“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” -Romans 12:9-10
Week one of work in Atlanta has officially begun. Throughout the week the large group from Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas has been running kid camps, digging trenches, and navigating the highways of south Atlanta with one goal—to build real relationships.
The students of Memorial Drive’s youth group are no strangers to hard work. Many of the students have served on mission trips both domestically and internationally, so the team came ready for a week of physically demanding work. Although they have tackled several tough, meaningful projects—painting and digging an irrigation trench at the Initiative for Affordable Housing’s newest worksite, most of their Atlanta projects have been an exercise in developing relationships.
Trevor, a summer intern at Memorial Drive, spent Monday morning playing Bingo and chatting with an elderly man at Hapeville Care Home. Although the conversation seemed difficult and forced at first, Trevor was persistent—he wanted to be a real friend to the wheelchair bound man with a fading memory. He succeeded.
One of the adult leaders, Mary, said that she was impacted by the kids at the Kroc Day Camp because of the way they responded to a Bible lesson. The kids seemed genuinely interested in the skit and story that the team presented—grasping pieces of truth from the simple Bible message. When the afternoon ended, the team was sent off with a round of hugs from the campers. Another success.
Despite the successes of the team, they admit that doing relational ministry is difficult because you don’t always get to see the results. In fact, sometimes it might feel like you’re failing. Unlike a building or painting project, you don’t always get to see the difference you’ve made in the life of another person. You might walk away from a kids’ camp or a nursing home wondering if you made a lasting impact. But one thing the EM staff and Memorial Drive team has learned this week is that building relationships is rewarding work. At the end of the day, loving people and reflecting Christ into their lives is what matters most.
Heather D. Moline
Note: Experience Mission is sending out many more great trips to Atlanta and many more great communities throughout the summer of 2011! Check out our website for more information at www.experiencemission.org.