the weekly pay-check is nice if you are going into college or just looking for some extra fun summer money. Nevertheless, the youth truly embrace John 13:15- that as Christ as called us to serve others, putting our needs aside- the youth never hesitate to tell the boss that â€œYeah, I am not available to work for this week- I am going with my church to serve others and spread the love of Christ.â€
In the many years of our youth going on mission trips, they have done a variety of activities to both prepare spiritually and financially for the week-long experience at work camp. One new activity the youth are doing to prepare spiritually for our mission trip to Wilmington, North Carolina this year, is joining with a congregation member to be â€œSOUL sponsors.â€ Given the new unique experiences and faith journeys of our Senior High youth, each Senior High youth has been paired with a congregation member who has similar interests both inside and outside the walls of our congregation. As a â€œSOUL sponsorâ€, the congregation member will get to journey with a youth in their faith walk, get to know them and do fun activities with them, outside of worship. In addition, other ways that our Senior High youth prepare for the work camp experience include: serving Easter breakfast and doing a summer rummage sale. Through their fundraising efforts, the youth realize that although it does take a lot of money to attend a mission trip, the sticker tag on the trip is nothing, when you compare it to the actual experience of working on a home, alongside other Christian teens.
Nothing excites me more after coming home from our mission trip experience, than the change the other adults and I see in our Senior High youth. Through our mission trip experience each year, our youth grow closer to each other, new friendships form, and each youth is strengthened in their faith. As previously mentioned, Christ has already set the example for us, serving others with tremendous love; we, as his disciples are called to live this out in our everyday lives. Each year, the Senior High youth come back home from the mission trip, with a renewed spirit and passion to serve others. Many times, the other Messiah youth leaders and I are surprised by the innumerable requests by the youth to participate in service projects. I cannot help but smile and work to organize the next service activity for the youth.
Samantha (Sam) Crowell has been involved in youth ministry for the last five years. I currently serve as the volunteer adult leader of the Junior High Ministry and the youth ministry communications coordinator. This year’s mission trip to Wilmington, North Carolina will be her ninth mission trip with the Senior High youth group.