Written by Megan Schouten

My church had gone on many SERVE trips over the years, one of which I was a student participant myself. I’d heard and been a part of so many great stories, but still, SERVE 2018 made me worry. This time, I would not just be a participant, but a leader.

I was worried that being a stranger to the students in my SERVE small group would prevent me from being able to relate to them. As a youth group leader in church, I had lead small groups before, but I already knew those students. I was also worried about the students we would be taking with our own youth group, several who had never participated in SERVE before. I questioned if I would be able to help them process their experiences and grow in their faith while doing so.

But despite all the worry and self-doubt, I knew from my own experience that SERVE is a powerful way for youth to encounter Christ. I didn’t want to miss out on what God had in store for our students at Gallatin Valley SERVE.

Once we arrived, God quickly began to show me all my worries had been in vain. Our theme for the year was Love God, Love the World. That was all I had to do. My sole purpose for the trip was to show the love of God to those around me and let him handle the rest. And he sure did!

Through God’s incredible grace and a fantastic speaker, the students and leaders were challenged to be loved by God, to love him in return and to be an example of that love to others. As always, God showed up and brought some incredible breakthroughs during SERVE.

I was so humbled to watch as the Holy Spirit would lead students to walk up to the front to receive prayer, pray for one another without being prompted and then encourage and engage with one another in small group discussions.

At the worksites, it was the same thing. The students really were the hands and feet of God, showing love to complete strangers, and offering them assistance and kindness without one word of complaint while expecting nothing in return.

I am so grateful to have had SERVE as a part of my story both as a participant and a leader. Both experiences have left me challenged, encouraged and completely amazed at the goodness of our loving God.

Witnessing so many young adults open themselves up to the love of God and seeing a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives has affected my own faith so, so deeply. If I could say one thing to any SERVE leader or volunteer, I would encourage them to let go and let God. Let go of any worries, concerns or doubts that would keep you from participating in this great ministry and let God do his thing; you’ll be amazed at what he does in and through the students, and even in you.

[This is an excerpt from the Fall 2018 Magazine. To read more stories CLICK HERE]