Servant Life Blog

New Opportunities in 2015

We are excited to welcome four new mission partners to the Servant Life Global Network in 2015.  Here is a brief snapshot of each of them.

Toronto, Canada 

We often don’t think about Toronto being just over a nine-hour drive from Louisville, KY.  That makes it extremely accessible to much of the population in the eastern U.S.  The United Nations recently called the Toronto, “the most culturally diverse city in the world.”  52% of its population is foreign born with a multi-ethnic cultural and religious perspective including good concentrations of Muslims and Hindus from South and East Asia.

Teams will work alongside our partners that are on the ground year-round serving with the growing Toronto Church Planting network.  In the spring we have college weeks that will allow students to go into some of the campus of the University of Toronto and engage students on various faith topics each evening.  During the summer trips, teams will be working with children and students from various backgrounds in city parks, community centers and churches.

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Our new relationship in Guatemala allows for groups to serve in either an urban setting in Guatemala City or at Camp Calvary outside of the city.  Clubhouse Guatemala  began by a former youth minister from the United States that relocated to Guatemala in 2008. Now a team of Guatemalans operates the Guatemalan portion of the ministry.

Clubhouse serves over 400 children in five different villages through student programs and Camp Calvary allows for short-term teams to minister in 18 different villages to the south and west of the city.  Additionally, the ministry continues to plant various churches throughout the region, serve and share the gospel with Guatemalans, and operate a school and medical clinic.

The ease of access to Guatemala City as well as other factors makes this new relationship a great option. You can find out more about them on page 8.

Nairobi, Kenya

Servant Life had a strong partnership in Kenya in the past and I have personally spent a good amount of time in that country.  While Nairobi is the epicenter of the banking and health community of east Africa, there are countless needs including in one of Africa’s largest slums, Kibera.  In that slum, hope is being shared through the work of Pastor Peter Abungu and the Swahiba Youth Networks team. We are thrilled to begin a partnership with Swahiba to reach young people with the gospel as well as partner in solid discipleship, training, and leadership development.

Additionally, some weeks will provide opportunities to be involved in ministry out in the Maasai lands working with one of the most iconic of Kenya’s 43 tribes, the Maasai.  This new relationship allows groups to have access to one of the truly unique African experiences while serving in one of the places with great physical and spiritual needs.

Dallas, Texas

Most don’t think about international missions opportunities when they think of Dallas, Texas. If they do, they likely think about the large Hispanic population that has relocated to that area.  But Dallas is also home to thousands of refugees. The area that Servant Life will begin working in is home to over 30,000 refugees from countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Guatemala and many others.  Teams will serve in an area the represents more than 90 people groups.

Serve Dallas is a new strategic partnership with the community engagement efforts of Park Cities Baptist Church that has been working in these neighborhoods for 15 years.  Short term teams will be working alongside a year round strategy serving and building relationship with kids through VBS activities, Kids Clubs, student involvement and reaching out to mothers in the community.  This new relationship gives Servant Life teams the opportunity to meet and serve the people of the world right in our backyard.

Regardless of where you might serve in 2015, I want to encourage you to spend at least a week of your year going and advancing the gospel among the nations.  All of our 2015 dates are listed on the next page and there are many other quality organizations that can help you and your group go be a part of the Great Commission.

– J. Roger Davis, Servant Life Executive Director

Partner Spotlight: Costa Rica

flag_03costarica_1

La Montana Christian Camp was formally established in Costa Rica in 2001 under the leadership of Joe Pent Jr.  Having grown up in Costa Rica as a missionary kid, Joe’s passion for reaching the lost in Costa Rica was also a passion of his father, Joe Sr.

Joe Pent Jr. says, “Right from the beginning, [Dad] developed a ministry to young people working with evangelism and discipleship. That developed a dynamic of renting facilities, going to different camps, using those different facilities and created a desire and the focus to someday develop our own Christian camp.”  In 1998, that vision became a reality when God gave them a 600-acre cloud forest property bordering the Tilaran Mountain Range, 22 kilometers from San Ramon, Alajuela, Costa Rica.

The recreational program and spiritual impact of La Montana were so evident over the years, that they have been forced to grow the facilities and double their capacity. La Montana’s Phase I Camp now has the capacity for 300 campers. The facilities include boys’ and girls’ cabin areas each with a large restrooms, a dining commons, a 400-seat chapel, a large gymnasium and game room, a sports field, high and low ropes courses, 3 large ponds for water games, staff and guest housing, and an office/reception area.  La Montana has had the privilege of reaching many young people with the gospel and as a result have seen thousands of people trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The Pents and the staff of La Montana are always thrilled to have teams come serve alongside them during the summer.  It’s not too late for you to be a part of spreading the gospel in Costa Rica this summer! Click here for trip details or check out La Montana’s website.

