I remember in high school being told in order to graduate we would have to do 40 hours of volunteer work. At this point I didn’t have a job (other than babysitting), and could care less about serving. I loved the thought of helping others, but was just too shy to do anything about it. I wasn’t involved in anything outside of school to attach volunteer status to. As a lot of us can be, I was selfish with my time. I didn’t see the point in doing something that didn’t benefit me directly.
On my journey to becoming a Christian I started to see the value in serving others, especially with no direct benefit to myself. When Ayanda and I made the decision to join the church, we knew we were either going all in or nothing. That meant going every weekend to service, going to Wednesday night prayer – even when the thought of praying together as a group for an hour was uncomfortable, taking the T1 classes, going to C group and most importantly tithing money and time. I say most importantly, because every other activity is giving something to us, whereas the last two allow us to give back to the church community.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)
I looked at all the areas I could serve in the church and saw that positions for the café were open, so I stepped in to the café to serve. I never worked in the fast food industry so for myself it was actually fun doing stock, and learning all the little cogs in the wheel that make the café such a great place to build relationships. I knew I had to have the mindset of doing any small thing that was needed and find joy in it. I knew that if I was booked to volunteer to make sure I wouldn’t allow my social life to interfere with the commitment I made. I wouldn’t even try and find out what others were doing when I would help because I didn’t want to let it soil my attitude wishing I was somewhere else.
Once we had our daughter, Olivia, I knew it would be time to step down in the café. I loved the opportunity to grow friendships with the others in the café and see peoples’ reactions to the café and our quality as a first time visitor. Although the time commitment wouldn’t work out for Saturday nights with our little one in tow, I didn’t want to stop volunteering altogether. So I took some time to really think about where I could make the best investment of my time, where I could help others grow and do something I can see myself doing long term with passion.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)
I’d pray about it and my heart would always lead me to youth. Perhaps because I look much younger than I am, I have always felt that I would end up helping youth in someway. I used to think of this anti-aging process as annoying, but now I choose to look at it as a gift. So I approached Ryan about how I could help out and learned how Elevate worked and the vision for it moving forward. After having our conversation I knew it would be somewhere I would enjoy and could make a commitment to. Growing up, having a mentor or someone to speak into my life was sometimes lacking. When it was there, I always valued it. Becoming a father, I see the value even more for others to speak into our childrens’ lives.
Even though it’s only been a couple months and one amazing Youth Camp, I have loved getting to know the kids and the opportunity to slowly build relationships with them. I can see that all the other crew leaders along with Ryan and Jayme are heavily invested in our youth and that’s what makes Elevate special. No one is there because they are being forced to be there, or that a position was needed to be filled. They are all there because they want to be there, to see our youth anchored and growing in their relationship with Jesus.
I don’t know about you but I love it when God uses multiple platforms to share a message. I’ve often read a book and received a word, only to go to church and have the message be on the same topic, and then find an example in my life or someone else close to me to apply it to. To me that’s God telling me, He knows my situation and cares enough to orchestrate everything as if it is speaking directly to me.
Lately for me that has been the Lord’s Prayer. I listened to a message of it recently being broken down, read about it in a book and listened to a ton of Elevation Church’s song Here as in Heaven. So I was super excited to find out that song was the main song for our worship at youth camp!
The whole weekend was based around learning what it means to be anchored in Christ, finding a promise from God, and understanding that we can trust God to keep that promise. So when I woke up in the morning on the Sunday to my Bible app verse, it blew me away.
God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. (Psalm 18:30 NIV)
Over the Youth Camp weekend, we saw 8 kids commit to Jesus! A group of them also received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues! They prayed prayers of forgiveness and unchecked sin in their lives and best of all, each and every one of them received a promise from God for their lives.