Y’all, I just got to spend three incredible days helping with a youth mission trip. It was such a blessing in so many ways. God did so many things. He made so much happen. I feel like for this post I’m just supposed to share a little bit about what we did this week and how God worked.
My two oldest daughters and I were able to participate for the first time in the Sulphur Springs Work Camp (SSWC) which is a “non-profit organization that gathers youth groups from the Sulphur Springs area to paint homes for the elderly, disabled and those in financial need at no cost to the homeowner. SSWC’s goal is to Love God, Serve Others and Unite Churches.” They did not fail to reach their goal this year to Love God, Serve Others, and Unite Churches. It was such a blessing and a privilege to participate in this camp.
Each day started with breakfast and a quick word from the camp speaker followed by a day of hard work and service. And each evening was filled with worship that refreshed and reminded us why were there in the first place and prepared us again for the next day’s work. There were many different denominations represented and they all came together and worked together in unity to show God’s love to members of their community.
This was the camp’s 12th year and over the past 12 years, they have painted 225 houses in their community. This year there were 21 crews made up of middle school and high school students along with adult crew leaders to help supervise them. Each group had a house to paint in the three days of the camp. But that was not the main goal. The goal that was so interwoven throughout this camp was to love on the homeowner of the house they were painting. To spend time with them. To get to know them. To show them the love of Christ through an act of service. The painting of the house was the means to a great end.
In the evenings, as a part of the service, they would ask people to share the “God sightings” they had seen that day—moments where they knew God was at work. By the end of the three days, I had seen so many moments that I knew God had orchestrated, so much that He had done.
I was able to participate as a crew leader and I cannot say enough about how impressed I was with that group of young people. They showed up every day ready and wiling to work. Ready and willing to engage with the homeowner and the homeowner’s family. They worked hard from the moment we got to the worksite until it was time to leave every day. They more than stepped up to their task and I have never been so proud or so blessed to work with a group of students before. Many other crew leaders talked of having the same experience with their crews. The homeowners were so blessed and so blown away that these youth, these young people would take three days of their time and spend it selflessly working to serve them.
The unity among the churches participating and the crews as they worked together was just one of the many ways I know God was at work. Each crew had members from different churches, different denominations, but their sole focus was letting God love these people through them and that led to them working together in unity.
Seeing teenagers take responsibility, seeing them step up and serve each day wherever they were needed, many times without even having to be asked, and to experience their joy in doing so showed again the hand of God at work in them and in their lives.
The way the weather played out was yet another God sighting. We had beautiful mornings that had been cooled off by rain that came through during the night, never interfering with our work during the day, simply offering respite from the intense heat that had been originally predicted.
I saw students daily encouraging one another, investing in each other and their homeowners. I saw them treating their adult crew leaders with respect and listening as those crew leaders poured into their lives while they worked together.
Each evening at worship, God used the speaker to speak truth to these kids, to expose the lies of the enemy, to help them begin to see that they are not alone in the struggles they have—all because our speaker was willing to be real with them, to share with them his own struggles and to share with them what God used to bring him through some of his deepest struggles. These teenagers need real. They need adults willing to be honest with them and they found that this week.
And this week, they got to see “the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God” that pursues them and seeks to set them free from the lies of the enemy they’ve believed. I have no doubt that the lives of all involved in this SSWC were changed this week and that seeds were planted that will be cultivated in the future.
It was such a humbling and wonderful experience this week to be involved in such a ministry that is truly fulfilling their goal of Loving God, Serving Others, and Uniting Churches in such a tangible way. God’s hand was all over this week. I could go on and on about all the ways I noticed God at work and I still would not have covered everything He did. God was simply everywhere. Just as He is every day, but we so often don’t take the time to notice, to realize that He is always at work around us, drawing people to him, working in and through them. This week was a reminder to look for Him at work in every single day and to praise Him for all the ways we know He is working even when we might not see it.