MOREcompassion Brings Hundreds of Volunteers to San Antonio
San Antonio, Tex. » The excitement subsided after a full morning in the rain. It had been a fun, challenging two weeks of hard work. Marching in the rain with over 850 people, was surely exhilarating after MOREcompassion, the phenomenal two-week mission trip in the city of San Antonio, Texas. As part of the initiative to prepare San Antonio for the General Conference Session of 2015, the Texas Conference crafted plans to impact the city in many ways. Through evangelism, youth activities, media, and many others, the plan was hatched. One of those plans that started to take form was a mission trip to San Antonio.
Usually, when the words “mission trip” are mentioned, images of a foreign land, destitute and needy people, and Third World countries come to mind. For the last two years, planning to bring hope, service, and joy to the community of San Antonio was a constant thought shared in the meetings that involved the evangelism department and the youth department of the Texas Conference, while the Southwestern Union joined and supported those plans also.
The idea to impact San Antonio was a priority and a group of leaders and pastors started to coordinate several different community service projects that would be easy to do, yet would impact and be meaningful enough for anyone that decided to participate. The dates were set for spring break, March 7-21, 2015, and the Conference and Union leadership invited all the churches and schools of the Union to participate in some form. For months, planning and developing projects was a constant conversation among the leaders and the pastors at ground level. Promotion started to spread to all parts of the Union with the intention of having as many participants as possible.
The following are the projects that were birthed from that process:
MOREcommunity: The idea of serving the neighborhoods around the local Seventh-day Adventist Churches in San Antonio through different acts of service like mowing lawns, picking up trash, sweeping, etc. In other words, serving the community through simple acts that do not cost more than gasoline and effort from the volunteers.
MOREsupport: There are many local agencies that serve people and families in need. This project focused on helping and serving at the local homeless and women’s shelters. Supporting the local agencies in their efforts to serve others was a simple way of working together with others who are already doing something.
MOREfood: There were two different emphases to this project: 1. Volunteering at the local city food bank (San Antonio Food Bank) and 2. Supporting two local churches (Spanish Durango and Spanish 3 Angeles) in their weekly food fair where they distribute food.
MOREreach: The distribution of literature (GLOW tracts) and also the distribution of invitations for the upcoming “Pathways to Health” (an initiative to provide free medical, dental, eye care services to the city of San Antonio) mixed in with praying for the communities and people was one of the most simple ways of engaging people in the community.
There was another project that could not get off the ground due to different circumstances, but many other things were done without being in the works that enhanced the impact to the city of San Antonio.
In the end, the participation of six Texas Conference schools (Burleson Adventist School, Burton Adventist Academy, Valley Grande Adventist Academy, The Oaks Adventist Christian School, Adventist Christian Academy of Texas, and Scenic Hills Adventist School) and various youth groups from around Texas (Richardson SDA Church, Garland Spanish SDA church, etc.) brought more than 200 volunteers from outside of San Antonio. More than 1,000 hours were spent volunteering, and the items that were distributed at the food fairs were significant with more than 800 families served.
MOREcompassion Mission Trip San Antonio 2015 ended with a bang by having a rally against Human trafficking/slavery on March 21, as a part of the Global Youth Day initiative. Pastor Jose Rojas, from MOVEmentum ministries was the speaker for the morning and encouraged young people to raise their voices, to be involved and speak for others who were not able to do so because of slavery/trafficking. The march happened in the midst of rain, but that did not deter nor dampen the energy and courage of more than 850 people who marched close to downtown San Antonio. There were leaders from churches and nonprofit organizations who formed a panel to speak about the dangers and realities of slavery in the 21st century. Their voices were heard and a local news channel aired a spot that evening highlighting the energy and the voices of young people in their MOREfreedom walk against human slavery/trafficking.
Also, Hope Channel connected to Texas to ask about what had been done for Global Youth Day, and their report was highlighted because a 16-year-old edited and made a phenomenal video highlighting the activities of the day.
Overall, MOREcompassion started a sentiment in the participants that they plan to continue in their own churches. Pastors from the local churches mentioned that they will start a “lawn mowing ministry,” and plan to connect with and support local nonprofits in their communities. The blessings were abundant and plans to repeat this local mission trip are already in place to impact other cities and areas. Next year, the plan is to impact Dallas with MOREcompassion!
Armando Miranda, associate youth director, Texas Conference