This is my final post on this year's Younite. If my schedule would have allowed I would have already posted all of this. However I want to take one more moment to share a little bit of what God did during this year's camp.
I first want to talk about the projects. The first two days were to be spent at our local Tri-County Center, which helps serve the special needs community. Their purpose is to provide jobs for those with special needs and to help them find jobs in the community. Our task was to wash their 30+ vehicles that their staff simply does not have time to on a regular basis. These vehicles are used to transport those to the center and back home. Our students knocked all this out in less than one day! Then they had the opportunity to be given a tour of the building, and was explained in more detail all that Tri-County Center does. We were able to see that this is not only an organization or business, but in essence is a ministry in our community. It is obvious that Pam, the director, has been placed there by God and this is her ministry. It truly was an honor to serve there.
The next day our students went to some of the homes that some of these Tri-County workers live in and did some landscaping. Trimming bushes and clearing out weeds was part of the day's task. Again they finished quickly and had some spare time. For the rest of that day our students prepared our church's playground for mulch by pulling weeds. On the final day we went to the Regional Park and simply took the time to prayer walk, praying for our city, and talking with those that were at the park.
Seeing our students serve is such a blessing to me. Leading them to be servants has always been one of my top goals as their youth pastor. They do this with such eagerness that it is a challenge to all that observe. We received a thank-you note from Pam at Tri-County Center that had such great comments such as "they worked so hard, had great manners and behavior, and really seemed to care about their mission." I do not say that to brag on us in anyway, but to brag on Jesus who is doing amazing things in our students. I am humbled and blessed to be a part of it. Their attitude and work ethic is amazing. They never complain and always see the bigger picture of what they are doing. While it may seem small and insignificant, they see that is a blessing to others.
Finally, I want to share how this year of Younite was truly unique. I had several former students come back and serve. I simply asked them to be there, help chaperone, and invest in the current students. However, they went above and beyond my expectations. They all took different leadership roles without being asked. I cannot express how much joy in seeing these students serve was brought not only to myself, but also my wife. We feel that this was some fruit that we were blessed to see as a result of our longevity in staying where we are. Five years may not seem like a long time, but for a youth pastor to stay this long is not the norm. I do think, though, that it is closer to what God intends. Sadly, the truth is that youth pastors are burnt out after 2 years or less and leave not only the church, but the ministry altogether. I am thankful to experience all we saw God do in this year's Younite. It excites me for the future to see how God will continue to use us.