For more than 30 years, LCMS Youth Ministry has supported short term servant events across the country. Recently, we have worked to increase the opportunities of servant events specifically designed for young adults age 18-30. With over 900 young adults applying to volunteer at the upcoming LCMS Youth Gathering, it is clear that the young people of the LCMS are looking for ways to serve “In Christ Alone.” Just a few weeks ago, young adults gathered to serve for two and half days in the St. Louis area. These young adults worked on sump pumps, painted, cleaned, and shared the Gospel with young children. It was a wonderful example of how young adults are sharing the Good News of Jesus through acts of mercy in their own neighborhoods.
On Friday morning, our participants gathered early for Bible study and breakfast. The major task for the morning was to work with skilled volunteers to begin the installation of a sump pump in the basement of the Peace Center for New Americans. The Peace Center is run by Christian Friends of New Americans, an LCMS Registered Service Organization that works with immigrants and refugees in the St. Louis area. It was hard, mucky work but we were able to break the cement, dig the hole and fill it with the pieces that will allow activities in basement to continue without fear of flooding. At the same time, other young adults worked on cleaning on the first and second floors alongside some of the hardworking middle school students who connect with the Peace Center on a regular basis.
In the afternoon, our group hosted a two hour Children’s program for grade school students who are now on summer break. Our Bible story, games, crafts, snacks and music all focused around the story of Jesus welcoming the children. We wanted to reinforce how much Jesus loves us and wants to be with us, no matter how young or old. We ended our afternoon with a silly game and water balloons! Exhausted at the end of a long day, we celebrated with Dr. Stanish Stanley by cooking a delicious Indian meal.
Saturday was focused on helping St. Trinity Lutheran Church and Extreme Faith, an organization started by young people and supported by the congregation, prepare for their summer day camp. With a focus on academic and faith growth, St. Trinity and Extreme Faith work together to provide a low cost day camp option for children in their neighborhood who might otherwise not have food or supervision. We cleaned, organized, and painted facilities to make sure the students have a safe, healthy environment to spend their summer break.
One young adult commented that it was nice to connect to ministries and volunteers that work share the Gospel in communities of need day to day. While short term service projects have a limit to what they can do, when the work is directed by the organization and is done in a way that builds supportive relationships, often the completion of a few projects can have a very positive impact. Not only that, it can be an opportunity for participants to see the needs in their own backyard with new eyes.
Next summer, Lutheran Young Adult Corps will be placing young adults into full time service work for 10 weeks. Perhaps some will even have placements with organizations like Christian Friends of New Americans and Extreme Faith or congregations like St. Trinity. In the meantime, we are excited to expand the number of short term service options for young adults around the country. Extreme Faith hosts service opportunities throughout the summer and look for more information soon about service opportunities in Philadelphia in January 2017 and Austin, TX next July.