The Opportunity of Summer
Recently, I was reading John Stonestreet’s (2017) A Practical Guide to Culture, a book I would recommend to all parents. At one point Stonestreet discusses the effects of affluence and consumerism on today’s youth. He points out that the definition of the term “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, as intended by the Founding Fathers, was “a life well lived, characterized by wisdom, virtue, and character” (p. 228). This definition reminded me of the purpose of WCCS, to educate students to bless the world for Jesus Christ. This requires students to live a life of value focused on service to others as they exercise their God given abilities. Paul put it this way, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Gal. 5:13). Stonestreet continues, “When pleasure is our goal, rather than the by-product of a higher end, it becomes distorted” (pg. 231).
Summer is a wonderful time of year for young people because it is full of lazy days, relaxing around the pool, and spending time with family and friends in a variety of enjoyable activities. The summer also becomes a great opportunity to help students learn more about the world around them, the opportunities that exist to serve those in need, and realize that their life has a greater purpose.
Recently, a team of WCCS students just returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. No doubt they enjoyed being with their friends, having fun on the beach and playing in the pool. But, as one member of the team told me, “My favorite part of the trip was being able to experience a new culture and meet the amazing people while also growing closer to my American friends.” The culture this student was serving in is depressed and humble, as were the “amazing” people. This is a different picture of joy, happiness, and success than we get from American media and culture. Another member of the DR team told me how the trip was a spiritual awakening of sorts. This student specifically discussed how wonderful it was to help and share with the people they went to serve, and how they were equally blessed from the experience.
The idea is simple! The team traveled to the DR, met physical needs of those in need through building improvements, met spiritual needs through shared worship and leading Bible study, and met emotional needs by just being there to play with children and spend time in fellowship. The impact of the team was great, yet the impact of the Dominicans on the team may have even been greater. As these students served those in need they were exposed to a culture they may not have fully understood before the trip. They gained insight to how God can use their life to bless others. They also, and equally important, gained an understanding of how someone else can bless them. Finally, and most important, they discovered how the gospel blesses everyone.
Stonestreet concludes his discussion on affluence with the hope of this current generation of young people, exemplified by the DR team. He points out how 84% of millennials personally give to charity, and 70% spend time personally volunteering. The summer is a wonderful time for students to get involved. It doesn’t need to be a mission trip or major program. Significant change often takes place in the small, yet consistent things we can do within our own community. Here are just a few ideas:
Prepare a zip lock bag with water, food items, hygiene products, and a verse of Scripture and keep these in the car. As you travel and come across a homeless person you can share the bag and potentially the Gospel with them.
Volunteer to work at special events designed to raise money or support for a local ministry or charity.
Visit an assisted living home or nursing home. Nothing brightens the day of those elderly confined to a home like a young smile. Just a few minutes to hear their story, or read to them can bring a great deal of happiness.
Volunteer at a food/clothing bank, thrift store, or shelter. Often, the people you come in contact with will be in need of feeling loved and accepted. You can meet that need with a simple conversation as you serve.
Write a note of encouragement and spiritual blessing to share with someone in need or those who have dedicated their lives to serving those in need.
These are just some simple ideas that do not require much time or forethought. God has blessed us through His son Jesus Christ, and He now calls us to be the living example of Christ to a lost world. The point is that summer can become a valuable opportunity to experience service and ministry, and in the process bless others while being blessed by them.