Witness What God Has Done
By Todd Overton
Every summer, the Christian Education Ministry at St. Stephen sends our young people out into the world to learn about God and to receive the blessing of God in their lives. This may seem like an odd way to describe a mission trip, but this is no ordinary mission trip. Yes, our kids took a risk, left the comfort of their homes, taught VBS to children who were in need, helped the poor, took on roles as good stewards of God’s creation, and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to strangers in a far-away place. But God took their acts and turned them around, blessing our youth in ways far beyond what they did for others. And from this our kids learned critical lessons about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
They learned to go out and help a true stranger… people who they had never met and will never see again. It is easy to help your friends and people who you know. God said to them, “I am sending you out to plant seeds, but you will never see them sprout, you will not get to see them grow, you will never smell the blossoms, or pick the fruit that will come of it.” And our young people went. This is so hard to do. But our kids learn how to do it, and do it with joy and a generous spirit.
They learned how to journey with others and work together to accomplish a goal, a crucial part of living as part of a community of believers.
They learned a broader, truer, and more nuanced answer to the Biblical question “Who is my neighbor?”
They learned that small acts done in the name of Jesus Christ have an outsized impact, and that they are capable of making a real difference in the lives of others and in communities far from their homes.
They learned that while things might seem tough or chaotic or out-of-control, if they have faith and cast their nets upon the waters, God, who is faithful, will fill their nets with fish. (This is maritime metaphor, but the Bible is full of those, so it is apt. They didn’t actually catch any fish.) They learned that doing the right thing is worth the risk.
People will tell you that our Youth Mission Trip is God at work in the world, but this is not the entire truth. Our Youth Mission Trip is God at work at St. Stephen. It is God at work in the lives of our young people, our sponsors, their families.. and yes, at work in the lives of those who contributed to the effort and helped make it all possible.
Every year, the Holy Spirit intervenes in a hundred ways to bring all of this to pass. The Holy Spirit inspires Beth and the CE Committee to reach out for people who need us to come; it moves someone who we don’t know and who doesn’t know us to respond to that offer of help; it moves the many people who donate to the cause to give so generously in the faith that God will bring it to completion; and it follows us on the road to guide and protect us as we venture forth in the name of God.
This is what God has done. Not for the people in Colorado, but for us.