It was a sweltering hot and humid day in Mobile, Alabama, and I was staring at the flip screen on my video camera, watching some little girls braid a Fuge camper's hair into cornrows. I tried to ignore the trickles of sweat on my neck as I admired the teen's patience as the little girls pulled on her scalp and insisted on her paying attention to all of them at once. Nearby, boys were clamoring for me to video them kicking a soccer ball with another camper, and a pitched hula hoop battle was taking place not far away.
That day was one of many that summer that I got to see teens serving the communities of Mobile. Sometimes they goofed off, as kids sometimes do on service projects, but mostly, I got to see a lot of selfless service played out with kids in summer Bible camps, wheelchair bound people needing ramps to their doors, and special needs adults looking for a little attention and love. And I saw what it does to kids to teach them hands on about service.
It teaches them the importance of being the hands and feet of Christ. In their service to the wheel chair bound, the marginalized, the love-starved kid, they did it to Christ. And in their faces, I could see it. They came away changed.
They understood a little better that their first world problems with cell phones, friends, and fashion paled in comparison to the hurts that dominate so many people's lives. This is true for anyone who spends time serving God in their community, I think.
When we designed Zip For Kids, we wanted very much for one of our track times to be missions based to provide kids a practical chance to serve and live out what they were learning. But there's no way we can know what kind of missions opportunities you have in your town, or region, nor what kind of group with what kind of skills you have to execute that project. So we created the service based Live It track as the answer to that. It's a five-session customizable track with suggestions on how to find local organizations to partner with or service projects to do in your area, and how to organize kids and resources to make it happen.
The possibilities are endless. You could have a yard work day for elderly citizens in your town, bake cookies as a group one day then take them to a nursing home and sing songs and play games with the residents, or organize another Zip For Kids camp in an area of town where kids in need live and let your kids work with you to minister to those kids. The sky is literally the limit. Your project could be over in a day, or become a summer long project that kids build on.
There's one thing I can promise. If you teach your kids that when they serve people, they are really serving God, and then teach them to communicate with people who are struggling or hurting or in need, your kids will come away changed. Give them the gift of learning a little more about their priorities, while also serving your community! What are you waiting for!?
Have you used the Live It track, or had another experience with teaching kids to serve in your community? Share with us in the comments!