Thoughts Between Sundays

Some of what crosses my mind between Sundays

Mission Trip Reflections: Sharon Dunlap

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On Sunday, July 22 the Mission Trip Team led worship at FPC.  One of the preachers of the day was Sharon Dunlap, and her reflection is here.  Tomorrow I will post Allen’s.

1 Peter 5:5-9 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I think the thing that stayed with me the most from the mission trip to Tuscaloosa, was the work of the youth. I’m not just talking about our youth that went on the trip- even though we had five incredible young men and women who were driven and composed well beyond their years. I was astounded by the number of dedicated young men and women from around the country that devoted their time, effort and energy to such a worthy cause. They didn’t just do it for one day, or one week. They were there week after week, month after month doing God’s work. There was the group from AmeriCorps. Young men and women ages 18-25, who have dedicated ten months of their lives to travel the United States helping communities in need. They worked in teams of 8-12 people and went right to work on whatever project they were given. They radiated a joy and contagious energy that some of us older folks wished we had more of. As we complained and grumbled about the intense heat and how out of shape we were, they lifted, hauled, pounded, and carried whatever like champions for Christ. Then there was Harrison- we called him a Greek god. A handsome, young man who was getting ready to start his first year of college at the University of Alabama, he displayed a maturity and wisdom not often seen in kids his age. He lived across town in an area that was not affected by the tornados. I asked him why he was volunteering his time at the site, and his answer was very genuine. He said, “I had to volunteer. So many people around here who weren’t affected by the tornados have forgotten the people who were. They just don’t care about the things that don’t affect them. I knew that I had to get involved and help where I could, because that is what I would want someone to do for me if I were ever in that situation.” Eighteen years old and he wasn’t thinking about his social life, or how late he got to sleep in that morning, or what latest movie he was going to see, no he was thinking about others and how he could help out their situation. What an inspirational young man. Then there was Chandler, a young girl from the University who was studying to be a civil engineer and volunteered her time at the site gaining experience in her field. I was blown away by the fact that she was studying to be a civil engineer-as a young girl, how do you become interested in that field of work? That was easy she said- she and her parents had been on a number of mission trips where she had grown up helping to rebuild houses for others and just knew that she was destined to become an architect of some kind. I met Beth a local student studying law at the University, who interned at the federal court house in Tuscaloosa. Her boss allowed his interns to come to the Habitat for Humanity work site once a week instead of going to work. She stated that she would much rather be here at the site in the blazing heat and humidity helping others than be in her air-conditioned law office. I couldn’t help thinking what a sacrifice these young people were making. Instead of putting themselves first, they put others ahead of their own needs. From Philippians chapter 2,

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I choose to go on mission trips because of the joy I receive  from helping others- this time I received an abundance of joy from watching the youth of tomorrow give so much of themselves to help others in need. It offers me a hope, a faith, and the assurance that our young people are compassionate and caring individuals who are willing to be disciples of Jesus Christ in a world that is so in need of God’s grace. These youth did not attain these wonderful attributes all by themselves. It takes a community of faith to grow and nurture these wonderful youth. When a child is baptized, we the congregation answer the following question :  Do you, the people of the church, promise to tell this child the good news of the gospel, to help him/her know all that Christ commands, and, by your fellowship, to strengthen his/her family ties with the household of God?

In making this vow, the congregation reaffirms its understanding that the child is already a part of the covenant family of the church and needs to be nurtured in the Christian faith to the end that the child will one day publicly proclaim Jesus Christ as his, or her, Lord and Savior. We take very seriously this vow we make at each infant baptism. We tell the child about Jesus Christ and God’s love and mercy as revealed in scriptures in several ways such as Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Children’s Choir, Youth Group, Confirmation Class, and mission trips. It is also done informally simply through association by the child with committed Christians at worship and other church functions.

It really does take a village to raise a child and I for one am grateful that all of you have taken that challenge seriously and have given our youth a firm foundation to stand on as they go out into this world to make a difference.

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