Last month Community Christian School went to South Padre Island for their annual junior/senior class trip. It wasn’t at all like the senior trip I had where we went on a more traditional vacation for a week. Ours was fun, but ultimately pretty shallow. In 2016 the CCS administrator, Doug Jefferson, was moved to turn their trips into more than just vacations, but also opportunities to give back and witness to the communities that they were visiting. In 2016 they went to Chicago and worked with a local inner-city church on projects for the area. Last year, just before the country shut down they took a trip to San Diego where they had the opportunity to help the homeless and also learn about homelessness. They were able to serve meals and learn about the difficulties of being homeless by participating in a scavenger hunt to find basic things needed for survival in a city. Things like a place to use the bathroom, or where to find water helped them experience to some degree what it’s like. This year was the sixth in a row that they have done their trips this way, and it was just as rewarding.
They weren’t going to have the chance to partner with a group this year, but that wasn’t going to stop them from witnessing to the people of the area they were visiting. Because they wanted to put an emphasis on serving too, the Tuesday before they left for the trip they served a meal to the homeless at Center of Life in Mineral Wells while ministering to them. Then, the day before they left on the trip the group worked at the Let’s Grow Crazy Community Garden. On Monday they started their drive to the beach where they would represent Mineral Wells, CCS, and Jesus for 5 days. They had planned to spend a few hours cleaning up the beach, but when they got there they were so clean already that they spent the time enjoying the beach and picking up jellyfish. The lack of serving opportunities actually made witnessing a little more challenging because they had to step out in faith to talk to strangers that weren’t already participating in the service they were providing. It was a challenge they were up for.
Several mornings they started their days by praising God on the boardwalk. Each time a different student would lead with some help from their choir teacher. The worship drew the attention of several passers by. Some were just curious about what was going on, and some were encouraging Christians that wanted to applaud them for being so open about their faith. They prayed that the area would be blessed. They had a beach volleyball ministry for a couple of days where they played some college students. One student in particular was very curious about their faith, and having been raised in a more performance centered branch of Christianity, she wanted to know about a relationship with Jesus. They prayed for her, her exams, and a friend of hers that was not feeling well. One night at dinner they were tasked with introducing themselves to strangers. Two of the students made friends with an elderly couple and got the chance to share with them. Another night they had a relationship building time where they got into a circle, prayed, and dealt with the inevitable issues that come up when you spend a lot of time with people in close quarters. It was good.
Not everything was work though. They had fun on the beach. They went snorkeling, to a sea turtle rescue called sea turtle inc., and held some snakes plus fed some alligators at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. They ate lunch at Breaking Bread, and had dinner at Sea Ranch. They went to an amusement park where they launched themselves into the air on bungie cords. Even there they ran into a woman who had a miracle story about her son who was in a car accident where his spine was crushed 6 months ago, but now he was able to launch himself in the air with the rest of the kids. The point of the trip was to teach the kids how to open their circle, get out of their bubble, and broaden their horizons. It was to teach them to go out into the world, see people the way that they are, and have the grace to know that Jesus loves them and tell them about Him. One chaparone told me that she always gets home from these mission trips feeling better even if the trip itself is hard and outside her comfort zone. I suppose that’s the point.
Congratulations to the CCS class of 2021, who got their diplomas on May 28th in a beautiful ceremony that was filled with some laughs, but mostly bittersweet tears. I’m sure that they will do great things.
Contributor | I was born in Mineral Wells and have lived here all my life so far. I graduated from Community Christian School. I am amazed at the progress this city has made in the last few years, and I want to contribute to that in a positive way. I love writing, photography, music, and listening to way too many podcasts.