I had the privilege to serve with a team of Journey youth this past weekend at the Bland Ministry Center. Our youth gave out grocery boxes in freezing temperatures and snow, encountered more chicken juice and moldy produce than they probably cared for, but most importantly they made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of folks in the Bland area and in the lives of the volunteers who work tirelessly at the Bland Ministry Center. Through it all, the youth served with big smiles, an incredible work ethic, and a willingness to do ANYthing that would be a help to the people there.
Saturday morning our team packed 200 boxes of groceries to be given out to people in need. After lunch, we packed another hundred boxes of groceries, this time with fresh veggies, chicken, and eggs. Cars started lining up for the free groceries before the 2:00p start time. We gave out grocery boxes and packs of Gatorade as the snow and temperature continued to fall.
On Sunday our team worked in the clothing closet sorting through donations and prepped items to be given away through that ministry. We sorted, folded, and rolled linens into sets. We sorted and hung up clothing by gender and sizes. We even sorted through and labeled greeting cards, making it easier for the staff to find what they need. Our youth truly were ready to do anything the staff wanted.
I talked with the staff at the ministry center, and they explained they serve people from Virginia, West Virginia, and even Kentucky. The median age of their volunteers is 75. The staff was overjoyed that our youth would come and help their ministry and their volunteers. As we were leaving Monday morning, we said goodbye to the staff and were able to meet some of their volunteers. They expressed genuine gratitude at all the work we were able to complete in such a short time.
Each night we spent time reflecting on our serving. Here is some of what they learned:
“Many hands make light work.”
“I work better on a team than I thought.”
“I can deal with the cold.”
“Sometimes serving can be painful, bending over, lifting heavy boxes, but it’s nice to see the people you’re helping and to see the smile on their faces. It makes the pain worth it.”
“We are a good team and work well together.”
“Serving is rewarding. It’s really enjoyable to know you are helping others. It’s worth standing outside in the cold and snow.”
“Serving with friends made the work more enjoyable.”
“God can use anyone. Don’t let your weakness or struggles keep you from serving others.”
“It doesn’t matter what the weather or your body throws at you, if you have the right spirit of giving (serving others like you’re serving Jesus), then it doesn’t matter what comes your way. It is worth it.”
“You never know what you’ll see!”
“It feels good to help others.”
“I was getting fatigued while lifting all the Gatorade boxes, I mean they were heavy. But knowing the cause of what we were doing, being God’s hands and feet, it kinda renewed my strength.”
“Small things matter. It doesn’t have to be this monumental thing. Small things matter. They help and are really appreciated.”
Thank you for supporting Journey’s youth ministry. Truly you are making a difference in their hearts and lives. The youth are already talking about their next mission trip!