Developing a Heart to Serve

Just last week over 50 teens and leaders finished our yearly serving trip to the city of Lafayette, Indiana.  When most people think of a mission’s trip they usually think of a long trip in a bus to a location you have never been to before to meet people you have never seen before in order to do ministry to the people who need it.  The problem is that so many times our own towns are forsaken so we can go to some strange location in order to accomplish these goals.

It has become obvious to our church that there are so many parts of our own city where the Gospel is needed.  It has become obvious even to our city that there are so many parts of our own town where people need help.  It has become obvious to the heart of this Youth Pastor that we need to do something about this.  So we started gathering as a team of teens, staying together as a team of teens, and devoting a week to building the hearts of our teens to love our own city.

This year we targeted two key neighborhoods in which to serve.  And we poured our hearts into those neighborhoods.  We cleaned up the neighborhoods by picking up trash, we fell in love with the people of those neighborhoods by building relationships with the residents of those neighborhoods, and we helped strengthen the community in those neighborhoods by helping them put on block parties.

So why would we do all of this?  There is a twofold answer to this question.  First these areas are in need of the hope of the Gospel and we want to share the Gospel with them. Secondly we want our teens to develop a love for serving others because of their love for the Lord.

As this trip went along it was incredible to watch the response of several of our teens to the opportunity to serve others.  They were so committed to serving these folks that it was obvious by the joy on their faces as they served.

After the trip several of our teens posted comments on social media about the impact the trip had on them.  I would like to share some excerpts from their posts with you.

Faith Church 4:TWELVE Student Ministries teens playing Red Light, Green Light with neighborhood children in downtown Lafayette.
Faith Church 4:TWELVE Student Ministries teens playing Red Light, Green Light with neighborhood children in downtown Lafayette.

          Jesus said, ‘Go out and be fishers of men.’ I’ve been so incredibly blessed to spend a grand total of 8 full days serving the Lafayette community with insanely awesome people.  After this week, I have learned a lot about myself and my heart for God and His people.  I’ve created and built new friendships with people that will last a lifetime.  Having the opportunity to share the Gospel with the teens, children, and adults in our community has really shone a light onto God’s plan for my life.  I’m in love with this sacrificial love.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve my community with the youth group this past week.  I was so thankful I could go this year and am praying that I would be able to go next year…. This trip has made me want to serve my community in any way I can whether by picking up trash, talking to people, or throwing neighborhood parties.  There are so many other ways to serve others around me and I feel the need to continue to serve even without a group.

It has been a blessing to be a part of the challenge trips the past 5 years.  I’ve strengthened and developed many relationships.  I’ve been changed for better by those around me on the trip and those in our community.  I’m very thankful to have an awesome youth group who love to serve the Lord. It’s cool to be a part of ways we are impacting our community.

Thank the Lord for a heart of serving that is being developed by teens who are seeing the need to love those around us.

Johnny Kjaer
Johnny is married to Tori. They have 4 children Leif, Tryggve, Kjirsti and Hroarr. He has been a part of the youth ministry at Faith since his internship began in 2010. He served as the Pastor of Student Ministries from 2013-2023 and now serves as the Pastor of Faith East Community Ministries. Johnny is an ACBC certified counselor. He also serves the church by directing the Lafayette Living Nativity.