 

 

Spring Break Missions

At the start of my freshman year of high school, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the gulf coast. It’s one of those events in history that I’m certain will never be erased from my memory.

That next spring, several of my friends traveled to New Orleans on a mission trip to clear debris and help with the damage.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand the whole “spring break mission trip” thing.  Having grown up in South Carolina, an hour from the coast, the standard spring break routine was to head to the beach for the week with your best friends.  At that point in my life, I didn’t understand why many of my best friends wanted to forfeit a week of fun in the sun for working hard, getting dirty, and sweating every day.  Ew.

The more I heard stories from the trip, the more I realized how selfish I’d been.  Before, all I wanted for my spring break was to relax and do nothing.  But The Lord worked so powerfully in my heart as a 16 yr. old who had trouble seeing past herself.  My heart was changed and eyes open to the world around me – to something bigger than myself.  I realized that all I wanted was to know Jesus and to make Him known.  (Side note: I’m incredibly thankful to have had a youth pastor and church family who were such wonderful Christ-like examples.)

I hated that I missed my chance to serve in New Orleans. All I wanted was to go serve somewhere. Anywhere, really. The Lord had changed my life in such powerful ways that I simply wanted to share that with others. During my junior year of high school, I got my chance to serve on the gulf coast

of Mississippi.  Sometimes I wonder why my youth pastor let me go on any more trips after that one considering how many times I asked for bathroom breaks on the 10 hr drive from South Carolina to Mississippi. Regardless, I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to clear debris from old houses and help lay foundations for new ones.

The memory from that trip that remains the strongest happened one night on the beach of Gulfport, Mississippi.  My friends and I stood on the pier and overlooked the area where the eye of Hurricane Katrina once made a deadly path.  That moment made me realize how small I was and how big God is.  That’s when it clicked for me. I realized that my old spring breaks at the beach were fun; but, it was beyond rewarding to be a part of planting seeds for the gospel.  I thought I’d be missing out on something by not having my usual spring break trip; but in fact, I gained so much more. The greatest blessing of my life was having the gospel change me as teenager on a mission trip and for that, I am eternally grateful.

– Alison Matthews, Servant Life intern

Core Value: Focus on Youth and Children

Through the years, The Lord has led Servant Life to four Core Values that shape all the work we do.  They are: Gospel-centered ministry, long-term strategies, one-on-one relationships, and a focus on youth and children.  Every missionary in our global network is prayerfully and specifically selected by the type of ministry they are doing.  We are highlighting each of these Core Values in a four part series.  Let’s talk about “Focus on Youth and Children.”

All throughout scripture, God tells His people that children are very important.  Jesus teaches that in order to enter the Kingdom, we must become like little children. In Luke 18:16-17 Jesus tell his disciples, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  If the children were important to Jesus, they should be important to us.  By reaching a generation of children and youth with the Gospel through long-term relationships in partner countries, there is great potential for this generation to impact families, villages, cities, and nations in the name of Jesus Christ.

Since Servant Life began doing international mission trips in 1999, it has been our experience that high school and college-age students have a strong voice in the lives of youth and children who are younger than them.  This is not a new concept.  For example: Who did you look up to most when you were 10?  For most of us it wasn’t someone our parents age.  We believe that high school and college-age students have a unique opportunity to share the Gospel with youth and children that only exists for a limited window of time.  Paul tells Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because he is young, but to set an example for the believers.  Every disciple of Jesus Christ is called to be a disciple-maker.  No believer is too young to be used by the Father.  As a matter of fact, He has masterfully orchestrated all of our years to be used for our good and for His glory.

The spiritual and physical needs of this world transcend age, race, sex, and religion.  Sin and pain do not discriminate on this side of heaven.  Servant Life knows that it cannot fix or even address all the pain in this world, but we can use the resources and relationships that The Lord has given us to show Christ to the nations. The Lord has given Servant Life influence with American students and we long for them to embrace the global community and spread the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

– Ryan Childress

Opportunities in East Asia

The lunch bell had just rung and students in their black & white sports suits streamed out of each building and began walking down the fountain lined main portion of the campus. It looked like it was most of the 4,400 students that called this East Asian high school campus home. As I saw all of the faces, my friend who lives in this region said, “Most likely, the majority have never heard of Jesus.” My mind grabbed onto the words found in Luke, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

This school project in an unidentified area in East Asia is one of the new projects and partnerships for Servant Life with our friends from IMB Students (www.imbstudents.org). Participants that take part in this project have a chance to go into an unreached area and do life with other teenagers and adults by teaching English and spending each day with nationals in a camp type environment.  Students in the school we are working with represent almost 20 unreached people groups, many of them currently unengaged.  The thought of unreached people groups should not sit well with any Christ-follower.  I was reminded again during my visit to this part of our world that Coca-

Cola and Pepsi have had no trouble getting to them. Why should the Church be any different?

