by Meagan Bergam

   How many volunteers and partnerships did it take to host 20 Ignite students for a Spring Break Serve and Learn trip? There were over 27 adults who invested time, energy and resources into making the Spring Break trip possible! When they say it takes a village to raise children, I found that to be true in the discipleship of youth. It is good to have the problem of writing so many thank you notes your hand is tired! 

   Over our 4 night and 5-day trip serving in downtown Fresno, we experienced great hospitality through: 
  • 4 FPC families hosting us for dinner each night
  • 3 Dads staying overnight
  • 5 Youth Leaders building relationships, washing feet, and praying over students
  • 7 Partnerships- Martin Park, World Impact's Sonshine Thrift, The Lighthouse Recovery Center, The Pink House, Cornerstone Coffee, Every Neighborhood Partnership, and our very own Children's Director Mrs. Margie!
  • 5 Parents providing an abundance of breakfast foods and snacks
  • 3 Parents driving students all over the city

   My heart was overjoyed as I witnessed people young, and not so young, serve whole heartily all week. On Sunday night we split the students into four groups in order to prepare for a week of serving one another and the city. A few students led us in singing worship songs and morning devotional lessons every morning. Others served the group well by preparing the lessons and games for the children at Martin Park. A group of students took charge of making our breakfast buffet each morning and writing thank-you notes. And finally, another group made beautiful notes and care packages for the women at the Light-House. It is a privilege to watch students discover their gifting and find joy in hearing the stories of others who are different from them.

   Our days were centered on serving and learning from others, which turned out to be a counter-cultural experience for these Jr. High students. Then in the evening, we ventured to our student's school campuses for a time of Youth Leaders washing their feet while each student shared how we could be praying for them specifically. Followed by a time of their peers laying hands and praying over them. This sacred space was a time of commissioning our students to be a light onto their various campuses. We have over 11 middle schools represented within our youth group, can you imagine the impact these students can have on our city?

   Ava Crantz, 7th Grade: "I discovered that I am at a point in my faith where I am very secure in what I believe and one of my passions is helping others become secure in their faith. I learned that God is working everywhere and he is working in the craziest ways that we can't even understand or see. God is working in our city and there are many people who need to know the love of Christ. I was opened up to the variety of people that believe in Jesus. I was exposed to people in our community that have difficult life circumstances and still remain faithful believers. I saw God's love for all the Junior Highers when everyone used their talents for Jesus. I also saw God's love for the kids coming to Martin Park, playing, and interacting with the bible stories. I think that I now know that serving someone means so much more when it's personal and that taking time to learn people's names and stories makes a big difference."

  Alex Meadors, 8th Grade: "I learned that it makes me feel very good about myself when I help people, especially when I don't get anything in return. I already had known this but it was refreshing to be reminded. I learned that God is working in everyone's lives and everywhere, even Downtown Fresno. I learned that some people choose to live in Downtown Fresno so they can follow God's calling on their lives. I also learned that you don't have to have a full sanctuary or band in order to worship God and feel His presence. I learned that God's love for others even reaches little Martin Park in Downtown Fresno, His love works through every one of every background too. As a follower of Jesus, I learned that simply being with people and talking to new people can be a way to love and care for others. I found this while spending time with the kids and people from Martin Park and the women living in the Light-House. I learned that I should be more open about my faith and that even if it might not be my favorite thing to mix the cultures of my school friends and my church friends, I have to invite my friends from school to church."

P.S. Alex brought a friend from school who has yet to know Jesus the following Wednesday after Spring Break. Jaycee has been coming for the last month! So join us in praying for her to experience Jesus' love and grace in tangible ways!