The Youth Service Project

I recently hired a baby sitter, an eighth grader that goes to my church. She seems to be a responsible young lady. I also know her mother and family so there’s some trust built in. This in and of itself is nothing worthy of writing about. More on the baby sitting later.

The mission work my baby sitter performs is very much worthy of a story. This summer she will join many other youth from our congregation to travel to one of a handful of service projects. Our youth work their tails off in challenging environments including the Katrina-damaged Mississippi and Louisiana coasts, various destinations in Appalachia and some inner-city work. A typical project might be to help remodel a home. This trip ain’t Club Med. It’s valuable work to those on the receiving end of the generosity, but there is something more valuable to be taken away from this.

I often worry about the children that grow up in very affluent suburbs such as Alpharetta. It’s easy for adults to realize how fortunate we are to live here, yet kids raised in this lifestyle may have a jaded sense of reality. Our kids attend amazing schools, get cars when they turn 16, have iPhones and $300 hand bags. Atypical? Of course but if you were born and raised here, it’s normal right?

It’s why I’m a big fan of youth service projects. I want these kids out there, working hard, sweating and learning to be servant leaders to someone in great need. They need to witness destruction, poverty and despair; words we don’t say much in affluent Alpharetta. More than anything, they need to learn to respond to God’s love and grace by helping those in need.

So how does baby sitting play into this? Not only do our youth work hard on these projects, they take on some of the cost themselves. It would be easy for our church to pick up the entire cost of the trip (we pay for a lot of it). But the kids will find themselves invested in the project before it even begins if they are footing some of the costs. So here in the Spring they are serving our congregation with projects to raise a few bucks. I won the baby sitting in an auction and am looking forward to using it on a date night with my wife. I’ve got the easy part in all this.

If you’ve chosen Alpharetta as a place to raise your kids then you made a great choice. If you’re not getting your kids plugged into a youth program with service projects like this then shame on you!

One Response to “The Youth Service Project”

  1. Kim May 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Lee,
    You are so right. People rail against the welfare problem of raising an entitlement generation. But are we not doing the same thing here in our tony ‘burb? It looks different but it is the same result. In some ways it is worse b/c it is emotionally difficult to learn to live without privilege you’ve always known.

    I do have a bone to pick with some missions trips though. Some seem to serve pride more than serving others. It is another check on the punchlist of accomplishments.

    We have some friends who recently adopted older children from a Peruvian orphanage. When the children arrived here they expected to get an iPod, a cell phone, a laptop, and other electronic gadgets and were offended when it did not happen. How could this be? Because they had been continuously exposed to American mission teams coming through with all their gadgets. It was an expected part of being in America. That’s just wrong.

    We’re from the old school. You don’t get a car until you can pay for it — car, gas, insurance, maintenance, and all.

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