Youth Ministry at Love Packages 2017
The Watershed Youth ministry loves Love Packages. A small group of our toughest students spent the better part of the first week of August in Butler, Illinois, (it’s okay — no one else has ever heard of it either) equipping the Church around the world.
Every time I go to Love Packages, I’m astonished at the work they do. Thousands of tons of literature come through their warehouses in central Illinois (and, now, Alabama), and three guys handle all of it.
Our team showed up Tuesday afternoon, and they were eager to jump right into working. Their first task was unloading, unpacking, sorting, and repacking all 1025 Bibles that we brought with us! (HUGE thank you to everyone who donated bibles or bought brownies so we could buy discount bibles!)
As they scooted and pushed the “Large” U-Haul boxes out of the back of Pastor Mario’s minivan, Steve (founder and boss man) yelled at me, “Lexi?! What are you sending me? These boxes! These boxes will kill my guys overseas!” Everyone laughed … and I made a mental note to back smaller boxes next time.
They worked all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday — sorting literature, banding Sunday school sets together, packing boxes, loading pallets, and doing pretty much whatever else Steve or Vern asked them to do.
After 5 pm: Persecution and Parades
And we spent time together, in the evenings, learning about, remembering, and praying for the persecuted Church.
And Thursday evening, of course, we went to cheer and chant and scream at Steve in the annual Hillsboro (the next town over from Butler) parade.
A Great Missions Opportunity
Taking students to Love Packages is an amazing opportunity, and I’m always so grateful that we live relatively close.
The students work every bit as hard as they would on any week-long mission trip. The most energetic and hardworking of them are exhausted by the end of a few days. But because it’s close, we can offer the experience at a really practical cost.
And they are still spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. It’s not as romantic as airports and selfies with cute, foreign babies, but it is life-changing work that is encouraging and growing the Church in some of the hardest places all over the world.
It’s also humbling to do the work in secret — in a dusty warehouse, in the middle of a tiny Midwestern town — but when Holy Spirit speaks to them about their work for the week, it’s amazing. When they realize that people do this kind of thing — making a huge impact with zero fame — every day, they start thinking.
Heaven sees. And one day, when all things are made new, who knows how many people will be with them in eternity because of the boxes they packed and the literature they donated?
Looking Ahead to 2018
About nine months ago, we set an audacious goal of bringing 1000 bibles to Love Packages this summer. And they did it.
There was another group of teenagers there for most of our stay. They heard — because Steve and Vern told everyone who came through — that our group brought 1025 bibles. A few days after they left, one of their leaders sent Steve an email vowing that they would bring 1030 bibles next summer. (Which I know, because Steve forwarded it to me.)
So now, our students are determined to collect 1100 bibles before next August. I think they can do it.