AMARILLO, Texas?Spring Break Trip. Those words automatically paint a mental picture of a place where the ocean is blue, the sand is white and the sun seems to shine 365 days a year, far away from work and school.
Mission Trip. These words focus our mind’s eye on ministering to people in a strange land where languages and customs make sharing the gospel a challenge.
For most people these two types of trips aren’t even mentioned together in planning sessions. Spring Break is a time to get away from school. Missions Trips are meant to get away and practice the Great Commission across the globe. Some youth ministries, however, are beginning to look for ways to use the yearly weeklong respite from school and work to do something productive, something that could affect eternity.
The youth group at Lifeway Fellowship in Amarillo decided to spend their Spring Break sharing the love of God, not in a jungle, but in their own backyard working with Second Baptist Church. Chris Hurt, student pastor at Lifeway Fellowship, said the group has participated in mission trips before, including a trip working in the inner-city of Dallas-Fort Worth. This year the group stayed at home to conduct a sports camp to attract young children and teens to the church to learn about sports, discipline and the love of Christ.
The groups arrived at the church each morning, split up and canvassed the neighborhoods around the church to invite kids to come and participate in the camp. During the day, the kids worked on different soccer and basketball skills by participating in basic drills ? ball handling, dribbling, passing, etc. After the drills, the campers gathered for a time of Bible study where the gospel was presented.
Hurt said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout of the camp, with about 40 attending each day. But by the end of the week that number swelled to about 200.
After lunch, the group of 40 Lifeway Fellowship students and sponsors made their way to the next mission project. From 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. the group ministered to residents at the Amarillo Garden Community apartment complex. The group spent a few minutes at the beginning canvassing the area, inviting kids to come and be a part of the Backyard Bible Club. Their mission for the BBC was the same as mission efforts across the world: make the love of Jesus known to those who may not know.
“We went out and played with the kids and told them about Jesus,” Hurt said.
The Lifeway group was one of three different groups on six properties across town the same week. Jeff Parsons, multi-housing ministry facilitator for the Amarillo Baptist Association, said this was the first year for Spring Break mission efforts in Amarillo. The multi-housing ministry is about a year-and-a-half old. Last year, Parsons said, the ministry wasn’t ready to do this type of mission work. This year they were ready to give the local kids a chance to minister.
Hurt said his group took a mission trip to St. Louis last year. The destination of the trip was kept secret from the kids to spice things up a little. Campers weren’t told the location of the mission trip until it was almost time to go. When this year’s Mystery Mission Trip signups began, kids rapidly signed up.
“You should have seen their faces when we told them we were staying in Amarillo,” Hurt said. As the week went on, however, he said the group was glad they decided to stay home.
As with any mission trip the week wouldn’t have been complete without a little rest and relaxation. On Friday the group was rewarded for the service with a trip to Oklahoma City, where the group went to one of the area malls and enjoyed time off with one another.
The sacrifice the kids made proved to be fruitful. Hurt said over 30 kids made some type of decision for Christ at the Second Baptist Sports Camp. Four others made decisions at the Backyard Bible Club at the apartment complex.
Since the mission, some group members have returned to the complex to check on the children that attended the week’s events. Both groups seemed to find some satisfaction in the interaction.
Sarah Cullum is a 19-year-old college student at Amarillo College. She wants to be a social worker, which she believes is her calling. Cullum grew up at Lifeway Fellowship. As she prepares for her career by taking classes in school, Cullum knew that she needed some hands-on experience that a trip like this could give her.
Her job was to help with the arts and crafts with the kids at the apartments. But her job responsibilities weren’t limited to gluing construction paper hands on paper plates. She wanted to show God’s love to the kids. “We just loved on the kids and played with them,” Cullum said.
Cullum said she was surprised when the first group of 40 kids showed up that first day. She wasn’t expecting quite that big a turnout. It surprised her at the willingness of the kids at the apartment community to participate in the festivities.
“The kids jus