Youth group visits NOLA
While many students use the summer months to take time off and relax, some instead decide to venture off into unknown territory to spread the gospel.
Recently, the youth group of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and other members of the Town of Brantley packed their bags and set off on a trip to New Orleans in search of someone to help and someone to share the love of Christ with.
“This is my twelfth year serving as youth director for Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Brantley. We participated in our eleventh mission trip on June 8-12,” said Shelley Davis, youth director for Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
“This year we went to New Orleans.”
According to Davis, there were 58 people with the group on Wednesday through Friday and 61 on Saturday.
While in New Orleans the group served in two homeless shelters, Ozanam Inn and New Orleans Missions. At Ozanam, they helped prepare bedding for the next night, wrote encouraging notes to leave on the every pillow, prepared food for lunch and supper and served lunch.
At New Orleans Missions, they served lunch one day and the other days the group performed outreach.
“Outreach consisted of us making sack meals, passing them out in the parks and under the bridges and praying with the men and women we encountered,” Davis said.
“We also assisted in early morning shifts at Second Harvest Food Bank and Kitchen. There we bagged and boxed thousands of hot and cold breakfasts and lunches to be distributed.”
Davis said that the group was also able to host a backyard Bible club for the locals, and shared the love of Christ with over 50 children.
Harrison Weed, tenth grader at Brantley High School, attended the mission trip to New Orleans last year and was excited to learn that he would once again have the chance to go this year.
“In New Orleans it’s a whole different place from where we live,” he said.
“Everywhere we looked we saw homeless or jobless people with signs needing food or money or even prayers. While we were there we visited many homeless shelters around.”
The group was also able to successfully pass out nearly 200 hygiene bags, over 200 Bibles and over 200 sack lunches on that Saturday morning.
“While we were at New Orleans Missions passing out these items the men there began to sing with us. They knew every word to every song we sang,” Davis said.
“We went to be a blessing to them, but they were really a blessing to us. Before we left, they sang a song for us one of the men had written.”
During their activities on the last day, Weed says that the group passed out sack lunches to the homeless and had the opportunity to pray over them and talk to them about the Lord.
After this, the group set out to host a block party for the local children.
“Those were some of the happiest kids I’d ever seen, but it was sad for some of us to see that there were one and two year olds who couldn’t even talk walking around by themselves,” Weed said.
One of the greatest lessons Weed says he has taken from these mission trips is to be thankful for everything he is given. While many of us live comfortable lifestyles, Weed had the chance to see how the other half lives on a day-to-day basis.
“We take so much for granted in our lives. Where we are, we complain if it’s too hot or too cold outside but these people live in those conditions twenty-four seven,” Weed said.
“One day I believe it was around 90 degrees inside the building and we were all soaked in sweat, but those homeless people were rejoicing and singing with us and they were happy just to be alive.”
The lessons learned on this mission trip are ones that will stick with Weed for the rest of his life. He now hopes to continue to go on these mission trips as well as recruit other youth to attend in the future.
“I really do think it is important for the youth of our country who get the chance to go on these trips to go,” Weed said.
“You will be surprised how humble these experiences can make someone and how many people can be saved or changed just by seeing and talking to these people we encountered.”
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