Shining Examples

A Weekly Reflection, Sunday, September 17, 2017

By: Matt Rawls

Today during the Adult Forum, participants from our youth mission trips this past summer will be sharing their stories. These wonderful young women and men gave up a week of summer when they could have been at camps, working, sitting by swimming pools, going on dates, or simply sleeping late and playing video games. Don’t you miss summer vacation?

Instead, these 15 students took their time, talents, energy, and love and put them to use for the Kingdom of God. The high school students went to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, and the middle school students to Lincoln County, West Virginia.

Having participated in both trips, I can say without qualification that every single one of these teenagers was truly impressive. Each worked harder than they probably imagined they could. They slept on uncomfortable beds or on floors, wore dirty clothes, got sweaty, got blisters, and got (just a little) sunburned. But each one of them did this without complaint and with smiling faces.

They encountered different cultures and different life situations. Each student had to grapple with coming face-to-face with poverty and all its implications. They served, even when the recipients of that service didn’t always seem grateful, or sometimes even deserving.

But they did it. And through it all they were a shining example, to me and to everyone they encountered, of the abundant, unconditional love of God through Christ Jesus.

This morning, many of them will tell you, in their own words, about these trips and the impact these experiences had on them. But I wanted to take a moment, in my own words, to thank these students and the other adult helpers for the blessing they were to me and to the world. So, Adam Bailey, Ashley Cameron, Currie Costen, Jack Deutsch, Ellieblue Gurkin, Zane Gurkin, Addison Hagan, Tyler Hagan, Harrison Holmes, Robert Holmes, Andy Howlett, Jed Johnson, Maddie Miller, Carter Payne, Rylan Pearsall, Annie Stephens, Ethan Snow, and Jack Snow: THANK YOU!