Knitting Together for His Purposes
by Shane Evert, youth leader for Carolina Christian School, Locust, North Carolina
Over the past two weeks, I have had an opportunity to reflect with gratitude on our recent trip to Neon, KY.
The Lord, by His sovereign grace and mercy, assembled through Carolina Christian School in Locust, North Carolina, a short-term team of nine adult leaders and 18 students (juniors and seniors). It pleased our Lord to send this team to Neon for the purpose of disaster relief, working through the partnership of OPC Disaster Response and MNA Disaster Relief. Our team spent several days in Neon, from November 17-20, and we were grateful recipients of the hospitality of Neon Reformed Presbyterian Church as our host.
Our team was tasked primarily with building four “Sheds of Hope” for families in the Neon community. Additional work, apart from building sheds, was to muck out a crawlspace under one home, and clean up a large pile of debris that was left in one homeowner’s yard.
This was the first short-term mission trip for many of our students, and the impact was significant. The students, as well as the adult leaders, laughed together, wept together, prayed together, and served together in the name of Christ. Our theme verse for this team was 1 Samuel 12:24: “Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.” We serve because Christ served, and we serve with hearts of gratitude in response to the lovingkindness of our heavenly Father.
While memories and individual testimonies are far too abundant to list, several things stand out to me as I consider the impact that this trip had on members of our team.
First, the students and leaders experienced a phenomenon that I often see in short-term teams. For four days, our lives intermingled in much the same way that I suspect was prevalent in the early church. Simply put, we “did life together.” We labored side by side, we enjoyed fellowship and meals together, we experienced heartache and tribulations together, and we rejoiced together in triumphs. Not surprisingly, personal relationships were formed and strengthened, and team members have returned home with newfound respect, love, and appreciation for one another. The Lord showed himself in the knitting together of his people with varied gifts and passions to accomplish his purposes; what a picture of the body of Christ!
Second, I believe that this team experienced the blessing of God that often comes with the pouring out of ourselves for his kingdom work. While we traveled to Neon with the intent of being a blessing to those whom we were able to serve, we returned home having been blessed all the more by those very same people! One example of this was a homeowner that insisted on feeding our team with hot dogs as a expression of her gratitude for our service. I heard from many of our team members how they were amazed at this act of generosity and were greatly blessed by the response of this homeowner.
Lastly, I believe that the lives of many of our team members were changed by this short time in Neon. During a season of prayer on our last night there, one of our students prayed that we would not return home and quickly forget what the Lord had allowed us to experience in Neon. Indeed, may we rather remember and reflect on this time with fondness, in consideration of how the Lord was pleased to use this team to share the hope that only comes through the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To God by the glory, great things he hath done.