Youth Summer Missions, Remembered and Wrapped…
By Gaye Lynn Loufek, Director of Youth Ministries
Sioux Falls, SD, and DuPage, Kane, and Will Counties in Illinois received a grand dose of hope this summer.
Ninety-two people participated, cumulatively, in Side x Side and Hope @ Home. Add to that the number of people who prayed for, donated to, baked for, and/or supported fundraising efforts for youth summer missions, and you’ll begin to “feel” the love of Christ that resonates in Grace Church.
While it is often said (and even alluded to in the ministry title) that Side x Side and Hope @ Home are “for the youth," what you may not realize is how passionate the adults are who travel with us.
Our Side x Side adult team was comprised of “legit adults” (those over 30—for driving purposes) who have traveled with us for 10-plus years, 3 young adults who have been attending since eligibility, two young, newly-married couples who started as Grace youth, and 10 college students.
Our Hope @ Home team evolves each year as our junior high students come into youth ministry. Each year we are blessed by new adult members who partner with their children. We are also fortunate to have a few adults who no longer have youth within our programming but set aside the three days of Hope @ Home each year to lead and mentor.
This year our adult mentors (and college students) graciously committed approximately 13-15 hours of “prep” time. Based on our Safe Sanctuary commitment at Grace and the requests of the organizations we served, each adult member (this includes our college students) completed several pieces of training and testing in a commitment to keeping our youth safe.
While the trips are definitely “for the youth," the youth would not be able to experience Side x Side or Hope @ Home without the willing adults who travel with us. We are grateful for each and every one of them, and for their servant hearts and commitment to Grace.
All who participated in Side x Side spent all week talking about discipleship and how God calls us not only to “be” disciples, but to “go make” disciples, exploring how we want to be “remembered," and how God remembers us always. Evidence of God’s call rang loud and clear as we built three garages, framed three basements, painted three homes, and witnessed to multiple neighborhoods in Sioux Falls, SD, through our words and our actions.
In the midst of the work, strong relationships were built within our own Side x Side team through sharing meals, small groups, prayer partner groups, morning watch devotionals, worship, and silly games.
During Hope@Home, we experienced how we are always “wrapped” in God’s love. That love was observed through opportunities to feed the hungry, provide affordable housing—complete with landscaping, visiting and listening to “pillars” of Grace share their faith stories, and sharing in devotionals and times of fellowship.
Scriptures from Matthew 25:35-40 (Side x Side) and Isaiah 29:11 (Hope @ Home) guided these trips that not only changed the communities in which we served but also all who participated. Our hope is that the folks of Sioux Falls will remember us as people who cared for them and brought a bit of God’s love and hope. Equally, we hope the people of DuPage, Will, and Kane Counties know they have been wrapped in the kind of love that only God can provide.
When have you seen God hungry, thirsty, naked, or imprisoned and stepped out of your comfort zone to offer a hand? Know that God has a plan to prosper you in ALL things—not to harm you—especially when you agree to be His hands and feet.
Side x Side and Hope @ Home 2020 are in the planning stages. Plan now to join us!