Vol 5 No. 31 Serve 2009 Swift Current

Our Interim Director of Youth for the CBWC, Claire McLean, has been working hard for several months to bring together between 150 and 200 of our youth from across the West to serve in Swift Current this past July 12 to July 18.  Claire has worked with Nadia VanderKuip, (our Short Term Ministry Coordinator) Joell Haugan (Pastor, Community Baptist Church, Swift Current), Penny Giesbrecht (Administrator at Community Baptist), Youth Sponsors bringing groups, and the Youth Leadership Team of the CBWC to realise this project.

I asked Claire last June to reflect on a series of questions in anticipation of when Serve had finished.  Below are the questions and her responses.  These gatherings are extremely important to instil service, sacrifice and commitment into the lives of our youth.  The Serve experience builds loads of friendship, character, community and networks over a wide part of our far-flung family of churches.  These experiences mould and mentor our future leaders.  Thanks be to God.


1.  What is Serve and where has been held?

SERVE is an (almost) annual weeklong event for teenagers in our Canadian Baptist Churches here in Western Canada.  Usually held during the third week of July groups of teenagers descend on a single community to carry out acts of practical service as a reflection of God’s free gift to us in Jesus Christ.

2.  How many came this year?

This year 136 youth and leaders participated.  Unfortunately one group was unable to join us at the last minute.

3.  How many churches participated this year? 

We had 12 groups representing 14 different churches.

4.  What were your goals and tasks?

In addition to completing the practical acts of service SERVE is important in revealing to young people that their church and their youth group is part of a larger family (CBWC).  This is achieved during the evening meetings of SERVE when all of the groups join together for worship and teaching.  This year Riley Armstrong (our speaker) connected well with our young people.  In addition, groups have the option of remaining together to carry out a project or splitting up and working with other groups.  One leader commented that SERVE was the best event for his group to get to know others…I think having teens (and adults) working together to complete a project makes it easier for them to forge friendships.

5.  What got done?

Many locals were impressed by how diligently the teens worked and by what they were able to accomplish.  Some could not comprehend that teenagers would work for free and actually pay to come and serve.  In all the teenagers were able to provide much needed help: the Mini-Golf Course in Swift Current, which is run by a non-profit received a makeover; a special ‘construction’ crew of teens over 16 was assembled to help replace a roof on a curling rink and demolish a derelict house; the exterior of a number of museums, community and heritage buildings were painted.  One aging community said that it would have been impossible for them to carry out this work to protect their building from the elements had it not been for our young people.

The interior of a library was painted, bricks were reclaimed for use in a memorial garden, two Day Camps for children were staffed, various projects such as post-painting, fixing a neighbour’s fence, visiting seniors in Assisted Living Facilities, weeding and cleaning were also carried out by the groups.

6.  Fondest memories?

– Everyone singing to God with ‘arms raised and hearts abandoned’ on the last night.

– Joell leading communion and reminding us church doesn’t just happen once a week for an hour on Sunday mornings, but that we were being the church all week in the communities we visited.

– Phoning a community leader prior to SERVE and asking if we could carry out a project that we knew would benefit the community; and then trying to explain that there were no strings attached and we were going to do the work for free…I’m sure he was still waiting for the catch at the end of the conversation!

– Seeing all the kids from one youth group spend their limited free time visiting their friend in the hospital (he had to have his appendix removed).

– ‘Going Bananas’ with Riley and the rest of the crew.

7.  Greatest challenges?

– Getting the interior of the library painted in Vanguard.  This was a mammoth task for a week.  With limited space the books had to be removed, then the library had to be painted before the end of Thursday (to allow the paint to dry).  After that the books had to be re-shelved in the right order.  All this when no work could be done on the library on Wednesday.  Way to go Port Alberni!

– Getting everyone’s lunch order right!  This was a real headache for Nadia and the lunch co-ordinator given that I kept rearranging the groups so we had enough help to complete the various projects.

– The weather!  With a tornado warning and rain on Monday no work could take place on the roofing or outdoor painting projects on Tuesday, and (nearly) all the groups had to be reassigned.  This was followed by a power outage in the middle of one of Riley’s talks.

– Gophers on the road…for some the challenge was to miss them…for others the challenge was NOT to miss them.  (Gophers are a huge problem for farmers in Southern SK with 10 gophers eating as much as one cow in a year).

8.  Thanks to whom?

There are too many people to thank that it is impossible to mention them here.  As I said to Community Baptist Church the African saying “It takes a village to raise a child” can be adapted to “It takes an entire congregation to host SERVE.”  From cleaners to help with technology, lunch organisers, meal co-ordinators, drivers, lending of equipment, connecting with communities, encouraging, organising, providing/arranging for accommodation and showers, each and everyone contributed to making SERVE a success.  You know who you are – “Thank-you”.

9.  Next Year?

Next year SERVE will take place in Flin Flon, MB from 11th-17th July 2010.  Look for the reminder arriving at your church towards the end of August.  If this has whet your appetite, just remember you don’t have to be a Youth Pastor or Missions Co-ordinator to bring a group.


In Christ,