By Jonathan Brown
I am just returning from a meaningful mission trip with Zoar UMC's youth group to the UMCOR Depot in Decatur, Ala.
Zoar UMC has long been a mission focused church. When I joined with them in ministry as youth director, the youth and church leaders had a strong desire to develop a mission-centered youth group. The expectation was to have a youth mission trip for the summer of 2015. One of our church leaders, Terry Raymond, presented us with an opportunity to get our young people involved with missions sooner rather than later.
Terry has been connected with UMCOR for many years, and knew about the depot in Decatur, Ala. After speaking with Ray Crump, the Depot’s director, we began planning a trip in March 2014 for this. While I am a big fan of planning far out, I have to say I have never had a better experience as mission trip leader.
Ray and his staff of volunteers welcomed, taught, and loved us the entire time we were there. (Ray even showed up at our hotel to make sure we had gotten in safely.) Zoar's youth learned about UMCOR, and how The United Methodist Church responds to people in their darkest hours. More importantly we were able to have hands on experiences with many different ministries UMCOR is involved in. The youth checked quality and assembled UMCOR disaster kits. They sewed bed sheets for hospitals in need. They inventoried items in the warehouse. One of my youth was heavily involved with putting together a road sign so people would know how this facility is used. Over the course of the trip, we helped assemble 15 layette kits, 274 sewing kits, 391 health kits, and 418 school kits. For two and a half days of work that is a lot of lives touched.
“This is a great opportunity to help others in need. Its also a great time to get to know new people from my church. I’ve had a blast," said Nichelle Chambers, a member of the Zoar UMC’s Youth Council,
The UMCOR Depot in Decatur, Ala. is about four hours from Atlanta. This makes for an easy overnight or multiple day trip.
We had morning devotions and evening vespers each day of our trip. We had movie time and video game time in our meeting room at night. On the last day of the trip we visited a local water park to reward the youth for all their hard work.
Zoar UMYF is already planning a return trip next year. We have found local churches that are willing to house us. I implore you to look into the work being done in Decatur, Ala. at the UMCOR Depot (umdisasterwarehouse.com or call 256-341-9961). Come and share in this mission!
Jonathan Brown is a student at McAfee School of Theology and Director of Youth Ministries at Zoar UMC in Snellville.