by Don Koops, Youth Unlimited Board Member

During my years of youth ministry, I helped take groups on 12 SERVE trips to the states of Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Virginia, as well as three trips to Ontario, Canada. I’ve also coordinated seven weeks of SERVE at my own church.

The church I attend is a relatively small fellowship, so when we have hosted SERVE we have enlisted the services and assistance of churches in a broad range of denominations within a 25-mile radius. This has brought us all closer together for a united purpose and opened our eyes more fully to ministry opportunities around us.

My time spent on SERVE has enriched my life so much, as I have met a lot of great committed people, who have a passion for teenagers. In those times, I have seen the transformations of many students in one short week that have been life changing and I’ve grown in my own faith walk as well.

I have also had the privilege of experiencing so many varied cultures through SERVE. Even though I come from a rural background, I’ve noticed more similarities than differences in life experiences and people. It has been a real blessing for our youth group and myself to assist others in need through the different worksites we have encountered.

Over the years there are several SERVE experiences that stand out in my mind. My first SERVE experience was in Battle Creek, Michigan where my group, along with another work group, led by a Canadian leader, dismantled a large roof and rebuilt it for an elderly gentleman.

When we started to take off the roof in the reconstruction phase, we noticed that there were Rubbermaid pans everywhere to catch the rain water that still managed to filter into the home, which was badly in need of repair. It was more of a challenge than anyone of us had ever imagined taking on, as we needed to rebuild rafters, re-sheet the roof and shingle it all in the space of a week. The high humidity and temperatures of the season made it an even larger undertaking. Obviously, it was a bigger job than we could accomplish by ourselves, so prayer for God’s leading and wisdom was enlisted many times throughout the week.

As I have been made aware of time and again, the themes for the week of SERVE fit the circumstances, and God places just the right people in his timing and place within the group. So many times at SERVE I have encountered projects that appeared overwhelming, and each time our God has shown up to accomplish his plans and purposes.

The theme for our week in Battle Creek, was “Stepping Up”, and it definitely called for that mindset. Most importantly, we were able to complete the project just as late Friday afternoon arrived, which was no small miracle in itself.

This and many other moments from my SERVE experiences will forever be etched in my mind as reminders of what SERVE is all about! God’s plans and purpose always prevail.

As the newest member of the Youth Unlimited Board, I’m now looking forward to the opportunity to serve in the broader scope of the organization.

This is an excerpt from the Youth Unlimited Summer Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

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