- August 27, 2008
- By George Henson, Staff Writer
Answering the call of Jim Martin, a member of Lighthouse who was serving St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Skegness, England, as interim pastor, the youth spent two weeks working to show the small church there what a team of American youth could accomplish in a short time.
David and Francine Stoltenberg led the team that also included four youth from The Lighthouse—Michael Moody, Shelby Koffler, Ashley Krogstad and Hannah Stoltenberg—a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated mission congregation.
The youth performed a variety of tasks, from manual labor to leading in worship. The first day on the job, the youth helped the church members clear the “rubbish tip” behind the church in preparation for turning it into a memorial prayer garden. They helped dig up the soil, removed rocks, roots and trash, and transformed the area into a blank canvas for the garden project. All the labor was completed in the rain—naturally, since they were in England.
They also traveled to the nearby community of Burgh le Marsh and led a school assembly, during which the performed a marionette rendition of Moses in Pharaoh’s court.
They also helped the small church in that community with their children’s and younger-youth programs.
At St. Paul’s, the group sang, offered their testimonies, and Hannah danced in the worship service. That service “was an especially healing and encouraging time for many church members,” Martin said.
In addition to interacting with the local youth in fun activities, they also engaged them in serious spiritual discussions, something Martin said was unusual for the youth of England.
The American youth also worked on the church building itself—sanding, cleaning, painting and general manual labor.
The trip grew out of a challenge from Lighthouse Pastor Dan Baugh, Stoltenberg said.
“The pastor said, ‘I want a whole lot of you to go out on the mission field this year.’ And I knew he was talking to me. I had never been on a mission trip, and I knew I was being spoken to,” he said.
Not only was it his first trip, but it was also the first international experience for the youth as well.
“This was a good first trip, because the people there spoke the same language so our kids didn’t have a language barrier to deal with,” Stoltenberg said.
The trip demanded hard work from the students—not only in England, but also before they left Texas, he added. Each had earned $500 to make the trip.
At times, Stoltenberg acknowledged, he wondered at the efficiency of traveling around the world to do missions.
“You kind of wonder, ‘Why do we spend all this money to send people to go on the mission field?’ For me, this being my first mission trip, that was answered. You take hope, you take joy, you take encouragement, you take peace. You can’t box that up and ship it,” Stoltenberg said.
The experience also gave the youth a spiritual strength they may not have realized before.
“They were capable I knew before we left. I knew they could do whatever we wanted them to. But on this trip, they led out; they took the reins. They now know they can do whatever they need to do,” he said.
Baugh also saw a difference in the youth upon their return.
“One of the most exciting things to me as a pastor is their attitudes since they’ve been back,” he said.
“They’ve decided they don’t have to go to England. They can do the same thing here.”