Mission trip reminds church the importance of shaping young people


       It was a five-year old Chris Canty who asked to be his mother’s junior pastor.  Little did he know God heard his desire. 
      Canty, a defensive lineman for Super Bowl champions New York Giants, spent four days pastoring more than 83 people at the Western North Carolina’s mission trip to the Bahamas.
     Five members from Winters Chapel UMC were among the participants of this year’s trip: Emily Danielson, Victor Danielson, Michael Horton and Sarah Philpott,  accompanied by me.
    By day, Canty coached more than 50 young people on the finer points of football at a camp.  By night, he shared pearls of wisdom from the Bible and legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. 
    Canty urged participants of the trip to become members of the Championship Team, the Body of Christ.  With messages centered on leadership, effort, sacrifice, discipline and love, Canty urged the teams to play on each other strengths and gifts as they went about their day’s work. 
     During the opening worship service, each team member received a bracelet to symbolize that we were linked together -- united together for one purpose. The purpose was to spread the word of God and to be ambassadors in the Bahamas.
     “Every time we saw the bracelet, it was supposed to remind us of that,” participant Michael said. “What it symbolized to me was a piece of God. When we would wear the bracelet, it showed that God was always with us at every mission.” 
     Over the course of the week, we went to four mission sites performing a variety of assignments from working at the football camp and leading arts projects to assisting in Vacation Bible School and painting a 50-room school. 
     Emily, a talented artist, used her skills to help create a mural that will now welcome students to the campus each day. 
      Victor was able to gain a sense of accomplishment during the trip. He describes the school as a hotel that was turned into a school.  The school wasn’t very clean and it was always hot inside the rooms.
     “When I finished painting the rooms, a kid came up to me and said thanks for helping their school. This encounter made me feel like I accomplished what I had come there for, and also knowing that I had made kids happier,” Victor said.
     While working and living with people from different churches and cultures, the group learned the importance of sharing and enlarging the circle of faith.  The group teamed up with six people from the Holston Annual Conference to form a team of 11 during the week.
     Sarah recalls, “I had the opportunity to work at the Vacation Bible School on Wednesday, and while I felt it was the most challenging, it was also the most fun. I’ve always felt a little nervous around children, and I thought it would be a little hard to talk to them.”
     She goes on to say that she was proved completely wrong.
     “The children honestly taught me more than I could ever teach them in a single day. From the minute you walked in, they were all over you, were excited to learn and play and share their lives with you, and even though they came from poverty and even wore the same clothes to camp all week, they had the biggest smiles I think I’d ever seen. They taught me more than just how to sing prayer songs and play hand games outside; they taught me to truly value all the gifts I’ve been blessed with and to live such a fortunate lifestyle when they can be so happy with so little in the way of material possessions.”
 To see photos and videos from the 2012 Mission Trip to the Bahamas, visit Winters Chapel’s website at www.winterschapel.org