The vision for this week is part service week and part retreat. We go to a variety of non-profits around the flint area in the mornings and afternoons (from food pantries to neighborhood clean-up). We split up into small groups and during our work with these non-profits, each group gets a chance to really meet people, work alongside them, and try to get an understanding of how to love the poor in these different situations. Then after about 6 hours of work, we transition to the retreat part of the day. This is always the exciting part for me!
During these evening sessions, we really get a chance to merge the actions of our day with the movements of our heart. Which is extremely important when we are acting in charity! There are so many times in which charity work is done to make ourselves feel like we did something good and to affirm that we are good people. That isn’t a completely bad thing, but feeling good after doing a charitable act should be a by-product of the action not the main reason we help people. Reaching out and serving others needs to be centered in our personal relationship with Christ. When we can connect those actions to this personal relationship, we start to love the people that we are serving more and we can start to see them differently.
I remember during my first year bringing kids on this week, I had one student that was brutally honest about some parts of their week. She said that at first she was kind of disgusted with the people we were working for. That she was kind of scared of them and also judged them a lot. Although this was her initial reaction, she then said that her heart changed throughout the week and she was able to start seeing them as real people. She said she could see herself in some of them and also see Christ in them. I was actually at her work site, and got to see this switch throughout the week. She went from keeping a distance, to knowing most of the people we were with by name. Her switch in thinking was such a beautiful transformation of perspective that was only possible in contemplating the service during the retreat part of the evening.
I have seen many different powerful moments of transformation like that one above in this service week. When we are truly able to gain God the Father’s heart for other people, we change and the environment around us can also change. Having these sorts of deep changes of heart for our youth is so valuable, and I see how they get to come back and have even more love for those around them! That sort of transformation is completely priceless, and I am so excited to see how the Lord is going to work with our current 27 students who are ready to dive into the week! Please keep us in your prayers for the week of July 21st-27th!!