The following is an excerpt from our Winter, 2016 Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here

An Introduction to the 2016 Serve Theme Adapted from the 2016 Spiritual Life Guide

I can remember my friends saying that over and over in my life. Sometimes it was with wide eyes, searching to see how I was going to cope with tremendous pain; like the time I was 9 and tried to jump my bike over some barrels – epic wipeout. Or the time I was running hurdles in high school, miss stepped and face planted into the track. Other times they could hardly get the words out, because they were laughing hysterically; like the time I embarrassed myself in front of the new girl.

Once I overheard my dad whisper that phrase to my mom after I was recognized for an achievement. He knew that it’s not just the negative things that leave a mark. Affirmation, positive circumstances and good relationships also connect deeply within us and leave a mark of confidence and strength.

Just walking through everyday life we encounter people and circumstances that leave a mark on us. Some are hurt like a bruise. Some are good and show up in a smile. Some are as obvious as a new tattoo and some are hidden deep and unshared.

Through the book of Mark we see Jesus Christ walking through everyday life with people. He helps them identify hurtful marks this world has left on them through circumstances, misplaced values, wrong philosophies, bad decisions, negative relationships, etc. Through love and grace he gives understanding, forgiveness and wisdom. If they follow him, those marks are healed and even, as mind boggling as this is, can be redeemed for strength and used to build wisdom and confidence in others.

Jesus also identifies strengths and abilities, uniqueness and character traits that reflect God’s image. From a little boy with a lunch to the old neglected woman, he is quick to identify positive traits (marks) and whisper that God the Father approves.

Through a study on the book of Mark, we hope that students will allow Jesus to walk with them through their lives, redeeming the difficult times and leading them into making a positive mark on others, their community and this world.

A key prayer we pray is that they will have friends who walk with Christ and with them, through difficult times, wide eyed, helping them work through the pain. And friends who also see their incredible God-given potential and can whisper that their Heavenly Father approves.

The purpose of the 2016 curriculum is to enable students to encounter the person of Jesus Christ in very real ways during their time at Serve. Held in tandem with their ministry of service, relationships with peers and mentoring from small group leaders, this curriculum will allow students of all places in the walk of faith to meet more fully a Savior who humbly came to serve so that his love would be poured out for us.