Dear Hope Church Family,
As the Pastor for Students and Families, one of my hopes and dreams for the Youth Ministry at Hope Church is that we continue to grow in our awareness of and participation in the many great ways that the Lord is at work in our city. Past events like Seek the City, prayer walks in different parts of town, food drives for local food pantries, and more show that service in our city has always been a vital part of the mission of the Hope Youth Ministry. A couple of weeks ago, we got to participate in another great thing that the Lord is doing in Winston-Salem through Love Out Loud Student Camp. I’d love to report back briefly on how the week went!
Love Out Loud‘s mission is to “transform our city with the love of Jesus by connecting & mobilizing its people and resources” (http://www.loveoutloudws.com/about). That was absolutely true for our camp week! We got to partner with students from many different churches in Winston-Salem to serve on 10 different worksites throughout the city. Each day we met at the Winston Square Amphitheater downtown and heard a devotion on the theme for the day which highlighted an area of concern in our city. The different themes were housing, food insecurity, health & wellness, education, and economic mobility. Then we split into our work site groups, and got to work for the day! After lunch we got to watch and discuss a “moment of change” video by different people serving in the highlighted area of concern for the day. After more work on the job sites, we all came back together for dinner, followed by worship and a message from a different local pastor each evening (Redeemer’s Chris Horne was Wednesday evening!).
Our students got to participate in work sites ranging from public housing in the Happy Hill community, Winston Salem Christian School, community gardens in different neighborhoods throughout the city, and more. I got to serve each day as a site leader at a house which Whole Man Ministries is renovating for a veteran in need of housing through their Homes 4 Our Heroes ministry. We cleaned, primed, and painted the outside of the house, and got to demolish the old deck which will be rebuilt. One of the highlights of the week for me was meeting the neighbors – Denise, her daughter Mary, and granddaughter Sabrina were extremely hospitable toward us and were thankful for the work we were doing in their neighborhood. Their kindness and encouragement was a great blessing to us!
While the work was often hard and the days were HOT, I learned so much during our time at camp. I learned that the Lord is absolutely at work in our city through some amazing people, ministries, and churches. I knew in a very abstract way that God’s kingdom was growing in our city (as it is everywhere), but I’m so thankful that I got to see and even be a part of that growth firsthand. I also learned how proud I am of our students – they were amazing! When it would have been so easy to complain about the work, or the heat, or being placed in a work group with other students they didn’t know, or the melted ice pops (truly a tragedy), they didn’t. Instead, they persevered and served with a cheerful heart. I learned a lot from them about what it looks like to be a servant leader during our week together. While the work was hard, it was a wonderful, grace-filled week.
This past Sunday, we also had the opportunity to host another food drive to support the Clemmons Food Pantry. Some of our students helped receive and sort the donations that you brought to our worship services on Sunday morning and to our Hope Summer Night lawn party that evening. At our previous food drive, we collected 473 pounds for the Clemmons Food Pantry; this time we collected 677! I had the opportunity to drop the food off at the Pantry with Jean Moser on Monday morning, and it was amazing to see the good work that they are doing! We know that our Heavenly Father loves to provide for those in need, and it is so encouraging to see the Lord doing that work through Hope Church and the Clemmons Food Pantry.
I truly am so thankful for our Hope Youth Community, as I am for the larger Hope Church Family. This summer the Lord has graciously allowed us to do so many of the things that we love to do – serve alongside one another, grow in God’s Word, and pray, all while having a whole lot of fun together. What an encouragement!