I love mission trips. I love everything about them. I love the community that is created by people serving together. I love living in community during the trip and sharing meals together and spending many hours getting to know one another on a deeper level. I love meeting new people and going to new places. But most of all, I love getting to serve others in the name of Jesus. But as much as I love mission trips (and in my line of work I’ve been on a ton of them), I often times have come away feeling like even though our time on the trip has been wonderful and encouraging and faith growing that maybe we’ve missed something important.
As we prepare for our mission trips each summer in 3D Student Ministry we spend a great deal of time raising money and making preparations to make sure that the trips happen as smoothly as possible. We invest a great deal of resources (financial, skills, time, and people) to go and minister in the name of Jesus to often far away communities with whom we likely don’t have any real connection that will last beyond the trip. All of these preparations and the resources that we offer create fantastic experiences that grow and challenge us in our journeys to be more like Jesus. Whether it be getting to know a homeless person in Houston, spending time with a child at Fortress Youth Development Center in Fort Worth or picking up shards of glass that were left in the aftermath of a tornado that ripped through Washington, Illinois, we always walk away having learned more about what it means to follow Jesus. And at the end of every trip the same thing happens. The conversations always turn to this question: “Why don’t we do these kinds of things in Abilene? We have homeless people in Abilene, don’t we?” But somehow in the chaos of returning to our regular lives in Abilene that question fades and we inevitably go back to our normal routines without finding ways to take what we learned while we were away and use them to further the Kingdom of Jesus in Abilene.
So, some time ago, Sarah Campbell and I began asking this question: “What would it look like for us to devote the same time and resources to doing good in the name of Jesus in the city of Abilene as we do to serving people in other communities on our mission trips?”
“It is our hope that Restoration Week will help us learn to love and serve more effectively in the name of Jesus in our own community of Abilene.”
It is our hope that Restoration Week will help us learn to love and serve more effectively in the name of Jesus in our own community of Abilene. Restoration Week will be led by our 3D Student Ministry but will be an event for the entire Highland Church family. Restoration Week is an effort to pray for and serve our neighbors with “no strings attached.” Our goals during Restoration Week are to “Love God and love others” (Mark 12:30-31) and to put “God’s love in action” (I John 3:16-18). This year, Restoration Week is happening during Spring Break, March 8-15 and we anticipate that it will be a yearly event. During Restoration Week, we will spend our mornings knocking on every door in neighborhoods surrounding the Highland church building, Grace Fellowship and Freedom Fellowship. We will offer prayer and service to everyone we meet and take down prayer requests, which will then prayed for by a prayer team throughout the week. Any service requests we receive will be taken care of in the afternoons by our Service Crews, made up of our middle school, high school, college students and adult volunteers. Several evenings during the week, we will hold family-friendly events for our community, such as a movie night in the park and a community cookout, which will provide even more opportunities for us build relationships with our neighbors.
Our hope is that Restoration Week will become a “training camp” to prepare and help our church practice what it looks like to be active parts of the Restoration Vision of Highland, and to live out lives of thoughtful prayer and service the other 51 weeks of the year. This week will be a reminder to always keep our eyes open because God is always at work.
So, will you join us for Restoration Week 2015? In the coming weeks, you be hearing more details about how you can be involved and we hope you’ll make plans to invest your Spring Break in the community of Abilene.