Exotic vacations, weeks at the beach, cruises and summer trips to theme parks. These are the ideal ways to spend time off from school during the summer for youth nowadays.
Well, not all of them.
Recently a dozen junior and senior high school students from around South Carolina voluntarily came to the Lowcountry to help renovate houses for our neighbors in Jasper and Beaufort counties.
Coming from different towns, these young people – many of whom did not previously know each other – and a few adult leaders, worked on three different houses for people who were willing to welcome them into their homes and their lives.
Before coming, the group raised money and contributed personal funds for building supplies. These supplies would result in a new roof for one resident, a wheelchair ramp and new bathroom floor for another, and replacement of broken windows and rotten floors for a third.
Their week of work occurred in some of the hottest days so far this year, which made some of the tasks, such as re-roofing, even more of a challenge.
Rest at night was not in the comfort of their homes, but in cots on the gym floor at Thomas Heyward Academy.
So why would these young people give up a chunk of their summer vacation to pay to work in strange and challenging conditions for people they didn’t know?
The answer is that they call themselves Christ-followers. And in the model of Jesus, whom they follow and after whom they are modeling their lives, everyone is a beloved, valued child of God.
This means the families here in the Lowcountry are part of their family too, and as such, they are called to do what they can, when they can to the glory of God.
So, by intentional acts of kindness and determination to overcome numerous obstacles, these young men and women formed bonds of friendship that will endure for years to come, with each other and with those whom they serve.
Working together, they restored damaged houses back into homes, and they blessed others with help and hope through mutual struggles, sweat and smiles.
With all that is going on in our nation about those who are in and those are out, those who worthy and those judged as being not, these young people give witness to the transforming and redemptive power of love simply shared where needed.
No media reported on their work. No awards or accolades were given.
But in their own way, these young people were the hands and feet of Christ to a world that God believes is worth saving. Perhaps it is possible for you and me to learn from their example.
May it be true for you and me this day and every day.
Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.