This week we took 23 high school students and seven adults on a mission trip to Wilmore, Kentucky with an organization called AdventureServe. Our primary project was to repair a roof for Penny, a single mother of four who is trying to put three of her kids through college. The roof leaked so badly that the ceiling caved on the inside. She is possibly one of the sweetest people on earth and has spent hours getting to know us and baking us cookies.

We also rotated our students through a series of “mystery trips,” where we partnered with local ministries that have longstanding relationships with the community. Our students started at Broadway Live, a summer camp for urban and at-risk children. They played with and loved on children for a whole day, playing games with kids on their backs. As soon as they thought their shoulders were getting a break, the next set of arms reached up to be held. Our students served at Quest Farms, a working farm that cares for and houses people with mental handicaps and helps them integrate into society by equipping them with jobs. The students gathered green beans, met the residents and did a puzzle with them. We also helped the Kentucky U.M. Children’s Home transition out of facilities built in the 1800s and move into newly updated housing.

We continually prayed for the Lord to provide sheet rock because our budget didn’t have room to repair Penny’s ceiling. We found a 4×8-foot panel of drywall at the children’s home that was no longer needed. What an awesome experience to see the Lord’s provision.  After that we did Random Acts of Grace (RAGs), where we prayed about how the Lord would have us reach out and bless people on the streets of Lexington. My group sat with a 30-year-old woman who was recently divorced and homeless. Embarrassed by her situation, we spoke with her and extended grace, told her how God loves and delights in her, encouraged her to persevere, prayed with her, let her pray for us, and bought her lunch. Other groups placed encouraging notes around town and sensed the Lord giving them a specific encouraging word to say to people as they walked past them.

Three of my own friends and mentors who have shaped who I am spoke to our students. A couple of my students have asked me how to make friends like I have. We challenged ourselves to be good soil that receives God’s word and bears fruit. We’ve learned how to listen to God first when we pray for someone else, and we saw God show up and speak directly into people’s lives. Finally, we were shown an example of missional living as a lifestyle through hospitality. They invited us into their home and made delicious fajitas and challenged us to think of ourselves as disciples, trying to be like our master and answer the call to share God’s love. One student had been wrestling with the idea of going into ministry and now sees clearly how he can be the Church to everyone around him being a man on mission with God in a job outside the walls of the church.