ANDERSON, Ind. —
With an eye on mission work within their home country, the middle school students at East Side Church of God annually journey to a city in the Midwest to share their talents along with their faith. Most recently the teens traveled to Green Bay, Wis., to offer man-hours to a Boys & Girls Club, a secondhand shop, a nursing home and a food pantry.
“We like to move around the Midwest and had never been to Green Bay before,” said Teri Downey, assistant pastor of student ministries. “It could have been anywhere, but traveling to serve gives them the benefit of seeing different parts of our country. They get to see something new, meet new people and see different organizations work.”
Past trips have taken the youth group to Niagara Falls, Tennessee and Kentucky. The students have installed drywall, performed yard work, stacked pantry shelves, played with children and the elderly and sorted clothing, among other activities. They are ready to serve in any way the organization wishes.
“We went to a nursing home and played bingo with the residents,” said Trace Jones, 13. “My favorite part was when this old man told a bunch of stories about the war. It was definitely a great experience and I learned a lot.”
“The main reason I went was to connect with God a little bit,” said Ben Kane, 14. “There are a lot of people that don’t know God and need help. I liked being able to help people and hearing about what they’ve been through.”
Although the group usually travels to serve, some summers they remain in Anderson and assist local organizations. However, Downey prefers to provide them with the opportunity to bond that comes from a road trip.
“Church can become a surface thing,” she said. “But living with people 24/7 results in having real conversations and bonding in a way that you don’t when you just meet once a week. I love seeing what an impact teens can make in the world and watching them discover the gifts that they have.”
From Here to There: A Series about Madison County residents who travel to help their fellowman. If you know of an individual or civic, school or church group that has embarked on a mission trip in the last year, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.