Jesus told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34 -35). I am, at the same time, both proud and humbled to be surrounded by true “disciples.”
Impact’s High School Youth once again ended their summer with a journey to Tulsa , OK , where we conducted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children at two different apartment complexes. What I had the opportunity to witness, though I should have expected it, blew me away. It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and talk about love, community, and reaching out to others, but it’s an entirely different story to actually put it into practice, especially when it goes against the deeply rooted, selfish culture we find ourselves living in.
Before and during Mission Trip, we often discussed our attitudes when we were with the children at the apartment complexes. We were going to get plenty of sleep so we could devote our time and energy to the children we came to Tulsa to see. We were going to be full of smiles, laughter, hugs, songs, patience, shoulders and laps to sit on – we were going to make absolutely certain that these children knew what it was like to be loved by Christ through our interaction with them. The increased numbers throughout the week, the smiles, the hugs, the laughter, and the tears when we were done all said one thing: “ Mission accomplished.”
This did not surprise me. Our youth have grown up being part of a several week VBS every summer run by 25 summer interns and 4 different youth groups each week, and about 15 of our youth intern with VBS each summer – they know how to run a VBS! What surprised me about the trip was how much our youth have grown in their love toward each other.
I should have recognized their growth, but it took Erick Delgado, one of our youth, leading a devotional one night on Mission Trip to point this out to me. He eloquently stated that he not only saw Christ through the way we reached out to the children, but also through the way we were treating each other. He was right. I have never been part of a group who is more encouraging to each other than this one. When we were tired and worn out, there were encouraging words, waters distributed, hands lent and shoulder massages given. When there were several people one night dealing with the horrors of their past, tears were shed, prayers were said, and encouraging hugs (more than any words could say) and shoulders were given freely. I could go on and on at the selfless hearts I saw at work that week and throughout the whole summer. God is moving among our youth, and he will continue to move through them as the school year begins and they continue what they’ve been doing in their homes and schools. May hearts continue to change and God continue to be praised because of these “disciples.”