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]

SERVE and My Life Story

The following is an article from our Spring 2016 magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

SERVE and My Life Story

by Thomas Kielstra

Discovering what my faith was as a teenager was not exactly easy. Feeling the various pushes from different Christian institutions to focus on different aspects of faith was challenging, but making my faith mine was very important to me.

In 2011 at the age of 14, I went to Muskegon SERVE in Muskegon, Michigan with a church that wasn’t mine. At the week of SERVE, I saw that the Reformed Church put a much larger emphasis on a personal relationship with God and personal relationships with others than I previously experienced. As a result, I began to analyse faith—specifically my faith—in a different way. I began investing in my own church’s youth group, and started to make connections within my church.

I went on to go to Woodstock SERVE in Woodstock, Ontario in 2012 and then back to Muskegon SERVE in 2013 with my own church in addition to four mission trips to Detroit, Michigan and one to Nicaragua with my high school.

In Grade 12, I wanted to do something more to help out with the SERVE. Having made a personal connection with Brian Kingshott, the youth director at Calvin Christian Reformed Church, which hosts Muskegon SERVE, I contacted him and asked if he would consider taking on an intern. I offered to help out with whatever needed to be done behind the scenes. He responded quickly saying that he would be interested, and he started connecting with Youth Unlimited to come up with a process to make this possible.

So in July of 2014, I went to Muskegon as an intern. I helped out with icebreaker games and activities and I was responsible for doing games before dinner and worship, but my favourite part about the internship was the personal connections I made with the participants and youth leaders. This is when I discovered how valuable friendship is to my personal faith journey. This is when my relationship with God truly became a friendship—not just something I believed.

I then went off to university, where I fell in love with my studies, and my faith took a back seat. By February, I still had not found a church that I called my own and my relationship with God became distant. This is when Brian reached out to me about coming back for another year, to help out with SERVE again. I hesitantly agreed.

Then, during my summer semester, I was invited to Royal City Evangelical Missionary Church’s youth group. Their focus is on relationship—Relationships with the youth and relationships with God.

As I attended Royal City, my relationship with God built over the summer as my relationships with my friends at Royal City grew. When I went back to Muskegon, again as an intern, in the summer of 2015, my relationship with God was much stronger than it had ever been. Now I am a Junior Youth Leader at Royal City. I have learned more about how to show the love of God and what my faith really is.

All in all, SERVE has taught me two things: first, I have a passion for serving others and second, having honest relationships with others and showing others that I will always be there for them is one of the best ways I am able to show God’s love to others.