In Matthew 13, Jesus tells his disciples to be good sowers of the Good News in “The Parable of the Sower.” During the week of July 9, our youth were great representations of what it means to be good sowers. Eleven youth and eight adults traveled to Perry County, AL to lead “Seed Camp” for 70+ children. The mission team worked alongside members of Vestavia Hills Baptist Church located near Birmingham, AL. The children we served primarily live in public housing communities surrounding the Marion city district. When the team arrived on that Sunday afternoon, they traveled to four of the housing districts to pass out flyers to the families in order to promote the camp. For many in the group, visiting the neighborhoods was an eye-opening experience into American poverty. Perry County is one of the poorest counties in the state of Alabama; the median income for a household in the county is around $20,200.
The mission team conducted the camp on the campus of Judson College, an all girls four year collegiate institution located in the city of Marion. The camp consisted of a Bible Study time, Recreation, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Engineering, Science, and Creative Writing. The kids were divided into groups based on their completed grade, and many of our youth were the leaders of these groups. Each of the groups traveled to the different learning activities for 30 minute sessions. By the end of the day the children were able to experience the Bible story, breakfast and lunch, recreation, music, and several of the learning blocks. Both the children and the leaders were exhausted once the camp ended at 1:45 PM.
It takes a lot of energy to pull together a camp such as this. The very first and last activity of camp is our opening and closing assemblies. The purpose of these times is to get the kids excited about the day’s camp, as well as pull everything together at the end of each day. Our youth were responsible for leading these portions. They took their Passport camp experiences and used them to help organize and plan the assemblies. They led the children in silly songs, repeat-after-me songs, and coordinated dances. Our youth did an amazing job of building excitement not only for the kids, but also the other leaders at the camp. The assistant coordinator for Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Lucas Dorion, said, “Your team did a fantastic job at Seed Camp. Your adults and students were well prepared and committed to their jobs. Your team was the best church group I’ve worked within Perry County.”
The opportunity to travel together to serve in Jesus’ name is a blessing because our group gets to put into practice what they’ve been learning all year long. They also get to experience the history and culture in which they are serving. Marion, AL and Selma, AL are two close-by communities that were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-60s. Our youth watched the movie “Selma” one evening and traveled to Selma the next day to walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They also did a walking tour of Marion to hear about its part in the movement. Getting to see these parts of history in person puts into perspective the racial issues this community has lived with for so long.
The youth mission team to Perry County hopes to find opportunities to share their experience with the church. Church members can also see pictures from the trip on the bulletin board outside the kitchen door.