By Kara Stromberg
Brooklyn Park, MN (May 9, 2014) — Nearly 200 children and family members from throughout the Northwest Conference converged on Redeemer Covenant Church in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, recent for NWC Family Go: Serve, a day of service and experiential learning.
Go: Serve is a new Northwest Conference event designed for families with children in pre-kindergarten through upper elementary school. was an opportunity for families to learn and grow together, in a family-friendly, yet stretching environment suitable for younger children.
The event held April 26 kicked off with a visit from “supernintendo” Mark Stromberg, and an opening session that framed the day for families. Each family was given a bag with supplies they would need that day—a magnifying glass to encourage them to look more closely at the world around them, a package of Gushers so they can burst forth with the love of Christ, and a rubber band to remind them that they will feel stretched.
After the morning session, families grabbed a snack to go, then drove their own family vehicles to four different ministry sites near the church.
Serving at the ministry sites showed that even families with young kids can make a difference. Families sorted 3,000 pounds of clothing at ARC Value Village Thrift Store, packed meals to feed 63 kids for a year at Feed My Starving Children, prepared and packaged 600 sandwiches for the homeless, and collected 310 pounds of food for the Brooklyn Park Area food shelf, serving homeless youth in the Brooklyn Park area.
“Serving others made me feel good in my heart,” said five-year-old Baevinn.
Food was a big part of the day. After serving at their ministry sites, families were given a map and five dollars with instructions to visit a local ethnic market and purchase food they would like to try. As hungry families trickled back into the church for a late lunch, the energy changed as everyone shared their food items. All ages sampled quail eggs, papaya, dragon fruit, African bread, Asian jello cups, pickled rattan shoots and assorted wafers, cookies and treats.
Families were amazed at the range of ethnic markets in the northern suburb of Minneapolis. “I had no idea Brooklyn Park was so diverse!” said one participant.
Everyone was encouraged to reflect on the role food plays in our lives and what it feels like to be hungry. In addition to the food families bought at the markets, Jon Villa worked with a team of volunteers to create an amazing menu of Japanese noodle stir-fry, tortilla soup and Indian daal. Children and families were encouraged to try new food that was enjoyed by people from other cultures.
After lunch, children and families added their prayer requests to the prayer wall by tracing their hands and writing a prayer request in the space, then placing their hand over someone else’s request and praying for what was on someone else’s heart. Prayers ranged from “Hungry people” to “That my brother does not be mean to me!”
Families were sent home with a passport booklet that included processing questions, additional service ideas and space for families to write their next step as they seek to live lives of service and generosity.