Friday, September 16, 2016

Changing lives through connectional youth groups

Youth groups from Lightstreet UMC in Bloomsburg, First UMC in Hollidaysburg, and Trinity UMC in Roaring Spring combined for a youth mission week to work in the Bloomsburg area.

By Rev. Jennifer Parks-Snyder

In July 2016, Lightstreet United Methodist Church, outside of Bloomsburg, sponsored a youth mission week in our community. Two youth groups came from First UMC Hollidaysburg and Trinity UMC Roaring Spring, bringing thirty youth and seven adults, who combined with our youth and adults here to work in and throughout the area.

We camped at Diehl’s campground then during the day time we worked and witnessed Christ’s hands, feet, and heart.

Monday morning they hit the work week by dividing into four crews. One went to Agape, a local Mission Central Hub, to paint and sort food. Another group went to the YMCA and cleaned their yards by weeding. The third crew went to the Orangeville Food Bank where they scrubbed and cleaned freezers, as well as sorted food. The fourth crew went to Orangeville United Methodist Church, a smaller congregation, where they installed new carpet, a ceiling fan, and a white board in a Sunday school room. They also wiped down their walls, cleaned their pews, mowed their lawn, and weeded the neighborhood.

On Tuesday Salty Ferguson, who played in the Women’s Baseball League in 1951, came and inspired the youth, telling them to always follow the dreams God leads them to. Then two groups visited the Danville Ronald McDonald House, another crew painted and cleaned at Agape, and the last crew helped at the home of a church member going through health troubles.

Tuesday evening all of the youth marched in the Orangeville parade, placing fifth for their force of yellow T-shirts that say “Changing Lives.” They also handed out candy and sang songs such as My Lighthouse and I Just want to be a Sheep.

Wednesday the rest of the groups saw the Ronald McDonald House, while another crew worked on the Lightstreet UMC parsonage backyard, then we took the youth to Knoebels to have some rest and fun.

Thursday all the youth worked all day at Agape, interacting and serving the 500 people who came that day for a free meal and free food handout.

Friday we went to Rickett’s Glenn to be in nature with God.

But what was so amazing was [that] these youth not only gave of themselves in physical work, they ministered to each other and the people around them. Each day we had devotions with challenges to consider based on the text Luke 10, where Jesus sends out the 70. The youth were to face opposition with gentleness, have a clear vision, accept hospitality, and heal to gain trust. And they took those points and used them.

For instance, we met Mike, a homeless man who stayed next to us at Diehl’s, so we got him to Agape to get some help and food, and prayed for him as he chose to go to Chicago to be reunited with his daughter.

And there was a young couple whose infant passed away that week. The youth prayed for them and sent lots of food to them as I ministered to them.

These youth prayed at Agape, prayed at the Ronald McDonald House, prayed at Knoebels, at Orangeville, and trust me, it was beautiful.

We talk of being a connectional system. I am proud to see how our youth can be a full force of connection that can transform communities in the name of Jesus Christ. And I am proud of their churches for sponsoring such an event.

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