Go Do Good – Do It

by Angie Klooster

SERVE 2019 was one of the most influential weeks of my life. Seeing the broken state some people live in is one thing but having the opportunity to help them and change their way of life is entirely different. We made a difference, even if all we did was weed a few rows of a community garden or paint the walls of a non-profit organization. And making a difference made a difference in me.

I was cautious to go on this trip. It was very out of my comfort zone. Then, when I found out no one from my church was in my SERVE small group, I was even more discouraged. However, as soon as I met my small group and spent one day with them, I knew I was here for a reason. The people I worked with and got to know were some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, and I quickly realized God sent me on SERVE to do good.

God sent me to a small church in Muskegon, Michigan both to help people and to grow, myself. I learned more about myself in those seven days than I have in my entire life. I learned to not take things for granted. I learned that God works miracles in the strangest of ways. I learned to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people. And I learned to make friends, even if it’s just for a week and I might never see them again.

With each service project – every time we handed out yogurt at the church or cleaned a lot – we made a difference, and I was so encouraged. It might not have been much, but it was something, and it was hopefully enough to encourage others to follow our footsteps, too.

One little nudge can make a change in someone’s life, like the way my life changed at Muskegon SERVE. If the people of Muskegon saw us planting a garden and growing food, it shows them that it’s possible. If the kids at Muskegon Heights High School saw that people were willing to help them, it shows them they can help people, too.

Muskegon SERVE was just one week, but the people I worked with have been doing this for years. They have dedicated their lives to helping their community and are very passionate about what they do. They work so hard with so little. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to see, and talk to, and help these people. It’s changed who I am, and I hope everyone gets a chance to have a similar experience. If you ever get the opportunity to go do good, do it. It will be beyond worth it.  

[This is an excerpt from the Fall 2019 Magazine. To read more stories CLICK HERE]

The Story Behind the Service

God’s story of redemption is the most powerful love story that we can share with one another. As youth leaders, we desire to share God’s story, and engaging students in experiences like Serve is a way for them to connect with God personally. It is an honor to serve alongside students and share with them in witnessing God’s redemptive work in new communities across the country. Those stories are what kept me involved with Serve for seven years and eventually led me to my career in youth ministry.

Serve is known for setting up great worksites like building houses, or working in fields, stocking the local area food bank, perhaps even folding clothes at a local pawn shop. Although all of these sites are good and in need of help from willing and able youth, how often are we sharing the story behind the service that our youth are engaging in?

One summer, I took a group of youth to Holland, MI on Serve. We were assigned to paint a house belonging to an elderly couple who attended the Host Church. After two days of scraping off peeling paint, my group of six was running out of steam. The work was difficult, the sun was beating on us and my students were growing weary of the project.

The elderly couple invited us inside, and we joined them for lunch with our brown sack lunches. We noticed that the man of the house was in a wheelchair, hardly able to speak or to move on his own. His lovely wife offered us lemonade and cookies. We decided to initiate a conversation with our new friends by asking questions in order to learn more about them. After our lunchtime interview, we learned that he had had a horrible stroke and that she was now his primary caregiver. This woman was in her late 70s and was completely devoted to the care of her husband every day: bathing him, clothing him, feeding him. She didn’t complain once. She described to us the blessing of their marriage and how she was happy to care for him in all these ways.

We finished the house-painting project for our new friends that week. It took forever, but we completed the project! On the Friday evening before Serve was over, I asked my group what their favorite part of the week was. I was blown away when they all agreed that it was spending time with the elderly couple; learning about their life and their unconditional love for one another.

The testimony of those being served can impact the life of a young person. As leaders, let us encourage our students to discover the story that lies behind the service. You will never know the story unless you ask. Make the service personal and engage with people’s stories; let them affect your group. In the end, Serve is not so much about the work we do for people as it is about witnessing God’s glory through the people that we serve.