This year will be our 22nd year of sending a group of youth and leaders over to Salt Spring Island for a week to help residents with work around their homes. This trip is a highlight of the year for many of the students in our youth group. During the final months leading up to the trip a week does not go by without someone talking about how excited they are for Salt Spring. Many memories are made while on work projects and during the activities of the week. It has been a life changing week for so many students throughout the past 21 years.
Work projects are at the forefront of this trip, and the purpose of these projects is to serve the mission of the trip. The mission of the Salt Spring trip every year is to see students connect, learn, and grow as disciples of Jesus. The work projects help so many people on the island but the reason this trip happens each year is to see this mission happen.
Having this mission at the centre of the trip is what makes it so special. Work projects are a very practical way that we can love like Jesus. It shows us the importance of serving others and caring for their needs. It pushes students to see that part of being a disciple is serving. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (Mark 9:35b). How do we become a servant of all? We recognize the needs of those around us and aim to help them with those needs. For example, many on the island rely on firewood for heating their homes throughout the winter. So, we will spend hours upon hours during the week chopping and stacking wood. Others need help around their garden because they are unable to keep the weeds under control anymore. So we will spend hours pulling out weeds. We want to be servants.
But, there is something much greater that happens amidst these projects. At the beginning of the trip each year, we start with something we call the "equip session." A large portion of this involves practicing our testimonies and sharing the gospel with others so that we are prepared to share with the residents of the island. It is not uncommon to end up in a conversation about the gospel with residents throughout the week. Homeowners will ask students and leaders why they come to the island each year and this opens up an opportunity to share the gospel with them.
Growing as a disciple means we serve, but it ultimately means we also share the gospel. This is our duty as believers, to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). The work projects are an avenue in which we are able to glorify God on Salt Spring Island through word and deed. Please be in prayer for our team as we head over to the Island from June 29th-July 6th. Pray for God to work in the lives of the students and for opportunities to share the gospel with the people of Salt Spring Island.