In this season of gratitude and generosity, we are looking back at the amazing service done over the past few years in all of our CrossRoads fields. Even more stunning is the service that volunteers have brought home. Our staff encourages each short-term group to continue serving after they leave our field, to apply what they have learned in their own hometown, and to start a life of dedicated service beyond the mission field.
Rob and Rich recently talked about a few of these stories on our radio show Made to Serve. The focus of the episode was to show how one person’s act of service, when combined with other individual acts of service, can create huge results. Years ago, at a teen conference, Help Build Hope was asked to do a build where each of the 5,000 students attending could participate. This daunting task turned into a great teaching moment. Some quick calculations showed that it took about 5,000 nails to frame a house, so over the course of the weekend, each student drove one nail to build the frame. They had no idea what the end result would be, but on the last day when the completed frame stood for all to see, each student saw what their single nail built.
The story doesn’t end there. One of those youth groups took that lesson home with them. The house was going to a family in their hometown, so they followed the construction through to the end, building relationships with the family in the process. Three years later, the child that lives in that house came to the same conference with that youth group. The 5,000 kids from years earlier, nor the staff organizing the build, had any idea how far their service would go. It was all because one group decided to keep serving, and serving well through relationships and dedication.
More recently, we have seen many examples of continued service though the refugee ministry in our Mexico field. Groups from around the US come to Piedras Negras to serve refugees and hear their stories. One year, there was a family of 6 who fled Venezuela and had been waiting in Piedras for 20 months to seek asylum in the US. After getting to know this family over the course of two trips to Piedras, John Presko felt called to help this family, even outside of the mission field. Once back in the states, he asked CrossRoads if he could help them find jobs and a place to live in Springfield, his Missouri hometown. After getting an enthusiastic yes, John eagerly searched his city, but found nothing. With hope, John turned to his church congregation for ideas. Finally, a job opportunity for the family presented itself, but it wasn’t in Springfield- it was in Owasso, Oklahoma.
After receiving this news, John remembered an Owasso church group that he grew close with while serving in Mexico. A quick call to group’s minister, Zeb Myers, turned into a great partnership. A house was found quickly, and both churches raised funds and supplies for the family. When the day finally came for the family to cross into the US, John and Zeb drove down themselves to bring the family to their new home in Owasso. With the help of google translate and lots of quality time in the car, John describes the trip as “the craziest, most exciting 48 hours of my life.”
There are many other stories of volunteers bringing service home: from housing refugees, to applying new construction skills for neighbors in need; to clothing drives and to Help Build Hope. We at CrossRoads want to thank our amazing volunteers, not only for serving alongside us, but for continuing to serve alongside others. None of us can accomplish this on our own. The ability to come together and multiply service around the world is what we are most thankful for this holiday season.