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The Famine Blog

Planning for Justice

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Tash McGill 

Well, It’s August and you’ve made it. I’m not sure what kind of state you’re in, but you’re here. If you’re wrecked from a summer’s worth of mission trips, camps and other programs, take a big deep breath. If you’re recharged from getting away with the people you love on vacation, high fives to you. And if you’re reading this, along with hundreds of other emails as you start to get deep into kicking off another year of youth ministry – I’m with you.

If you’re in youth ministry, you’ve probably seen at least one ad offering you the perfect youth ministry planning tool or an article on the 10 Things You Must Include On Your Calendar. Those resources are probably really helpful. But there’s a key element to your youth ministry planning that I want to encourage you towards.

Plan for Justice. Plan for intentional activities and programs that will help you build a bridge towards Micah 6:8 living for your students. That’s why I’ve been involved in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine for more than 25 years. I started participating when I was 9 years old (please, don’t do the math!) and continued until now. I’ve become a child sponsor, a volunteer and a leader of Famine in my own youth ministry programs. My involvement with Famine has become part of my life-long justice walk.

It’s one thing to teach on topics of justice but to participate in acts of justice is entirely another. From the first time I participated, when the world was in the throes of actual famine sweeping parts of Africa and ‘til now, I’ve not seen a movement so powerful for engaging students in what hunger means and how it changes our world.

So that’s why I would encourage you to engage your students in the Famine. In a world that is now more global than ever, we’re now facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, driven by famine and civil war in many parts of the globe.

When you connect your students to the work of World Vision, they are connecting their sacrifice, fundraising and participation directly to support work that helps those suffering most in the world. Telling that story can help them connect to a life-long commitment to justice and living out Micah 6:8.

So hopefully you can take some time to plan for justice in your youth ministry program this year. Not just the Famine events but how you can extend your students understanding and participation in broader justice issues. Why not use your 30 Hour Famine activity to prepare students for next year’s summer missions or to further take these ideas into your local community.

The beauty of the 30 Hour Famine is the touchstone element it provides. A touchstone that can start in youth ministry but live on in the lives of your students for 20+ years. What a beautiful life.

Late Summer Break

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Mike Cunningham

Every year it seems like summer is over before it started. One day you’re celebrating the end of the school, making summer plans, and starting to work on your lovely tan. Then, in what feels like a blink of an eye, you start looking for the best fall deals, making plans and preparing for another year.

In ministry, summer is an amazing season, full of events, opportunities to connect and try new things, summer camps and road trips. A lot of great work is done! But, if you’re like me, sometimes you forget to take a break. Maybe it’s because we wrongly believe activity is a sign of health, or because we want to maximize time with students.

The reality is…YOU NEED A BREAK. Your Leaders NEED A BREAK. And let’s be honest, your students NEED A BREAK.  Taking a break – resting, relaxing, recouping —  those are all needed to keep a healthy pace of life for you, your leaders, your students, your parents and your ministry.

Every August, our group intentionally takes the entire month off (school doesn’t start where I live until late August). Was it hard at first? Absolutely! I felt guilty. I felt fear. I had a serious case of FOMO. What if parents get upset? What if my kids start going to another ministry? What if they don’t miss me, or us? What if they don’t come back?

The enemy we face everyday tries to convince us that we need to be busy. That our personal value is wrapped up in how much we achieve, both personally and in ministry. The truth is, though, your body needs a break. You need to enjoy life. Create space to play, to dream, and to sleep.

Taking a break is not only good for you, but also your leaders. If we truly do appreciate all the sacrifices they make then one of the biggest gifts we can give them is time and the freedom to take a break.

Taking a break also allows you to recalibrate and refocus. Taking a break from the week-to-week grind of ministry allows you to assess how you’re doing, prune things that need pruning, and create space for you to plan ahead.

So, before summer comes to a close and you launch into another fall season take my advice and shut things down for at least a couple weeks. I promise, it will breathe new life into you, your leaders and your ministry.

When 30 Hour Famine Activities Miss the Point

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Kevin Alton

I was once the volunteer I am about to warn you about.

Most church youth groups have at least one of these volunteers—loves the kids, first to jump in and play, probably a bit of a rough-houser if it’s a guy. That was me in my mid-late twenties—if Kevin was playing, probably somebody was eventually going to get hurt having fun.

