Heartland Youth Impact the World
By Bob Cleveringa
Youth from across the Synod of the Heartland participated in mission opportunities this summer that made an impact both nationally and globally.
HIS Work Camp 2016
Last June, approximately 200 high school students and adult leaders from the Synod of the Heartland descended on Knoxville and Maryville, Tennessee, to participate in HIS (Hands In Service) Work Camp 2016. Armed with construction tools, paintbrushes, scaffolding, ladders, and the energy of a Black Friday shopper, they offered manual labor to 14 sites throughout the community. Those sites were determined the previous spring, when a team of adults collaborated with the Chillhowee Baptist Association and Habitat for Humanity. This allowed materials to be on site when the workers arrived.
The event involved more than physical labor, although that was a key part. The students also got to know other members of their work team and built deeper relationships with the homeowners they were serving. At the end of an exhausting day, the students and leaders returned to the week’s host church. There they were refreshed with showers, home-cooked meals, and an evening of worship, which focused on what God wanted to say to each individual.
Tim Breen, pastor of First Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa, was the speaker for the week. He expounded on the theme “That’s My Dirt.” Through Breen, God spoke to each person in a special way, helping them realize that each person has been created out of dirt, is called to enter into the “dirt” of others’ lives, and must be willing to carry some of the dirt from the place we served to their homes as they returned.
Power Connection Work Camp 2016
In July 2016, 350 middle school students and their adult leaders traveled from Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas to North Central University in Minneapolis to be a part of Power Connection (PC) Work Camp 2016. PC Work Camp exposes young people from rural and suburban settings to the challenges facing people living in the inner-city and brings the concept of global ministry to their front door.
For two days, the PC Work Camp participants spread out in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area to serve in various ministries. Many of these ministries offer food, clothing, and relationships for those struggling with their current life situations.
One of the primary ministries was Feed My Starving Children, which works to provide nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children. While there, PC Work Camp students learned about the ministry and packaged food bags. The bags were later distributed to young people in several countries who were about the same age as the students.
Rocky Mountain High 2017
In July 2017, more students will assist Feed My Starving Children as part of Rocky Mountain High, an event that offers a large group encounter with the transformational truth and love of Jesus. Approximately 3,000 high school students and adult leaders will travel to Estes Park, Colorado, to package 200,000 meals for the organization.
As the youth from the Synod of Heartland come together in community, they are making an impact in their world that reaches far beyond the Midwest into places we may never touch or see.
All of these events are organized by the Synod of the Heartland Office of Youth Ministries, which is committed to offering opportunities and events that help students live out the three pillars of Transformed & Transforming. Youth Ministries is committed to building strong disciples who lead and serve in ministry and mission both locally and around the world.
Bob Cleveringa is director of Youth Ministries for the Synod of the Heartland.