Youth@Hope SERVE 2022!

SERVE is our annual Youth@Hope summer mission's trip. This year our students (grades 7-12) are traveling to Wilmington, NC in a partnership with Youth Works, from July 24-30. 

Here's how you can participate!

  • Pray for the team! Pray for safety and health, for good attitudes, unity, spiritual growth and effective ministry. Pray for our Youth@Hope leaders who are coordinating, leading, teaching, and supporting in all aspects of the trip.                   
  • Send a personal note to any SERVE 2022 leader or student through out the week to encourage them or share a little bit of home. FILL OUT THIS FORM for each individual note.



We made it!!!! It has already been quite the day full of laughter and connection! All the car rides went smoothly and the team arrived in Wilmington around 5:30. After a quick tour, an enthusiastic game of ninja and unpacking the bags, we filled up with some pizza, veggies and watermelon. Then we settled in with some free time and gathered for introductions and ground rules followed by a hilarious game of “Get to know your Leader”. The students are all getting settled and some even fast asleep already. We just put our final touches on the day for tomorrow and we are getting excited for all the things we know God will do. 


Monday started off a little slow as we got all of our “ducks in a row” and we reminded ourselves what the rhythm of SERVE is. But that is no indication of what the day held for us. One of our mottos this year has been “we will know by the time we have to, and every day will be different”. There have been many cancellations to different work projects and Youth Works has had to scramble behind the scenes to get us all the information we needed. Despite that, the resilience of these students and the ways they have shined have been absolutely amazing.  I wish we had someone constantly recording these students so you could see the real life footage of our students loving on the people that they interact with.

One of the people the students interacted with was a sweet, warm, kind woman whose house got damaged in a hurricane so bad where she has had to live in a trailer.  Mike, Jean and Bert took the high school boys as well as the Junior and Sophomore girls to her home and our students painted, moved junk out of the yard, finished installing molding and repaired the floor.  Our students took it upon themselves in some down time to “clean up” for her, washing walls and sweeping with out any instruction from adults. This woman was beyond thankful and the love of Jesus just beamed out of her in every word she spoke.

Marcus, Jennifer and Mikalah took all the middle school students as well as the freshman girls to Habitat for Humanity’s office where they were welcomed with open arms. In true Southern hospitality style, they had snacks ready for the students and T-shirts to hand out. The students settled in and got to work painting an interior room. Over lunch the students got to hear all about Habitat for Humanity and how they even started. There was much laughter and enjoyment through out the workday. While half of the group stayed at their site all day, the middle school ladies left at lunch to help a women at her storage unit. They were so patient and caring as they carefully cleaned out half of the storage closet, repacked boxes that had broken and then put everything back into the storage unit in a more organized and cleaner fashion. The lady was so thankful for our help and felt more settled knowing that the next step of selling items could happen and she never would have been able to do it on her own.

We returned to home base and got cleaned up for the day to head out to a local park where we grilled hamburgers and hot dogs while playing a carefree, friendly game of sand volleyball. The night wrapped up well with club where Jon & Jasmine lead us is worship and Bert introduced the theme of the week.  We are diving deep into Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Bert reminded us that God’s love and grace are the foundation of a strong faith, and that this is something which is to be cherished and lived out in our day-to-day lives.  Our faith should transform how we live!

Off to bed for these sleeping bodies! So excited for another day!


Every day is different – and that was surely true today. We split into two teams today. All the high schoolers went with Jean, Mike & Mikalah to work at Habitat for Humanity in the morning and Island Wild Life in the afternoon. Both jobs proved to not be for the weary or faint of heart. Leaving bright and early at 8:15, the students started by laying sod to prepare the lawn for houses where individuals will be moving. While working they met neighbors in the area who stopped by to talk and informed them that at least one of the houses will be occupied by the two seventy-year-old women. This same neighbor expressed that our students deserved a story on the local news for their work and loving attitudes. Jean said that their group was surprised by how much fun you could have while laying sod, especially considering how dirty of a job it was. The afternoon was equally as challenging as they picked up trash at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Island Wild Life helps clean up the area by picking up trash and for every 25 pounds picked up, they can plant one tree or 10 native plants. The team picked up 25 pounds of trash!  After two hot, sweaty jobs they were met with some locally homemade ice cream and cold Gatorades followed by a quick dip in the ocean at the local beach, prior to coming back to the church for showers and TACO TUESDAY.  