I was eventually the paid staff person at that church, and the summer I was leaving one of the youth raised this question: “Kevin, have we ever gone on a trip with you where somebody didn’t go to the hospital?”

“Of course!” I replied, but quickly trailed off. His point, as we sat in a hospital room waiting for his broken tailbone X-rays to come back, turned out to be accurate. To be fair, I had long since stopped being the cause of injury, but we recounted every overnight trip I’d chaperoned in all of my years there and—sure enough—professional medical care had been involved in each. There was one standout mission trip to Arizona where the only day we didn’t go to the ER was the day I refused to go get stitches just to break the streak.

I still have a small scar on my right arm from the first 30 Hour Famine I ever attended as the aforementioned rowdy volunteer. The suggested activities that year included having the youth build cardboard shelters to sleep in. We gave them duct tape and a bunch of flattened boxes and let them have at it. I don’t remember if this was suggested or something we came up with on our own, but we added an extra sprinkle of flavor to the experience by waking them up in the middle of the night by blaring a thunderstorm recording over the gym loudspeakers and running around tearing down their houses. Naturally, I threw myself into the work. Somewhere around half-court I encountered a group of resistors to our destruction, and ended up with a bleeding cardboard burn on my arm.

All we were going for was giving the kids a sense of the difficulty of finding shelter and how easily it could even be lost to the elements. My over-the-top effort made it about something else—I blustered the meaning right out of it, and that’s what I’m hoping to help you avoid. There are often elements in the 30 Hour Famine activities that are meant to provide a mental check-in to the difficulties present in the existence of others around the world. Where you can, treat these activities with respect; don’t let them become just another goof for your crowd.

Power of Presence

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Mark Eades

I was reading an article by Jim Burns called “The Power of Being There” the night that I was sitting in a PEDS ICU with the family of a boy from our youth group – three states away from home! While on vacation in Michigan, sixteen-year-old Patrick had a major asthma attack that had caused him to stop breathing. In just a matter of minutes after the attack, his brain started shutting down.

The family had contacted me about six hours after the situation occurred. They were over six hours away from home in a hospital they did not know, in a part of the country that they were not familiar with, and their son was in a life-threatening situation.

I made a quick decision to go. Less than two hours after they contacted me I was in a rental car on my way to them. I had been with the family for a couple of days when I started to read Jim’s article and it made me think about how important it was for this family that I was there. This wasn’t really about me at all; it was about the power of presence. When I first arrived at the hospital the dad and mom were having trouble processing all that they had just heard about their son. But with my familiar face to talk to and share what they heard they were able to think better. I really didn’t do much; I just listened and listened and listened. That was what they needed and it was an awesome God moment.

During that time we found out that their son’s brain had stopped working. The fact that I was there to just be a sounding board to talk about their son, to cry with, just supporting them by sitting with them was huge to this family. They didn’t need words or even actions – they just needed to know someone was there for them. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I jumped in that car and went.

The next time you get a call to be with a hurting family remember what they may need is not your advice, wisdom or expertise – it may simply be your presence.

30 Hour Famine Around the World

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Adam McLane

Recently, I came across a story about World Vision Taiwan’s 30 Hour Famine:

Nearly 20,000 people in three cities in Taiwan ended a 30-hour hunger campaign Sunday night and chipped in nearly NT$1 million in donations to help the needy both at home and abroad.

World Vision Taiwan, which sponsored the 28th 30 Hour Famine Hero Rally in Kaohsiung, Changhua and Hualien, said participants were divided into small groups for a variety of activities aimed at increasing knowledge about poor and war-torn countries around the world.
Source

Did you know that the 30 Hour Famine isn’t just an American thing? The 30 Hour Famine activates people all around the world, in at least 10 countries, to take action for other people around the world struggling with issues like food insecurity. In each place the 30 Hour Famine takes on a different shape or approach but the desire to serve the needs of others through World Vision is always the goal.

Why am I sharing this? First, because it’s really cool! But more importantly, because your students want to– I’d even propose need to– know they are part of a movement that is bigger than them. Teenagers have a tendency to see the world through their own eyes. Yes, we the Famine challenges them to make sacrifices on an individual basis, which for many is legitimately hard. But at the same time we, as a tribe of youth workers around the globe, are challenging the collective us to put our faith into action. It’s truly powerful to know that we’re not just part of a local effort but that our local efforts are part of Jesus’ people saying, “We’re here to help.”

