Last Wednesday night, I sat in my living room and unpacked my envelope full of covenants from high schoolers. Yesterday was the deadline for our High School Mission Trip to Touching Miami with Love so I was curious to see who had said “yes” to spending a week in service to the community of Overtown.
It’s not an easy week. It’s a week that tests patience, challenges perspective, and demands one’s full self. It’s a week that has no big “fun event” or “entertainment.” If you look at the ways most people view teenagers, you would not see them signing up for a week like this. Frankly, most adults wouldn’t sign up for a week like this.
But as I compiled the names, I stood in awe at what I saw before me – twenty-four high school students covenanting to love God through Overtown with all their heart, mind, body, and soul. In 2012, we took 15 youth. In 2013, we took 20. In 2015, we’re taking 24. Even more astounding, nearly every one of our high schoolers are now on our TML list.
What is it about this group of teenagers that leads to a day like today? What is it about Overtown that draws this kind of numbers? What is it about the opportunity to embody love and encounter it?
I believe it has something to do with the experience they’ve heard others speak about their experience at TML that makes them respond “yes” to “Come and see.”
I believe it has something to do with the relationships formed at Passport last summer with teenagers from Overtown that has made our group know that relationships formed in Christ are worth the endeavors necessary to sustain them.
I believe it has something to do with the Bible study teachers they had in elementary school, the Wednesday night choir leaders, the youth leaders and mentors, the adults they see engaged in mission, and the voices they hear that call for justice.
But most of all, I believe it has all to do with a God whose Spirit is flowing through a rowdy and messy group of teenagers that is changing the direction of their lives.
The question is – is Highland ready to support twenty-four teenagers in their covenant to service in Overtown? Financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually? Through participating and attending HBC Got Skillz? A lot of our high schoolers are in need of scholarship – are we a community that is willing to say that these weeks of service are not only for those whose families have financial opportunities and resources?
But perhaps more importantly, is Highland ready for what might happen through their time there? Is Highland ready to be led by twenty-four teenagers who are following Jesus – the Jesus who leads us always to new places full of risk, change, and transformation?
Time will tell. As for now, let us give thanks for simply the pile of covenants. They speak hope for the future and a proclaim a God at work in our midst.