Families from NWC churches come together for day of service and learning at Go: Serve 2016

NWC-Event-GoServe-2016-600x350-2Twenty-six families from 13 different churches converged on First Covenant Church in St. Paul, MN, on May 7 for NWC Family Go: Serve, a day of service and experiential learning for families.

This is the third 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.

One parent summarized the most meaningful part of the day this way: “Being able to expose my children to some of the brokenness of our world and what it means to help make those things right. I find meaning in seeing my children find joy in helping others in need. Loved the exposure to other cultures!”

The event kicked off with activities for kids, including puzzle piece prayers and a binocular-making craft to help remind us all to be careful observers of the world around us. We transitioned into worship led by a team from Crossroads Church in Woodbury, MN.

Pastor Touger Thao of Roots Covenant Church shared with the group how the Twin Cities became the home of the largest urban population of Hmong in America, due to refugees settling here after the Secret War in Laos. Attendees learned some Hmong words, and he helped the group get excited to sample Hmong food and culture at Hmong Village later in the day.

Kids were given an official Go:Serve passport to carry with them throughout the day, to be stamped at each ministry site. They were also in charge of the family debriefing in the car, using the questions provided in their passport books.

Families served at two ministry sites, both focusing on homelessness in the Twin Cities. Serving at the Union Gospel Mission and making sandwiches for the Sandwich Project showed that even families with young kids can make a difference. Allan Law came to pick up the sandwiches the groups had made and shared how he will take those same sandwiches out for delivery to homeless men and women that night. In addition, those who wanted to could make themselves a bologna and cheese sandwich so they could experience eating the same meal a homeless person would eat.

Union Gospel Mission in St. Paul invited families to decorate placemats with messages of hope for residents, then led attendees on a brief tour of UGM facilities. Families learned about the importance of donations—specifically nice work clothes people can wear as they gain job skills and interview for positions. Families were given coupons for a free meal that can be given to homeless people they meet out in the community.

“We loved being able to work as a family in a service capacity,” said a parent. “It was incredible to see our children’s faith come out in the form of Bible verses, ‘God Loves You,’ etc., on the placemats.”

At Hmong Village, the group was warmly greeted by the general manager before exploring this indoor mall that houses well over 200 vendors, including a full a farmers market, meeting rooms and many food vendors. Families tried egg rolls, noodles, boba tea, fried plantains and other delicious and curious treats. A few people were brave and ordered a whole fish!

Families gathered back at First Covenant for ice cream sandwiches and a chance to share highlights from the day. We hope families from your church can join us for Go: Serve next year, or dream about hosting a similar event in your own community!