Youth Group Service Trip 2014

by Charlotte Long, Youth Ministry Coordinator

The High School Service Trip to Perry County, Kentucky is upon us!

On Saturday, June 14th, six High Schoolers and four adults from Holy Comforter will pile into rented SUVs and drive nine hours into the lush and beautiful Appalachian Mountains. For five days, we will get up early, eat Wonder Bread sandwiches, and work alongside Christians from all over the United States to make people's homes warmer, safer and drier.

Appalachian Service Project (ASP) was founded in 1969 by the Rev. Tex Evans to provide homes repairs for impoverished families living in Central Appalachia and develop connections with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Founded by Methodists, ASP is a Christian mission, but is non‐sectarian in all its programs. Since ASP's founding, over 300,000 volunteers have repaired more than 15,000 homes. On average, 16,000 volunteers from more than 30 states come to serve each year. In 2013, ASP served in 31 impoverished communities in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. ASP is only able to assist one of every five families who apply for help. Each year ASP must decline providing assistance to thousands of families who have nowhere else to turn for home repairs. Resources of time and volunteers run out after the allotted seven or eight week program and those on the "no" list are left in the same shape as when they applied. There is a great deal of sadness over this fact.

Recently at a Youth Group Meeting, I had the kids pretend that they were ASP staff and take a look at five real ASP requests from Appalachian households who in 2013 applied to have their homes worked on. The High School group was only allowed to choose one out of the five, as per the statistics above, and they only had 30 minutes. As I sat at another table flipping through the Book of Job (I had been having a grumpy day), I casually eavesdropped on their conversation.

I was intrigued and deeply touched by the amount of care and wisdom they brought to their arguments. The conversation took a turn when they realized that the criteria would have to be more than just which household's quality of life could stand for the most improvement, but which household was least likely to survive another year without ASP's assistance. They even got a little upset, assuring each other that probably, in real life, several of these applications were chosen and not just one. And then in turn, they were mildly peeved with me that I did not hold the real answer as to who had been chosen! Such is the situation we are driving our teens into in a little under four weeks.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers! It will be good hard work, and we will come back with a plethora of stories to tell of forgiveness, humility and seeing God's grace in the world.