Mission trip motivates Baptist youth
By Michelle Reagan
Jefferson City News Tribune
July 26, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Hard labor, 14-hour days and sleeping on the floor are not the makings of a good vacation.
But it suits the youth at Memorial Baptist Church who are finishing up their “mission trip” – at home.
Originally scheduled to travel to the New Orleans area to help a small community recover from tornado damage, the 50-strong youth group was hardly disappointed when Mike Rapp, youth pastor, told them plans had changed because their destination had received overwhelming assistance.
Citing Acts 1:8, Rapp said he asked the youth to consider where they had served.
Over the years, the seventh through twelfth-grade Memorial youth have been to Nicaragua five times.
Their Samarias have included Colorado, Michigan and Alabama; and they’ve traveled across the state.
“We’ve done a lot of great things in great places,” Rapp said. “But we’ve not given our Jerusalem our labor.
“In 15 years, I’ve never seem them so motivated. They’ve taken on an unbelievable project.”
Although they’re at their own church, it’s still a mission trip atmosphere.
Their sleeping bags cover the floor of their youth worship center and they are bused to Covenant Point, where the church’s children are having camp, for nightly showers.
Group devotions follow, usually about midnight. Then they’re asked to take time to “disappear” for individual devotions some time during each day.
Pride in ownership has been the marked difference of this mission impact over going to another area.
“They see themselves as a greater part of the whole,” Rapp said. “They understand to first (serve) in Jerusalem.”
After cleaning the bottom of trash cans, furniture and floors, Shelby Jobe, 13, said she will watch her actions in the future.
“I won’t make scuff marks on the floors because I’ve waxed them and I’ll throw stuff away,” Jobe said.
Before this week, Jobe said she didn’t consider someone had to clean the trash cans.
“Now I really appreciate that,” Jobe said. “It’s not a very nice job.”
The most visible project will be the Cedar Village, where youth cut down about 100 cedar trees to create a play area, including eight swings, two teeter-totters, a 10-foot slide, monkey bars, a fireman’s pole and two forts.
But when asked which projects Jesus might have done had he been a part of their trip, the youth noted it would be the less obvious and perhaps more arduous tasks.
More than 100 window panes were broken out, replaced and glazed; several rooms were painted as was the children’s furniture; about 10,000-square-feet of floors were stripped and waxed; bathroom floors were retiled; the woodwork was washed; and carpets were spot-cleaned.
“It’s been relieving to see the changes each night – that we got something finished,” said Amanda Giesing, 14.
Nicole Roper, 15, added, “What we do here, we will actually see after the trip is over.”
The youth participants Rapp has had on mission trips the last five years have had a tremendous work ethic, he said.
But it may only show up on this trip, because they’re focused on “serving like Christ served,” Rapp said.
Their task list is long, so although the “trip” officially ended on Friday, many committed to returning Saturday to see what was left to be done.
Rapp developed a sign-off system for 33 separate projects.
“If we complete all of them, it will be because God gave us the strength to do that,” Rapp said. “These are big jobs.”
This has been a challenge for the students and should be proof that they aren’t the stereotypical slackers.
“God will be glorified in their achievements,” Rapp said.
Perhaps “the reason they do not serve like this (everyday) is because no one expects them to,” Rapp said. “This age group may not be valued enough; they’re an unused resource.”
“I believe the greater responsibility they’re given, the greater responsibility they will accept.”
Typically, youth group meetings focus on pizza and playing games – without responsibility or expectation, Rapp noted.
But for this and other missions projects, such as World Changers, “pizza is the fuel to do the work, not the reason they’re there.”(Used with the permission of the Jefferson City News-Tribune.)