A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, January 10, 2014
Youth Being Kind (Feature Friday!)
It’s Friday, and it’s service-time! Actually, any time is time to serve—as I’m readily finding out. Also, it’s time for Feature Friday.
I graduated from seminary almost nine years ago. Many of my seminarian friends are now actively serving in professional capacities. Including Dennis, who is pastor of Simpson United Methodist Church in Evansville, Indiana. Dennis and I are now Facebook friends. Not too many days ago, I happened to see something on his Facebook page that intrigued me. So, being naturally inquisitive, I clicked through and checked it out. “FREE HOME REPAIR” was the headline.
Since I was the volunteer mission communication coordinator for my former church for about ten years, I still have great interest in anything mission-related. This FREE HOME REPAIR appeared to be a likely mission opportunity. I opened the webpage. “Work Camps – home repair youth mission trips” was the secondary header. Even though the snow lies thickly on the ground (both here in the Chicago area, as well as throughout Indiana) in the first full week of January, it is none too soon to make out an application for Team Jesus Workcamp 2014. My friend Dennis was encouraging members and friends of Simpson Church to be sure to get in their applications by February 14.
Youth volunteers doing hands-on work for a mission project is not all that unusual. However, a feature of this particular workcamp that caught my eye was that the work teams will be “representing many Christian denominations.” How awesome is that? Different denominations, and all growing in their faith through service to others. With hammers, dry wall, paint brushes, tubes of caulk. Oh, and smiles, thankfulness, and gratitude.
As I said, the work teams representing differing groups and different denominations attract me more and more. My personal religious journey is all over the Protestant map, with a sprinkling of other spiritualities, too. Added to that, my chaplain training was in several multi-cultural hospitals where many faiths are represented. I have a deep appreciation for that God-shaped hole that St. Augustine talked about, and have seen that hole filled in many differing ways.
I know, through first-hand opportunity, that service to families that include elderly, low-income and less-abled people can be rewarding. The experience of doing service in community with other people, plus growing in faith in God, incorporates this two-way dimension. First, the horizontal dimension. The volunteer workers become cohesive, sometimes cementing relationships that may last for far longer than the home repairs they accomplish. The workers can also build relationships with those they work for, minister to. Second, the vertical relationship. This aspect draws youth workers and youth leaders closer to God, and has the potential to release God’s love to many people. Not only to the workers, and to the recipients of the work, but also far beyond these.
This work effort is only one of so many in the United States. But for each family in and around Evansville that is helped, it means so much.