In less than two weeks, 10 families from The Sanctuary will be packing up their cars, loading up the kids and heading out together on a summer road trip.
It will be a bonding experience, for sure. But they aren’t vacationing at the beach or planning hikes in the mountains.
Instead, they could find themselves painting walls, repairing floors and cooking meals for the homeless as part of the Good Works mission trip to Athens, Ohio. Twenty-eight people from The Sanctuary will be making the nine-hour drive to the impoverished area near the Appalachian Mountains.
And while they will spend a week using their hands as part of work teams, the group prefers to think of themselves as part of “worship teams.”
“It’s keeping the right perspective of who God is and how we are to live our lives worshiping him,” said Linda Smith, one of the leaders of The Sanctuary’s Missions Team, which is organizing the trip for the fourth time.
At the heart of the ministry, Good Works, Inc. asks volunteers to not only focus on meeting the physical needs of those they are serving, but also to build relationships.
“They’re really focused on relationships first and sharing God’s love and God’s provision,” Linda explained. Last year, for example, after cleaning a woman’s house and helping her change her curtains and bedding, Linda and her daughters played Yahtzee with the home owner while several men repaired her floor.
“That’s one of the things the kids do so well because who doesn’t love kids?” she said. “The kids really break down barriers.”
Nearly 40 people from The Sanctuary went on the trip last year, including three generations from one family. Their projects included building bunk beds for a homeless shelter, revamping a kitchen and replacing a roof. Many of the people served by the Good Works ministry live in rural areas and need help with lawn care and home maintenance projects.
This year, participants from The Sanctuary range in age from 18 months to those in their 40’s. They include whole families, individuals and one parent traveling with children. The majority of people participating this year will be experiencing the Good Works trip for the first time.
“What we love about it is that families can serve together,” Linda said. “It’s a great time of being able to get to know people in our own body.”
And they do get to know each other. The group will stay in dorm-style rooms in bunks that are three beds high. They share one bathroom by flipping a sign outside to read either “men” or “women”. They will help with chores and cooking responsibilities to prepare daily meals for 40 people, including interns on the Good Works staff who stay at the site all summer.
Each evening they share “God moments” they encountered throughout the day. And on the last night of the trip, they will prepare a meal for about 175 people, including many from a local homeless shelter.
One aspect of the project that Linda said she likes best is how those who are receiving help also contribute to the project to earn items they need, like appliances, bikes or lawn equipment. The group believes that everyone can contribute in some way.
“Everybody has something to offer,” she said. “It really gives us a good perspective on who we are.”
If you would like to be part of the Good Works trip, but you can’t travel to Ohio, you can still contribute by offering a donation. Click here for the suggested donation list.
Have you gone on the Good Works trip in the past? What part of the experience had the greatest impact on your life? Leave us a comment!