The Middle School students had their own adventures with Marcus, Jon and Jennifer. They began their day at First fruit ministries, which is an organization that provides services (food pantry, housing and meals) for unsheltered people in the county. They even have an area where there are dorms for the unsheltered and every dorm is sponsored by a different church in the area.  The team did lots of cleaning and organizing for them in their food pantry and meeting rooms. Wynda and her volunteers were overjoyed at having our students and commented that it saved them hours and hours of work they had to do or have never had time to get done. In the afternoon they went back to finish a painting job at the offices of the Habitat for Humanity Center which they had started on Monday. After service sites; Taylor, Jasmine & Jonathan took most of the middle school kids to the beautiful Wrightsville Beach for and late afternoon swim before dinner. The water was refreshing, and the waves provided lots of fun and laughs for the kids who just got a little taste of what is to come as we plan to head back there for a full day at the beach on Friday.  

We finished the evening with a wonderful Taco Bar set up by Amy & Doug, topped off with ice cream for dessert. After worship Jennifer spoke on “Love Mercy”. Mercy, she defined for us, is not inflicting punishment or harm to someone who does deserve it.  Sometimes we can be merciful out of duty,  but it is much harder if not impossible to love mercy in our own power.  She reminded us that the key to loving and giving mercy is remembering we have been given but our very gracious, merciful Heavenly Father. There seemed to be some great discussions in small groups and then off to bed. Onto another day full of adventure and service that awaits us.  


Wednesday....It was Wednesday. Anyone who has ever been on a SERVE know what those words stand for. Wednesday…. It’s a beautiful day as a leader, but a day filled with apprehension. Beautiful because we see the students bond as they get more comfortable with both each other and where we are staying. Often on Wednesdays, small groups get deeper and there are so many beautiful moments as students process what they are learning. There is beauty in seeing students come out of their shells and willing to try new experiences. However, because they are more comfortable, there is always more chances of things getting broken, or someone not thinking twice. Emotions are higher because we have been together every day for a few days and, for some, good sleep is lacking.

While this Wednesday surely lived up to the unexplainable emotion behind it, it was almost all logistical items! The students flew through the day with as much patience, grace, stamina, excitement, and thoughtfulness for others as I have ever seen. The compliments that we have received this week from our worksites has been never-ending. Remark after remark of how hard they are working, and the joy it was to have them serve. These are people who work with teen groups often; and they remarked “we have never had a group as good as this”.  Most sites have to find extra work for us, because the tasks are finished early.

Our day started with a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, fruit and some southern Bo-Jangles Biscuits for the students to try. After devotions the students headed out to three sites today. In true fashion that “every day is different” the groups were all mixed up again. Jean & Biscuit had Abby, Jonathan, Greta, Lexi, and Sebastian where they went back to First Fruit Food Pantry for some more cleaning. They day’s tasks was to clean “a mountain” of black foldable containers that they use to carry food around both in the pantry and to people’s cars. There were probably over 100 containers they washed throughout the day. After a day full of tedious tasks, the team got treated with some Starbucks.

Jennifer & Bert had Jake, Mackenzie, Daniel, Chloe and Seraphina and they went to another food pantry where they unloaded a large donation from a truck and sorted all the food onto the selves. One of the items they sorted was roughly 25 watermelons, some of which were broken and moldy and had to be thrown out. It was definitely a sticky job. After their work day, they were treated to some ice cream.

Mike, Elisabeth, Jasmine & Jon had KK, Kirsten, Sean, Gavin, Eric, Peyton, Cameron, Shelly, Carolyn and Lindsey. They partnered with Habitat for Humanity again, and learned how to remove all the siding off of a house. Some of the students worked on the ladders removing siding and nails, some did ground height work and others worked inside cleaning up and removing staples. Every one that has done Habitat this week has enjoyed getting to know Ashley and Roger, the two Habitat representatives, as well as the amazing adult volunteers they have. After lunch they spent some time at a park for a chance to catch their breath.

