On Sunday (Sept. 16, 2018) one of our high school seniors was baptized by one of our adult leaders. Nathan has been a part of our church family and student ministry for several years. He has been connected to our community for years, but waited until this week to take the step of baptism. In his video he shares why.
There a couple of things I love about this video. The first is that is so genuine. Nathan simply shares his journey, the experiences and, most importantly, the people that have had an influence on him.
That leads to the second thing I love about this video. The emphasis on relationships.
As you listen to Nathan’s story, he names names (in a good way). He shares how his parents, his small group leader, other adults and even his peers have had an impact on his walk with Jesus. I know there were many conversations with Nathan in the past about what was keeping him from taking the step of baptism. God was working on him through those relationships, through those shared experiences and leading him ultimately to a full understanding of who Jesus is.
This video is a solid reminder of why we need others in our lives and the value of being in a small group. If you find yourself in a similar place as Nathan, maybe his story will move you to that next step.
We started planning for our Mexico 2018 trip in the summer of 2017. After months of planning and emails and meetings and fund-raising, we were able to make the trip over Spring Break (March 26-30). We flew from Columbus to Phoenix and then drove to Rocky Point, Mexico, to meet our house build family and get to work on their house. In two and a half days we were able to work together with the family and the 1MISSION team to provide a home for Cesar, Carmen and Carlos.
As I think back on the trip, I found myself thinking about people.
CESAR. Even though there was a language barrier (I know barely a handful of Spanish words), we were able to communicate and connect with Cesar. Here was a young man who is a husband, a father of a four-year old and preparing to welcome a son this summer. He was able to express one evening his gratitude to 1MISSION and our team for the opportunity to earn this home. He spoke about his love for his wife and his excitement to have a home after the struggles he and Carmen had in the past. You could just sense his gratitude.
On the first day of the build, Cesar wanted to express his thankfulness to the work team. His job is that he is a vendor, selling fruit bowls and various drinks from a portable stand that he sets up on a street corner in the tourist area of Rocky Point. He made us a coconut beverage that he sells from his stand. It was a refreshing drink that was his way of saying “thanks.”
As we worked together, I saw the care that he was taking in building this house. As we mixed concrete, I saw him pull out large rocks from the gravel and concrete mix. I watched as he examined the walls and made sure there were no nails sticking out. As we put stucco on the exterior I saw him going through and smoothing out spots and adding stucco here and there. While I knew it in my mind, it hit me again: we were building his house; this was his HOME. It was a good reminder to me that to him this was way more than just a mission trip or building project; this was a home for his family.
PEDRO. When we took our first trip with 1MISSION, Pedro lived at the base camp. He welcomed us and served as our host. This time when we arrived, Pedro didn’t live at the base camp. He and his family live in town so he can devote for of his time to the work of connecting with families and leading a team of 20 who oversee the community development for 1MISSION.
I had a chance to talk with Pedro for a few minutes one morning and found out that he is helping to plant two churches in Rocky Point. He said that one of the churches had 50 adults in attendance that most recent Sunday along with “a lot of kids.” He also shared that a high percentage of the families who attend are families who have received homes through 1MISSION.
In Pedro, I see a man who has a heart for the people of Mexico and is giving his life and energy to making a difference.
OUR TEAM. The first time we went to Mexico we took a total of 14 and 5 in our group were students. This year our group number was 20 and 12 in our group were students. 15 of our group had not been to Mexico before and a few had not ever been on a plane. So, I was mindful of the fact that I had a number of parents who entrusted the care of their student to me to take them to another country and bring them back safely. Our team did great!
As far as the building of the house, we stayed either on or ahead of schedule through the process. The students (and the rest of the group) jumped in to do what was needed and kept us on track.
Beyond that our group did a good job of connecting with our build family and the people in the neighborhood. There were a number of students in the neighborhood and our crew took the time to talk with them, learn their names, play some games with them and have some fun together. They even got to hold brand new puppies!
We had a great experience and are thankful for the opportunity to go to Mexico and work with 1MISSION. We also had a number of people support us in various ways and we are truly grateful for that.
Here is a recap video we put together of a number of the pictures we took over the week. It will give you a small window into our time at Rocky Point.
After months of planning, promoting, sending emails, meeting with our team, getting passports and other documents, checking over the packing list and praying about this adventure, our trip to Mexico was a success.
I guess I say success because we traveled to and from Mexico and all fourteen made it back safely! (The only hiccup in the trip was a long layover in Las Vegas that had us rolling into the church parking lot at 4:30 am)
I say success because we built the home on schedule…and it was still standing when we left!
I say success because we truly felt like we made a small contribution to the big work that 1MISSION is doing in that area of Mexico.
I say success because we were able to work alongside the young couple that would be living in the house we built – Miguel and Deysi. For some of us on the trip, this couple is close in age to our own children. For one of the students on the trip, she made the connection that Miguel and Deysi are the same age as her sister and brother-in-law. She said she didn’t really understand what it meant to serve a brother and sister in Christ until this trip. That’s too cool!
I say success because the trip changed us. Our eyes were opened to what it looks like to live in a place other than Ohio. For most of our group, this was the first trip out of the United States. None of us had been to this part of Mexico. So, to see what life is like for the people of Rocky Point, it offered us a different perspective. While life isn’t perfect anywhere, we gained an appreciation for where we live. While the house we were built isn’t extravagant by any means compared to what we see in the US, it stood out among some of the other housing we saw. 1MISSION seeks to create community by giving people in poverty the opportunity to earn a house by serving their community. We were humbled to be a small part of that process.
We had a great experience in Mexico and are grateful to all those who supported us and made the trip possible.
We put together a short recap video of our time with 1MISSION. You can check it out and see what happened during our time in Mexico.
