Amid the hundred degrees summer days, God is at work here at Belk Farm. For years, PCC has been partnering with the Tesoro Club in Coachella Valley – an organization that strives to disciple children and youth through various camps, sports, and Bible studies. Throughout this week, our small yet encouraged PCC team is running a week-long VBS for middle school students.

We have just made it through the halfway point and the students are beginning to truly engage. In any week-long program, there is always pressure to break down walls quickly. I honestly was a little discouraged that we were not initially resonating with the students; but, a few days of intentional fellowship through small groups and goofy games had a major impact on even the most hesitant of kids. Suddenly our days are filled with a sea of smiles, kids constantly jumping all over us, and difficult yet meaningful conversations. It’s in those moments I remember why we came back. The environment here is intoxicating, drawing each of us in and fostering everlasting camaraderie.

As a young youth pastor, the Tesoro mission trip brings an extra level of joy for myself. I get to watch many of my students serve with humble hearts and perseverance as they grow into natural leaders. I feel like a proud parent watching their kid – or at least how I imagine a proud parent feels. I have been asking a lot of them. It’s nerve-racking to stand in front of 40-50 middle school students and preach the word. I think about Sarah Keller. Just this last year she was a sixth-grade student in MSM (Middle School Ministry). For this whole year she has been participating in small group Bible studies; but now on this trip, she is helping lead one. That gives me so much hope for the future; as our youth group is very young but full of students who want to know God and let him be known. I want to encourage our younger members to step out of their own comfort zones and expand beyond their personal faith. So if you are a high school or middle school student, watch out, because next year might be your time to serve in the desert.