Once everyone was back some stayed to relax while most of the student headed out to local pool. It was a great change of pace, though while the water was refreshing in the first moment, it was really like being in a lukewarm bath, as described by one student. Amy and Doug once again hit it out of the park with some chicken and rice for dinner. Taylor led a group game, a round of “Yeah God’s and “Mad props” Worship followed and then Jennifer shared a message about the challenges of learning to walk humbly with God while keeping our pride and self-interest in check. While the Bible is full of people who allowed their pride to lead them away from God, what better example of a humble leader can we find than Jesus?

Now onto another day!


Last day of Work sites today! We talked with the students this morning about how to finish well in the community and they certainly did. Marcus, Jean and Jon took Daniel, Sean, KK, Kirsten, Cameron, Kathleen, Seraphina, Carolyn and Mackenzie to the Habitat Restore where they cleaned out an entire storage room full of donated holiday décor. After they pulled everything out they reorganized it and then put everything back in so that they were nicely put on shelving units and they could see all the items that they had in there.  After a break for lunch and a nice mid-day surprise they went on to a Food Pantry (the 4th one that we have been at this week). Here they helped unload a large donation of food. Picking out all the moldy food and storing in fridges the food that was good to hand out on Saturday. We had a delightful time talking with the staff there.

Habitat for Humanity had the rest of the students this morning; Mike, Jennifer, Mikalah & Bert along with Jonathan, Eric, Greta, Lexi, Chloe, Lindsey, Abby, Shelly, Peyton, Gavin and Sebastian. They continued to prep two houses that had exterior walls up for a team that will arrive next week. Our high school students got to learn about foam insulation to seal the edges around two by fours and how to properly secure stairs to the outside of a house. Our Middle School students worked on prepping the area outside of the house. Habitat values using every piece of material as much as they can, so they sorted through all the scrap wood from the frame of the house to see what is still usable. This meant that the students learned how to take nails out of boards and how to identify reusable material from among the scrap material. It was a hot one this morning and the team worked hard all morning.

While the high schoolers stayed and finished the project with more enthusiasm and grit that I have ever seen despite the hot weather, the middle schoolers took an early lunch and then went to a food pantry in the afternoon where they separated 1,055lbs of sweet potatoes into grocery bags with 7 potatoes each to hand out to families this weekend.

We all got back, showered, and had some free time to relax and just enjoy each others’ company. We got refueled with some spaghetti and meatballs followed by worship and then the last talk of the week from Bert. He concluded our week in Micah 6:8 “The Lord has shown you what is good; to Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with your God.” Bert talked about what it looks like to Act Justly internally, interpersonally and in society. He reminded us that justice is the mission of God’s people to make earth look more like heaven and that everyone is called to “Act” and seek justice. He challenged the students on how they can live out this verse when they get home, for the rest of this summer, and into this school year. He reminded us that we are all uniquely created by God to act, love and walk as He intended.  So some of us this week are challenged more to walk humbly, some to love mercy and some to act justly. 


Looking back, it has been a crazy week – We have been to 14 different sites and helped countless people throughout the week. So today we took a fun day to enjoy some things this wonderful town of Wilmington, NC offers. After a lovely pancake breakfast, we headed out to Wrightsville beach. The sun was hot, the tide was low, the waves were moving! It was a perfect setting for a day at the beach. We rented some sunshades and dove into the water head first. Some played games, others rode the waves and a few rested and relaxed. After we grabbed a quick late lunch, we headed home for showers. The students got some free time and then we had an amazing Southern style BBQ dinner that we catered in.  One student said that it was the best BBQ he has ever had. Then we quickly rushed out for our evening activity where the student had the option to do a few activities.  Go-Karts and Laser Tag where definitely the favorite. We wrapped the day with a little worship and a personal reflection.

This students are all settling down and packing bags for our departure tomorrow.  


The team arrived home safe on Saturday night! Check back for final photos! SERVE2022 is a wrap - we are so grateful for your prayers and the tremendous opportunity we've had to grow in our walks with Jesus, in friendship with one another and in service to the community of Wilmington NC! Praise God!