14 March, 2007
Church Youth Group Prepares to 'Sacrifice' for Mission Trip
COLUMBIA PARK, MICHIGAN
The youth of 15th Avenue Church of God have felt a deep conviction for some time now. Last year during the church's annual missions conference almost all of the church students went forward at the end of the week to commit to serving in missions during the next year. Now they are hoping to live up to that promise.
"We want to do what's right and fulfill that promise that we made." Said 15 year-old Megan Porter. "We promised to devote time this year to spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth, and now we're going to do just that."
Over the Christmas holidays the students who had made the pledge got together with the church's youth pastor, Mark O'Neil to decide on possible places to go.
"I wanted this to be their call." Said O'Neil. "Things like this really work best if they come from the hearts of those who serve. So I told them that I would back them 100%, no matter what they chose, and that the church would pay for their trip completely."
O'Neil suggested a number of places to the students such as working in an orphanage in Mexico, serving in a soup kitchen in New York, or even venturing out to work with native peoples in the Canadian wilderness. But the students already had a place that they were passionate about. And so with little debate the students reached a unanimous decision. This year all 18 of the students will give up their regular Spring Break plans to spread the gospel at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
"We're so excited about serving down there!" Said an enthusiastic Stewart Conner. "We really think that we can make a difference in the lives of the people we're going to serve."
"We've been really training a lot for this trip." Said Porter. "We've been doing some role-playing down at the mall like standing in line and talking about the new Newsboys album out loud so that people will know we listen to Christian music."
The students say that they also plan to 'witness' to people as they ride the various rides at Walt Disney World's four main parks by praying silently to themselves before meals, wearing Jars of Clay t-shirts and by saying 'Thank the Lord that's over with' after scary rides.
"We know that this time down there is going to be blessed." Said Conner. "We don't want people to pity us or think we're somehow super-spiritual because we're making sacrifices. I mean, sure it will be hard giving up our Spring Break and all that, but this is what we've committed to do, and we're going to stick to our word."
The church will be putting up the cost of $1200.00 for each student to fly all of the students down to Orlando, put them up in one of the Disney resorts and purchase them 6 day passes to all of the parks.
"I was hoping for something a little bit more cross-cultural for these kids, but if these kids learn to share the gospel through this experience it will be worth it." Said O'Neil. "We've already had many of our other kids show a tremendous interest in becoming involved with missions for next year, so that's already a positive result."