I’ve got some exciting news for you today, the Dream Center mission trip is officially underway and God has already been showing out in some AMAZING ways! I’m going to give you a quick run-down of what the day looks like, share some awesome stuff God is doing in the lives of these students and the people around them but first I want to challenge you this week. These “reflection” messages are meant to paint a picture for you on what the trip looks like and what God is doing but I want to challenge you, the reader to not just see these messages and huge God moments as things just happening here on this trip with the Harbor youth group. My hope is to challenge you to learn from these messages and realize that God’s awesome hand at work isn’t limited to a “mission trip” or the people here, what God can and will do is just as available for you in your own daily life. Whether that’s at work, the grocery store, or wherever you are, this same God that is making amazing happen here is right there with you. Don’t let these messages just be a reflection on others lives but I pray that you would open yourself up to watching God so amazing in and through you, and in the lives around you. Everywhere you are God is there, everywhere you are we are on mission! Let’s reflect on that truth this week as we watch God change so many lives in the wildest ways!
The day started with rising up early at 6am, a little earlier than some are used to but after some pick-up basketball in the gym, everyone shook off the cobwebs to get going! After a team breakfast, the students and leaders went into a devotion time for about 30 minutes. Pastor Matt read out the devotion, gave the students some Scripture to focus in on and the rest of the time we went into journaling on God’s Word.
The Scripture for the day was Romans 8:31-39, with the main verse being;
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
This piece of Gods Word holds so much powerful truth and as we see how the day played out, it’s so cool to see how God set these truths up to fuel the students out of their comfort zones and away from their fears into really stepping out on faith and watching God’s love breakthrough in their own lives and the lives around them.
After devotional time, the team hopped in the van and we set out on our first opportunity to serve in the Lakeland community. We made our way to the Salvation Army’s main campus in Lakeland where we met up with the “Kid’s Club” ministry. Kid’s club is a ministry ran through the Dream Center to be a literal vehicle for taking the gospel to kids in the Lakeland community. As you’ll see in the pictures, Kid’s club uses a box truck, where the side of the truck folds out onto a stage, speakers are set up to play Jesus tunes, and the truck holds resources such as balls, jump ropes, chalk, and much more for the kids to play with. It is such an amazing and unique way to bring Jesus into kids lives in a fun way while volunteers get the chance to love on them in a way that they may not receive much in their current living situation.
In the area of Lakeland we are in, it is definitely considered a “high needs” area so this morning getting to meet the kids that came out and get to know them better, we also had the chance to hear some about their circumstances. It was a perspective changing and heart-breaking moment to hear some of the things that these kids deal with on the daily. Realizing the amount of need in these young lives just magnified how awesome God is using the “Kid’s Club” ministry, taking Jesus into lives of big time need of so many things. The coolest part was being able to share Jesus with them, the One that covers all of our needs!!!
After a quick overview by the Kid’s Club staff and some Scripture. The kid’s and students broke up into small groups to dive in deeper with the kids on a more personal level. It was in that time that many of the students had the opportunity to step up and lead kids towards the Lord in so many ways. After spending time with them, building relationships with them, the students and leaders all shared the “3 circles” with each kid. “3 circles” is a great resource for sharing the Gospel with others no matter what the age or who the person is so if you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend looking it up! Watching students share the Good News of Christ and what He has done in their own lives was quite a scene. As each seed was planted in so many young minds and hearts, there was one small group where the seeds immediately began to grow. One of our worship/student leaders, Matt Howard had the chance to connect with a young guy named Josiah and explain the role of Jesus in his life along with who Jesus is in general. At the end of sharing about Christ, Josiah asked to put his trust in the Lord and start a relationship with Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! It’s so powerful and crazy to see what just a few hours spent with someone can literally change his life for eternity!!! It’s truly amazing to see what God is doing through the Kid’s club ministry and we just ask you pray for the seeds planted today in each child, and for God’s continued work through Kid’s club!
After playing games and hanging out with the kids at the Kid’s club, the team came back for lunch and naps as we prepared for the rest of our day serving. A small group of guys were asked to make a trip to Wal-Mart with the kid’s club leader and help pick up boxes of school supplies for their upcoming giveaway to students in the Lakeland area. The guys did a great job of stepping up to serve and flex their muscles to help in this area.
