WRITE: Never the Same Missions: Adult Leaders
It never fails. Every year, I plan to blog from the mission field. And every year, I’m too busy serving, writing, and living the missions trip to keep up with my good intentions.
For the past four summers, I’ve had the blessing of traveling on the Never the Same summer missions trip as the writer for Sisterhood (formerly SUSIE) Magazine. For the past sixteen years, Sisterhood’s founding editor Susie Shellenberger and Steve Goley of Big World Ventures have partnered to take thousands of teens overseas.
My charge each year (I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru with them) has been to write the article about the trip along with other, smaller features as space allows. This past year, I did the cover story on Holly Starr, the worship artist who traveled with us, along with another story, “Postcards from Peru” (click the links to read each one). Another reason I haven’t blogged during the trip is because I don’t want to give away material from my story before it goes to print a few months later.
So, here in the middle of winter, I thought I’d share a few blogs and pictures (courtesy of trip photographer Emily Bailey and her team) from my experience on the field. Some of these stories appear in miniature form in the articles, and some haven’t appeared in print at all. Enjoy!
FT. LAUDERDALE 2013: Leadership
One of the first things that impressed me about the Never the Same trips was the adult leadership. Susie Shellenberger has a heart for God and for teens, and Steve Goley has the same plus many years of experience in planning and leading trips. Together, they provide a fantastic missions/youth camp/revival experience for the students.
But Susie and Steve know they couldn’t do it alone. And because of their adult leaders, they don’t have to.
Every year, dozens of adults travel on the missions trip alongside the students. The teams train in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the adult and college-aged leaders meet a few days before the younger teens arrive. Some adults come to accompany their children. And others may have done that initially but now return every year. Many of these are head leaders, who lead one of the teams of 30-40 teens and students that go out to serve every day. These people love Jesus, teens, and missions—and it shows.
One of the things that has most impressed me is the way each team reflects its leader’s heart. Throughout the trip, what matters to the leader becomes what matters to the students. And God uses each of these men and women to build His character into the lives of these young people while they serve on the mission field.
Meet just a few of the leaders I’ve come to know and love (in no particular order and with no slight to anyone I don’t happen to mention):
Jill: Jill’s a wife, a mom (both her daughters have come on various trips), and a devoted Christ-follower. She also has a gift of administration like almost no one else I know. But God balances that gift of organization with a caring, giving heart. Every year, Jill brings people along with her and helps them reach the field. And every year, she helps her team give in material ways to the people they serve. One year, they bought food with their own money and passed it out in a poor area. Another year, they collected funds to purchase new mattresses for an orphanage. Who wouldn’t want to have Jill as as example and mentor?
Rob: Rob’s a father of four and, for the past seven years, a widower. He came to check out the trip after hearing about it through his work with Focus on the Family and has returned every year since. Rob’s the dad everyone wants: a loving, fun person who puts Christ first in every relationship. He’s laid-back but serious about the right things. He has a quiet, humorous way of making each student feel special. He’s also great at using the young adult leadership (LITS, or Leaders in Training) in an effective, meaningful way. I love to travel with Rob’s teams, and I know those who have served with him agree. (Read about more leaders in Friday’s blog post.)
Have you traveled on a Never the Same trip? Feel free to share your (positive, please) comments below. And if you’re interested in joining us this summer in Costa Rica, you can find out more information here. Watch for more Never the Same posts coming soon!