There By Van : A Missions Story

As we approach our next mission trip, I want to share how my heart for missions has grown. I have gone on many mission trips, near, far, and at home. I’ll write about all of them. For now, here are a few of the trips I’ve taken inside American borders. This is an account of how youth group missions changed me.

Appalachia
I was in a youth group as a student only during my senior year. My youth pastor, Brad, asked me if I wanted to go on a mission trip to West Virginia. There would be girls and adventure, so I thought that would be cool. I was working at Publix, so I tried to make the payments myself. Being 17, I was a little slow to pay most of the trip off. But Brad told me a few weeks before we left that someone in the church wanted to pay for me to go. I had no idea why someone would do that, but I was grateful. Once I was there sleeping in the abandoned school and meeting the area kids, my heart changed. Of everyone from the three mission groups there that week, I alone was able to actually start a conversation with this one kid who was angry at the world. At the end of the week, he told me he’d like to get saved. That night I clearly heard God tell me I was going to be a youth pastor. Whoever you are that paid for me to go on this trip- You helped change at least two lives forever. Thank you.

Savannah, GA
I was told I had to go on this trip as part of my employment. And I’m really glad I went- I met Jenny Socotch on this trip. The Wesley Foundation at Kennesaw State University apparently needed me (a mediocre worship leader) to come lead worship for them all week, even though no actual worship was planned. We helped meet some basic needs in an AIDS house and did some construction and painting for a women’s ministry. If you supported this trip you provided two great ministries with a better ability to take care of people, allowed me to catch a clam via fishing pole, and introduced me to my wife. Thank you.

Hi. We are out of gas.

Coastal Carolina
I led this mission as a Student Pastor. The youth groups did a great job of putting their faith into action by feeding locals living in poverty, cleaning up the still-remaining damages of a long-gone hurricane, and being the muscle for the elderly or disabled. On the way there, we actually totally ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere but God kept us moving for another 39 miles. Seriously. We did not have one drop of gas. Fun Fact: this is where Jenny and I started having and denying new feelings for each other. And as a special bonus, I got peeped by a creepy creepster in a reststop bathroom stall. Those of you who supported this trip provided cleaner living places for people still living in mold from the hurricane, provided a safe but challenging environment for the students to discover their faith, and gave many of those students their first experience with missions. Thank you.

Have you gone on domestic mission trips? What was your experience like?

Next Week: Notes from New Orleans

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