A couple of weeks ago, we were blessed by a mission team of youth and their leaders from Plain City UMC in Ohio. They came and worked hard in the heat to ensure safety for the kids and shelter for the horses. With each day bringing temps well into the upper 90's and low 100's and all of the projects occurring outdoors, we were impressed with their joyful attitudes and willingness to do whatever was asked of them. Some of the items were building a run-in shed, painting fence posts, filling in holes, making a riding trail in the woods, cleaning pastures, and clearing fields of stumps, sticks and stones.
How did a group from Ohio get connected with a ranch in the Carolina's? The senior pastor, Blaine Keene, at Plain City UMC went to college and seminary with Devin, and we've been blessed by their friendship for many years while we each served in our respective areas and churches. Many months ago, Blaine was planning a mission trip for the youth and opened up his Bible to see how God might direct them. Located in that particular section of the Word was a Bright Side bookmark, of all things. The focus for the church at that time was that the "hearts of the children would turn back to their fathers," (Luke 1:17) and Blaine believed God was prompting him to reach out to the Ranch.
At that point, we were just beginning the initial phases of projects at Bright Side and knew we had plenty of opportunities for youth to help at the ranch. During the course of the year, however, God has brought about many hard workers and resources to accomplish so much in such a short time that we found our initial list for this mission team dwindling away. But, a new one was forming as the group from Plain City kept growing in numbers.
What started as a handful of teenagers changed into a team of 33. We had a list of 15 projects that needed work before the fall, and this amazing group conquered each one of them. They sweated and served and laughed and learned.
Devin and I have been on so many mission trips with teens and adults, but this was a whole new experience to prep and receive a team. We loved every minute of working with this group.
We pray that through what God has done and is doing at Bright Side that they see just how big and faithful He is and that it's all about small steps in surrender in obedience. In turn, they showed us that God is using the Ranch to build a community where Champions for the cause can serve and be served.
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