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Changing the World So We Can Be Changed

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Teer Hardy

My entry into youth ministry and youth missions was not typical of many youth ministry volunteers and professionals. After my wedding, the pastor who officiated, Jason, mentioned to my wife and I that the church still needed chaperones for their middle school mission trip as we were exiting the sanctuary. I do not recall my exact response but it was most likely “good luck with that”. When Jason looked to my wife and mentioned that our marriage license was still on his desk, Allison quickly looked at me and said, “Well I guess you’re goin’ on a mission trip this summer.

Mission trips, whether we go willingly or we are conspired against, will change our lives. For me, our trip was the beginning of responding to a call to ministry I had been ignoring and hiding from for many years. The same is true of the students who attend these trips.

We all know the students who are overly-excited for the trips and then we know the students who don’t want to be there or who could think of other ways to spend a week in July.  For mission trip participants in both of these groups transformation will normally occur. It may occur during the trip either on a worksite or during worship. But for some, maybe those who were conspired against, transformation might take longer. A mission trip could be the beginning of a long walk towards discernment of one’s life.

I think there are times when we do students a disservice, placing expectations that they are able to identify a God-sighting or lead a workteam devotion, when for many this will be the one and only time they are encouraged to consider where and how God is at work in their lives.  Mission trips, for all their good, can place unintentional burdens of living into a life most of our students, and in my case leaders, do not fully understand.

Mission trips (and events like 30 Hour Famine) are opportunities for us as leaders to teach what living out our faith means to students who are often taught countering lessons the other 51 weeks of the year. Living lives of service, showing others the love and grace afforded to us without any requirements, and openly talking about the love of God is not something many of our students do when they are not on a mission trip. Then, in many cases, we increase the intensity 1000% because we think that for this week, it could be our only chance.

Mission trips are the perfect opportunities for us to acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit. We talk a lot about how the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of groups; but what about acknowledging that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of those students who could think of better ways they’d like to spend one of their limited summer weeks. Rather than us trying to squeeze too much into the limited time we have, what if we just provided the space? Afterall, if we truly believe the Holy Spirit is the acting agent of the trinity, then we already know the Spirit is at work and that it’s not up to us.

This was a lesson that came to me the hard way. On that first trip in the summer of 2010, I tried really hard to be the perfect youth leader. My work crew had the best devotions (I thought), we got the most work done of any crew, and we made the biggest impact on the community (we thought). In hindsight though, what I remember most about that week was not the devotions or work. What I remember most was the way in which I was changed for the long-term and that is the work done by the Holy Spirit, not by programs.

Looking back on that week I wish I had known this. I wish I had allowed more space for the Holy Spirit to work instead of trying the fill every single moment of our time with what I thought was discipleship or Christian formation. I wish someone had said to me, “Hey, Teer! You cannot do this on your own. It won’t work!

Yes, student mission trips are about doing work. But these weeks are about so much more. These weeks provide our students with the space many of them will not have for the next 51 weeks: uninterrupted space for the Holy Spirit to move.

It’s the Holy Spirit that moved in my life back in the summer of 2010 and led me to ministry. I pray that this summer the Holy Spirit moves as mission teams head out into their ministry fields ready to change the world, while at the same time being changed.

Missions Trips for Small Churches

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Elizabeth Murray

Just a few days ago I returned from a weeklong mission trip to Honduras with seven youth from United Methodist churches in South Carolina. We travel through a mission organization called HOI, which is based in Olancho, Honduras. This is the fourth annual trip for this group, and the third time I have participated.  Selfishly, I enjoy this trip because I go as the interpreter for the group, and I travel “home” to Latin America—my favorite region of the world.  I will continuously advocate for all Christians, not just youth, to put their faith in action by serving others through mission. Through this experience, I have seen the youth and young adults on this trip open themselves up to what God and the world has to say to them.

But here’s the really cool thing: the seven youth on this trip were not all from the same church. They were all from smaller churches who would have had a hard time pulling off their own missions trip on their own.

If you’re in a small or medium size church, like I am, you may feel like a mission trip is impossible for you. I would feel like way, too, if I were planning a trip for only my youth group. Mission trips sometimes feel like they are only for mega-churches with lots of resources, connections, and money, right? Wrong!

