Two years in a row, a young church in Edmonton – Summerside Community Church – has hosted a TREK team.
TREK is a program of Youth Mission International designed to give young adults an experience of serving Christ full-time for 10 months. After intense two-month training, teams are dispersed around the world for eight months of ministry. At least one team goes to a North American location.
And why Summerside, two years in a row?
Pastor Ray Wiens explains. Since Summerside is a brand new church there was lots of flexibility for the teams to fit and get established in a short period of time. Further, the large number of youth and young adults in the congregation gave TREK a natural connection. And, he says, the church has a heart for ministry, evangelism and equipping young people to serve Christ.
Each October the church rented and furnished an apartment for the team. When they arrived mid-November, people gathered at the church to greet them. The church threw a party that included funny welcome gifts and gift certificates to recreation, events and fast food places in Edmonton. (Advance research matched the gifts to each person’s favourite food and activities). Since TREKkers were given only a basic living allowance, the church gave them each a ministry expense account.
TREK members spent their first six weeks at the church getting acquainted with the various ministries of the church. They also participated in a spiritual gifts discernment course called “Network”. The exposure and the course helped church leadership and the team discern where they should serve.
In early January, team members got their ministry assignments. These included organizing youth activities, leading Bible studies, preparing meals for an Alpha course, office work, church administration, organizing prayer meetings, janitorial duties and many other areas of service.
TREKkers were encouraged to flex their wings and try new things. Assignments might change over the course of the program.
Team members were matched with personal mentors who met with them weekly. They were also encouraged to read books, listen to tapes and watch videos on topics relating to the church, leadership and spiritual growth. Personal quiet times were a priority and they were introduced to a specific journaling method. Pastor Wiens met with the team weekly to review the past week and teach them further.
TREK members experienced both the hard work and the thrill of church planting. Each term, their ministry resulted in people coming to, or re-dedicating themselves, to Christ.
Karen Hess wrote the church a year after her time in Edmonton. “I have many great memories from the year I spent with TREK. Thanks to all of you who invested so much time and energy into my life. I really appreciate it and I continue to learn from the many experiences that I had.”
Summerside’s goal was that each TREK member would get to know God more profoundly and acquire a love for serving Christ through the local church. Each participant was encouraged to explore the possibility that God was calling them into full-time ministry.
Today, three former Summerside TREKkers are serving in full-time ministry, one is attending seminary and another is in Bible college. The young congregation in Alberta also benefited from their service and enjoyed seeing the TREKkers blossom in their midst.
| © 2008 Mennonite Brethren Herald
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