Yes, my blog has been quiet for the past couple of weeks. Last week I was part of a UMARMY camp in Cleveland, Texas. UMARMY stands for United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth. Each year there are more and more camps across the country where youth go to paint homes, build wheelchair ramps, fix decks and stairs, clean up yards, etc. It is a great endeavor that impacts many lives – not the least of which are the lives of those who serve.
This year I took on a new role as the “Tool Coordinator”. I worked to make sure teams had the tools and materials they needed to accomplish their task. This role allowed me to go and see many of the work sites and see most of the youth in action building, cleaning, and painting. And make no mistake about it, their role was tougher than mine. I got to drive for miles between sites in the air-conditioned truck. They spent the day in the scorching heat. I unloaded a few pieces of lumber and tools, they swung the hammers and toted the lumber. My task wasn’t the hardest, but it was important. It was also meaningful.
All in all, we had 22 adults and 37 youth working on 13 projects (some were on one project all week due to the enormity of the task). We spent the week sleeping on air mattresses and cots in Sunday School classrooms. We ate together in the mornings and evenings. And, we worshiped together and played together. We all paid to be there. We all took time out of our summer to serve. And that last point is critical to our call as followers of Jesus.
Serving others takes time. Doing something that really makes an impact requires us to rearrange our priorities and adapt our schedule. Serving others isn’t something we can do well if we don’t give it the time it needs. We can help others. We can give stuff to others. We can be a glimpse of hope for others. But, unless we are willing to give time, real time, to serve others, we won’t make the impact on their lives that we could.
One of the key aspects of UMARMY is time spent with the “client” – the person whose home we are working on. The team tries to visit with the persons in the house, play with the kids, and eat lunch with all of them together. During lunch they have a brief devotion together. Afterward, it’s back to work. If the work was all the team did it would help the client. But, by giving time to their client and getting to know them and talking about their own life and faith, these youth are able to change hearts and lives. All because they took time to serve.
We don’t have to wait for a UMARMY camp to give time to others. We don’t even have to wait for our church to come up with an idea. You can take time to serve others in your community even today. You can go fix up a home, you can clean a yard, you can read to children at a group home, you can sit next tot he bed of someone in the nursing home who has no family that comes to visit. You will have to rearrange your schedule, rethink your priorities – you’ll have to make time to serve. But when you do, you’ll find it was time well spent.
Let the Jesus in you be a light for those who live in dark and difficult places.
Holy high-five to you,