“How different can Mexico really be,” I asked myself just before leaving the church parking lot for my first youth group international trip. In my high school, America-centric mind Mexico was almost an extension of Texas. As I sat in a 12-passenger van about to cross the border I realized how wrong I was. I will never forget the confusion I felt when I looked to my left and saw beautiful “American-dream” homes. Then I looked to my right and was shocked to see homes made from a tarp hanging cement blocks. God used that moment to awaken something in me – something I wasn’t even fully aware of yet.
Our youth group was headed to Juarez Mexico to build a house for a family in need and to show the love and compassion of Christ. There was great poverty there. dns test A home made of a tarp and block was not the worst I would see.
As a teen I believed that real service and being a “missionary” required someone more mature in their faith. But throughout the week the Lord opened my eyes that he wanted use ME to help meet the needs of people in my own country and around the globe. Both physical needs like new homes and more food, but also spiritual needs.
“If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)
This understanding came because I was given the opportunity to experience it. The encouragement to step out of my comfortable context came from three people. My mom, who actually came on the trip, guided me in Colossians 3. She provided an example of what it looked like to clothe myself in compassion and kindness towards others. My dad, whom I greatly trust, gave me the confidence to go to a new and uncharted place. And no matter how cliché this may sound: I wouldn’t be the person I am today if my youth minister hadn’t given me the chance to serve in a context that wasn’t my own.
My faith became active because my mom, dad and youth minister encouraged me. And gave me room to grow. Parents and youth ministers, you may never fully know the seeds planted through the opportunities you give. So give them in abundance! Teach students to serve and allow them the chance to do it. Show them how to put their faith into action – abroad and next door.
-Lesley Blanton, event coordinator for Student Life
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