When young people put their heart into something, amazing things can happen.
Just that occurred when over 900 youth and adult leaders converged on The Woodlands, TX for Glorybound 2012, the Texas District youth gathering.
Spending time in worship, devotion, fellowship and teaching the youth also put their hands and feet where their hearts were - they served Houston in a big way.
Teaming up with Generation One and LINC Houston, the youth made a positive impact serving the city of Houston's multi-cultural milieu.
Working with LINC's Mission Department, the youth served alongside five mission congregations and helped distribute food, pray for neighborhoods downtown, put on VBS activities, perform street evangelism, clean a house, paint a building and more.
The youth's interaction with LINC Houston began at "the Commons" at the conference hotel in The Woodlands. Interacting with Mission Director Rev. David Kim and his wife Rebecca, Church Planting Coordinator Andres Zelaya and Missional Trainer Ken Chitwood the high schoolers played Korean bingo, tried on ethnic garb from Houston immigrant communities and learned more about LINC's "glocal mission."
The youth also blessed LINC leaders. On Saturday night over 40 different mission leaders gathered on stage at the main event to share LINC's vision, but also to receive a prayer and blessing from Glorybound participants.
Yet, if you asked the kids, their most important interaction with LINC came through service.
Serving alongside LINC leaders, volunteers learned what it means to impact a multi-ethnic city like Houston.
"By serving the youth got to see what is going on in our city," said Katie Thomas, who helped coordinate and oversaw the urban mission teams.
"They saw the multi-cultural reality that is Houston and saw what needs exist in the inner city," she said.
Especially for local youth groups from Pilgrim Lutheran in the Southwest, Trinity Klein or Memorial Katy the experience can be extended as they return to working alongside the same churches in the same communities in the future.
"They were blown away by the fact that it is all right here in their own city," said Rev. David Kim.
One experience in particular made an immediate impression on volunteers and the community alike. Serving with UNVEIL Church downtown, the youth engaged in prayer walking and street evangelism. Most of them did not come from an inner-city context, but they were able to see the impact of a prayer and person-to-person evangelism.
"We were uncomfortable at first," said one youth, "but it came together in the end.."
The experience not only inspired youth to try this in their own hometown, but helped UNVEIL be more present in their mission context. Their prayer and evangelism brought immediate results as UNVEIL threw a block party on Saturday evening, which attracted over 100 people, including many who were prayed for the day before.
Reflecting on this, and other forms of service at Glorybound, Pastor Kim said, "More than participating in a service activity they were missionaries in the city."
Did your youth group serve with LINC and like to do it again? Would you like to bring a group, young or old or mixed, to serve alongside a LINC congregation? These urban mission trips are life-changing and a great help to LINC churches. Contact Pastor Kim or Urban Mission Trip Coordinator Katie Thomas.