GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Laughter erupted as a Frisbee flew through the hands of a teenage girl. She made a funny face and bounded after the brightly colored disc. An older, grandfatherly man smiled patiently and waited for her to return. He was happy to find someone willing to play.
Teens from Calvary Baptist Church in Fairfield, Texas, spent the week working and playing at a low-income retirement village in Santa Fe, N.M., as part of X-Fuge on Mission, a mission trip for students built into a Fuge camp experience. The youth group did everything from digging a new walkway to sharing Christ’s love.
“It’s good having young people around,” said an 80-year-old retired teacher, watching them play Frisbee with her 67-year-old neighbor. “They bring so much energy to this place. All I’ve done since they arrived is smile.”
The Frisbee game quickly broke up when Matthew Prather, Calvary Baptist Church youth minister, came out with work assignments for the day. One group headed off to paint trim while another repaired window screens. A few boys remained behind to carry a new refrigerator into an apartment. Alex Ezell stopped briefly to watch a resident walk up the new stone path the youth group put in the day before. The high school senior then chatted with the resident before beginning the coming day’s work.
Ezell said his favorite part of X-Fuge on Mission was applying the sermon and Bible study from camp at the ministry site. “There’s a deeper level of working and serving with this style of camp,” the three-time Centrifuge veteran said. “You apply what you learn immediately. After you serve people, you can talk on a totally different level.”
Prather said this camp experience went beyond his expectations. He chose X-Fuge from the Fuge Combo Camp options in the hopes of helping his youth bond together in service.
“I’ve really seen our youth take what they learn in worship and apply it,” he said. “We are learning that just because you are in the United States doesn’t mean there’s a church on every corner. You have to be willing to share your faith everywhere you go.”
Glenice Simmons, director of the housing project, glowed with admiration for the Texas youth group. She said they were the only visitors many of the residents have had.
“These young adults are bringing more life here than we see all year long,” Simmons said. “Not only are you being helpful by physically fixing things, but you’re changing the spirit of the property. You are sharing God’s love in everything you do.”
Sue Sprenkle lives and writes from her home in western Kansas.