Squad 66, one of the serve teams, went to middle school and high school camps and assemblies as counselors and workers. Austin Petellin, a junior organizational leadership major, told a story about the Kansas City District camp where he lived with a group of junior high boys for a few days.
“The guys started to open up when we talked at night," Petellin said. "But what really got me was when they started admitting that they had never told anybody these things before."
He got to encourage these boys to keep each other accountable.
“I got to talk to them about what being a man of God really looks like,” Petellin said.
Mario Flores, senior ministry major, stressed that God is responsible for the results.
"Working with the believers from Alverta, Minn.; Drexel, Mo. and Hutchinson, Kan. helped me to remember that God is always good and I simply need to be faithful to whatever it is he calls me to do,” Flores said.
Petellin echoed Flores in saying "working with those guys helped me learn that serving others takes on a variety of different roles.”
The squad helped in leading and providing emotional support to the kids as they were having dramatic encounters with God.
“When we were serving people we saw how the power of Jesus changes lives and builds relationships,” Petellin said.
In addition to the traditional Squad 66, this summer a “Little’s Edition” to the team was formed, consisting of four girls who went to the elementary school camps to minister to kids all over the district. Like their counterparts in Squad 66, this “Little's Edition” felt blessed in their own spiritual lives by the kids they were sent to serve. Emily Krohn, a junior nursing major, mentioned helping at an apartment complex by doing yard work with kids, lifting heavy bags and putting them on trucks.
“I didn’t see them complaining or anything,” Krohn said. “I mean, they were ten-years-old and they had such a good spirit.”
Krohn said that the simple faith of the children inspired her and affected her relationship with God.
“They had such a purposeful relationship with God ... getting up and going to the front to pray when I usually just stay in the seats,” Krohn said.
Maddie Carson, a junior psychology and sociology major and another girl in this group, told a story about a boy with behavioral problems who the group got to see a couple of different times over the summer. When this boy saw Carson, he excitedly ran up to her and her team to sit by them. Carson said the boy’s mother told her he never did that and they must have made a big impact on him. This inspired Carson.
“It confirmed this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” she said.
Relentless, the worship band Serve Team, had many stories to share about their adventures. Blake Owings, a junior youth and family major, and Thomson Ticum, a junior ministry major, shared about a time early in the summer when they went on stage to sing a song they knew. The church’s worship team played a song they did not know so Relentless stood, with instruments in hand and did not play. They were then overly cautious about going on stage and ended up rushing on during the song they were supposed to be singing, completely leaving Blake Owings behind in the pew because he was laughing so hard.
In response, Lizzy Atwell, a sophomore intercultural studies major and singer in Relentless, shared about Kansas City District camp later in the summer when they had an awesome night of worship, running around the room with kids following and breaking guitar strings because they were worshiping so hard.
“We really learned how to work well with each other by the end,” Atwell said.
“There were some days when we didn’t have sleep and we were completely dependent on God," Ticum said. "We were just asking God for love.”
The group agreed that worshiping together every day greatly impacted both their relationship with each other as well as their relationship with God.
Voices of Praise (VOP), a gospel octet that was added to the serve team line up this summer is still traveling to churches as well as performing at MNU during the school year. Whitney Peck, a senior music major, in talking about God’s hand on this group, shared a story from the team’s time in St. Louis when Clifford, their big red van, was broken into while they were singing.
"We were told that some stranger confronted him (the robber) and he dropped all our stuff and left,” Peck said.
VOP was never able to meet the man who stopped the crime.
“It showed me that even when I am not there or don’t realize it that God is always there watching over me and protecting me,” Peck said.
Voices of Praise touched many lives over the course of the summer, ministering especially to older members of the church who loved hearing traditional hymns mixed with some modern worship music.
A constant through all of the teams is the transforming power of service in their own lives. They were all a part of teams who went out this summer, but they have become people changed by God through their work.