Updated: Jun 3, 2019
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? --James 2:15-16
After using the remainder of 2016 and beginning of 2017 to build relationships and raise support, EY2S kicked off summer 2017 with six churches signed up for a mission trip. It was a huge blessing to have doubled the number of churches from the previous year.
Jeff Montgomery went to Columbia International University (CIU) in South Carolina to consider the university as a future site and to look for effective leaders. After some consideration, we decided on five leaders, some local and some from CIU who would help us as we sought to shape the future of EY2S.
For the first time, EY2S had a second site at CIU. Seventeen local youth became student missionaries for a week, serving several local ministries: Grace Church of Columbia, House of Peace and Keepin' It Real Ministries. At Grace Church, students painted the building exterior and cultivated their ministry garden. At House of Peace and Keepin' It Real Ministries, students served the homeless through painting transitional housing, providing toiletries, and feeding the homeless gathered at an outdoor church.
As with our Norfolk trips, students spent time with the Lord daily. William, one of the student missionaries from Columbia, came on the trip with his two brothers. William had a heart to understand the Bible and would always follow up his reading with questions. He was so impacted by the trip he joined us for an additional week in Norfolk.
Wallace, in contrast, almost went home in the middle of the trip. He decided to stay though, and experienced immense growth. The Lord softened his heart and led him to desire to come with William up to Norfolk. By the end of the summer, it was almost impossible for him to say goodbye.
For our Norfolk trips, we decided to work at the house of Mrs. T, who works at an elementary school and is raising her grandchildren. We were drawn to Mrs. T because of her heart for the Lord and how much she gave to the kids around her. Students worked on her kitchen, backyard, and shed. They also made a basketball court for her grandchildren.
We also began to branch out further into the neighborhood, going on prayer walks to reach the surrounding community. The Lord worked in the hearts of the student missionaries, moving them to compassion and to pack extra sandwiches for the homeless they encountered. In the afternoon, we served 72 kids at a VBS in Young Terrace Recreation Center. Once again, the boys and girls learned about God and received love through games, music, snacks, and Bible.
This year we added something new to our daily program: Breaking Bread. Breaking Bread is when the girls to get in a group and the boys to get in a group and discuss life issues. This is a great time for our staff to be able to encourage students. It is also a time for the youth group as a whole to grow in unity and transparency, one of our core values.
2017 was a unique year because of the inter-church community built. The combined youth groups of Grace Community Church, Norfolk East Church, Avalon Hills Bible Church, and New Covenant Presbyterian Church who all went on EY2S mission trips got together on a Friday night in July for a time of worship, prayer, and testimony. As a result of this, many students have built friendships with students from other youth groups, displaying the church as Christ intended: a unified body across congregations.
Like last year, EY2S staff and missionaries served alongside our partner, UDM, at the One Died for All Basketball Camp and in Buffs Bay Jamaica.
2017 was a year of great impact for EY2S staff and the student missionaries. Students were challenged to look at strangers in their community with compassion and meet their needs. In doing so, the love of God was displayed to the lost.