Keeping Your Hands Dirty & Your Heart Clean

The following is an article by Caroline Hare, a Student Youth Director at Trinity United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL.

In June, Element Student Ministry took 35 high school students to SOS (Service Over Self) in Memphis. In July, we will take a second group, with 106 total students in attendance. SOS is an organization with a mission to make homes in Memphis warmer, safer and dryer. Every homeowner involved with SOS is guaranteed a new roof, and then additional work is done inside homes and on properties after the roofs are finished.

Our students truly built bonds with each other over the days spent at SOS. I have received emails, texts and calls from parents commenting that their student came home changed. Students have shared about the trip and even opened up about personal things with their parents.

A special story from the June SOS trip is one about a man named Mr. Isaiah. On the second day on the worksite, Mr. Isaiah came to visit. He saw the SOS sign in the yard and decided to stop by. When he asked the students what church they were with and was told Trinity, he immediately started asking about certain students by name. He even recalled what sports they were involved with, like golf and volleyball!

Mr. Isaiah had his house worked on by our team several years ago. He came back again to the worksite another day bearing in his arms his worn scrap book our students had helped make him. He showed pictures of the progress of the work that was done on his house, of our youth team who had worked on it, and even the sweet notes they had written him. Obviously our students made an impact not just on his house that year, but on his heart. They showed him the heart of Christ through serving.

Ben Hancock, one of our former students who is working at SOS this summer, was a team leader for the week. At one of our lunch time devotions as we were picking at our tar encrusted fingers he said, “keeping your hands dirty keeps your heart clean.” I could not agree with him more.

Trips like this help to refocus our students. From the moment you arrive at SOS, you experience what it means to serve others over your self. Everything from the staff carrying in your luggage, to serving the person on your left at dinnertime, to hammering nails on a hot roof, to meeting people like Mr. Isaiah – we experience the true meaning of service.