Every year, we plan and execute at least three short term mission trips with the students of Second Presbyterian Church. This summer is no different. As a part of our 175th Anniversary celebration, the middle school students will spend a week working in and serving the Indianapolis community from June 27 thru July 2. We are really excited to partner with some powerful agencies in the area. The high school students will journey to Chicago for an urban immersion experience (July 14-20 and July 21-27). We will partner with Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago for each week.
Why do we provide such opportunities for our students?
We believe that these trips give youth the opportunity
(1) to experience what it is like to give of themselves and their faith in working with others,
(2) to further expand their world and world-view,
(3) to interact with our brothers and sisters in diverse communities and their rich cultural heritage,
(4) to learn new skills,
(5) to see the effectiveness of a body of believers who work together toward a common goal,
(6) to stretch their faith, strengthen their personal relationships with Christ and to gain a better understanding of what it means to be a world Christian, and
(7) to gain an understanding how they can live out their faith through service within their everyday surroundings. They do not have to go some place exotic to serve. There are opportunities right next door.
In addition, we know that these experiences challenge students to think new thoughts and engage in new ideas. One example of this is Nick Ison, a current student pursuing a Master's of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary. Nick was a part of several summer mission teams at Second. Nick recently wrote about his experiences and how they helped shape him in The Presbyterian Outlook magazine.
Nick writes, "I didn't grow up going to church. As a high schooler, frustrated and confused, I went on a mission trip to Mexico only because I had some friends that were going, and hey, it was a cheap trip to a sunnier place. The work was mostly construction: students were working with locals to put up the cinder-block walls of a school. My job at the site was to shovel sand. I remember we'd start early in the morning, and as I dumped each absurdly heavy shovelful into the wheelbarrow, the sun crept higher and higher until I was drenched in sweat and completely exhausted by noon. Taking a break, drinking water, sensing the soreness in my muscles and tenderness of the raw skin on my hands, I remember feeling something I hadn't felt in a long time: I was happy. I felt content. I felt good. What was happening? I was far from the routine of home, I was more tired than I'd ever been and wasn't even getting paid."
Nick continues, "If I have a 'call story,' this is it. In that moment, I realized that there was something about service that made profound sense to me, and the calm contentment it provided led me to explore the God leaders of the service trip had been talking about but that I had, until that point, ignored."
It is our hope that all of the youth of Second Presbyterian Church will take the opportunity to participate in one of the trips this summer. The discoveries made may be life-transforming. For more information about this year's trips go to www.secondchurch.org/youth