A Word from Ethan…

A Word from Ethan.

St. Mary's Navilleton

St. Mary’s Navilleton in the fall

We were blessed to be joined by the teen youth of St. Mary’s Navilleton, in Floyd’s Knob, IN, for our most recent Burrito Ride. These kids were awesome, and Ethan was very kind to share his own take on the experience with us. Thank you, Ethan, for sharing!

Who knew that Craigslist could lead a group to experience something so powerful and life changing?

I have always been a huge fan of Craigslist, and I must say that my fiancé has an equal addiction to the website. Here lately, we have both spent a large amount of our time on Craigslist, as we are trying to find a place to live in Murfreesboro, TN, where we will be moving following our wedding. You can only look at apartments and houses for so long, so Elaine ventured into the other sections of Craigslist where she stumbled onto the Burrito Riders of Louisville. She called me one day to tell me to check the group out, she even went as far as liking them on Facebook so they would show up on my newsfeed (then I would have no excuse but to look at the page). One look at the page was all it took, I was hooked on the ministry before I even had the chance to experience what was happening every first and third Saturday.

As a youth leader at St. Mary’s Navilleton, I am always thinking of new ways to get middle and high school youth to experience new service opportunities. Each year we organize a 24 hour famine for the high school youth, challenging them to spend 24 hours at church with no food. This year we wanted the service to be more emotionally challenging, rather than physically challenging, and that’s where the Burrito Riders come into play. After many discussions with the youth minister, we decided that the Burrito Riders would be just enough to challenge the youth on a whole new level. Once contacts had been made within the Burrito Riders, plans were put in place and we were ready to begin our fast at St. Mary’s Navilleton.

Once everyone arrived on Friday night, we spent some time talking about the evening’s activities, and what the youth could expect throughout the night and into the next morning, never mentioning the Burrito Riders experience. We took the youth on a food scavenger hunt where we challenged them to go door to door and ask for canned goods for the the homeless. Two hours later, and two car loads later, we had 267 can goods for the homeless in our community. I spent some time helping the youth count the items while the other youth leaders began to prepare the burritos. It was super funny watching and listening to the youth talk about the smells that were coming form the kitchen. When I was asked what was going on in the kitchen I acted totally oblivious. Once I received the okay that the burritos were ready for rolling I sat the youth down and explained to them what they would be doing. The youth were very eager to roll the burritos as they knew is was for a good cause. Many of them were even excited about going out on the streets and handing the burritos out themselves.

Now that the burritos were rolled, and the night was drawing to an end, I had one last challenge for the youth. I asked them a series of questions and had them record the answers on an iPad. One of the questions included, “what are you thoughts about serving with the burrito riders?” As everyone began getting ready for bed little conversations began to arise among groups about the handing out of burritos to the homeless, and the nerves began to set in. The next morning we woke up at 7, loaded up all of the burritos and canned goods, and hit the road.

My fiancé and I drove together, and the youth van followed us, so I wasn’t able to hear conversations in the van. I was told later that the conversations in the van were focused on the burritos and the youths’ nerves about serving the burritos to the homeless. Once we arrived at Kroger, got our burritos labeled, and kicked off with prayer, we hit the road following the Burrito Riders on their bikes. First stop, Jeff Street Homeless Shelter. Elaine and I jumped out and immediately dove in to help hand out burritos. The youth stood back somewhat, not really knowing what to think. Eventually the kids began handing out burritos and water to the men and women at the shelter.

Elaine and I spent some time with a group of youth talking to one of the guys about his story. I was blown away by what some of these people go through on a daily basis.

Next stop, campbell street camp where our canned good would be put to use. Once we all arrived at the camp I began unloading the canned goods, this is when the youth realized that all of the goods that they collected would benefit a group of people that struggled to have shelter. The youth were amazed at how happy many of the men were when they had nothing. We left the canned goods and headed to our final two stops, St. John’s and Wayside Christian Mission.

The final two stops consisted of the youth handing out the burritos. At one point I had cold chills as I watched the youth grab burritos and walk around to the men, giving them burritos. The youth were no longer hiding behind us leaders, they were taking full advantage of the experience. That was the moment when I saw God working in each one of the youth! Following the stop at Wayside Christian Mission we said our goodbyes to the guys and headed back to church to debrief what we had seen.

As we arrived back at church we sent the youth upstairs to the main gathering room. We then spent some time talking to the youth about what they thought and saw throughout the morning. I heard one youth say that she was not hungry for food, but that she hungered for more service opportunities. They had nothing but good things to say about the experience so I once again challenged them to record what they thought of their experience.

In conclusion, keep in mind that all of this was done with youth that had not had anything to eat in 18 hours. I can’t begin to say how humbled I was to serve the homeless in our community with people that truly have a heart of gold. The thought of taking 11 youth to homeless shelters was terrifying, but I think they learned more they ever imagined. I continue to hear things from the youth about wanting to form burrito teams that will provide burritos once a month to the Burrito Riders of Louisville. I can’t thank the Burrito Riders of Louisville enough for taking us and allowing us to take part in such an amazing and powerful experience. We look forward to serving side by side with the Burrito Riders and will continue to pray for the ministry. I believe that every youth group and youth leader should ride with the Burrito Riders at least once. You never really understand your blessings until you see first hand what your brothers and sisters in Christ don’t have.

We’re so grateful to the these folks. And you can see the video that they made, right here. I hope you are as inspired as I was to watch this video.

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Love to Ride, Live to Serve

Love to Ride, Live to Serve

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