In early July, a group of young people from the Erb Mennonite Church came to His Thousand Hills Christian Camp and Retreat Center in Wellsboro, PA, to serve here by helping fix up some things around camp.
They had originally planned to go on a missions trip, but when COVID hit, their plans had to be cancelled. However, the leaders pivoted with the times, and instead, planned an awesome an instructive week for the kids. Not only were WE incredibly blessed and blown away by how much got accomplished over the course of a day and a half....but I'm guessing the youth were all incredibly challenged, strengthened and blessed by their experience too. What a gift - to have such amazing leaders!
Here's a bit about their story from one of the leaders:
"God's presence and power was evident on this trip in many ways. Our youth group from Erb Mennonite Church was planning to have a 10-day discipleship/service trip to Costa Rica with VidaNet's summer program, Vida Missions. Due to Covid, all Vida Missions trips were cancelled for the summer. We were very disappointed but knew we, the leaders, still wanted to give the youth some kind of trip with discipleship and service aspects. Our heart was for them to gain as many of the experiences they would have had in Costa Rica, so we planned a 'surprise trip'. Other than being given a packing list and knowledge that the destination would be within a day's drive of Lancaster, PA, the youth had no idea where we were going or what we'd be doing.
We went to a cabin in Potter County, and throughout the 5 days we were away, there were a variety of activities we had planned for the youth. Many of the activities were planned with the goal of stretching the youth outside their comfort zones. God doesn't have much room to move in our lives until we're willing to stretch ourselves to the point of realizing our need for Him.
We were very grateful for the opportunity to serve at 2 camps in northern PA during our trip, including His Thousand Hills. In addition to the service times, each day we had a time of discipleship training and testimony sharing. Our group grew immensely through openness and authenticity during sharing times. We experienced the Holy Spirit in powerful ways during times of worship, prayer, and ministering to one another.
One of the other stretching experiences we planned was a 'World Awareness Day'. Youth were randomly assigned to a socioeconomic class that represented a cross-section of the world's population and classes. The class that each youth was assigned determined the food they would eat that day. The poor ate rice and drank dirty water, the middle class ate rice and beans, and the rich had a nice North American meal with a fine dining experience. Many of us were stretched that day and gained a small glimpse of what 90% of the world population experiences with food each and every day.
A realization that we had during our time in northern PA was that God had this trip in store for us all along. While we were all disappointed about not traveling to Costa Rica, our trip in PA was not a 'back up plan' because of Covid. In fact, God knew and had ordained this experience to happen. While we expect to "experience God" more easily when we are on international trips, why can't we expect Him to show up in powerful ways in the United States? Our prayer as leaders going into this trip was that the youth would experience Christ and the power of His resurrection in new and meaningful ways, and we believe the Lord answered those prayers.
We were blessed by the new relationships formed with brothers and sisters in Christ at His Thousand Hills, and we pray the Lord would bless your ministry and continue to show Himself faithful to each of you."
AMEN! What an amazing testimony, and such a neat experience planned for these youth!
If you'd like to see the gallery of photos from their day with us, and all they accomplished here (painting railings and chairs, fixing landscaping, rebuilding a roof, etc.) scroll down the gallery below!
And maybe, prayerfully consider how YOU could minister to the youth in your church in such a powerful way too!