Youth Impact in the Summer of 2013
By Melissa Torres, UBA Writers Team (08/29/2013)
The next time you wonder, “What in the world are the youth of today up to?” check out the local food pantries, nursing homes, and clothing closets. You’ll likely find them there up to their elbows in serving others.
5 Pre-Teens on Mission with Willow Meadows Baptist Church
While youth mission trips are standard fare for the summer, at least one group of five pre-teens from the Children’s Ministry of Willow Meadows Baptist Church got an early start with missions experiences. Laura Peters, Family Ministries Coordinator, along with an additional sponsor, Morgan Grosscope, led these five girls on a mission trip to Austin, TX, July 28 – August 2. It is the first time that Willow Meadows has led a group as young as this on a mission trip out of the city, opting for the mission trip instead of children’s camp.
The five young women, ranging in age from 9 to 12 years, served food to the hungry, provided hospitality at a nursing home, and organized clothing to hand out. Along the way, they sang, played, ate frozen yogurt, and pitched in with the chores by fixing breakfast and cleaning up. During the evening devotional times, they learned what it means to grow spiritually in a community of faith.
Laura shares about one evenings’ devotions, “We had such an amazing group devotion tonight. We almost missed lights out! For an hour and a half they left the silliness behind and shared the heavy burdens they carry without receiving judgment. I am blessed by tonight.”
On another front, Unique Student Ministries gathered 1,400 students in Houston for Unique Week, the 17th annual missions and ministry camp for inner city youth, July 22-26. Founded by Jaime Garcia, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church (Houston), Unique Week has grown over the years from 100 students in attendance to the current 1,400 students this summer.
During the week voluntary service projects are implemented during the day with worship and discipleship conferences in the evenings. Pastor Garcia says, “The youth have the evenings to come and receive and then, during the day, they give back and serve the community.
We want them to experience a servant’s heart. [The youth] come from inner-cities all over Texas: We wanted inner-city kids doing inner-city missions. We want them to take it back home and serve their communities and their churches.”
The 366 Unique Week students who chose to serve during the day handed out 900 meals to the homeless at a downtown shelter, ministered to 240 kids in inner city church summer activities, collected trash from the streets, and washed cars and did yard work for those in need in an inner-city neighborhood.
500 students participated in the God Belongs in My City prayer walk, included this year as part of Unique Week experience.
Also serving the inner city and providing formative service experiences for youth, the Mission Centers of Houston hosted several youth this summer to serve in a variety of ways. “This is an urban immersion trip. The kids were are thrown in the deep end of inner city ministry, so it helps to have kids that have an interest in missions and the inner city,” said Craig Taylor, Associate Director of the Centers. “We’d like this to be a marker in the spiritual journey of the missionaries and groups that come in and want them to use it to see when God really spoke to them.”
Students volunteer with two centers in Houston’s north side and one in Magnolia Park that Mission Centers has established relationships with year round. These same communities were served by the visiting youth groups during their week of missions.
Participating youth served at the different sites in various services. At a food pantry, students helped stock food and clothing donations and interviewing needy families requesting services. At two of the centers’ adult ministries, students interacted with participants by playing games, painting nails, serving lunch, and assisting with worship services and ministry.
Students assisted and provided leadership for kids and preteen clubs and helped with child care at the different activities offered by the centers such as English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and Zumba lessons. The youth groups also did yard work for the elderly and needy families in the communities.
Along with service projects, the youth groups also took part in prayer walks around the city to pray for the communities they were serving.
Making breakfast & cleaning up
Visiting the Nursing Home
One Pre-Teen's Testimony
Unique Student Ministries
Unique Week Serving
Unique Week Prayer & Worship
At the Mission Centers