Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pine Straw Leads To Changed Lives

The student ministry annual REACH mission trip is an extraordinary experience for our young people.  From the initial moments of the van ride to the actual site work, to relationship building with work teams and neighbors, to the program times and small group talks; this week is all about what it looks like to live out the Gospel.

Sure, we are not in our hometown, we are sleeping on the floor of a high school classroom, we are working on porches, roofs, wheel chair ramps and painting, and few of us are going to do any of those things as a career.  But, building relationships with real people who have need is something that we all need to learn to do.  Learning how to be part of a team and employ our gifts and talents in a way that isn't all about us, is also very important.  Getting far enough away to remove some of the distractions of our Raleigh, NC life in 2014 is so important, and the fact that we often have little to no cell phone service deepens that experience.

If you were to stop by my office some time, and I hope you will, you would find a wall dedicated to the photos of the Student Ministry Mission Trip Teams every year since 2005. Every face you see looking back at you from those photos would be able to tell you the story of how using their God-given gifts and talents they were able to directly impact an individual or family with the good news of the Gospel. Sometimes that good news was simply, "I am here to paint your house so that the weather is sealed out and the wood stays dry and intact." Sometimes the relationship built during that week progressed enough to invite a "neighbor" to the evening program to hear worship and the Word proclaimed.  And sometimes that good news was an opportunity to directly share the Gospel with a "neighbor." Often though the faces in the pictures would also tell you how much they learned, how much their lives were changed, and how much more deeply they understood Jesus’ love.

Here are two account from our own students who have been on a REACH Workcamp trip:

Sean Duncan, sophomore

My first year at REACH we went to our “neighbor’s” house (what we call the people who live in the homes where we work)  and it seemed totally unlivable. Duct tape was holding most things together, they were honestly horrible living conditions. There were holes so deep in the kitchen floor, you could see the ground. My heart was broken to see that someone had to live in those conditions. Our group helped re-do the kitchen and as a surprise we were able to bring her a new refrigerator at the end of the week! We also gave her a new bathtub and we took out all the duct tape in the house. She was so happy when we told her she didn’t have to use tape anymore! She was crying tears of joy when we left, it was such a humbling experience.
We were also able to invite her to our evening program. Evening program is a combination of skits and music, where we reflect on the projects we have been working on for the week. There is always a speaker, and our neighbor was able to see everyone come together to serve one purpose for one God. There was such unity in us being together even though we come from different states. And it was so special for her to see us loving and impacting her community.
Jon Mackanic, senior
Reach Workcamps have changed my life. Each summer a new challenge is presented and every year I gain a new realization of what I am able to do. Reach has allowed me to improve in finding ways to help out someone who may be less fortunate than I am. Teamwork and collaboration are essential pieces to Reach Workcamps that are otherwise difficult to find in everyday life. Reach is an escape from a busy, self-serving world to a time of spiritual development and serving others.

So, we sell pine straw as a way to raise funds for this awesome experience. Would you consider purchasing pine straw to help us accomplish our goal of helping folks in Scioto County, Ohio this July? 
You can place your order here:

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