As I was walking down a hallway at Bennett High School in Buffalo, NY two weeks ago, I crossed paths with a man who told me he had a story he wanted to share with me. A story of a changed heart after forty-five years.
The man was a resident of Buffalo and lived in one of the homes that was painted or repaired as part of a high school work camp run by Group Mission Trips. I participated in the camp as an adult leader and called the high school home for the week. He had come to the high school that evening to join the crew of students and adults who had worked on his home. They gathered together with the rest of the camp participants for the final worship service of the camp which took place in the school auditorium.
After the evening service, I was walking down the hallway of the high school by myself when I first noticed this man turning the corner down the hall and walking towards me. As we got closer to each other, he asked me for directions to the nearest bathroom. After I pointed him to the nearby bathroom, he stopped and told me he had to tell me something.
As we stood in the hallway, he began to explain that he and his wife had been married for forty-five years and over those forty-five years he had tried and failed, again and again, to get his wife to read the Bible. No matter what he tried, he had never had any success in getting her to read scripture. However, during the week of work camp, he began to notice a gradual change in his wife. The change began when she joined the students for their daily work site lunch and devotion time. As the devotions with the students went on through the week, he noticed his wife thinking about what the students read and discussed each day. The daily devotion time with the high school students led his wife, on the last day of camp, to turn off the TV and open the Bible they had in the house. She began reading it for the first time in forty five-years. The man could not express enough how grateful he was for the students being at his home. He knew their faith and service in Christ’s name had caused his wife’s faith to come alive.
This man’s story reminded me of one of the reasons why student ministry and organizations like Group Mission Trips matter. They matter because they give students the opportunity for God to use their faith to transform lives around them as their own faith grows through service. This was evident in Buffalo and in the transformation that took place in the wife of a man I met in a hallway.