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|1/30/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
Mission trip teaches Spain a lesson in faith
|Building homes, building hope. Students from Central College help build a home during a mission trip to McAllen, Texas, earlier this month. Among the volunteers was Central Community High School graduate Levi Spain, who credits members of the DeWitt Evangelical Free Church for helping him raise money for the trip and to purchase the necessary building materials to erect homes for needy families. Contributed photo|
|Man on a mission. Central graduate Levi Spain, who now is a student at Central College in Pella majoring in business management and minoring in entrepreneurship, visits with a young boy during a carnival Spain and his fellow college students put on during a mission trip to McAllen, Texas, earlier this month. Spain, the son of Todd and Annette of Lost Nation, says he took the trip because he believes God was calling him to share with others how great He is. Contributed photo|
By Kate Howes
There was a time when Levi Spain thought wide spread poverty only existed on the other side of the world.
He never realized how bad it is within the confines of his own country - that is, until he took a mission trip and saw for himself the deplorable conditions in which indigent Americans are living every day.
Yet, instead of ignoring it or simply wishing it away, Spain has decided to be proactive and provide aid to those who are so desperately in need of a helping hand and a caring heart.
The 2010 Central graduate went on his first mission trip his senior year of high school when he traveled to Omaha with his fellow members of the DeWitt Evangelical Free Church.
"We worked with inner-city organizations that helped the homeless and people living in poverty," Spain relates.
The experience left a lasting impression on him. So, when the opportunity presented itself last year for Spain to go on another mission to Texas with his fellow students at Central College in Pella, he didn't hesitate to go.
"I'm involved with campus ministries and they do lots of trips throughout the year," Spain notes. "When I went on the trip last year it really opened my eyes to the unbelievable conditions people live in even within the United States. I was shocked to see the 'homes' these people were living in. Many of them were nothing more than campers around 10-feet by 18-feet with no electricity or running water. The only furniture inside was a small table and one shelf. After seeing these conditions people were living in I was positive I would be going back."
Jan. 3-12, while some college students were enjoying their winter breaks relaxing at home with their families and friends, Spain was in McAllen, Texas, as a member of the lead team comprised of 10 students together with their campus ministries chaplain, Joe Brummel, Sarah Schlager and Nick Rohner.
"We spent a week preparing work sites and making connections with the people we would be working with," Spain explains. "The first week an additional 80 students joined us."
There were two main objectives the college students wanted to achieve in Texas: provide needy families and children with food and clothing and build homes for those in desperate need of a place to live.
"We held carnivals and block parties for the families in need," Spain relates. "We had games for the kids, gave away food and clothes and performed skits with messages to share the gospel with the people. We built two complete homes and put an addition on another house.
"The cool part is we didn't just build the houses and leave; we got to interact with the people and got to know their stories and show them God's love."
The son of Todd and Annette of Lost Nation also had the opportunity to volunteer in public schools and serve meals at border missions.
Looking at life differently
Spain says going to Texas the past two years most definitely has changed the way he views his life.
"We can become so consumed with always having to have the newest and best material things, we forget to look at all the blessings we have in our lives," Spain shares. "Meanwhile, there are people living with one or two pairs of clothes and one pair of shoes."
Something else that struck Spain was despite how little those people have, many of them are the strongest Christians he has ever met.
Seeing how strong their faith is - even with the absence of material things and many of the basic essentials people depend on to survive - made Spain realize if people have God, they need little else.
"God should be where our peace comes from," he notes, "not having 'stuff.'"
Spain says he absolutely wants to continue going on mission trips and intends to revisit Texas next year.
He also would like to go beyond his country's borders and help people abroad, in places such as Africa or South America.
Going to Texas this year impacted him in a different way, Spain says.
While last year's trip served as a shocking eye-opener, this time around he felt God was showing him how to be a true man and help his fellow human beings.
"It's not about drawing attention to yourself but to serve humbly and love people in the same way Christ loves us," Spain relates. "The one thing I always will remember about this trip is when one of the men we were building a home for came up to me and said - in very broken English - 'I couldn't understand why you would build us a home when you don't know us, but I know now that it's because of God's love in your hearts.' That statement basically summed up the entire trip. We didn't go to Texas for any other reason than to be the hands and feet of Christ and show his love."
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