One Day To Serve

District Fellowship News

May, June 2009

Friday afternoon, April 17th.

The morning session at youth convention had just ended with a God ordained moment around the altars. As the students were dismissed, they were reminded that if they were involved in the One Day to Serve outreach, they needed to get with their groups, and be back in their numbered section in just a few minutes to receive instructions, lunch, and their One Day to Serve shirts. Close to 500 students and leaders gathered in the sanctuary to prepare for the afternoon, ready to be servants helping the people of various Portsmouth communities. After a quick lunch, they received their destinations, and headed out into the city prepared to rake, wash, clean, sweep, paint, collect; shovel, whatever was needed. They worked at places with names like Wamesit, Woodbury, Feaster, Atlantic, Gosling, Margeson, State, and Pleasant. All over the city of Portsmouth, white shirts fanned out for an afternoon of work instead of the normal shopping trips, bowling, volleyball, or food excursions. So what were the results, what happened that Friday afternoon.

The reports that came in from the city and the residents were fabulous. “They’re doing for us what it would take half a summer to accomplish...We really appreciate it and so do the residents, were the words of Portsmouth Housing Authority director Joe Couture. These students and leaders were able to accomplish a great amount of sprucing up in the course of one afternoon. At one site, trash that had accumulated for years along a fence line was removed, at another top soil was spread over barren areas of a lawn, many of the sites were raked and leaves and branches removed,  and at others windows were washed and walls were painted. So on the outside places looked better, but the true impact won’t be seen with the naked eye.

Planting seeds—One of the most important results from that day came about because of the servant attitude the students and leaders had as they endeavored to be a help to these communities. They didn’t work so they’d receive monetary reward or verbal adulation. They were not looking for some gain, but they came to serve, to help. There were no sermons, only the light of Jesus shining through in the attitude and actions of each and every worker. Their actions spoke volumes about compassion, love, and community.  

Opening Doors—Another result from the weekend was the increase in favor with their city that was obtained by Bethel Assembly from the planning and execution of this event. The people at Bethel Assembly have been working for the past few years to build bridges into the community through adopting neighborhoods, offering services, and being available to help. One Day to Serve (the planning, the hard work of the students, and the smiles and Christian attitudes) became the next milestone in building that relationship. Relationships become one of the most important ingredients in sharing the message of God’s love. And the students helped change perceptions about youth that can be fed by the actions of a few. There is a difference when God has control in a life, and these students showed that not all youth are shallow and self-serving. When challenged they are willing to step up.

Bringing Vision—Finally, students and leaders were able to have their vision of ministry and service broadened and expanded. No words could have adequately described the benefits of a body of believers working together as the exhilaration groups felt when they accomplished their assignments. No amount of assurance could have been as effective as personally seeing the impact of their efforts as residents came forward to say thank you, and bless you. No classroom discussion could have brought out the results of conversations about spiritual things that only could have happened through meeting needs on a physical level.

 We will see students move on to AIM trips, being called to missions, challenged to meet needs in their own communities, and just more aware of their surroundings and what God is doing. Certainly it was only one day to serve but the impact will last much longer.