16 August 2021 God on the Move: Focus on Students
by Derek Freed
Re-engaging with Missions
Student Ministries had the opportunity to re-engage in missions with our first trip in two years! July 25-30, we took 13 high school students and four leaders to Clendenin, West Virginia to serve the community there, and it was an amazing week.
As I think about our church, and I think about our Mission, Vision, and Values, I can’t help but see these reflected in this trip. Our Mission is to lead people to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. Our students learned more about what that means and what that looks like as they served this week. They took part in helping make that happen in Clendenin. But that wasn’t all.
I saw our students move towards the messes as we engaged in a community still recovering from a flood. The entire week our students worked to make generosity normal and give grace relentlessly, as they gave up a week of their time; they gave up their preferences and energy to love and serve others. It was awesome to see our students living out the Mission, Vision, and Values of our church during this week.
We worked with the organization Praying Pelican Missions and partnered with the local United Methodist church for the week. We worked with Pastor Don at the church, and through him, got connected with the people in the town and even met the mayor and got to hear from her about how the town is doing.
Clendenin was hit with a devastating flood in June of 2016. Much of Clendenin was underwater, many homes were destroyed, and they have been recovering ever since. Shortly after the flood, Praying Pelican came to the area and began bringing teams to work and help with the recovery.
Praying Pelican was given a building they have been rebuilding and renovating called “The Dock” to use to host groups, so they can have more of an impact and presence in Clendenin.
Our work for the week had our team being split each day and rotating throughout the week into different projects. One team each day would be at The Dock doing the construction work there. We did woodwork, cutting beams and boards, putting up drywall, and then mudding and taping. Some of the team did electrical work and plumbing, as well. We learned many skills at that work site.
Another team cleaned and worked on houses in the community. We had a team cleaning walkways and sidewalks, and even painting curbs on main street. And another team worked down by the river, taking out weeds and vines that were attacking the trees in the area.
We also got the opportunity to meet some of the local seniors one day during their lunch time and were able to worship and play some bingo with them. The work was great, but what was even better was seeing the faces of people who were thankful to have the help, having other people care about their town and community. Multiple times folks would thank us, ask us why we were there, and create a connection with Pastor Don or the church there. Hopefully, some of those connections will foster an opportunity for a conversation about Jesus in the future.
One of the unique, cool things I saw happen, however, was amongst our students. I saw a beautiful picture of community and humility that made me extremely proud. I didn’t hear a single complaint from any of the students about the jobs they were assigned to do. And some of them were given pretty hard assignments out in the sun; some were given assignments they didn’t know how to do and were stretched. But through it all, they were humble and willing to do whatever was asked of them.
I also saw an amazing community of students who wanted to be inclusive and together no matter what was happening. During our meals, everyone wanted to sit together; during free time everyone wanted to play and participate in whatever was happening with everyone else. No one was left out of anything. It was a group that everyone loved being a part of and being around each other, doing things together.
This trip excited me about what God is doing currently and what God will be doing this coming school year. I cannot wait to watch as God works in our Student Ministries, making it a place people love to attend; leading students to be fully devoted followers of Jesus!
Student Ministries Pastor