Updated: Jul 11, 2019
June 22, 2019-Our first week of summer missions kicked off with a bang. We were blessed to have youth from Avalon Hills Bible Church set aside their first week of summer vacation to serve the people of Norfolk, Virginia. This is Avalon’s fourth mission trip with EY2S; they have been coming on EY2S mission trips since our founding in 2016.
This year, Avalon was uniquely challenged through changes in our typical routine. Rather than having VBS at Young Terrace Recreation Center in the afternoon, VBS took place at Norview Baptist Church (NBC), also in Norfolk. Also, the student missionaries split into two separate worksites, which allowed for all 19 youth from Avalon to spread out in their different worksite tasks.
Ashlyn found the experience positive, saying, "“It helped me not get lazy with intentionality because it was a very different dynamic.”
Similarly, Brice was thankful for the changed structure. He said, "Having multiple worksites and then also having a different VBS keeps you busy and keeps you from getting tired from being on one project the whole week. I was a little sad we were not going to Youngs, I was also kinda excited about something new and something different, and it helped build our youth group.”
Because our VBS was at NBC, the schedule was flipped and VBS was in the morning. Students broke into teams for the different VBS stations. Monday was a shorter day, focusing on registration and welcoming the kids. Only five kids showed up on the first day. Student missionaries passed out flyers to the surrounding neighborhood at NBC. The Lord was faithful to bring more kids to our VBS and by the end of the week, we had 20 kids. The kids that he did bring received the love of Christ through these student missionaries through games, crafts, music, story, and snack time.
Through the work of the Lord to prepare and soften the hearts and the boldness of our student missionaries, three boys decided to become Christians and live for Christ. Now EY2S staff will join with NBC to continue to disciple these kids and make sure they have a church home and will grow in their faith.
One of the boys was named Jaxon. Kristopher, a student missionary, reflected back on how the week changed for him. In the beginning, Jaxon “was crying because he didn’t want to come and then he was crying because he didn’t want to go. And I just saw Christ in that situation because it just shows us that Christ can change a heart.”
For Lane, she was able to spend some time with a young boy named Bryson. She was overjoyed to be able to not only share Christ with him but to bless him for his birthday. She said, “The second to last day, I was asking Bryson a bunch of questions, and he was talking about heaven. I asked, ‘Do you want to go to heaven if you die?’ He said yes, so we prayed and he came to Christ.
I gave him a Bible for his birthday because he said he didn’t have one, and as soon as I gave it to him, his eyes lit up and he started flipping through the pages. It was so cool to see how excited he was so excited to see the Word of God.”
Before VBS this week, Lydia made a commitment to intentionality this week. She said, “I told myself that I was going to talk to one kid about God every single rotation. I sat down with Brayden and we were doing the bracelets that have the black, red, blue, white, and yellow beads for salvation. As I was doing the bracelet I was just like: tell me what you know about God, and he started telling me about what he learned about the other day. It was amazing his receptiveness...he had nothing holding him back from believing.”
We are also so blessed to be partnered with Norview Baptist Church and their graciousness to host this VBS. Their partnership is what enabled EY2S staff to empower not only Avalon’s youth group but also Norview’s youth group. Ruth, Takara, Reyanna, and Destiny joined us during the VBS, on prayer walks and the girls helped us clean, tape, and paint classrooms in the church as a part of our worksite projects.
Part of our worksite time is spent doing prayer walks. At NBC, we went on prayer walks to the surrounding community. We prayed with people like Mr. Aarron who is in need of healing and Mrs. Barbra who asked for prayer for her grandchild.
Our second worksite is at Mrs. Arlene’s house. There, students demolished and removed a large concrete patio and leveled Mrs. Arlene’s backyard in preparation for the next group to lay square stones in her backyard.
In addition to the backyard, student missionaries also got to lay tile inside Mrs. Arlene’s kitchen. Even though it is an older house, God blessed us with a nice level floor to work with and we were able to begin laying tile on Tuesday of this week. Even though we ran into some issues with a few pieces cracking, for the most part, the tile was easy to lay. Anything that cracked we were able to quickly replace because we had not yet put in the grout.
At Mrs. Arlene’s house, God used a situation that could have turned out badly for His good. After finishing at the worksite, the van would not start. But because the student missionaries and EY2S leaders were delayed in leaving the worksite, they were able to pray for a person in an ambulance and an additional person who approached the group.
Time after time throughout the week, EY2S leaders found student missionaries as initiators; desiring to pray and even leading their prayer walks. This is exactly what we were praying for. It is amazing to see the student missionaries to take the lead so that they can be sent out into the world prepared to live for Jesus Christ.
Avalon’s youth has a huge heart for worship, and throughout the week we came to the Lord in song and lifted up his name. Students drew together and opened up to one another, sharing their hearts. They sought out encouragement and advice from each other and leaders. EY2S leaders were so excited to see and hear students talking about the Bible study not just during our evening study time, but at the worksite when things slowed down. Our book this year was developed and edited by EY2S staff and is called Breakfast with God Volume 2: Running the Race with Endurance.
For Jericho, the Bible study was perfectly timed by the Lord to meet him where he was at, saying, “God set things up to align. The Bible study, the day before I was talking about it and I didn’t know it was in the Breakfast with God in the morning. It impacts me because it is crazy how God sets things up like that.”
Chloe found one topic really stood out to her. She said, “God really showed me what it is like to find my identity in Him. There were a couple of times and I was praying that prayer, I felt so at peace what He was speaking over me. That feeling I never want to forget.”
We have been so blessed to start off our summer with Avalon! The EY2S leader will be praying for you all as you continue to persevere in all that God has taught you over this week!