Community Service as a Core Component of Christian Life (Pt 3)
Saint Peter was filled with energy and a joyful noise last Sunday (June 30th) as nine of our high school youth and four adults shared with the congregation their enthusiastic love of Christ through the stories of their mission trip to Mexico and their favorite songs. Bethany Laurie opened worship with this powerful prayer that captured the Mexico experience beautifully.
God of all people,
Through your grace, we are called and freed to faithfully love and serve our neighbor. We give thanks for your Spirit’s guidance and presence to help us reach out to others in faithful humility and humble service. We dedicate our actions to be generous with the gifts you have given us to spread your grace, love, and abundance to all people. We do not boast with words, but rather glorify you in our service and support for our community.
In the name of your son, Jesus Christ,
The group built a new home from the foundation up for the Alvarez family in just three and a half days. The work was hard, the days were long and it was hot, but there was never any complaining. The kids were on fire to not only bring Christ’s love into the lives of our neighbors in Mexico but to receive the same love of Christ from our new friends. Here is what Jenna Budaj shared:
“When the kids finished the house with us I truly felt the presence of God. This has never happened to me before. I can’t completely explain it, but it was beautiful. These kids who didn’t even know how to talk to me because they spoke a different language did that. This family came together. The community came together. And we all worked. Side by side. There was no rich and poor. There was no Americans and Mexicans. There was us. And we were all serving and doing God’s work together.”
This is what it looks like and feels like to experience Loving God and Loving Neighbor firsthand.
During the dedication of the house for the Alvarez’s, the local pastor thanked the group for taking time out of their summer to travel to Anapra, Mexico. He said that a lot of people come to visit Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Mazatlán, but he was grateful that we decided to show up and be a part of their small community.
The kids didn’t just show up. They brought all they had with them and each used their unique gifts and talents to pull together to build the house. Some of the kids were good with tools and some were good welcoming the kids and community members who came by to visit. Everyone’s participation was critical to bring glory to God. Chelsea Ackman summed it up perfectly:
“I know that after this trip, I will definitely continue to search and find ways to use my gifts to serve God, just as I hope everyone on the trip does, and that everyone listening to this does. Even if you don’t build a house, you fumble with hammers, or you don’t have a clue what stucco is: that’s okay. God tells us we must strive to find a way to use the tools He’s given us, to build amazing things, not limited in the least to a house. So, I implore all of you to listen, and to find what God is calling you to. To use the gifts He’s presented to you to bring joy to others, and spread God’s merciful grace.”
And all God’s children said, “Amen.”
This article is part three in a three-part series of articles from Pastor Dave Risendal and Faith Formation Leader Jeanne Maloney on community service as a core component of Christian life. (Click here for part 1 and part 2.) These articles coincide with our High School Youth Group’s service trip to Anapra, Mexico (June 23-29).