HJ/EDJuly 3, 2006

Churches unite for summer mission trip

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

More than 40 young people from three local churches spent a week working to help repair hurricane-damaged homes.

First Baptist along with Elim Mission Church of Cokato, and St. John’s Catholic Church returned from a youth mission trip to Laurel, Mississippi last week.

“It was a privilege to go with a blended group,” said Steve Stahl youth pastor for First Baptist Church.

With three different churches and denominations, “Everyone worked really well together right from the beginning,” according to youth pastor in training, Desmond Hicks.

The youth mission spent a week in Laurel, Miss., a town 90 miles from the coast that suffered from wind damage during Hurricane Katrina.

The group worked on re-shingling homes for residents, but also helped build a shed for their hosting church, St. Elmo’s Church, to store hurricane materials and tools.

The group also spent a day in the coastal town of Waveland, Miss. and home of Camp Katrina, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina.

Those who had been there before, were encouraged by the amount of clearing that had taken place within the past months, according to Stahl.

But those who had seen the coast for the first time, were in shock over the amount of damage.

Despite the hard work and hot weather, all the kids said they wanted to do it again, Stahl said.

With an all black southern baptist church, the youth enjoyed learning about the “southern black culture,” according to Stahl.

“It was a positive experience for all of us,” he said.

The youth group was to “demonstrate God’s love in a practical way and bridge the cultural differences,” Stahl said.

“Not only was this trip about learning to be good servants of God, it gave an understanding and respect for another culture,” Stahl said.

Pastor Joe Holloway of St. Elmo’s Baptist Church said that the group received more joy from serving than buying the latest technology.

First Baptist hopes to expand it future projects with other churches. “Resources go much further when you work together,” Stahl said.

He also noted, “It’s important to demonstrate the love of the same God,” regardless of denomination.

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