College spring break is painted as a time to get away from campus and forget about the midterms that were actively trying to end your college career. It is usually spent at the beach with a group of friends living a week of unforgettable and regretfully-documented partying. All of a sudden, classmates who complained about surviving on ramen and mayo-filled Oreos (because they already licked the cream off in previous moments of desperation) are making trips to Panama City Beach and Cancun. It’s a miracle! But what happens when the gospel grips your heart and, in changing everything, changes your idea of spring break?
1. Day One
This spring break MH College was able to take a team of UNCG, NC A&T, and HPU students down to Florida and serve the city of Orlando with Grace Alive Church. After a nine-hour drive filled with Grammy-worthy renditions of Shania Twain by ministry resident Justin Treadway and slightly reckless games of Catch Phrase, the team got to see church planting up close.
Right off the highway we were able to help set up for Sunday morning with the planting team. On Sunday the team helped set out first time guest tents and flags, greeted at doors, served in the Kids Ministry, and helped with tear down. We got to witness the blessing Grace Alive has been to the community of Orlando as young, old, black, white, Haitian, and Hispanic peoples gathered to worship the Lord together. Most memorable was a young man who was homeless that saw the Grace Alive signs from the street, used the facilities, then attended service. That afternoon, MH College was reunited with past MH College students that chose to leverage their life for the mission and help plant Grace Alive.
2. Leveraging a Few Days
The heart of church planting has always been serving—serving the people God sends us to with the gospel and its works. The YMCA that Grace Alive is hosted at is also one of their community partners. This particular YMCA serves an underprivileged neighborhood and a largely elderly population. Both Grace Alive and the YMCA have fully embraced each other in cool ways. Young Grace Alive members will come and play basketball, and older members will make time for weekly bingo. Our time serving was spent doing the things this underfunded YMCA would not be able to. The team painted sidewalks and handicap signs, moved pool equipment, cleaned up trash, and wiped down well-loved exercise equipment. Afterwards we had the chance to stay and play games of knock-out basketball with kids from the neighborhood who had just gotten out of school. An older gentleman named Larry, who operates an electric wheel chair, spent his time with our painting team to encourage them in their efforts. He uses his bingo time as a member of Grace Alive to further integrate the partnership with the YMCA. On the last of our work days, Pastor Triggs graciously sat down with the team (some of whom are aspiring planters) to share the ins and outs of church planting. One student said this is where the idea of “life on life” discipleship clicked and now wants to open her life that her friends might know Jesus.
The team was able to respond to the generosity of the gospel by giving time and energy to what God is doing at Grace Alive. Spring break was a chance to lay down what the world says should be a time all about us and make it all about Jesus. Sure, we had fun seeing the city of Orlando, trying local eats, going to the beach, arguing the flat earth theory, and going to universal Studios. But serving the city because of the gospel made experiencing the city and what it had to offer all the better.
-Vania Claiborne (College Resident)