Servant Life Blog

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

 

A Note From Our Team

First of all, thank you for taking a moment to hear more about the happenings at Servant Life!  We so appreciate your connection to our ministry. Our 2013-2014 year is off to a great start!  We are currently set to be sending more students than ever into the mission field.  My excitement stems not only from these students answering the call to go, but also from my confidence that these students will proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ boldly as they go.

Our highest goal is not students going, but lost people knowing Christ as their Savior.

I’m reminded of Romans 10:13-15, For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!

In a recent meeting, our team united around the truth that we don’t exist to do missions, but to do missions in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is a humbling and comforting truth for the believer.  We are incapable in our own strength to change the heart of man, but God is in the business of making things new!  Therefore, we pray to the God who saves and we praise Him for allowing us to be an instrument in His work.  We pray that He will fulfill our hearts desire to see the nations worship Him.  Will you pray with us?

In Christ,

Ryan Childress, Servant Life Director

 

Partner Spotlight: Houston

gfmlogo

 When you hear the words “international missions,” your mind most likely does not think about Houston, Texas. Maybe that will change when you hear that there are 350 identified people groups living in the city of Houston. Houston has quickly become the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States.  You have the opportunity to partner with one of Servant Life’s missionary partners, Global Frontier Missions, while engaging in international missions without even leaving the country.

Global Frontier Missions (GFM) had it’s humble beginnings in Virginia in 2000. Today, this statement guides GFM’s mission: “Global Frontier Missions (GFM) is a movement of Christ-centered communities dedicated to mobilizing, training, and multiplying disciples and churches to reach the physical and spiritual needs of the unreached people groups of the earth.”  Global Frontier Missions is committed to leading short-term mission trips in Houston to work among the refugees.  Servant Life is dedicated to partnering with GFM in that commitment. Short-term mission teams will receive training in cultural sensitivity, missions strategy, building relationships with people from other countries, as well as the biblical basis of missions. The outreach portion of the trip may include backyard Bible clubs, block parties, teaching ESL, community service projects, and/or relationship evangelism.  You can be a part of taking the gospel to other nations, including your own! Will you join Global Frontier Missions and Servant Life this summer? The world is waiting.

*You can learn more about the ministry of  GFM by visiting www.globalfrontiermissions.org

Mission Trip Testimony – Mexico

In 2008, I loaded onto a bus in Houston, Texas with about twenty other college students to begin our long trek to Chihuahua, Mexico. I was embarking on my very first mission trip and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Maybe having no expectations was ideal considering sometimes when expectations aren’t met frustration often occurs. Nonetheless, I was excited for the experience that lied ahead.

The mission trip consisted of vacation bible school activities at a local church in Chihuahua, some minor construction projects, and the opportunity to establish relationships with local teenagers.  Even though there was a language barrier, my favorite aspect of the trip was time spent with the children. The little Spanish I knew from high school did not prove to be very helpful in conversations, but the Lord definitely was working despite my inability to communicate.

Looking back at pictures from my time there, I am reminded of how much the Lord taught me and how He used the people of Chihuahua, Mexico, to begin stirring a desire in my heart to go to the nations. I was exposed to something bigger than myself. I was exposed to the world beyond my college town.I was exposed to another people group made in the image of God.

For the first time, I could put a face to the needs around the world. The statistics became names of people instead of just numbers on a computer screen or those heard in a sermon. This was a life-altering realization for me as a young nineteen year old.

Since that first trip to Mexico, I have had the opportunity to serve in Italy, New York, and Kenya. The Lord continues to stir my affections for the nations as I prayerfully and by the Lord’s grace strive to walk in obedience to His call on my life. Whether it’s going, giving or praying, I now know I can always play an active role in making His name known to the world.

-Danielle Lee, Servant Life Coordinator