By Gwendolyn Herrick
Xenos’ 8th grade Junior High Students! In mid-June, 26 of the Junior High ministry’s incoming 8th graders spent their week in Traverse City, Michigan serving low income families and learning what it takes to be a servant leader for God. The students main purpose in going up was to run a soccer camp for kids aged 12 and under. Throughout the camp, the students did not just teach the kids about soccer, but also about Christ and His free gift of salvation.
The trip proved to be truly eye opening for the students involved. Leader Gaelan Shively was excited about the experience and said, “It was awesome. A lot of kids came to Christ on the trip. We didn’t keep tally, but it was a ton. And a lot of kids were coming from messed up homes where they didn’t feel safe or loved, and started off being really grumpy and hateful, but ended up all smiles and being friends with everyone. It was fantastic to see.” As to the conversions they witnessed, Student Ministry Leader Joe Botti, who was also on the trip shared, “One thing we know, they opened up their lives for the Holy Spirit to work in coming years.” Both leaders pointed to students learning to rely on God in ways that took them far from their comfort zones as they ministered to the kids at camp.
The students spent the week camping outdoors. Each morning they made breakfast, participated in a devotional and prayer, and then packed up for a 30 minute drive to the park where the camp was being held. During lunch the students led short Bible teachings for the kids. Each evening the students were refreshed by testimonies from their peers and Bible teachings by the mission leader from North Shore Outdoor ministries.
In addition, Shively and Botti both point to encounters with storms as huge reminders of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness to his work to the students throughout the trip. “We had a lot of rain,” Botti said, “however, God always stopped it during the soccer camp. Our Xenos students and leaders attributed this to God. We had prayed a lot about this every day.” Shively added, “One day a mother even told us it was raining right down the street, but not at camp.”
“Our kids epitomized Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:29: ‘For this purpose I also labor, striving according to his power, which mightily works within me.’” Botti mused. No doubt the work done on this trip will continue to impact God’s kingdom for years to come.