We’ve been talking for a number of weeks about our upcoming Spring Break House Build Trip with 1MISSION (March 28 – April 2, 2016). We had a good turnout for our information meeting that took place a little over a week ago. We are now nearing the deposit deadline of December 13. That will give us a good idea of how many are planning to participate and will allow us to begin firming up travel plans.
Here are some other facts about what we will be accomplishing through our build trip.
The family we will be serving has already volunteered over 200 hours to their community. These hours have included building houses for their neighbors, volunteering with local organizations and participating in community development programs. A few weeks before the trip we will receive a family biography which will include information about the family.
We will be working alongside local volunteers and community members who have come together in cooperation to improve their community.
Here’s a fun fact for you: We won’t use any power tools! Why? The house construction is a community project involving
inexperienced people of all ages. The goal is to involve everyone in a fun and safe manner. So, if you are intimidated by the construction process, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to mess with power tools.
The House Build Trip will be a new and unique experience. It is open to high school students and older. Check out the information and feel free to make contact if you have questions.
If you are from the Wilmington Church of Christ or have been keeping up with my posts, you probably know we were raising funds to build a house for the Barajas family in Mexico. I received some good news this week: their house has been completed!
As the school year gets started this week, we are gearing up for one of the main components of our IMPACT Student Ministry – small groups!
We love small groups because we have seen how effective they can be in helping students develop relationships with one another and together grow in a relationship with Jesus. We have students who are now married or off to college that still stay in touch with small group leaders. We also have current students who look forward to the start of small groups each school year. Small groups are a good tool to build relationships and help grow our spiritual maturity.
Our push for small groups this year is “join a small group . . . ’cause we’re all a little weird.” I’m grateful to my friends at DownloadYouthMinistry.com for the video we are using. Check it out below.
If you are an IMPACT student, you can sign up for small groups on-line. Our church website has a space for you to register. If you haven’t done so, go sign up!
We’re looking forward to a great year of small groups!
About a year ago, I posted a video made by a Clinton-Massie student and alum about Clinton-Massie’s run to the state football championship. As just about everyone in our area knows, the team made it back-to-back state titles this year. They played some strong teams in the playoffs and pulled off a couple come from behind victories to become Div IV defending state champions.
The two guys that made the video last year have come out with a part 2. The community is very supportive of the team and this video is just one example. It looks like they had some fun making it, too.
Last weekend we took 19 of our Junior High students and 5 brave adults to the Christ In Youth BELIEVE Conference held at Northern Kentucky University. I say “brave adults” because we joined with 6,00 other people . . . and the vast majority were sixth, seventh and eighth graders. There was a lot of junior high energy in the room.
We’ve attended this event for the last several years. The program is always top-notch and this year’s followed suit. The theme for the weekend was “The Presence.” The focus was on the Holy Spirit. When I first heard that theme, I wondered how they were going to take a sometimes confusing topic for adults and present it in a way that young teens would understand. They did an excellent job.
Weaving together the music sets, clear teaching and well-done video stories, three clear messages about The Presence came through the weekend:
The Presence gives life where there was no life.
The Presence creates community where there was no community.
The Presence gives courage where there was no courage.
Through the events of the weekend, we were challenged to accept the life the Spirit gives, engage in community and rely of the courage The Presence gives to live for God.
The program was great and we had a lot of fun through the weekend. We enjoyed participating in BELIEVE, eating sardines in the hallway of the hotel, cruising around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in a church van and bus and killing some time at the mall.
I’m starting out the new year in the office with the Passion 2013 Live Stream playing in the background. I listened to the live stream last year from Passion 2012 and was excited when I saw it was available this year.
Passion 2013 is a gathering of college age students and leaders in Atlanta, GA. They meet for worship, community groups, teaching and to raise the cause of freedom for those caught in modern-day slavery.
For those of us who couldn’t be there (or maybe are past the college age demographic), the live stream is a great way to be a part of what is going on. Check it out this week. Passion runs January 1 – 4, 2013. Click here to check out the Live Stream.
This past weekend was spent at our local church camp at the annual junior high retreat. The picture shows the majority of our group (missing a couple of adults) and we are portraying the theme for the weekend – “Deuces.”
The speaker spent the weekend speaking out of two main passages – 2 Corinthians 5 and 1 Peter 2. The two “2s” were the “deuces” and he did a great job challenging the students (and adults!) to not just live for self, but for God and for others.
As I thought about our time at the retreat, I thought of the value of retreats. I’ve been on a number of retreats through my youth ministry experience and a retreat provides several things regular church programming/events don’t always do.
At a retreat, your group has a chance to be put in a new environment. Even if the environment is familiar (like our church camp), there is disconnection with things at home (tv, cell phones, computer, etc.). You get to spend a day and a half with brand new people. Staying two nights in a dorm is a different environment for our students and is a change of pace (even if the mattresses aren’t overly comfortable),
A retreat also provides new experiences. Usually there are some large-group challenges or games that bring about teamwork among the groups. Our camp gives us the opportunity to ride a zip-line, swing on a giant swing or play ga-ga or nine-square-in-the-air.
At a retreat our students get to hear different voices. Normally the speaker and leaders aren’t people our students know very well. The speaker’s style and the layout of the retreat is different from what they experience at church, so it brings a different perspective.
Retreats also create new memories. Students remember throwing paper wads at each other or the time one of the students fell into the water while on the rope swing. Months later the students have a shared memory of a time spent at a retreat and it can lead to discussions about other things.
We had a good weekend and the retreat opened up doors of conversation that may not have happened at home. We were able to sit around together at meal times and laugh together about various things, like watching hair strands fight each other. Just spending time together as a group is a great benefit. I know retreats have been around for years and certainly aren’t new on the ministry landscape, but it’s helpful to see the value in the time spent there.