By Jackie Nelson
INMAN – Rather than heading to Texas on a planned and then cancelled mission trip, the Zoar Mennonite Church youth rolled up their sleeves and got to work in their hometown painting and landscaping.
Youth Pastor Andrew Wuerffel said the group focused on Matthew 10:42, a verse about how little acts of generosity can have bigger meaning.
Wuerffel said, “The idea behind the whole thing is the Gospel is practical.”
He added while all believers know the fundamentals – that Christ came to earth to die for our sins, “What’s the practical side effect of a savior that loved us enough to be willing to die for us. We are to love our neighbors also,” he said.
Wuerffel riffed off the pandemic that caused the cancellation of the Texas trip, “It is a symptom of something we caught – and that’s the love of Jesus.”
Between 12 and 14 youth made a consistent effort to do work around Inman.
Youth initially were scheduled to work with Mennonite Disaster Services (MDS) in Texas doing post-hurricane clean-up and home rebuilding. However, the current pandemic caused their travel plans to be cancelled.
Wuerffel said he reached out to the congregation to find projects youth could assist with throughout the community.
“We had four or five painting projects – one was the whole exterior of a house – and a couple little jobs, replacing siding on the house in a few places. We have an older member of the church that needed some window frames painted. We pulled out trees and bushes in a house that needed them torn out. We did some trimming and weed eating at a couple other places,” he said.
Samuel Shober, 15, said he was disappointed the group was not able to travel to Texas, saying it would have been “cool being able to get out of state.” However, he and his fellow youth group members quickly saw the value in working around Inman.
“We know some of the people we were doing projects for, so it made it more personal,” said 17-year-old Mason Carter, “You could see it was making a difference and you could see the lasting effect of helping them.”
Lexi Milne, 16, along with Carter and Shober, who worked on all of the Inman mission projects, said small jobs, like picking up tree limbs, “had a big impact on the people we were helping.”
Wuerffel said the majority of the youth group scheduled to go to Texas continued to help in Inman, juggling jobs and summer sports to volunteer.
Shober said one of the most enjoyable jobs was painting houses, even if the wait between coats became tedious.
“It’s cool to help your community and show that we care, even though we had other plans,” he said.
Wuerffel said he was “very proud” of the youth who took part in the projects.
“It was good on them – it shows a lot of character,” he said.
Wuerffel added that there was a group of adults that wrapped around the youth and supported them in their efforts – Project Managers Brian, Julie, Collin and Addison, who were in charge of the large whole house painting project; Andrea Johnson, who coordinated yardwork; crews of adults that made breakfast before the volunteers took to the streets and a volunteer that packed all the brown-bag lunches for volunteers.