No doubt the 10/40 region of the world does come with challenges and hurdles, but we all understand that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) does not specify for us to simply go to the easy places, or places that don’t cost a good bit of our resources to get to.  “All nations” is all nations.  At Servant Life we have a long way to go to get to each and every one of them.  And in all honesty we likely won’t ever get to all of them; but, I am confident that if we play our role along with countless other Christ-followers, Churches, missions organizations and agencies, we in time can reach the world with the saving grace and power that is found in Jesus Christ.

If you have seen the movie Schindler’s List, you may remember one of the dramatic closing scenes when many of the “Schindler Jews” hand Oscar Schindler a letter telling of all that he had done for them. Then they give him a gold ring that they made from their teeth that was inscribed from the Hebrew Talmud,  “whoever saves one life saves the world in time.” This truth still remains today.  When we do whatever we can to share the Gospel with just one person, we have no clue how that impact can save many in time. We simply must be faithful in planting Gospel seeds through going and giving.

East Asia is one of many places where the harvest is plentiful with so many young people wanting to engage with Americans. Through this engagement and sharing of cultures, you and I have a great opportunity to advance the Kingdom. We must not sit idly by while generation after generation goes on without hearing the name of Jesus and having a chance to respond to the gift you and I have found in Him.

I encourage you to evaluate how you as an individual are engaging the world in your greater church community, in your zip code, and across the globe.  Like many things in life, awareness must produce action.

(There are open spaces on our East Asia trip this summer July 17-28, 2014 and we are already planning for 2015. You can find more details out here.)

– J. Roger Davis, Servant Life Executive Director

Fundraising: Support Letters

Writing a support letter is one of the easiest ways to get the word out about your trip. By sending out a letter to family, friends, church members and others, you are giving them the opportunity to invest in your life both spiritually and financially.

POTENTIAL SUPPORTERS:

Using the list below, begin brainstorming a list of about 50-100 people to whom you could potentially send letters. Try your best not to pre-qualify people (i.e., I doubt they’ll give or They’re wealthy, you know they’ll give).

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Coworkers
  • Employers
  • Neighbors
  • Church members
  • Classmates

 

OUTLINE FOR SUPPORT LETTER:

As you begin writing your letter, make sure you clearly and concisely explain the purpose of the letter. Keep some of the following guidelines in mind.

  • Identify yourself and bring the reader up to date with what is going on in your life
    • Where you are living
    • What school you attend
    • What year you are in school
  • State the purpose of the trip
    • Include the location to which God has called you to serve
    • Share information about the partners and their ministry
  • Explain your personal vision for the trip
    • How God led you to be involved
    • What you will be doing
    • What you expect to learn from your experience
  • Describe your specific needs
    • Ask them to join you in prayer
    • Explain the financial support needed
    • What you expect to learn from your experience
  • Clearly explain how they can donate
    • Mail a check to Servant Life P.O. Box 36307 Birmingham, AL 35236
    • Make an online donation athttp://www.servantlife.com/donation-payments
    • Make a donation through another online payment method such as PayPal
    • Include a deadline for giving
  • Share your appreciation for their time and support

 

HELPFUL HINTS:

  • Give an idea as to the size of gifts they can give – $25, $50, $100, etc.
  • Provide disclaimer such as any gift amount will be helpful
  • Gifts of $50 or more will qualify as a tax-deductible gift and should be made out to Servant Life. Be sure that your name is not on the check anywhere in order for the donation to be tax-deductible. Attach a note that states your name with your letter, so it can be mailed in with their check.
  • As you receive donations, do not forget to send a personal, handwritten thank you note to each supporter.
  • Include Bible verses that may have impacted your spiritual walk and/or show the importance of doing missions.
  • Send out postcards, featuring a photograph of you or the country, to supporters that give specific ways to be praying for your trip and allow them to stay connected to your ministry.

* To view a sample support letter, click here.

