I spent the past week in Atlanta, GA (East Atlanta, to be precise) with this amazing group of students and leaders. To be completely honest, I had some doubts about going on the trip. I wasn’t sure what we were going to be doing, and I just wasn’t sure I was using my vacation time wisely. After all, aren’t vacations supposed to be a time to get away and relax? Even with the doubts, I knew this was where God wanted me. And, it didn’t take long for me to realize I had made the right decision. My first thought for this post was to recap everything we did each day. However, the more I reflected on the week, the more I realized the details aren’t really the story. So, instead I’m going to give you a quick recap of the week, then share some personal thoughts, lessons and reflections.
I didn’t learn what we would be doing until the day we left. Even then, there was still some confusion and questions, but I knew God had a purpose for this trip. I just needed to wait and see it unfold. Upon our arrival we met with Pastor Jean Ward, the church planter and pastor of the church we would be serving – East Atlanta Church. After hearing what he had in mind for the week, I had more clarity on our mission and was ready to get started. We spent the first 2 days helping Pastor Jean film a video promoting the core values (love, peace, integrity, discipleship, community and faithfulness) of East Atlanta Church. During that time we were able to interact with people in the community, and our students stepped up in grand fashion. The last 2 days were spent working in a middle school in the community and involved much physical labor. Following the first day of working in the school, some of the team didn’t really understand why we were doing the work. It just didn’t seem much like missions work. That night during our devotion time, our middle school pastor (Nathan) shared his thoughts on this. He told the group that while we may not see the results, others do. In fact, several teachers in the school stopped him and thanked him for what we did. Our work, he explained, is helping Pastor Jean build relationships in the community. The following morning, before we began our second day of work in the school, Nathan shared Scripture from 1 Corinthians 3:6…
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth
Pastor Jean had planted by plugging into the community and partnering with our church. We were watering by coming alongside him and East Atlanta Church to do the work. In the end, God will grow what was planted and watered. What great motivation and perspective to begin the work day! Following that day of hard work, I think everyone felt better about what we had done.
For more detailed information on the work we did, please visit http://www.clearview.org/news/atlanta-mission-team-update.
As I end this week of Kingdom work, I wanted to share some personal thought, lessons and reflections. I kept a journal throughout the week, and wrote these words on the bus ride home.
It was a great week! The team accomplished what Pastor Jean wanted, and we bonded. The students all worked well together, and I feel that everyone grew closer. Relationships were developed this week. I see most of these kids week after week at church, but I really didn’t know some of them that well. After this week, that is no longer the case. I am thankful for the relationships I built with the students this week. They are great kids, and I am honored to serve them and serve with them. Since I plan to continue serving in the middle school ministry, I especially appreciate the bonds I made with the rising 8th graders. I can’t wait to see how God is going to use them. I was reminded this week of why I serve my church, specifically in the student ministry. I absolutely love those kids!!
There are 3 important lessons I learned from the week.
1. It isn’t about me, my comfort or my plans.
- As I said at the beginning of the post, I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing by using my vacation time for this. God taught me that it isn’t about me. The purpose of the trip was Him – it always had been. Regardless of what we would be doing, the goal was to point to Him and give Him the glory.
2. You may not always see the results of Kingdom work (1 Corinthians 3:6), but God does! Keep working!
- Although we didn’t directly see the results of what we did, God has a plan for it and will see the results. I needed to learn this lesson, because there are other areas where I can use this. Sometimes I question why I serve in certain areas at church, but the lesson learned this week puts it into perspective. I may not see the results, but He does.
3. We are developing leaders.
- Today’s middle and high school students are tomorrow’s leaders. We, as leaders in the student ministry, are developing the next generation of leaders. It hit me as I watched these kids work. A couple of them in particular stood out. Every time the team was given an assignment, I saw these couple of students step up and quickly get to work. They were genuinely excited about accomplishing the task set before them, and they were motivators to those around them. I saw tomorrow’s leaders developing before my eyes.
Reflecting now on the week, I can honestly say I can’t believe I had any doubts. I was blessed this week by the work that was done and by the students and leaders I served with. I’m thankful for new friendships and closer relationships. God taught me some valuable lessons and gave me some clarity on why I serve. Mission trips should be memorable, and this one certainly was for me. Thank you to each student and leader who served on this trip, and thank you to all who prayed for us. We watered what was planted, and I can’t wait to see what God will grow!