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“You changed my life”

by Joani Schultz


Picture this:

–a small group of teenagers and adults, smudged, sweaty―formerly strangers just a week ago.

–a thankful, tearful older woman―formerly depressed and tethered to her oxygen tank.

“YOU have TOTALLY changed my heart and soul,” Karen shared as she read her thank-you letter. “I didn’t know good people like you actually existed. You have filled my heart with a new-found sense of hope and desire to get my life moving again.”

The last four weeks Karen couldn’t get out of bed. Through her tears, she admitted to oppressive loneliness, depression. Her garage overflowed with memories of her dad’s death five years ago. The group helped sort and toss tough stuff of life’s losses. “Letting go of all my dad’s things has been hard, but you helped me let go of so much―there are no words.”

The unlikely bunch huddled together in the backyard of this grateful woman’s freshly painted house. Their week of work resulted in her power-washed home, new brightly painted window trim, weeds pulled, lawn mowed, cellar door hinged and painted, garage organized, shed cleaned.

With two coupons and money from an unexpected check in the mail, Karen’s heart insisted on thanking kids with a surprise she knew they’d like: pizza! So, as they shared a summer’s thanksgiving meal, the new God-ordained friends celebrated.

The small crew sat in awe. None of them knew Karen or each other five days before. Now they sat experiencing a God-sized miracle. Changed lives―hers and theirs!

A RECIPE FOR LIFE CHANGE

Even though they could see their accomplishments, the greatest transformation wasn’t the physical work project. The real beautification happened in their hearts

For you, as a ministry leader like me, there’s nothing more incredible than hearing what God has done in someone’s life. Then, how you may have played a small part in God’s big plan of bringing others closer to him―it doesn’t get better than that!

That’s why I’m sharing our recipe for creating a heart-environment for seeds of faith to grow. Infuse these into your ministry (I’d love to hear how you’re doing that! Contact me jschultz@group.com.)

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

For over 40 years, we’ve dedicated our lives to providing “seed-planting” experiences for God to transform hearts and souls. (The story of Karen and the work crew gives a tiny glimpse. And I must admit, it was hard to pick just one story to tell you from our latest Group Lifetree Adventures mission trip.) Through past experience and present understanding of today’s trends, Group’s Lifetree Adventures® mission trips promise to move us from mere service providers (servants) to friends of God. Here’s how:

SERVICE―Each Lifetree Adventure provides meaningful tasks that matter. Whether it’s needed home repair, a freedom-bringing wheelchair ramp, listening ears to a lonely senior, or VBS and high-energy play with a child in need, these kind of planned “work” projects catapult people out of their comfort zone. Adventurers realize they CAN do things they never thought possible. Sixteen-year-old Sydney said when she saw the week’s schedule, it pushed her out of her comfort zone―but then she admitted she loved it! (Her crew built a deck and wheelchair ramp for a grateful grandma who recently lost her husband.)

DISCIPLESHIP―Today’s generation―especially Gen Z―longs to see how faith matters in all of life. Instead of simply checking “serving others” off our Christian to-do list, Group’s Lifetree Adventures mission trips intentionally “de-compartmentalizes” faith. Through carefully orchestrated Jesus moments―morning, surprises all day, evening, before bedtime―everyone immerses in relational experiences that help them see Jesus. Their love in action points to an integrated life with Jesus. (Every person who experienced Group’s Lifetree Adventures mission trips said their faith grew!)

CULTURE―More than ever, awareness and appreciation of cultures beg for understanding. So each Lifetree Adventure location offers unique-to-that-area opportunities for discovery and celebrating. Imagine dancing to drums in a powwow beside Native Americans, marching in a Fourth of July parade honoring America’s history, witnessing the Great Migration on an African safari, hiking in the beauty of nature to look for the heart of Jesus…No matter where we serve, God’s heart awaits in each unique culture.

MYSTERY EXCURSIONS―Surprise! As disciples, our faith takes unexpected twists and turns. That’s why Group’s Lifetree Adventures mission trips “plan” mystery adventures each day. Adventurers put their faith and creativity in action. For example, a mystery excursion called the Generosity Adventure asked crews to decide how they’d bless the community. So one inventive crew decided to bless workers in the Walmart parking lot on a hot 105-degree day. They swarmed the hot asphalt to collect stray shopping carts. Then they bought groceries to bless hungry families nearby. They stretched their faith muscles and God blessed them and others.

FRIENDSHIP―Discipleship happens in community. So Lifetree Adventures brings people together with a focus on Friends of God. Strangers, multiple generations, multiple economic levels―all come together with a heart to serve. And within that special weeklong community they turn into lifetime friends. Sharing an intentional, holy bond of work, play, Jesus, community, conversation, fun, and focus all build friendship that’s glued together in Christ. (Everyone grew closer to new and old friends alike.)

JESUS―Group’s Lifetree Adventures mission trips focus on Jesus. God’s Word and discovery grow faith in a potent, power-packed week. The service, discipleship, mystery excursions, culture, friendship, and Scripture bring Jesus to life! We make Romans 5:11 real.

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.”

Our ministries can use any one of these ingredients to grow faith, but when you want a supercharged experience in one week, Lifetree Adventures will transform you and your group’s hearts. Guaranteed!

Let me know if you’d like to join us in 2019! I’d love to share this Group’s Lifetree Adventures mission trips experience with YOU!

Contact Brian, our adventure concierge to plan 2019 now!

Follow our Facebook and our August Lifetree Adventure in Kenya!

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“You changed my life”

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