Why shouldn’t youth in smaller churches be afforded the opportunity to attend a mission trip even if the whole church does not participate? This trip that we take with HOI allows youth from any size church, from any town in South Carolina to have access to the opportunity to an international mission trip geared towards youth and young adults. The trip is open for anyone from 16-22 years old who is affiliated with the United Methodist Church in South Carolina. But you can easily translate this mission model to your local context. You could gather a group of local churches in your area to create a trip together. If you are a part of a larger denomination or network, you can open it up even wider than your local community. You can open the opportunity up to a larger community besides youth, as well. I have attended intergenerational mission trips before, and God moves in unbelievable ways across generations in those particular contexts. If you don’t think you or your group is quite ready for an international trip, there are plenty of opportunities to serve in our own country or even in your own state. Partner together to serve God! Amazing things happen when we work together for the Kingdom of God!

 

Summer Service in Our (Global) Neighborhood

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Ross Carper

One of the best things about summer is that for many of our teenagers, life slows down (at least a little bit). And maybe that’s true only on the weeks when they aren’t working a bunch or spending time at the camps, mission trips, and retreats we focus on so much as youth workers during this season.

These low-key weeks can lead to some fun service opportunities that are a bit more chill than putting off a giant 30 Hour Famine event. But they certainly come from the same heart to join God in his love for the people of all nations. This year (aside from raising money to address the severe food crisis in East Africa) our church has found a way to love our global neighbors through a fun, intergenerational activity: Summer English Club!

We are blessed to have our church located just a few blocks from an apartment complex that houses dozens of former refugee families. These people have fled from some of the most difficult conflicts in the world, and with help from World Relief, they have landed right in our little city, just up the hill from our church. We’ve gotten to know many of these families through our long-term work in the neighborhood elementary school, particularly through 1-on-1 mentoring and after-school activities for kids who are English language learners.

But for summer, we’ve landed on a sweet, relaxed event each Wednesday. For a couple hours, we get to hang out at the apartments and bless kids and families as we are blessed ourselves. The first hour is reading buddies: volunteers (teenage youth group kids through retired adults) spread out a blanket on the grass and just read books to and with kids, helping keep English language development and reading skills on track over the summer. At some point toward the end of the hour, a woman in our church recruits a few helpers to put together a lunch of PB&J, fruit, and other healthy options. She is a local doctor, and she knows many low-income kids are undernourished in the summertime without the benefit of a school lunch every day.

After lunch it’s circle time, led by a woman named Mary: usually a fun and simple name game for everyone to mutually participate in. For the kids, it’s a way to practice English and public speaking. Mary is a community member who lives nearby and, while she isn’t a member of our church, she has gotten quite involved in the mentoring and English club activities we help lead at the school. She is now one of the main leaders of Summer English Club. (Hint: whether you work with children, students, or adults at your church, remember that inviting “outsiders” to serve side-by-side toward a common godly purpose is great outreach: what an awesome way to make friendships and connections outside the walls of your church.)

Finally, it’s what summer was made for: Play! Our middle school and high school youth group students are ready with the equipment and energy needed to get a great game of soccer going for the older kids, and maybe some “duck, duck, goose” for the littler ones. Keeping it simple is key: let the focus be on fun and connection rather than explaining complicated rules.

The beauty is in the simplicity and intergenerational nature of this summer activity: just about anyone can show up to help with English Club–even young families with their own kids who could also use some reading practice!

At the end of a Wednesday up at the apartment complex, everyone involved is a bit tired out, but is also feeling that glow that comes from enjoying good gifts from God: connecting with people, engaging our minds, eating healthy foods, and simply playing. That’s summer service in the neighborhood, and it’s all for the sake of sharing God’s love with these beautiful families who have experienced extreme poverty, injustice, and strife in the lands of their birth and in the refugee camps where they lived before.

The End of My Rope

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Anonymous

April 30th, 3:30 pm I arrived at church to start my Sunday night routine. It is a typical Sunday afternoon so the first thing I do is get the kids ministry check in system up and running and prep the kids ministry area for that night’s service. Kids will start arriving in about an hour. Now it is time to focus on the student ministry. It is now 4 pm and the next 45 minutes is filled with loading songs and games into our media presentation software, printing off notes for the message, printing off small group questions and turning on the Xboxes. Now it is 4:45 and it is time to meet and greet parents and students downstairs. At 5 pm our kids ministry starts and I’ve got 30 minutes till our youth service starts, let’s get some supper, head upstairs and chat with some students.

