Students at Smithville Christian High School told stories of being surprised by God in their summer mission and service trips, saying that God was present even when things seemed to be going wrong.
Spiritual life director Gord Park said he asked random students to share what happened during their summer vacations and a cross-section of students volunteered.
The students travelled the globe, but no matter where they went or how they served, they all testified to God's faithfulness.
Kristen M. travelled to Washington, D.C. with a group of youth from Bethel Church in Dunnville to run a vacation Bible school and do gardening in an inner city neighbourhood. She said she was moved by the testimony of a youth leader who shared his story of God walking with his family during his daughter's battle with cancer.
Paige V. travelled to Lacombe, Alberta with alumna Jessica Dekker of Riverside Church in Wellandport to volunteer at a camp for people with developmental disabilities. Paige said she saw God in the joy of the campers as they joined in worship and delighted in their end-of-week awards assembly.
Braden V. travelled to London, Ontario with a SERVE team from Providence Church in Beasmsville to help in a soup kitchen and on some community service projects. Braden said he saw God's sense of humour in response to a comment made by a group leader, who had joked at the start of the week that he hoped the worst thing that would go wrong would be damage to the church building where the students were billeted. On the final night, the youth had a celebratory "kitchen party" in the church and as they were worshiping and dancing so hard they cracked the ceiling in the church kitchen below. "I think it's funny we cracked the kitchen ceiling in a kitchen party and we weren't even in the kitchen," Braden said.
Rachel G., Miranda B. and Larissa B. travelled to California and Mexico with the youth group of Mountainview Church in Grimsby, developing and leading a vacation Bible school. Rachel said they felt God's presence as they planned and delivered their program and as they experienced the miraculous healing of a team member. Even through the original plans for the trip did not materialize, Rachel said she would rate the experience "definitely a 10. We had a lot of God moments."
Robert F. said he travelled to South Korea with students Curtis P., Sam H., Chris N. and Andy J., along with alumna Ann Kang and Paul Kang, pastor of Stoney Creek Korean Presbyterian Church. Robert said he was moved by the experience of the small group of Christian students in a Buddhist school, who were persecuted and punished for their faith but who persevered in gathering regularly to pray.
Joseph F. stayed home and operated his own business, but said he made a conscious decision to "shine for God" in his business dealings and to "bless the community" by organizing a charity event for the Grimsby Benevolent Fund.
"If you are nice to people you will bring out the best in everybody," Joseph said.
Park asked students to raise their hands if they had had a summer service or mission experience and if they had experienced God's presence in their lives.
The number of hands that went up is evidence that "students all over have a testimony that God is not dead and he is working in their lives," Park said. He said the chapel testimonies are just to get the conversation started, and encouraged all students to ask about and share their stories of being surprised by God.
"God has something amazing for all of us here in this school," he said.
Park thanked the students for their leadership in sharing their stories, and he also thanked the members of the praise team who led the school and a number of chapel guests in worship.
Here's a video of the praise team leading in worship with Oceans, by Hillsong United.
Chapel is every Wednesday morning at 9 and everyone is always welcome.