Youth Service through ASP

 

Our trip with the Appalachia Service Project was everything I needed it to be. Each day, everyone seemed to grow closer to one another – whether it was through working hard on our projects or sharing a belly laugh at Dairy Queen. By the end of the week, instead of seeing individual people that had come together, I witnessed one big family working together and helping one another to reach our common goal. Through the hard work of our amazing team, we were able to give a family a home with a solid foundation and a floor for their baby to walk on, as well as put a roof over the head of our other family. Even better, we were able to share the love of Christ in tangible and intangible ways through sharing meals with our families, pulling pranks with Roscoe, or tackling each other into the mud puddle during ultimate frisbee.

What was truly amazing was the level of solidarity our team of students had with the community of Jackson. Everyone was on the same level – it wasn’t “us” serving “them,” it was everyone sharing life together (one family member even got up on the roof to work with us!). The students talked about the randomness of life and even discussed how easily we could have been born into the same situation of these hardworking families. We came to understand that this doesn’t make one side better than the other, it just means we can find common ground and work together. Our lives and homes may look a little different but these families that welcomed us in showed us a love that is humbling and inspiring.

Another striking point about this trip and the work of the Appalachia Service Project was the enormity of the work that was, and is still, being done. We learned that every ASP county hosts volunteer teams every week of the year to complete projects. That sounds wonderful – so many brothers and sisters in Christ coming to serve, so much good being done throughout the year. But that opened our eyes to the flip side… so many brothers and sisters are in need that there seems to be a never ending list of work to be done. Our week in Jackson was just a drop in the bucket – and even then, our team was trying to finish the work of the team before us and we left our projects hoping the next team could see them to completion. The silver lining is this: there are opportunities to serve all the time, all around us. This means that there is always a chance to share our lives with those around us, a chance to find common ground with our brothers and sisters, an opportunity to experience the love of Christ with someone – even if your lives and homes look a little different.

One of our students reflected,

“I saw God in the people around me. If we were working or waiting, they showed compassion and fellowship throughout each day no matter what.”

Find God in the people around you, see those around you the way God sees them! Whether you are working or waiting, make yourself available to show compassion and offer fellowship to the ones God loves.

Nick Richart
Associate Youth Minister

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