PERU, Ill.–The city councilmen here might still be shaking their heads.
“They were just amazed that people would pay their own way to come and then work and serve the city without getting paid for it,” said Doug Karius, pastor, First Baptist Church, Peru. “But that it exactly what those youth and their leaders did and, I’m telling you, the people up here were impressed. They made a huge impact on our community, on our church, and helped our church grow closer to our community. We don’t even know all the benefits that will result from the love that was shown by them.”
In fact, so much buzz was created about the First Baptist Church, Clever, youth mission team that they were invited to come and be recognized at the city council meeting. Their story was also picked up by a local radio show and the city’s newspaper.
“Pastor Doug spoke on our behalf at the council meeting and it was great,” said Mike Foster, youth pastor at First Clever. “He boldly proclaimed the Gospel right there in the meeting and said that all we were doing was trying to shine some light into the community. The youth and I admired Doug’s passion for the people of Peru all week.”
Though they were only there a short time, the Clever mission team served the Illinois city a variety of ways. Along with traditional block parties (the team organized two) they also put up a disc golf course, scraped, painted, deep-cleaned, weeded, moved dirt and sand piles, picked up trash, handed out Bibles, paid for groceries, bought meals, donated supplies and even purchased a plane ticket for Karius’ wife to come home after visiting family in Canada.
“They were an encouragement to the church and community, as well as me personally,” Karius said. “They came to serve the Lord and they concentrated their energy on that task. That’s why they were able to get as much done as they did. They were invited by the local YMCA to use their pool but they didn’t take them up on it. They spent every moment serving others.”
Foster said the youth were just reflecting the character of what they witnessed in 65-year-old Karius.
“Here is man who is 100 percent sold out for God,” Foster said. “We were at McDonald’s and he felt like God was calling him to buy someone’s pop. His church has 20 members so you know his income is probably minimal. But the youth were challenged by seeing somebody out in the trenches, doing whatever ministry he could. They loved his servant heart and it was contagious.”
Their partnership is part of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s statewide partnership with Northern Illinois. For more information on how to join the mission effort there, contact Rick Hedger at 573-636-0400 ext. 620 or email@example.com.
KAYLA RINKER/contributing writer