Students find joy in serving

ib2newseditor —  August 15, 2016

ChicaGO Week mobilizes youth to missions—and inspires me deeply.

Chicago Week Group

Photo op | Part of the group from First Baptist Church O’Fallon poses for a picture before starting the daily commute back to Judson University.

Two summers in a row now I have been completely immersed in the world of the Mission Illinois Offering – helping provide churches with state missions Bible studies, crafting guides for Illinois Baptists to prayerfully walk through with one another, and working to prepare hearts for giving and supporting missions right here in our own state.

MIO-box-smallThere is one area, though, which Mission Illinois giving supports that has become especially near and dear to me: ChicaGO Week.

I have had the opportunity to cover a number of incredible stories about work that IBSA churches are doing across the state – a small, rural congregation feeding thousands of people each month, urban church planters gathering together for mutual encouragement and solidarity, children whose Christlike actions have touched the lives of adults and entire communities.

Watch the MIO video, “Students on Mission in Chicago.”

But when I reflect on which stories have had the most impact on me personally – which testimonies and experiences have managed to stand out above all the rest – hands down they revolve around the selflessness and joy I’ve had the privilege to witness during ChicaGO Week.

As you can read about more in the upcoming August 22 edition of the Illinois Baptist, ChicaGO Week offers youth a unique opportunity to travel to this huge mission field and partner with local church planters whose goal is to reach the 9 million Chicagoland residents with the gospel, a large majority of whom don’t have a relationship with Jesus.

And trust me when I tell you that these students don’t take this partnership lightly.

Chicago Week Bubbles

Sports Camp | Local kids came to Transformation Church each day during ChicaGO Week as IBSA youth partnered with them to put on a sports camp — complete with bubbles and chalk drawing galore.

Last summer I watched as kids braved the summer heat and accomplished more yard work in a few hours than that church planter and his family could have gotten done all week. I thanked God for a young group of girls as they bravely talked to strangers and told others about Christ in this huge city they’d never even been to before. And this summer I couldn’t help but be filled with joy as 30+ students poured their time and energy into simply playing games with kids in the local community – eating ice cream together and showing them the love of Jesus.

Letting them know that they matter.

And the planters. The students during ChicaGO Week only get a brief glimpse into the daily lives of these church planters – seeing just a peek into the challenging, sometimes grueling and heartbreaking, yet oh so rewarding world of starting a new congregation. But getting to speak to these men and their families gives youth the opportunity to see the need for the gospel in our state, and it has given me such a greater appreciation for where my MIO dollar is going.

So I encourage you to give to the Mission Illinois Offering, and give generously. Because I’ve seen firsthand the life change and the souls that are won for the Lord when these planters have the resources they need to fulfill the mission that has been placed on their hearts.

Learn more about the Mission Illinois Offering and Week of Prayer.

– Morgan Jackson is an editorial contributor for IBSA and freelance writer living in Bloomington, IL.