Growth During Holy Week
Each spring break from 1988 through the early 2000’s, I joined a couple thousand students and staff with Azusa Pacific University‘s Mexicali Mission Trip. Whether I was a youth, college student, APU volunteer, or Youth Director in some form I was there. And I loved it. Spending Holy Week in sleeping in tents and working in the local villages did something remarkable within me. Each year I came back transformed. It was in 1988 that I encountered and realized a loving God cared for me. A different year, in the middle of a worship service I committed myself to vocational ministry in some shape or form. As I later led groups, friendships deepened to incredible depths that years later they still run strong no matter the distance. Stories of adventures still are highlights of get togethers with students or leaders even though some of them have turn into myths that we are not sure actually happened.
As each Holy Week comes and goes, I long for those times as a student and a leader in Mexicali. Each Holy Week held something special. For some incredible reason as we were on these mission trips and Holy Week was laid before us, I was taken back and challenged. Sharing Communion with a couple thousand people who have experienced the highs and lows of ministry on Maundy Thursday has incredible meaning. Riding high from the whole mission experience as we often walked sleep deprived and still dusty after driving home through the night… but still making it to Good Friday Services. Or telling the stories of how God worked in us and through us on Easter Sunday. How Great was our Risen Lord and Savior in the middle of all that happened to us! These Holy Weeks were not your average Holy Weeks but ones of deep spiritual meaning.
It is those same experiences that I took the many students years ago is the same experience that I long for my children and our church’s youth to have. I pray that my own children have the opportunity to grow and be molded spiritually in the same way that I was. This afternoon I spent a bit of time trying to convince my youth leader that we need to fly our group cross country next year to participate. Then I realized how much it would cost to do this and how untenable it was. The destination is not important but rather the experience and what results is what I long for our students to have. To have the opportunity to push everything aside and be completely open to what God has to say to them.
To be completely open and honest before a God that cares and loves them.
P.S. One of the very few pictures of Mexicali that I still have. Here is to many great friendships that result.