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Michael Yeilding

When the summer finally fizzles out and school cranks back up here in a few weeks, I bet most students won’t make it to the lunch bell without already thinking and dreaming about being out of school next summer. And while that may sound silly, it’s simply a fact of life: students can’t get enough of the summer. For the break, for the fun, and for the freedom!

And that’s not too far off from the mentality we have on the Student Ministry alongside them—in fact, we begin planning what ministry will look like in the summer months well in advance because summers can be fast, frenzied, and before you know it, over far too quickly.

This year we wanted to throw everything we had at this summer—lots of fun events, beach camp in Panama City, and several mission trips, in a coordinated and earnest effort to make the most out of it. We even took off the month of July from our regular Sunday programming in order to slow down the frantic pace of summer to focus on relationships and connecting.

The hope was to connect students with other students — either because of their mutual interests or perhaps they went to the same school and hadn’t yet had the “holy-cow-I-know-you!” moment in the hallway outside Algebra class. And most importantly, we prayed for and were intentional about our leaders getting significant time to invest in our students.

And while I know the summer was still super busy, I also know that both students and leaders came away from these past few months not only with tons of summer selfies with new friends, but transformed by impactful relationships that will pay life-long dividends to their spiritual development.

Highlights of Summer 2016

First stop: Panama City, Florida

Beach Camp Panama FloridaWe began the summer by taking nearly 200 students to the sandy beaches for Fuge Beach Camp. To say that students were excited about the wind in their hair and the surf at their feet would be an absolute understatement!

Beyond the sunburns, the football on the beach, and the gallons and gallons of sunblock that were used, the students were challenged to consider what it looks like to live unashamed of the gospel. In fact, the theme this year was just that: Unashamed. Close to 10 students chose to accept Christ as their Savior, with several from the Sloan Creek campus choosing to be baptized in the Gulf in front of their peers, as if to immediately and obediently respond to the challenge to live unashamedly of their relationship with Jesus. In addition, one of our 544 students, Cooper Smith, will be baptized here in a few weeks. After talking with Cooper personally, I can confidently say that not only does he understand what his decision to follow Christ means, but he is eager to tell others about it and share his faith boldly and unashamedly.

Next Up: Movie Night at the B&B

Campus-Visit-WylieNearly 200 students and adult student leaders from all campuses met at the B&B Wylie 12 to watch the premiere of Finding Dory. After consuming gobs of popcorn, handfuls of sour patch kids and washing it down with the sweet nectar of a B&B Freeze, theater workers regained their composure after the tornado of students came through their hallways.

Mission Trip to Jamaica

High school students from each of the campuses packed their bags to make a difference in Jamaica, right outsideJamaica Mission Trip of Montego Bay. Each day during the six-day trip was full of hard work that was tiring, but also extremely rewarding. We partnered with Mission Discovery to host Vacation Bible School, pour concrete, paint, and sort library books at the Jamaica School for the Deaf, and we ministered to disabled students and adults. Many of our students rotated through these different opportunities and came away amazed at all God accomplished through them—whether it was a long day carrying buckets of rock to make concrete on a roof, or it was smiling and playing with children, our students were actually being used to make a difference.

Zach Polen, the sole 544 high-schooler on the trip said this about his Jamaica experience:

“Being that Jamaica was my first mission trip, I was quite nervous and anxious to see what God had in store for me on this journey. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Jamaica was the most rewarding and exciting trip I have ever been on! I can easily say without a doubt that the Jamaica mission trip was the highlight of my summer!”

This type of experience wasn’t limited to just High Schoolers though, our Middle School students at all the campuses were invited to step into mission as well, in the hot and humid metropolis of Houston, Texas in the middle of July.

Houston Mission TripMission Trip to Houston

The Legacy & 544 Middle Schoolers teamed up and partnered with Center for Student Missions to serve their ministry partners all over the city and minister to kids that are in summer programs in apartment complexes.

Our students were constantly on the move: packing lunches for students in low-income housing and then delivering them, working at the Houston Food Bank, doing a City Search in downtown Houston to pray for and give lunches to those that were in a nearby park, and a prayer tour that covered the six diverse wards that cover the Houston metroplex.

Students had a blast serving and making a difference in both Jamaica and Houston, and the greatest take-away for both groups is that they don’t have to go to a different part of the world to serve, they can make a difference right where they are!  Score!

Other connection events during the summer included: Dodgeball Tourney, meeting at the Richardson StarCenter for Ice Skating and Broomball, attending a Rough Riders game, Giant Slip ‘n Slide event, and more!

So as you can probably tell, despite our best efforts, the summer whizzed by us fast and frantically as ever—but I’d like to think that along with the mission trip photos, the broomball bruises, and the beach camp sunburns, the students also came away from this summer with lasting relationships that are centered on Christ. We couldn’t be more thankful for what God did this summer, making us all the more prayerful for what He will most certainly do as the school year ramps us!