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‘Mission trip to nowhere’ blesses church youth group in Colorado

Thirteen youth and sponsors from the University church in Denver planned and talked for months for their annual summer mission trip.
Yet when the nine teen-agers and four adults piled into their van one steamy morning, they had no itinerary. No hotel reservations or planned rest stops. Not even a clue which direction they’d drive once they left the church parking lot.
“Why do we need a ‘destination’ in mind when we go on a mission trip?” University youth minister Josh Jones asked the teens when discussions about possible locations began. “Who knows what opportunities we have missed while driving to where we were headed?”
Fresh from finishing a study on the Holy Spirit, participants decided to let God lead them — in every possible way — for one week. Their careful preparations, except for budgeting and loading some tools and camping supplies into a trailer, focused on having spiritual mindsets and fasting for the first 24 hours of the journey.
A pebble tossed onto a map guided them first toward northwest Colorado. Along the way, they prayed with
and helped a couple in a broken-down moving van.
The group later stopped in Grand Junction, Colo., and drove around town with “open eyes” to find opportunities to serve, Jones said. They spent the next few days cleaning a trash-filled lot, washing a bus, preparing meals for the homeless, painting and talking and praying with residents.
From there, they spun a wheel to determine which direction they’d drive. After two more stops along the highway to help stranded motorists, they arrived in Montrose, Colo. and prayed with members of the local police department who were mourning the shooting death of an officer.
Subsequent stops took them to the towns of Moab, Green River and Vermal in Utah, as well as Fruita and Craig, Colo.
“We laughed at God’s sense of humor as he led us,” Jones said, adding that once the group drove for hours in a big circle as they gave a ride to a man in need of prescription medication.
Other times, what seemed like small tasks — like mowing or pulling weeds — evolved into more elaborate home repair projects.
“It taught us to keep our eyes open for all of the opportunities that God provides, not just (the ones) we plan,” said Nicole Guillo, 20, University’s youth ministry intern.
The participants also marveled at how they were cared for: Half their meals were provided by churches or individuals they were serving, and they always had a building or campground with showers to stay in overnight.
“This trip revolutionized the concept of service for me,” said Mitch Bennett, 16. “I was shown that God calls us to serve every day in all ways, wherever we are.”
The week wasn’t without frustrations, Jones said. At times, contacts came more slowly than the eager workers would have liked, and a few projects required a handful of the teens instead of the entire group.
But the youth minister said the lessons learned were well worth the brief uncertainty at times.
“It wasn’t just the teens that didn’t know where we were going. I had no idea from … day to day or even hour to hour where we would be,” Jones said. “I think all of us got a real sense of what it means that God is our provider, what it means to have your eyes open to others’ needs and how to follow the Spirit’s guiding in our lives.”

  • Feedback
    I am inspired!! This is a classic example of us fitting into God’s plan. We always make plans & schedules and ask God to fit into our little schedule which in most time doesn’t work.
    Great Inspiration!!
    Reuben. H
    Port Moresby, PNG
    August, 30 2009

    This is SO confirmation for what God has been talking about to me and my sister in the Lord. We have been moved from New York and Alabama to Denver by God for what, we really aren’t sure, but we are learning daily to just walk by faith and not by sight. Thank you for this wonderful bit of lesson we needed to learn. God bless you and continue to be a blessing.
    Denver, CO
    August, 29 2009

    This is so awesome you are doing this it gets the youth out on the right foot…doing what we are supposed to be doing..They should never fall into a religious rut if they continue to do this….
    Judy Haga
    Liberty Christian Fellowship
    Roseburg, OR.
    August, 28 2009

    good testamonies
    mercia pereira
    mississauga, ontario
    August, 28 2009

    I love hearing of organic faith. oh that the church would humbel its self and seek to follow Christ. He also made no plans other then to do what He saw His Father doing.
    Bill Lopez
    Vineyard Christian Fellowship
    Milwaukie, OR
    August, 28 2009

    This is absolutely mind boggling!! So simple and yet we find it so difficult to do. Thank you for showing me yet again that when God is in charge things always work out as they should. For His honour and glory!!!! Keep up the excellent service in His name as I commit to a promise of prayer for you all that God’s will may be worked out in each of you. I am in my 60’s and you give me great hope that God will indeed bring us to unity and love in Him as we reach out in love to the broken.
    Blessings in Yeshua
    Noreen Minifie
    LJH RC christian community
    Otawa, Ontario
    August, 28 2009

    This is exciting!! I am on my way to Redding ,California to the School of Supernatural Ministry and your article was VERY encouraging. I have a long trip ahead of me by car to Redding. In the natural my car isn’t that great. But I know that where God guides He provides. You are yet further proof and I am grateful to have heard of your adventures with God and I may be called on to serve on my trip also. PRAISE GOD!!!!!!
    Diane Stedman
    Calvery Fellowship
    Florence, Al
    August, 28 2009

    What a great story! I now realize that God’s plans are much more productive than my own and am just learning to lean on the Holy Spirit. I hope these kids have learned a lesson that will last a lifetime and that they can share with others.
    Donald James Parker
    Author of Reforming the Potter’s Clay
    Donald James Parker
    River of Life Assembly of God
    Madison, SD
    August, 28 2009

    I am SO proud to say that I belong to the same church from which these amazing men and women come from. Throughout the whole trip, we would get updates from Josh and the others and it just raised my spirit to hear what they were doing. Our church has always had an amazing youth program, even when I was growing up there, but the things they have done over the past few years have been at an incredible new level and led completely by the Holy Spirit. Well done, you guys! We are very proud of your humble spirit and your example to all of us!
    Myles Becker
    University Church of Christ
    Westminster, CO
    United States
    August, 19 2009

    the youth group in Colorado.this is what Africa youth Looking forward to see from the US churches of Christ,its away to reachout the poor and homeless ,they are bless.I hope our God is happy . If all the churches of Christ are doing this. how did you think the church will be? Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James1:27
    Eric asante obeng
    johannesberg, Gu-
    South Africa
    August, 19 2009

    Wow! This is what we always hope for Christians as we preach and teach. These teens were “getting it”! Serve daily, look for the opportunities, God is a daily happening! Not just Sunday am. Praise the Lord!
    Roger Moon
    Canyon View Church of Christ
    San Diego, California
    August, 18 2009

Filed under: Staff Reports Top Stories

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