The Sacrifice of Service

by Andrew Rennie, Lynden SERVE Host Team Member

My second year on the Host Team of Lynden SERVE felt different from the first. The first year left me wishing I could have done more or been more involved. I was inspired by the work of the students, by witnessing their comradery and unity, and by watching our church come together and work purposefully to the glory of God. Still, it seemed to me that my part in this sacrifice of service was missing something.

Reflecting on the old sacrificial system, I realize pleasing sacrifices are rarely spontaneous. The spotless lamb doesn’t walk up to the alter on its own. The firewood must first be collected and seasoned before it’s burned, and the poetry of praise doesn’t just float in on the wind. Each sacrifice is created through availability and intentionality.

For me, the biggest stumbling blocks to serving were having the time to do it (the idolatry of availability) and only wanting to serve in ways I was comfortable with (the idolatry of success).

I know, deep down, that I must say “Here I am, Lord,” and then be willing to listen to his calling.

This year I decided to plan ahead and take the week of SERVE off work. By giving this sacrifice, it kept me available, freeing my mind from work worries and letting me focus on SERVE. I could cheerfully give my time flexibly, offering help wherever it was needed. Being willing to listen to his calling beautified the sacrifice.

As a Christian, I no longer rely on the old sacrificial system our Heavenly Father instituted for his people to enable and restore their relationship with himself. I know Christ accomplished it all on the cross. There is literally nothing I can add to his highest and most holy sacrifice, and yet, I am still called and compelled to live my life as a fragrant offering before his throne.

I want to bring a sacrifice of praise and I want to bring a sacrifice of service. I desire to love God more wholly and abide in him more deeply. Approaching SERVE as a love offering to the Lord this year made all of the difference.

“Here I am, Lord.”

[This is an excerpt from the Fall 2018 Magazine. To read more stories CLICK HERE]


by Kyle De Boer, Gallatin Valley SERVE Host Team Coordinator

“The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).

For a high school student from the Gallatin Valley, a Tuesday at Grandma’s house turned into a life altering encounter with a servant of Christ.

Johnathon had just finished his sophomore year of high school. Since his brother and mom were working, he had to keep an eye on his little sister who broke her arm a few days earlier, so they ventured down the road to Grandma’s house.

As they arrived mid-morning, a group of students and adults with Gallatin Valley SERVE were hard at work, repainting and repairing Grandma’s house. Johnathon and his sister began to get to know this group of strangers from across the United States. Lunch time came quickly, so Johnathon brought his outside to join this group from SERVE.

Tyler, a senior from South Dakota, connected with Johnathon as they ate their sandwiches under the hot noonday sun. Tyler was curious about life in rural Montana. Johnathon had questions about SERVE. The conversations continued as they picked up the paint brushes for an afternoon of work. The singlewide home began to take on a new look after a coat of paint and repairs to the fascia.

Before departing, Tyler asked Johnathon, “Do you want to join us on a hike tomorrow for our day away?”

SERVE Shoes- Gallatin Valley

Johnathon was hesitant, unsure of how to respond. During the pause, Tyler noticed the ripped and tattered Converse shoes that Johnathon wore.

“Do you have any other shoes than those?”

“No, this is my only pair.”

Tyler walked over to the 12 passenger van, pulled out a pair of gray and black Nikes and handed them to Johnathon. “Try these on.” Surprisingly, they fit perfectly!

“You can have them,” Tyler said, “These are my extra pair and I have sandals along.”

The message of the gospel was communicated clearly to Johnathon when Tyler gave him a pair of shoes.

Nearly one year later, those gray and black Nikes have just been replaced, but that act of gospel generosity is clearly etched in Johnathon’s mind and informs how he lives today!

This is an excerpt from the Fall 2017 magazine. To read more stories click here:

My 51 – Menno, South Dakota Community

Three years ago I came to the small town of Menno, South Dakota to serve as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church (NALC/LCMC). It was the first time I had ever heard of this “thing” called Serve. Our town has a population of 608 and five (yes, count them: FIVE) churches. Our churches are Immanuel Lutheran Church (LCMS), Peace Christian Reformed Church, Salem Reformed Church (CCCC), Zion Reformed Church (RCUS) and Grace Lutheran Church, where I currently serve.

For a number of years now, youth from all five of these churches have attended Serve in various locations, from Platte, South Dakota to Newark, New Jersey to Houston, Texas and everywhere in between. I had the privilege of attending as a leader in 2013. Our group went to Houston, Texas, and one of the messages I heard there was that the youth were to take what they had learned from their experience with Serve and to put into action locally. In other words, Serve is not just one week in a place away from home. Serve is also about the other 51 weeks throughout the year.

Some of our other adult leaders who have been active with Serve took that call seriously, and with many brilliant minds TUG was born. TUG stands for Teens United in God. This August will be our third year of TUG. We begin on Friday evening and throughout all day Saturday. The kids do not get to sleep in on Saturday morning. They come early. We eat together. And then we go into our community of 608 people and we work. Last year we helped with cleaning up a rural cemetery and repainting the picnic shelter located there. Another group repainted the dugout shelters at our local softball field. Another group repainted a very large building located on our main street in town. And another group did clean-up and painting at our local park. The kids of Menno, South Dakota and surrounding towns were so diligent in their work, they finished early, so another group repainted a garage (albeit small) in an hour and a half!!


When the kids are finished with a long day of working, it does not stop there. We get together and we worship and sing. We are reminded of why we are doing what we are doing in the first place. God has called us to live out our lives pleasing to him, and because of the gracious gift he has given to us in Jesus Christ, serving our community is the least we can do.

In addition to the kids volunteering, we need many adults to help out. We had entire families helping us that day. This year, we have had people asking what projects the kids are doing for TUG. We now have other groups in town giving donations for TUG.

The local people are looking forward to seeing all the kids and adults out working in the community.

As a pastor of a small town, I cannot even begin to say how proud I am of this community. It is a community filled with faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, we do have residents who do not attend church, who do not believe that God is almighty and loves them so much he would give the greatest sacrifice of all. And it is because of that, that my hope and my prayer is that these kids and their families can be witnesses to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.