Bridgeway Church Youth Finding Ways to Help Others

Bridgeway Church Youth Finding Ways to Help Others

Though they come from mostly prosperous suburban homes, the Youth at Bridgeway Church in Copper Canyon know that many in this world experience hunger and deprivation. Several have been on overseas mission trips to places like Haiti where many are economically vulnerable, said Jenny LoBello, student ministry assistant.

“You don’t have to get on a plane and travel 10 hours to make a difference,” LoBello said.

Working with the Mission Denton project, the suburban youth learned that the poverty is closer to home than they ever realized and that they, as middle and high school students, have the power to connect with and help the less economically fortunate who live nearby.

The youth have enjoyed some eye-opening experiences as they share Christian messages and fellowship with children from vastly different economic backgrounds, said Jake Jarrell, youth minister. He can see young Christians grow in faith and confidence as they give lessons and share love of Jesus with children from vastly different economic circumstances. The children served range in age from 3 years old up to middle school. Most are elementary school students.  The Bridgeway Youth and the food they bring are a welcome sight. The children rush to greet them with smiles, laughter and joyous hugs.

Jarrell first heard about Mission Denton at a luncheon with other youth pastors where the speaker was Amy Pierce. As she described the ministry and mission of the organization which reached into the community, delivering snacks and a message from the Bible to children where they live he was thinking, “This would be perfect for our Youth,” he thought. “We’d love to do this.”

He said that his youth group, for youngsters in grades 6-12, typically has 50-60 show up for activities. The basic outline of Mission Denton, as spelled out in the organization’s website is: “Our summer missionaries and youth volunteers will share the love of Christ in neighborhoods across Denton through Bible stories, games, crafts and snacks. They will minister in 15 locations 2 times each week.”

Typically the meetings are in multi-family housing complexes in areas where many students qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.

The youth from Bridgeway Church serve children who gather at Country View Mobile Home Park in Denton. The youth prepare snacks, a Bible lesson, games and a craft activity that will take about two hours.  Besides a regular monthly commitment, the Bridgeway Youth also are gearing up for a Vacation Bible School for their young friends to enjoy this August.

While the Mission Denton ministry goes on year round, it is especially important in the summer because many of the children served come to the meetings hungry, LoBello said. During the school year, the youngsters typically benefit from one of two good meals a day at school, she explained.

While Mission Denton provides the materials, Bridgeway youth deliver the lesson and organize games and craft projects.

“The Youth are in charge,” LoBello said, adding that the Youth take the responsibilities seriously, but also have a lot of fun. She praised Mission Denton leaders including Pierce, Lisa Robertson and Rachael Kirby for observing Bridgeway Youth Group members to make sure they were delivering a quality program. Soon the Mission Denton leaders were satisfied the youngsters were doing an excellent job.

LoBello remembers the early days of the program provided some eye-opening experiences.  Holding lessons outside in the cold, the youth were surprised to see children show up in just jeans and a t-shirt. The Youth found sweaters and jackets so their fellow Christians could enjoy the activities in
comparative comfort.

Art McNeese, Bridgeway’s senior minister, said Mission Denton is just one of the outreach ministries where his congregation is making a difference in the community. Others are Kids Eat Free, Operation Cool Breeze, Salvation Army women’s ministry and Salvation Army men’s ministry.

“Each one of these is part of our effort to be a church that reaches beyond the walls to serve the needs of people in our community,” McNeese told Lantana Living. “Each one is a terrific service to people in need in the name of Christ.”

Bridgeway Church
8201 FM 407, Copper Canyon

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