Sunday, July 19 marked the end of the Gulf Coast Mission Trips and the beginning of the YMV Participants MISSIONSHIP! As I have been saying throughout the training, it isn’t about the trip, our mission needs to be lived out at all places and at all times. The Great Commandment and Great Commission are who we are, not just what we do.
As I did with the first trips, I wanted to let you know a little about these teams and their leaders so you can pray for them this week and beyond as they begin the great joy of shepherding their flock in their own Jerusalem after their missionary journey…
The Gathering (served in Deweyville, TX): Kevin Olivarez and I met at the Cracker Barrel restaurant for breakfast while I was consulting for Pulpit Rock Church of Colorado Springs. Our Monday morning breakfast in January was orchestrated by a mutual friend of ours, Steve Burford. Steve was serving as Small Groups Pastor at The Gathering and he thought the YMV strategy was something Kevin needed to hear about. Well, we fast forward 6 months and Kevin is coming off what blogged like a great trip. I look forward to debriefing via the phone and internet. One of the things I have gotten to see in Kevin is his passion for the kids on his radar screen. He loves, protects and encourages the students he serves. I love when a shepherd is a protector!
Pulpit Rock (served in Kinder, LA): Mark Tuggle, Sam Stidham and Kevin Matthews all took turns shepherding this group through the training and the actual mission. Because PRC is between Youth Pastors each of these men played key roles in getting the students through the training and then Kevin landed the plane on the actual trip. To be honest, of all the Youth Groups this is one of them that I knew the most going in. Because it was a relatively small team and because of my consulting relationship with PRC I was able to spend extended time with a number of them going in. I am thankful for the job they did. Sam was the energizer who, though very young, stepped it up and did a great job of starting the training. Mark took over (though he is the Sr. Pastor) and shepherded the group through the d0g-days of spring when students are thinking about great weather rather than missions; and then Kevin Matthews answered the call and took the group on the trip, which is outside his normal call of worship ministries! I’m proud of the job this team did in a unique Kinder!
Burien Free Methodist (Bridge City, TX): Mark Knight has become a dear brother in the last few years. I first met Mark when he was interning at his Dad’s church, Highline Christian. His Youth Pastor, Chad, and I were part of the same network of YP’s and we decided to do a trip together (introducing them to this style of trip). Mark was placed on my team and I fell in love with the (then) kid. I remember having Mark do the evening “rally cry” after each evening outreach (gathering our team for a time of praise). Since that day I have seen Mark grow as a leader, then as a husband and now as a Youth Pastor. He is now part of the YP network I call “home” and I just love to see him continue to grow and contribute. His team had a highly “service” oriented trip compared to many others, I am proud that in spite of the heat, the group did very well in reaching BC Texas!
Grace Church West Seattle (Vinton, LA): Nathan Schlaud. I had the privilege of having an Apprentice the last few years while serving as a Youth Pastor. I remember interviewing a young guy from the midwest a few years back and thinking, “this guy sounds like he is ready to become a youth pastor but is strong enough to admit he needs some fine-tuning.” Well, we hired Nathan Schlaud and we have become very close friends since that day. Words do not and cannot explain how proud of him I am after seeing him grow up in many ways the last few years. Elisabeth and I love he and Megan (his wife) (as do our kids). Vinton was truly a special blessing to the students at Grace (and the leaders) and the Grace team was certainly a blessing to the community of Vinton. Through it all I just sat back, read the blogs, prayed for the team and trusted the Lords leading in Nathan’s life as he led!
I love being able to partner with the Godly people who served in the Gulf. The communities are served by great Pastors doing the foll0w-up and were served for a short while with great Youth Pastors who brought great groups to the Gulf!