Falling Off the Mountain

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministries

On the last night of ASP Mission Trip every year, our teams, together with the ASP staff who have made the week possible and other churches living and eating with us, sit around and do a "Share Circle." The idea is to share one moment or experience or idea from your service that week where you saw God. Our Youth Group is used to this because we've had the tradition of "JJJ" since our mission trip in 2013; "JJJ" stands for "Joy, Junk and Jesus" and it's where you share a Joy from your day, a Junk from your day and a moment where you saw or felt Jesus. The kids are not only used to it by now, it's allowed them to get really good at describing the Divine with our limited human words. Although you don't have to share anything at the Share Circle, all of our kids did. And they all spoke with such clarity about the love they saw in the families we worked with, in the way different Christians can come together for one week and practice radical love - the frustrating, sweaty, accidentally-hammering-your-thumb kind of love.

Usually for the summer newsletter, I share a little bit from the teens about the trips in their own words. It is especially amazing to watch the kids who have been on ASP all four years - they really find new faces of God every time. But this year feels a little bit different. The week after we returned, once we'd all taken our warm, indoor showers and slept in our fluffy beds, the county in West Virginia we had worked in experienced devastating floods. The kind that clear out an ASP center of volunteers, strand 3 groups at their work sites and submerge a town in water. As of now, we don't know about the condition of the homes we worked in or the families there that loved us so well. It is a strange and scary thing when we experience hope in its brightest form, in the eyes of the families we served, only to see it blown away by some water. It's at this moment that I hear a 14-year old Ginny Wise four years ago looking at a picture of the cosmos during Sunday School and saying, "But where is God in all of this?" And as adults who supposedly have it figured out, we just don't know. I'm crying as I write this because sometimes we are not meant to know, only to go and share love right away.

And I know that if we surrender into love, God shows up for us in our pain. I've already heard a story about a volunteer group who was trapped at their family's work site overnight. They didn't have extra clothes or too much food. The next day they got right back to work on their project. Can you imagine waking up in a kind stranger's home, clothes wet and muddy, and deciding to jump right back in? At first I can't. And then I think of our amazing, hard-working, hard-loving teenagers, and I CAN imagine it. They wouldn't settle for anything less. As Carrie Phillips, an awesome adult volunteer, and my co-Sunday School teacher, said about the families we served, "I fell in love with them in the first few moments." That is what it is like to have God come to you. It's a fall.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to the flood relief for ASP, to make the lives of our ASP staff members Angie, Georgia, Hayden and Lucas a little easier, or to trust that somehow God will give hope to our Greenbrier families Calvin and Tommy, please click the link below and select ‘Greenbrier County, WV'.