Ukraine 2013 Ministry Report

In 2008, Radooga Ministries decided to expand their successful camp ministry for teens in Ukraine to reach out to the orphan community. There are over 100,000 orphans in Ukraine. Radooga sent their first team of Americans from Servant Life and Ukrainians to an orphan camp outside Kharkov, Ukraine in the summer of 2008. That first year proved to be a challenging experience as the team was met with aggressive children and teens, suspicious of the team’s motives, and hesitant to participate.

Radooga’s ministry remained faithful through the years, returning year after year to that same camp in Kharkov, ministering to that same group of children and teams in partnership with Servant Life. Summer 2013 was Radooga’s 6th consecutive camp there! Over the past few years, Radooga has developed a relationship with a local church in Kharkov, Ukraine who has partnered with American teams to serve the kids. Many Americans have returned year after year to Kharkov and because of this established trust with the orphans, the local church was welcomed and accepted by the kids. Over the past year and half, the progress within this group of orphans has been significant. As the orphans age out of their school, many have now chosen to begin attending and serving in the church rather than turn to a life on the street as most orphans statistically do. Five former orphans returned this past summer to camp to serve as church staff, ministering to orphans as former orphans! Imagine the joy of youth minister John McCants who brought his first team from Covington, LA to the first orphan camp in 2008 and now could see the fruit of this ministry.

While progress with the orphans is remarkable, another result has been the growth of the Ukrainian church’s youth ministry after serving together at orphan camp. After their first summer serving at orphan camp, their own lives were changed. One church member says, “Orphan camp at first changed us…and then as a result of that, the orphans’ lives were changed.” Their teens and young adults are now more united than ever, their relationships are growing amongst each other, and they are serving alongside one another in the church. These exciting things happening in the church are a result of Servant Life sending teams year after year to the orphan camp in Kharkov. Many times over the years, Americans and Ukrainians serving in orphan camp asked, “Why?” Why do we keep going back? What lasting effects will this one week of camp have? What a blessing to see the fruits of the Lord’s work with our very own eyes!

– Oleg Vasilevsky, President and Founder of Radooga in Ukraine

Using Your College Breaks Well

So there I was….the year was 2002 and I was a wide-eyed Freshman in college trying to decide what Spring Break was going to hold. A bunch of my new fraternity brothers were going with some girls down to FL to enjoy some fun in the sun during Spring Break and I had an open invite.  I also knew that our BCM offered two trips for students that were an option.  Freshmen and Sophomores could go serve alongside Mission Arlington outside of Dallas, TX , and upperclassmen could go and live among the homeless in Washington D.C. or Baltimore. I had a strong sense that God had much more for me during that Spring Break than scantily clad co-eds and under-aged partying.  So, I scrounged up $200 (I still have no idea where I came up with $200, except from the Lord) and hopped on a 15-passenger van  headed to Texas to find out what it was that God had for me.  The lessons God taught me from that trip still shape my ministry today. So I’d like to share three of them with you.

  • Our God is a missional God.  The work of Mission Arlington was paradigm-shifting for me. It was the first time I saw the church happening outside of a building with a steeple on top of it.  During that week, I heard the stories of men and women who went every week to host church services in local apartment complexes to work with the local Hispanic communities.  It changed the way I thought about engaging lost people from a model where we just had to work hard to get them to come to us to us simply going to them.
  • Missional Living > Mission Trips.  One of the lessons I learned is that living your day in and day out lives on mission for God is so much better than building a collection of mission trip t-shirts.  Living your life on mission is about who you are, not just what you do once a year.
  • Missions is Global, and that includes your back yard. The beautiful thing about taking a trip to Arlington to work in apartment complexes was that we were awakened to the apartment complexes that existed in our college town.  That group started serving at a regular after school program tutoring at-risk students in our community.

I pray that the Lord would plant a deep desire in college students to use their school breaks well.  This time is so unique in that students aren’t tied down with all of the commitments of family and career and have an especial opportunity to impact the nations with the love of Christ.  I pray the lessons I learned as a 19-year old would be shared with countless students through the ministry of Servant Life.

Brad Barnett, Servant Life board member and Director of Operations at Student Life Inc. 

 

South Africa Testimony

First, I want to say Servant Life did a great job with my trip. Getting to South Africa was much easier than I expected.  I’m so glad I went because when I look back, I see how much I grew in terms of my trust in the Lord.

Also, teaching, playing with, and seeing the light in the children’s eyes will be something I will never forget and always cherish.  I would highly recommend a mission trip through Servant Life; but, I am not God and cannot put that on someone’s heart.  However, to whomever chooses to go, I would tell them to do these things: See Romans 10:14-15 and be convicted to tell the Good News. Then, fully immerse yourself in your mission and step out of the boat because that is where Jesus is.

 

-Lee White, Florence, SC