Missions: No Need to Travel Far to Serve Others

Post a Comment » Written on August 1st, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Meagan Gillan

TUCSON, AZ (August 1, 2007) – Students from Grace Community Covenant Church are on an affordable mission trip this week – affordable, at least, in that they are simply traveling across town, rather than across their region or across the world, to serve.

In keeping with the congregation’s stirred passion for local mission in their community, students are serving in a variety of agencies and ministries throughout their city. Sister church, Eastside Covenant, is loaning the group their floor for their lodging, and kids will shower up only once during the week, using a public swimming pool and locker room.

Grace youthThe group of 15 senior high students, five middle school students, and seven staff members, is taking on a variety of jobs ranging from the gleeful to the mundane. Braving 100-degree temperatures and monsoon rains, the group will tackle the cultivation and care of the food garden at Tucson Community Food Bank. They also will visit with elderly residents at a senior citizen care center, tutor students in a large group home, and spend the day playing with and ministering to a large community of Sudanese refugee children and their parents. Students will also get involved with the S.O.B.E.R. Project, a ministry to post-incarceration and formerly homeless people who are in active recovery.

The students will be joined by their parents and other Grace members as they cap off the week of ministry with one of GAP Ministries’ 10 “Backpack to School” carnivals to be held at a local Title IX school on Saturday. The carnivals target families and children in low-income areas seeking to bring a needed boost of support and encouragement to those who may be unable to provide supplies or enthusiasm for their children at the start of the school year.

“It’s so amazing to see the families and kids at the carnivals,” said Linda Schambach, GAP carnival coordinator and a member of Grace Community Covenant. “Some seem almost dazed as if they don’t quite understand why we are there and what would motivate us to give their child a brand new backpack filled with school supplies. They love the food and games and the fun, festive atmosphere,” Schambach observes. “And the adults and kids from Grace who come with hugs and words of support put Jesus’ love in a real, human package.” This is Grace’s third year of involvement with the project, which will provide more than 7,000 backpacks during the next few weeks.

“The thrilling part of this trip,” says Pastor Jed Hollenbach, “is that our students are leaving their homes to serve in their own community. And they are serving in places where our church has already established relationships. By bringing our students in for a more intensive experience, we hope to cement in their lives and hearts a passion for service.”

Lead Pastor Scot Gillan echoed the sentiment. “I’m so pleased to see our students getting further involved in the ministries that God has been directing the entire church toward in recent years. We’ve genuinely taken to heart the credo that ‘God wants lost people found, and hurting people helped.’ ”

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