As I have done with the first few groupings of trips, I thought I would take the time to share with you the blessing of partnerships I have had this summer. The Hawaii, Gulf Coast 2 and NorCal mission trips were amazing works of the Lord. In order to make that work we’ve obviously needed prepared students, supportive parents, the prayers of many, but also the leadership of some great shepherds!
One of the largest blessings to me this summer has been my interactions with the adult leadership teams serving on these trips. The leadership teams have come in with an expectation to serve and watch God work. This leadership style is needed on trips such as these. Once again, I was blessed by the head leaders of these teams. For the NorCal and Hawaii trips they were as follows:
Edgewood Baptist Church (Shasta, CA): Dave Anderson was introduced to me last fall by Aaron Bauer. He and Dave have served together for years through Converge Northwest. I am amazed at how much Dave does for his church and with his youth. In the midst of a very tough season in his own life, he has faithfully shepherded his group of students. This was evident as I have gotten to interact with many of these students at the Spring Retreat and at the Launch of the NorCal trip. What I have quickly learned and appreciated the most about Dave is his willing heart to do what it takes to facilitate growth in others lives. He very much has a servants heart and puts others first. I am proud to call him a new friend and believe I will have a lot to learn from him as God opens up doors for us to serve together in the future.
Taproot Church (Lakehead, CA): Judd Johnstone came to a Burien Youth Pastor meeting a couple years ago with my friend Mike England. Judd had just started an internship at Trinity Church (which later became Taproot). This fresh face was a welcomed blessing to our group of Youth Pastors. In the last two years God has changed this young intern into a quality servant leader! Judd is a leader among his peers. He was barely older than most in his group (and was younger than several), though you would never know it by they way he leads. He is unassuming, but is direct enough. He is humble, but willing to lovingly point others in the right direction. In short, he was and is the right leader for this group at this time! This group learned a lot in serving/sharing in Lakehead, I cannot wait to see what happens at Taproot in 2009-2010!
Living Hope Christian Fellowship of Bothell (Anahola, HI): Mike Hagen had one of the more difficult leadership assignments of the summer. Having visited all of the summer sites I know that each had its own inherent difficulties, but if I were to rank them in order of most difficult places, I would honestly say that Anahola would have been #1 going in. For those who think “Ahh, suffering for Jesus in Hawaii huh?” You were right. Anahola was a very tough place, but blessed place to serve. The people were very friendly, but were so used to white-folk using the natives for their land, not to share life with souls. Not only was the culture a tough one to step into, Mike had to put up with me learning all my own lessons and stepping on a few toes in the process. I am proud of the team, leaders and Mike as they did a great job in the midst of a very unique place! And to be completely honest, it was a GREAT place to learn, serve and grow in faith (83 and sunny, cool breeze and the occasional liquid sunshine)!
Emmanuel Faith Community Church (New Orleans LA and Pass Christian, MS): Josh Rose. My best friend (outside of Jesus and Elisabeth of course) is a man named Jeramy Clark. Jeramy, for many years served as the Youth Pastor at Emmanuel Faith Church of Escondido, CA. Though he still serves at EFCC, the High School group is pastored by Josh Rose. Jeramy introduced me to Josh about 8-10 months ago and I am so glad he did. Josh is a great man of God who has his priorities straight and is doing a fabulous job of shepherding a youth group of well over 300 students! Josh led the team into New Orleans for the first week of their trip with Urban Impact, for the second week this group so seniors-to-be served through Youthmark in Pass Christian, MS. It is evident through their blog and some facebook status updates that God did some incredible things in and through this ministry. I am praising God for the few days we have had to build a friendship and look forward to our further interactions!
Faith Baptist Church (Lewiston, French Gulch and Scott Valley, CA): Aaron Bauer. When the Aaby family moved full-time into Youthmark we were faced with the large task of finding a new home church. One of the first churches we visited was Faith Baptist of Kent. Before we did this I met with a new friend to me, Aaron Bauer. Aaron and I had met several times before but it was at this point we really began our friendship. I don’t think there has been a two-week stretch that has gone by since then that we haven’t talked, texted or emailed. I am thankful for his leadership to and with Youthmark. He not only led and facilitated the leadership for his three teams in NorCal, he served as LEAD for the NorCal region. Aaron went above and beyond in this role and blew me away with his giftedness. The Bauers and Aabys continue to grow closer as families and I believe Aaron really understands and believes in the vision of Youthmark. Can’t wait to see how we can continue spur one another on toward love and good deeds!
UPDATE: Just noticed that Aaron is still posting at the Youthmark blog and has some updated requests, praise God. Click here and pray!
Again, partnering in the Gospel is such a blessing! Hope you’re building strong partnerships!