In mid-July, our Student Ministry headed west to Las Cruces, New Mexico--a new city and a new mission--with close to 100 students and leaders, some of whom were on mission with us for the first time. Amidst all the new was a familiar hope: to partner with two local congregations, connecting with the people of Las Cruces through construction projects, a soccer camp and a Vacation Bible School. An added bonus was the opportunity to serve at the truly incredible refugee center housed in one of the local United Methodist churches, El Calvario UMC.
When Becky Devore, Leader Coordinator for our Student Ministry, called Lori Traylor, a relatively new member of University’s congregation, and asked if she might be a leader on High School Mission, she knew instantly she was supposed to say, “yes”: “There was no reason why I couldn’t go. I saw it as a call to act in obedience to the Lord, and of course, an opportunity to serve alongside my high school student. Being new to University, this trip was also a great opportunity to get to know other leaders, staff and students.” Foster Sinclair had a similar experience. He and his wife, Ashley, had driven up for one day of a mission trip in years past, and so they had seen first-hand the capacity and willingness of our students to work hard and serve others. He says that when given the opportunity to be on the High School Mission Lead Team, he knew he wanted to be part of the adventure. These two Mission first-timers sat down to share what they saw and experienced in Las Cruces.
- What did you learn about students through the week?
Lori: I learned that students really do want to serve others! They will do the physical labor, play, share and serve unselfishly. They also look forward to this trip to find a safe place to play and share and find community with their peers.
Foster: I learned that we have such talented students. The seniors on the Lead Team--Jalen, Tati, Bryce and Daria--handled everything so well. I also learned that students have a lot of love for each other. I watched the barriers between students dissolve and fold into a single purpose of putting God before themselves. All the stuff that can get in the way at home seemed to matter less as they pulled together to love each other and the people we were serving.
- What did you learn about God through the week?
Lori: God will equip those He calls to come alongside Him to serve and show His love. There were times I found myself outside my comfort zone--which is right where God wanted me, so that I would rely on His power, strength and wisdom in that moment.
Foster: When we become immersed in mission, priorities get right: God first, others second, ourselves last. God shows up--in the hard work, through the tough moments. God shows up!
- What surprised you?
Lori: What really surprised me most was how even with near 100 adults and teens, how smoothly and successfully the week ran. Sure there were some hiccups here and there, changes in the schedule, minor issues to deal with, and although we leaders may have been surprised at times or discouraged, God was not surprised! He placed each child, family, person, event in our path just as He had planned.
Foster: My small group--I had no idea we would get as close--like family--in a week. I didn’t expect that. I knew we would be on mission, helping others, but I didn’t expect the relationships I developed in one week. Real talk about the sermons and life, glory sightings, prayer requests--we developed a closeness that made this experience so different from other experiences.
- What will you most remember or value from the week?
Lori: I will remember the people God placed in our path that week. Whether at VBS, soccer camp, the Refugee Mission, or the streets of Las Cruces, we had such an opportunity to share the love and grace of Jesus with others.
Foster: I will remember how BIG God moved in our small group. And I will remember how God showed up in a huge way in one particular situation at soccer camp.
- What do you want others to know about this experience?
Lori: Count it an opportunity and privilege to be called to serve! Even if it may be outside your comfort zone to spend a week with a bunch of teenagers, you will be surprised and maybe learn a thing or two about serving and showing God’s love through work and play. The students do it best and are a lot of fun as well!
Foster: Men: you need to know that if there is any way you can possibly be part of this, you are needed! It is a TRANSFORMATIONAL experience. We need to step up! We can have a positive impact on young people. If at all possible, it is so worth your while.
Doesn’t this sound amazing? If you want to know more about how to serve with students, please contact Becky Devore,