To emphasize the need to serve, our youth pastor arranged a week-long activity on our church campus called, Mission Warner Robins. He described it as, “a foreign mission trip at home.” Fifty youth gathered on Monday morning ready to give up a week of their summer to work, sweat, and sleep on air mattresses.
The students got up each morning at 8:00 a.m., ate breakfast, packed a sack lunch, and headed to their work site–tasks ranged from doing yard work for local shut-ins to unloading and bagging rice for our local food pantry. Georgia is miserably hot in mid-July, but it seemed hotter than usual during mission week.
While we were painting our youth building bathrooms, I asked a junior and a senior in high school what possibly convinced them to give up one of their last weeks of summer to work. One responded, “Well, I never really get the chance to serve so I wanted to do this.”
The other said, “I felt God telling me that I needed to do this.”
Were they glad they chose to participate in Mission Warner Robins? Both quickly responded, “Yes.”
One of the coolest things I was able to participate in consisted of leading a group to a facility called, Happy Hour. This is a local community for special needs adults where they are able to work and live a normal life to the best of their ability thanks to the help of the Happy Hour care givers. We had the opportunity to join the special needs workers in assembling boxes. I was impressed with how the group of teens were so quick to interact and meet all of the sweet workers. It was a blessing for everyone in the warehouse.
The workers got to converse with young people and feel that they are loved and worth serving. The teens also had the chance to step out of their comfort zone by working with people who seemed different at first, but were really just sweet, loving human beings. Happy Hour caregivers were able to see that there is hope for the future in these kids who are hard-workers, willing to serve others, and expecting nothing in return. Wednesday night, as the week was reaching its peak, our youth pastor asked for quick summaries from the teens about what they expected from the week and how it was different than their expectations.
One middle school student stood up and said he did not expect the work to be so difficult. Serving is not always an easy thing to do. Another stood up and said that he was expecting tons of heat and work. Once he got into it with friends, the tasks did not seem like work at all. Our youth pastor mentioned after these statements, “I knew some people would enjoy this more than our annual beach retreat because there is just an insanely good feeling that comes with being a part of something bigger than ourselves and doing a great work together for God.”
Our youth pastor knew this week would be work for both the kids and himself. He had to leave his own children and wife for a week to make sure 50 other kids were fed, accounted for, and on task at all times, yet he believed that if we were going to learn about serving as the church, we needed to put our knowledge into action. Our church intern described Mission Warner Robins best when she said,
“Last week was an unforgettable week. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but I was able to learn and grow through the week. The kids and I both saw the importance of serving our community in the name of Christ. We all learned that sometimes Jesus calls us to sacrifice and get uncomfortable in our faith. It was all worth it to see God move in mighty ways!”
All tasks completed during Mission Warner Robins included:
- Helping teachers and faculty in four local schools prepare for the upcoming year.
- Yard work for 17 homes in the community.
- Painting, cleaning, plumbing, trashing, irrigation repair and yard work on the church campus.
- Unload and sort food trucks for local food pantry.
- Create prayer garden for a Christian volunteer dental clinic.
- Work one of the church’s July outreach events “Wet N’ Wild.”
- Work alongside Happy Hour.
- Do arts and crafts and sports with local Recreation Department summer camps.