Faith Stories: Radical Reversal
2 Corinthians 5:17
So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
Our ASP (Appalachia Service Project) youth mission trip was an adventure like no other. I prepared for the trip for nearly a year but never really expected to get anything out of it other than some good bonding time with the youth. It actually frightened me a little when I heard that the theme for the week would be “radical reversal.” We made it to Boone, North Carolina, where we slept on air mattresses, showered in cold make-shift showers, ate mediocre food at best, and the devotions and worship were merely worshipless. However, we did a fine job of completing our work, making friends, and we made it home where we told our parents of the amazing trip we had, all of the laughs and all of the interesting things we had encountered on the trip.
It didn’t take long for me to recover from my non-stop week at ASP. I was up and ready to be back at church working on the St. John’s Youth Ministry with a passion in my heart that I had not seen in quite some time. Others in the office might have thought that I had been taking energy pills or something to that effect from the nature of my determination to really get some things done that first week back. I have a close group of friends who were ecstatic about my return. They wanted to go to dinner and had other activities planned all week after I got back. However, something inside of me was holding me back. I would tell them different things like, “I’m just going to stay at home tonight,” or “I really want to finish my book.” They began getting frustrated with my responses so I began to think about why it was that I wasn’t really interested in hanging out with them.
I quickly realized it was my experience at ASP. I was radically reversed by the Spirit of those around me the whole week. The spirit in our youth who were such hard workers, the spirit of the volunteers who brought us and wanted to spend time and get to know us, and the homes we served where, I think everyone on the trip would agree, they ended up serving us. I was reversed by the family that in my world had so little–little money, little food, little education, so, so little. But, they had the Spirit and they let you know it. They sang spiritual songs, adorned their home with scripture and prayed with might. I came home not knowing that I had caught the Spirit that was present in those around me the week before. Our youth had lit the fire for me to do a better job at what I do each day in our Youth Ministry, and the families we served had lit the fire for me to lead a simpler lifestyle. It was truly a radical reversal.
I encourage each of you to think about taking a mission trip experience. Perhaps consider joining the youth of St. John’s one year! You never know what will happen!
God, thank you for the Appalachia Service Project and for my St. John’s family. May we each find radical reversal in our life because of Your name. Amen.