From the outside, Middle School Mission Blitz is mostly games, craziness, constant movement, and loud noises. I think I’ve said, “Stop doing that!” more times than I can count and I’ve lost track of the times that our kids have made me laugh. We’ve had a few scrapes that have needed band-aids and some bruises that might be there for a while, and I’m sure the belly flops at the pool party will leave a lasting mark (even if it’s just a memory).
For those parents that thought they sent their kids on a mission trip . . . you did. I promise we have made them work, and they have worked hard. They dug in the dirt and pulled weeds and harvested food to donate to a local food bank. They sorted bags upon bags of clothes and picked out new outfits for people experiencing homelessness. They played with little kids and lead activities and crafts, they sat with them and helped them learn to read. And yet, somehow, they still had the energy for 9 Square in the Air when we got back to the Justin.
But there’s something special that goes on beneath the chaos of Mission Blitz. Kids laugh together and play together and eat together and make a mess together . . . but they also worship together and pray together and serve together. Life-long friendships are formed and they make memories together that they will hold on to the rest of their lives.
Their world also gets a little bit bigger. We gently nudge them outside of their comfort zone little by little, and slowly but surely the bubble that they live in doesn’t just include their neighborhood and their school and their church. It includes the people experiencing food insecurity that they got to help by taking care of a community garden. It includes the people experiencing homelessness that they got to serve by helping great local organizations that are on the forefront of engaging with the community. It includes the little kids that need someone to show up and care about them — and they showed up, and they cared, and whether they know it or not they made a difference in those kids’ lives.
All week, our kids got to be the church. They were the ones that fed the hungry and clothed the naked and cared for the people on the fringes. They were the ones that showed up. They were the ones to go out and be God’s people in the world.
This week was absolutely crazy at times and I’ve gotten very little sleep, but I couldn’t be more proud of what our kids accomplished all the places they went and who they stepped up to be. If only we all had the endless energy of a middle schooler, we could change the world overnight.
Associate Director of Youth Ministries