In my life, I’ve had the opportunity to go on 10 different mission trips as a student or as a leader, and this trip was a unique one. Our team worked with BLOC Ministries—an inner-city ministry in Cincinnati devoted to living where they serve while, showing the love and hope of Christ to those around them.
So picture this: nine students and three adults in two church vans doing work projects in 95-degree weather. It was one sweaty, summer adventure, but it was so good!
God has a way of taking us out of our comfort zones to challenge us and help us learn more about Him and ourselves. For many of our students, this was their first mission trip, so the trip itself was out of their comfort zone. For others, the jobs they did were challenging. The cool part was that they all walked away having learned something new.
Most of our mornings consisted of outdoor work projects like pulling weeds, removing fences, mulching gardens, and cleaning of BLOC Ministry buildings or staff members’ homes. This meant paving your way through poison ivy, shoveling through tough weeds, sawing apart screen printing frames, using the bulk of your weight to leverage out a fence post, pivoting a couch up and down narrow stairways, and organizing a plethora of Styrofoam cups into a tiny closet. Remember when I mentioned the 95-degree heat…you know it’s hot when you can see the sweat line on your hat.
The afternoons were spent at after school programs in the neighborhoods doing crafts or playing games and sports. Whether it was a board game, painting, playing basketball, competing in carpet ball, or playing on a slip-n-slide, our students played with little kids and had bright smiles on their faces through their exhaustion.
I got to watch these students take on big projects with great determination and energy. I got to watch them love those around them deeply as they connected to one another. I got to watch their eyes grow big before they tried something new that stretched them. I got to watch them better understand the skills and passions that God has given them and use them for His Kingdom.
No matter what project we worked on, at the end of each day, we heard our students say the same thing: “You don’t have to do big things to make a big difference.”
See, this mission trip was a unique experience for these students and for me. It wasn’t about being the face that people met. It was about being the hands and feet of Jesus serving those in full-time ministry. It was about helping them with the little things that they truly aren’t able to do because they are ministering to those around them on a full-time basis. These students returned filled with gratitude with a better understanding of what it means to joyfully serve as a Kingdom Worker in the mundane of day-to-day life.