I see a volunteer as I head upstairs…

“Hey Dave, how are you tonight?”

“Doing good Josh. Hey just wanted to let you know that Jim and Sarah won’t be able to make it tonight, I know that they were handling their small groups this week but they had something come up and couldn’t make it tonight.”

“Ok Dave, thanks for the heads up, we will make it work. See you upstairs in a few.”

Oh man, now what am I going to do? My main small group leaders for High School are not going to be here tonight, and they didn’t even contact me to let me know. Well, we will just have to make it work tonight.

“Hey Josh, the computer in the youth room just froze up and we are not sure how to get it going again.”

“K, service starts in about 10 minutes I think we can get it up and going before we start.”

Computer starts, software loads, service ready to roll…I stand up to open up with our game and my heart sinks down into my feet…8 kids show up tonight. 8 of the 35 that we should have. In fact my adult volunteers outnumber the students. The youth service continues on as planned and we finish the night with small groups. Already defeated and discouraged I have a conversation with one of my most faithful high school students that just crushes the rest of my spirit.

“Hey Josh, listen I’m just not sure if I am going to keep coming man. I know you need me here but if I am the only high school student here I just don’t want to be around all these middle schoolers by myself.”

“Trust me Aaron, I know how you feel but don’t bail on me yet. We can get this thing turned around. I just know we can.”

The drive home that night was lonely, not because I was alone in my car, but because I felt like everyone had abandoned me. I felt alone because nobody seemed to care about the time I spent prepping for the youth service. I felt alone because my students seemed disinterested. I felt alone because I just didn’t think my small group leaders were getting it. I felt tired, abandoned, frustrated, discouraged and angry. At this point in the spring, with summer looming one month away, I wasn’t even excited about summer. Thinking about the fundraisers coming up, about camps (one youth and one kids), about VBS, about the time off everyone else gets to take and how crazy busy I was going to be, I wasn’t excited; I dreaded what the next three months held for me. I was ready to give up and quit! I felt like I was sinking into a deep hole in the ground and honestly I didn’t want to do anything about it. Just let me fall in and let me be.

After voicing my frustrations and asking for prayer to some people, I had a few people reach out to me who just wanted to talk and share some advice. They help me realize that I was beginning to start down a really unhealthy road. I was going to become a statistic if some things didn’t change.

The first thing that needed to change was my personal time of worship. My devotions had become dry and routine. I was focused on just doing my devotions to get them done and out of the way instead of spending time with God. I was not spending quality time in personal worship and this needed to change in a big way. One passage that I read during this time hit me hard and brought me to my knees before God. It was Psalm 62:5 and it says, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” I had forgotten to take my rest in God. My soul longed to worship God and all I was doing was checking a box. So I began to change my devotions. I started worshiping God on a deep personal level instead of just seeing how many chapters of the Bible I could consume in twenty to thirty minutes. I still have a reading plan that I follow, but when something in scripture hits me to my core, I stop right there and focus on what God is speaking to me through that scripture. I’ve started to listen to a worship playlist of music as I read. “Here’s my heart” by Lauren Daigle, “Oceans” by Hillsong and “Simplicity” by Rend Collective have brought me to my knees weeping before God more times than I would care to admit over the past two months. Another new thing I’ve added to my personal time of worship, finding a way each day to use my gifts and talents to worship God. God has given those to me to bring glory and honor to Him. I should be using them in return to worship Him.

The second thing that needed to change was my personal time off. I cannot tell you how many days off I’ve taken over the past year, but I know I could probably count them all on one or two hands. There always is something that needs to be done, and if you’re like me, being a Student Pastor also means that you’re the IT guy, Web page guy, graphic designer, the wifi guy, the media guy, the sound guy, and the guy who knows how to transfer music to everyone’s iPhone. I’ve realized that some weeks it all isn’t going to get done and that is OK. There are major priorities that I make sure get done every week and when there is time for the other stuff, I then tackle those other projects. For me the major priorities are specifically youth and kid ministry related. Connecting to students every week is a priority. Making sure I have prepared my message every week is priority. Connecting with my adult volunteers is a priority. My middle school small group of guys is a priority. My day off is a priority. Sometimes I have to leave the office and hide in town so I am not distracted by other projects (or people) to focus on my priorities and that is OK. I am making sure that I am getting the proper time off that I need to stay rested and refreshed.

