OKGO: Youth Mission in Brunswick

9/2/2011

By David Herndon

When thinking of teenagers and summer, the images that often come to mind usually involve a beach, a theme park, a couch or someone sleeping until noon. 

But on Monday, June 20, 50 middle-school and high-school students from three different churches in Glynn County came together for something completely different.  OKGO was a mission project that involved students and leaders from St. Simons Island’s Wesley United Methodist Church and The Chapel and College Place United Methodist Church, both in Brunswick.  These groups worked all week repainting and repairing two downtown Brunswick churches, Newberry Baptist Church and Stronghold Evangelistic Church of Christ Written in Heaven, both located on Lee Street.

Each morning at 7:30, the students crawled out of their sleeping bags, ate breakfast, spent personal time in prayer, made their own lunches and headed to work by 9 a.m.  They divided into smaller teams among the two work sites to prep and repaint the two buildings, as well as help make minor carpentry and cosmetic repairs.  After work each day, students enjoyed a couple of hours of downtime for showers and rest, and then gathered together for dinner and worship.

All week, students studied together the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20, “Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them all I have commanded you, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  And surely I am with you always to the end of the age.” 

Why did these teens give up a week of their summer and even pay to work and repaint and repair a couple of downtown churches?  The goal was to help these churches improve their buildings and relieve the financial and physical burden of painting so that they can focus more energy and effort into serving the neighborhood around them.  But the students’ work did much more than that.

On Friday morning, all of the students gathered at Newberry Baptist Church for one final prayer service.  Eddie Turner, pastor of Newberry Baptist Church, said to the youth, “I’ve been praying for eight years that God would help us to improve our building.  Little did I know that He would send me a group of students!  Because of you, students, my faith is stronger and the faith of my congregation is stronger.  Thank you for all that you’ve done.” 

What a lesson for the students to learn, that in such a small thing as repainting a building, their actions can bring others closer to God!

It was a great week, and as students took pictures together and said their goodbyes, you would not overhear anyone saying they were glad the work was finished and the week was over.  Rather, most students were overheard saying, “When are we coming back?” 

*David Herndon is director of youth ministries and contemporary worship at Wesley at Frederica United Methodist Church on St. Simons Island.