Conference churches come together for day of service and learning at NWC Family Go: Serve

NWC-News-2015-GoServe-600x350By Kara Stromberg

Nearly 40 families from 14 different churches converged on Redeemer Covenant Church in Brooklyn Park, MN, on May 2 for NWC Family Go: Serve, a day of service and experiential learning for families.

This is the second year for NWC Family Go: Serve, an event designed for families with children in PreK-upper elementary school. The day was an opportunity for families to learn and grow together, in a family-friendly, yet stretching environment suitable for younger children.

The event kicked off with worship music led by First Covenant Church of St. Paul’s youth worship band and an interview with Pastor Yeak Monneh, a local pastor who grew up as a World Vision-sponsored refugee child in Liberia, now serving the Liberian community in Brooklyn Park. Families learned about Pastor Yeak’s desire to ensure families back home in Liberia had adequate medical supplies during the Ebola crisis.

Pastor Kari Jacott from Linwood Covenant Church in Wyoming, MN, asked Yeak why so many Liberian families came to live in cold Minnesota. Yeak replied, “Because we have family and friends here! We come here to take care of each other.”

Pastor Amy Long from Redeemer explained the contents of bags given to each family, full of supplies they would need that day—a magnifying glass to encourage them to look more closely at the world around them, a puzzle piece to help them remember that they were an important piece of doing God’s work in the world, and a rubber band to remind them that they will feel stretched.

Before families dispersed to assemble sandwiches, they watched this news story that showed how these sandwiches are distributed for homeless people in the twin cities.

After the morning session, families grabbed boxed lunches, then drove to ministry sites to serve.

Serving at the ministry sites showed that even families with young kids can make a difference. Families sorted through over 1,500 pounds of clothing at ARC’s Value Village Thrift Store (the equivalent of 30 hours of work for one ARC employee), packed 24,192 meals which will be sent to Haiti to feed 66 kids for a year at Feed My Starving Children, prepared and packaged 600 sandwiches for the homeless, and collected food for the Brooklyn Park Area food shelf, serving homeless youth in the Brooklyn Park area.

Food was a big part of the day. After serving at their ministry sites, families were given a map and $5 with instructions to visit a local ethnic grocery store and purchase food they would like to try. As families wandered through the grocery stores, they pondered whether to buy frogs, seafood, durian fruit, Asian jello cups or plantain chips. As families made their purchases and trickled back into the church for a late lunch, the energy changed as everyone shared their food items. Families also enjoyed homemade Kenyan bread—fried donut-like treats made by a friend of one of our pastors.

Said one parent, “Anytime you give families a shared experience where they can talk about this stuff, it’s a win. This was awesome.”

“I loved serving at ARC! I want to go back there next year,” said a second grader.

Families were sent home with a guidebook that included debriefing questions, additional service ideas and space for families to write their next step as they seek to live lives of service and generosity.