A week ago I arrived home from an incredible trip I went on around the other side of the world in New Zealand!
You couldn’t exactly call it a mission trip (I probably spent a bit too long on the beach for that!) but the main purpose of me being there was to serve and get alongside young people who were attending Easter Camp, a long weekend of camping, worshipping and teaching. I was serving on the sports team, which mainly involved me having far too much fun with an air horn and pretending to know what I was doing whilst refereeing a volleyball match!
In some ways the camp was quite similar to the Soul Survivor festivals here, but there were also quite a few differences. For me, one particular aspect of the camp made it stand out from others:
They feed absolutely everybody.
That’s over 4700 people altogether. Three meals a day on-the-dot, for four days straight. Remember also that the majority of people being fed were hungry teenagers who’d been playing sport or zooming down waterslides all day. If I had to make that much food I would be a little bit freaked out. It’s a monumental effort.
All of the food preparation was overseen by just two incredibly servant-hearted women who seemed almost completely unfazed by the task at hand. And the food was REALLY good- far better than any of us would have expected. As a bunch of Brits witnessing this food phenomenon we were both amazed and quite confused at how this feat was achieved. How on earth could so many people get fed so well?
The key to the camp’s success was that everyone got involved. Youth groups took shifts to help distribute the food and get it out onto people’s plates. It was so ridiculously efficient and organised that it felt like a military exercise. I couldn’t believe this was all done without any practice or meticulous planning.
This was a camp young people had paid to come to yet they were willing to get involved in helping it all run smoothly. And the best thing was they weren’t reluctant at all- everybody serving food had a smile on their face and even laughed at my slightly awkward sense of humour.
Youth groups had other duties like litter picking to do each day, which being honest does not appeal to me at all. But they all just got on with it, no complaining, just enjoying each other’s company and making service seem like a party.
“Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” – 2 Corinthians 8:3-5
The camp was a great model for how we can enjoy hanging out and having fun whilst also serving others and putting their needs first. The answer is demonstrated in this passage about the early church: they made service a privilege. It was a proper community and it just seemed right. Jesus shows us through His life that being a servant and living humbly is far more satisfying than looking out for ourselves.
Imagine if we could lead lives where we didn’t spend hours complaining about how impossible situations might seem but instead mucked in and tried to make them into possibilities, and we joyfully came together to help each other through selfless acts of service. It feels like a big part of following Jesus to me. What do you think?
Soul61 intern for Soul Action