His voice cracked slightly as he described the girl he had spent the day with, "She doesn't have anything. We have everything, really we have too much." This was the response of a fourteen-year-old shaken by the reality he experienced participating in a week-long mission experience.

He didn't leave home, but you can. He didn't have to raise a bunch of money, but that can be a valuable experience too. He just signed up to hang out with some elementary kids in a part of town that he had never had a reason to visit before. Instead of reading about what Christians were doing to help others, instead of putting part of his allowance in the plate on Sunday, he put everything he had heard about and read about into action. Summer is the time when teens get out of the Sunday school classroom and practice what they've been preached.

Deuteronomy 15:11

Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.

This summer may be the most important summer of your life. A mission experience will put a little reality into that seemingly dry Bible phrase "poor and needy." It's a time to interact with the people Jesus loves and talks about over and over in the Bible. Mission experiences provide a unique opportunity for the Holy Spirit to touch teens as much as touching the lives of those they serve.

A fourteen-year-old girl writes:

"I stared down the overgrown path and wondered how many different snakes Kentucky had. Wiping the sweat off my brow I hesitated to take a drink from my water bottle for fear I would actually have to use the outhouse I was staring at down that overgrown path. It was a no win situation with Kentucky experiencing a heat wave and temperatures in the 100's I either drank the water and risked discovering what the inside of a real outhouse was like or risked fainting and being given mouth to mouth by someone with brown goo, also known as snuff, in their mouth. I was discovering far more on this mission experience than I had bargained for, and it was only the first day. By the end of the week I had seen the face of poverty and it smiled at me as I pulled down a ceiling tile infested with termites. Poverty laughed as I screamed and batted bugs everywhere. I met pain and suffering and she offered me a drink of water from her rusted wheel chair. I took communion in two Dixie cups, one for the Mountain Dew and one for a piece of Moon Pie. In it all Jesus showed up everywhere in ways I could have never experienced in a Sunday school classroom or at a youth group meeting."

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.

That is just a glimpse of what a mission experience can do. It is almost summer; do you know where you are going to get your mission experience? Where is Jesus going to show up in your summer?

James 2:5

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?

A fifteen-year-old teen says, "I will never look at my life or the way I worship the same way again. I had no clue how blessed we really are. The way we worship is lame compared to the way I watched people who had nothing worship. I will never be the same and I am going again on the next mission trip that comes up." This was two years ago; he is about to make his third trip to Haiti this summer.

Parents and teens check with your church youth leader to see how you can participate this summer. In addition there a few organizations that help youth groups and individuals plan mission trips.