by Kaya Getz
This summer we sent a team of Chets Students on mission to the Florida Keys to help with hurricane relief and marine cleanup. Kaya Getz is one of the students who was on the trip.
The mission trip was a lot of hard work, but it didn’t feel like “work” when I looked at it from the point of view of doing it for God's glory and reaching people who haven’t heard the Gospel. Going on a mission trip within the United States really opened my eyes, to show that I don’t have to go across the world to serve. There are kids right next door in my neighborhood, my school, and even at church to whom I give hope, love, and friendship.
This year I chose to go on the mission trip instead of going to Chets Students Camp. Last year I went to camp just to have fun. I’ve been going since third grade and I was kind of just going through the motions. At camp I took a turn or two wrong and ended up having to deal with a ton of easily avoided drama. I was so insecure and confused. I was upset about ruining some friendships. Looking back now, I’m not sure they were the best of relationships.
On this trip I realized God's plan is bigger and better than my own plan. I’ve gotten new friends and a stronger relationship with Christ. My faith has grown so much in my middle school years. Everyone says that you find who you are, and I have. When I came to the North Campus, I had no idea why the students kept coming back. I’m dead honest! We didn’t have the flashing lights, big group, or anything really special. It baffled me for a really long time. The kids came and enjoyed it so much they even drove themselves to youth group! They came for the message and the message only.
Take Eli Shami for example. One day I caught him in the hall and told him about youth group. A couple months after being involved in the church, his entire family got saved and he is one of the most on fire for Christ high schoolers I know now. He went on the Costa Rica trip and we had a lot of the same thoughts about being on mission wherever we are and sharing God’s love, even in Chets Students at the North Campus. We started off with a youth group of one when the campus launched. And now we’ve grown. God is working in bigger ways than I could have ever imagined!
On the trip I also realized I need to take more ownership in my walk with Christ. All my relationships should honor Christ. Your best friend, your boyfriend or girlfriend, and the people you’re closest to should be the ones encouraging you to grow in Christ. How I interact with my non-Christian friends shows them who Christ is.
One missionary spoke on Sunday night and said, “Every conversation is an opportunity to share the Gospel.” It hit me not just because it’s an awesome quote, but because I have many conversations in a day. I’m sad to say this, but before the mission trip very few had ever been about Jesus or anything important. It’s changed the way I talk and look at life. Now I find myself easily talking about the gospel in any conversation. 1 Peter 3:15 which says, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” has to be one of my favorite verses now, if not my favorite.
I had a close friend in sixth grade who I invited to Chets, a church club at school, and See You at the Pole. She started to go to the Christian events without me; I didn’t even have to ask her to come. Last spring, she moved across the US and she died later that year. I’m comforted to know that she at least had the chance to know about God and that she searched for him. It relates back to “every conversation is an opportunity” because I had no clue my friend’s time on earth would be so short. I was kind of going through the motions just trying to be a good Christian girl. I had no idea God was using me for bigger things, like quite possibly the only way for my friend to hear the Gospel. It just blows my mind.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to go to the Keys and for the great leaders who were on the trip with me. I made so many friends, grew so much in my faith, and it changed how I look at life. The work was real, the impact was real, and the relationships we built were real. I cannot wait for next year’s adventure!