This past week was spent in Savannah, GA for a World Changers project. Jack was once again the Project Coordinator and the Worship Speaker. I absolutely love watching him lead. He handled problems with grace and patience (like when a middle schooler played in the brand new fountain at Savannah State and ended up pushing the bronze tiger off the top of the fountain into the water! And we got the line of the week from the Corporal of the police "Son, fountains aren't for playing in and tigers aren't for sitting on!"). And as always it was a joy to sit under his preaching. There really is no preacher I love to learn from and listen to more.
But this year, we had the added fun of having many from our church also come as leadership. Our friend Jack Griffin, who the students call either Old Jack or Fat Jack :), was the Construction Coordinator. He did an amazing job organizing and leading all of the construction for the week. We also brought 4 supervisors, the first aid coordinator and 2 runners.
And our students came as participants this year to the project Jack was coordinating. Our student ministry is very unusual. It is incredibly diverse- we have different races (the kids like to say we're the church that brings black kids to World Changers! :) ), different socio-economic groups, we pull from at least 4 different high schools and at least that many middle schools, they have different interests and styles. But they are incredibly unified- this group of very different kids loves each other and they enjoy each other. There really are no cliques (which is highly unusual for a student ministry). In fact, one college student whose family recently joined the church came with us to World Changers. She commented that she had never experienced such a loving and unified group before. Not only that, but they are a fun group. The laugh and cut up and have a great time.
Wednesday night was a Block Party in the neighborhood where the work was going on. Food was served and several students from another church were serving the food. Apparently they were tired of serving and told their leader they weren't having fun. Jack was sharing the Gospel with someone at the block party, so when the leader of this group was upset his kids weren't getting a break somehow it was me who got blasted with his anger. I didn't know what to do, but I knew I needed to get someone to relieve his kids before he blew a gasket- so I just looked over to where the ERBC kids were hanging out and yelled, "Hey, I need help!" Our students jumped up and came running- they jumped right in and started serving. And not once did they ask for a break. Not once did they complain about how hot it was. And later that evening, Jack and I were talking with a man who was not with World Changers, but who was at the block party. He asked Jack if he knew where some of the kids were from and he started pointing to the ones he had been watching. Jack told him they were his students and the man said he had just been sitting back and watching and he was very impressed. He said there was a student who just walked around and picked up trash, and another who was engaging the neighborhood kids. The block party was hot... very hot. And after a long day of working on roofs the kids were tired. Every church group left the block party about an hour and a half early except our group and one other. And they never complained... not once. They never asked to leave. In fact, we had to force them to go or they would have stayed and kept working.
And they are very hard workers. Let me tell you, at the end of the week several people figured out that the kids from Ewing Road were Jack's kids and they stopped him on Saturday morning as they were leaving to tell Jack that the kids from ERBC on their crews were the hardest workers on the crew. Then, on Friday afternoon word got around that there was house that they were afraid was not going to get finished. The leader from one church wanted to get on the road Friday night, and though he told Jack they'd wait until everyone came in from working he didn't wait- he drove to the worksites and took his kids off the worksites (and yes, it was the same church from the block party and the same one whose kids broke the fountain and who had a kid fall off a roof!). So now we have a house that is far behind and may not get finished and it no longer has a full crew working on it. I bet you can guess what our students did. They were all showered and were resting after having finished their houses. But they got up, put their work clothes back on and went back out to the worksites and stayed until the house was done.
Our students also love Jesus and have a passion for His name. Sunday morning we were talking about the trip. Several of our students expressed regret that the roof they were working on was such a big job. They wanted to work hard and complete the roof for the homeowner, but they were disappointed they didn't have more time to share the Gospel with people in the neighborhood! How awesome is that!
I was so moved by what I saw in our students last week. It is a testimony to their parents. It is a testimony of their walk with Christ. But it is also a testimony to their leader. I am sure Jack is not what every church wants in a student pastor, and I am sure there are things he can improve on. And I know there are student pastors who may do things differently than he does or those who have different ideas about what student ministry (and a student pastor) should look like. But this I know... He has made an impact in the lives of the students of ERBC. He has led them to and shown them Christ. Our students were different than many others last week. They stood out in their attitudes, in their service, in their unity. They reflected Christ- they shone brightly for Him. I know this is mainly because Christ has so changed them, but I also know it is because they have seen Christ shining in the heart of their leader. Students follow those who lead. And our students have been led in the right direction- to the foot of the cross- by a leader who loves them, invests in them and who is passionate for the name of Christ.
If anyone from ERBC reads this blog, you can be proud of your students- they represented you with excellence. And you can be proud of the adults volunteers who helped lead the project- they served tirelessly and always with a smile. And you can be proud of your Student Pastor- he led with excellence, he preached with passion and he has invested in the lives of your students who shone brightly with the Light.