Thursday, April 22, 2004

A Great Place For Mission Trips

Jasper Speaks:
Three years ago I started out on a quest to find a good place to take teens on a mission trip. I looked at several groups and organizations that sponsor these trips but I couldn't see paying the fees that came with those experiences. Mostly because they included on a couple of meals a day and a t-shirt. Everything else was on top of the 300-500 dollars they charged.

So even though I am no longer in an SBC church, I went to the website and started looking. Now I wanted to find a place close to Maine that would offer a positive ministry intensive trip for our students. Our church's history with mission trips were almost exclusively construction trips. I know those have a place but I wanted our sheltered rural kids to have an experience that would push them to grow spiritually.

So I found a site that was in North Carolina. That's on the east coast. So it must be close to Maine! (It is actually about a 16 hour drive). The organization is called MISSION RALEIGH. Little did I realize that God would use my lack of geography sense to forever change our youth ministry.

We put together our first team in the summer of 2002. We took 15 students and 5 leaders. We set off on the trip with hopes that God would do something extraordinary. Did He ever! That week was the most life changing I have ever been a part of. The students in our ministry changed COMPLETELY in one week.

The people Mission Raleigh serves are those in the inner city housing complexes of Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina. The first day we were there we were escorted to Chavis Heights, a housing community in Raleigh. From the moment my kids stepped out of the van their lives were never the same. It was a wonderful cross cultural experience! The students saw God move as we saw souls saved. The students came back with a greater appreciation for their parents, homes and church. That change didn't stay in Raleigh as is the case many times with such trips. Our students came home and the youth ministry changed in a powerful way. I attribute much of the growth (both spiritually and numerically) in our group to our trips to Raleigh.

Last summer we took twenty one students and seven adults. The results were just as dramatic. This year we are gearing up again and I expect to take even more. Two of our female students are going to spend the entire summer in Raleigh serving as missionaries to Mission Raleigh!

If you are looking for a place to serve, I recommend MISSION RALEIGH highly. I have been a youth pastor for fourteen years and have never seen such a return on a week of service.

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