The third thing is something that I still need to do: I need to take some time away from everyone to refocus on my place in ministry. I need to get alone with God and have a serious conversation with Him about where I’ve been in ministry, where I am in ministry and where I am headed in ministry. What mistakes have I made? How can I avoid them? How can I be more effective in ministry? Am I doing ministry my way or His way? Am I doing the ministry He wants me to be doing? How do I use these newly discovered passions that I have in ministry? And, where is that smell coming from in my office? (Probably the unclaimed dirty socks from camp) But I need to let God show me how He wants to use me and where He wants to use me. I need to get that passion back in my life that I had 15 years ago when I started student ministry. I know that God has something for me, I have to just get with Him and have this conversation. That meeting with God is already scheduled for a few days at the end of summer as I sit down to plan this up coming school year.

Anybody can lose focus in ministry, anyone can get frustrated at students, with volunteers or parents, anyone can quit because you’ve had a night where everything has gone wrong, but is that what God wants from us? My encouragement to you, one follower of Christ to another, is this: Make sure your having a personal time of worship everyday, make sure you’re getting your days off to rest and refresh, and take some time to have tough conversations with God about your ministry. If you feel like you’re at the end of your rope like I was, find someone that you can talk to about how you’re feeling. Find some people who will pray for you. Find someone who you can pour your heart out to and who will hold you accountable to make the necessary changes in your life. The worst thing you can do is keep it bottled up inside. First and foremost, like Psalm 62: 5 says, you need to find your rest in God. Your soul is longing to rest in Him so find Him and rest.

Getting S T R E T C H E D

BY 30 HOUR FAMINE TEAM

By Jen Bradbury

Marcus was the only high school senior on our recent mission trip. An introverted student with a sense of humor, Marcus seldom spoke in our discussions. So when I saw “door-to-door evangelism” on mission trip our schedule, I feared it might break Marcus.

I also worried it might break our adult leaders.

You see, we’re Lutheran. As Lutherans, door-to-door evangelism is not one of our regular spiritual practices, nor really, is any form of evangelism.

I knew door-to-door evangelism would make our team uncomfortable. Yet, I also believe evangelism is an important part of discipleship. In fact, my research for The Jesus Gap on the Christology of high school teens showed that students who talk about their faith (like you do when you’re evangelizing) have a better understanding of Jesus than students who don’t.

Knowing this, when I was planning for our trip and our local contact asked if we’d be comfortable with door-to-door evangelism, I said, “Comfortable? Definitely not. But we’ll do it.” I hoped the experience would stretch my team out of their comfort zone and force them to articulate their beliefs about Jesus.

So, as part of our trip preparation, my team wrote out their faith stories and practiced sharing them with one another. Then they brought copies of their testimony with them on our mission trip.

When it came time to evangelize, students grabbed their faith testimonies. With fear and trembling, they set off into the community in small groups that were so small no one could hide.

They hesitantly banged on doors, introduced themselves to people, and shared their faith stories. In some cases, they answered questions and offered to pray with people.

As groups returned, I sat there, nervous to hear about their experiences.

That’s when Marcus walked in, ON FIRE.

It turns out, introverted Marcus LOVED door-to-door evangelism.

Not only did he LOVE it, but he talked during it, openly sharing his faith with the people he met, something he’d never done during the four years he spent actively involved in our youth ministry.

Door-to-door evangelism forced Marcus to speak. In the process, he discovered he actually LIKED talking to people about his faith and that he was pretty good at it. People responded to his testimony. That night, Marcus shared more during our team’s discussion than I’d ever heard him share.

As Marcus talked, he spoke his faith into being. He not only learned about his gifts, but he also learned about his God.

This is, I think, one of the reasons why mission trips are so formative.

They stretch us WAY out of our comfort zones.

They expose us to people and practices WAY outside our faith traditions.

Because they do, they force us to depend on God in new ways.

That dependency leads to real life encounters with God that change people, just as they did Marcus.