Sometimes you don’t know what God is up to until after all is said and done. In July, our student ministry went on a mission trip to Minneapolis. This was the first mission trip for many of the students on our team. Despite their nervousness, they decided to give up a week of their summer to serve Jesus. It was a step of faith that would end up reaping spiritual rewards.
Our team was given the task of going to the Phillips District in Minneapolis where we partnered up with a local church that is actively trying to reach the community there. The Phillips District is not just one of the most diverse in the city, it is one of the most diverse areas in the entire country. Over 160 languages are spoken in this 1.5-mile square area. The area is primarily made of immigrants and refugees from parts of Africa, Arabic countries, Europe, Asia, and there is a Native American reservation in the middle of the district. With this in mind, our task was a simple one: love people. We would pray with those who would let us. Talk to them. We gave them basic supplies if they needed it, but primarily we just loved them through kindness and prayer.
Let me set the stage for you. God put a group of introverts in an area that desperately needed His love. He instructed our team to show love to random people by interacting and praying with them. God instructed our team to do somethings that were outside of our comfort zone. But the cool thing about God is that He gave our team the one task that would stretch us the most.
For myself (Zach), it opened my eyes to the way we tend to serve as Christ-followers. Many of us want to love people and be the “hands and feet of Jesus” but rarely do we find those personal moments to share God’s love on a personal level. We go out and we buy groceries for people and/or we even drop them off at church to be passed out by others to people in the community. We may even pray for people from a distance. But we miss out on the personal interaction to let people know that there is a God who loves them and wants a relationship with them.
This trip impacted me deeply, but it also impacted our students as well. Here are some of their stories:
“I’m going to put it straight, first and foremost: I was very wary of going on this mission trip to Minnesota. I didn’t know everyone who was going, what all we would be doing, or how I was supposed to grow in my relationship with God and others. But after being pushed out of my comfort zone a countless number of times and getting acclimated to the atmosphere of Minnesota, I finally realized what I was supposed to do; just talk. Talk with people, ask them about their life, and pray for them that they would come to know God and learn to serve him.
I feel like if I had to do it again (which I totally would) it wouldn’t be as uncomfortable to do. But I also have to remember to let God lead the way, and to reach out to whoever and to let God speak through me. And when God is telling me to do something and it feels right, it’s such a great feeling to know I’m helping others and helping to expand and serve His kingdom.
To say the least, I enjoyed the mission trip in every way. Riding to and from Minnesota was a blast, I grew in trust and fellowship with my friends and youth leaders, and especially in my journey with God. I believe that others in our youth group need to experience a trip like this in the future because I’m glad I did.” –Tanner Freeman
“For a while, I had been really considering going on a mission trip, but I was uncertain on where or when I wanted to go. It just never quite seemed like the right time, and then I heard about the youth group’s mission trip to Minnesota. Immediately, I knew that God was directing me to go on this mission trip, and I knew that it was time. Before leaving for Minnesota I didn’t know what to expect so I told myself to go in with an open mind and to be prepared for anything. However, I didn’t expect to be impacted as much as I was.
For starters, our group was the smallest out of all the different groups working with Lead222 on the trip, and we were probably one of the most introverted. I personally do not consider myself to be an introvert, but I am also not the type of person who will go up to a random stranger and be comfortable enough to start a conversation with them. Since God works in His strange and wonderful ways, it is not surprising that our group’s task for the week was essentially to go out and pray with strangers.
Although this task was intimidating and uncomfortable in its own ways, it was also enlightening. I found out that if you ask, not many people will turn prayer down, and many people are nicer than you initially think.
The one way that God really seemed to impact me was on our last day of working in the communities when our group had a last-minute change of plans. Due to certain circumstances, we found ourselves working in a different area than we thought we would on that day. On this day I met a dad whose daughter has the same name as me, and I also met a family with a little girl who has the same name as me. My name is not common and a day or so earlier I had been talking with Jillane and a few others about how uncommon my name is. The fact that I had essentially met two people with the same name as myself is crazy. After thinking about it for a moment I that it was God who intended for me to meet these two people.
I used to think that I would never meet someone with the same name as me, and now I have met at least two. It’s incredible to see how God can work even in the smallest ways that can make a huge impact.” –Annelise Gayer
God moved in some incredible ways while we were in Minnesota in the lives of the people there and in our lives as well. My encouragement to you is to take a step of faith like our team did. Don’t be afraid to reach out and see how God can use you. It’s worth it.