The team had a quick meeting, doing some “3 Circles” training in prep for the afternoon ahead. The Dream Center’s main leader came in and got the team ready to go out and do some outreach in the community. He gave us flyers with the upcoming Dream Center events and different things they have going on, such as adult classes, food and clothes give-aways a couple times per week, and a couple of newly added women’s ministries. It’s honestly amazing how the Dream Center works and even more so seeing the way they go about it. Instead of waiting on needs to come to them, they are persistent in taking up the mission Christ has given us to go out in the streets of the community, building relationships with the people and going to the need. Their main objective is to simply get Jesus to people in anyway they can and they do a great job of raising awareness through outreach missions such as this.
The students went out in groups in the community to hand out flyers, a few students in every group were equipped with trash bags and trash sticks to help clean up the community along the way. This was a moment where students were definitely pushed out of their comfort zones, stepping out on mission to speak with strangers, and on top of that, share Jesus with them whether that was through telling of the Dream Center, the 3 circles sharing the Gospel or just asking each person they met if there was anything they could pray for them about!
After wrapping up outreach and getting an awesome spaghetti dinner in cooked up by Mrs. Sarah and her girls, it’s reflection time!!!!
Reflection time is a powerful time in the lives of these students, as they spent some time journaling some thoughts on the day and opened their hearts to share what God is doing in their lives. Reflection time started out with our Worship leader Matt leading us in a few worship songs and then going into sharing from all the students and leaders. Even in the worship time, you could feel that God was doing a mighty work as His Spirit filled the air. Then students began sharing their hearts and about their days, that’s when the God Gold truly came to the surface. I’m going to write below just a few of the many awesome reflections shared by students and leaders tonight! I have to say after not being very involved in a youth group myself and spending some time recently in the mission field, my heart was completely rocked during this time tonight and I couldn’t be any more proud to be apart of this group of students, to learn from and hear all that God is doing in their lives even at their young age. Like I mentioned earlier, these reflections and lessons learned aren’t just for our youth group or to the work God is doing here, this is for you, to take up and learn how to apply to your daily life in the mission field God has placed you in.
The main themes heard from students was the fear they had going into this trip and moments they encountered today but as the truths from Romans taught them and fueled them this morning, they were lived out by each of them as God broke through their fear and used them to take His love to others. We heard story after story of students mentioning the fear they had or doubts as they stepped out of their comfort zones today, but the biggest theme of the night being how GOD BROKE THROUGH!!!
It was so awesome to see and hear of students stepping up in ways they don’t usually do and it’s obvious to see just how much God is at work in their lives. They spoke a lot to how much they were truly experiencing God work in their lives as they learned to surrender themselves to His mission. Not only experiencing God but learning what “living on mission” looks like for them in their own lives. It was also brought up how they saw the reality of just how broken this world has gotten, being in this high need area opened them up to see just how dark some places of this world has gotten. But even bigger than that, the reality of how God has specifically placed each of them here to bring His light in this darkness, in a place of need, going out and taking Jesus to them and being hope like none other in this world. The students began to understand their purpose as followers of Christ and also how God is constantly setting us up to share His love with others around them.
It was extremely encouraging and honestly brought up goosebumps to hear how students admitted how scared they were, how confused or filled with doubts in so many different ways but learning through serving today that as they step out of the way and step out in faith, God works through His Spirit in the wildest, most awesome and unimaginable ways in their lives and the lives around them. And lastly from the students, there was a few mentions about experiences they had meeting unbelievers today while doing outreach. As discouraging as that can usually be, instead the students hearts were shown so purely as they expressed their hurt for these people and requested prayer for all of the people met that didn’t know Jesus!!!
That’s straight from the mouths of middle and high school students, as I’ve learned so much from them and how amazing God is in the work He does, I pray that we can all learn from these HUGE God Gold lessons and learn how to live in complete surrender to the mission God has called us to. To take His love to the world around us. It’s such an awesome mission and the best part is, this is only day one from the Dream Center! I can’t wait to see what all God is going to do!! Stay tuned as Day Two starts bright and early!!!