Changing The World
By Rev. Kate Smith
When I was in high school and asked what I was planning to do “when I grow up” my response would always be “I’m going to change the world!” This might seem like a starry eyed, even naïve response to this question, but my confidence was the product of the youth leaders who poured into me starting at age 14. Not only did they encourage me to be an agent of change while still in high school, but they offered the space, resources, and coaching in order to make ideas a reality.
This drive to “change the world” came from my very first mission trip when my eyes were open to a loving, liberating Jesus that calls us to be partners of bringing the Kingdom of the God here to earth. My 14-year-old eyes were open to this new idea and way of life because of a 10-year-old girl at the Tijuana Christian Mission. During that week, I witnessed this young girl care for the younger children at the orphanage – reading to them, looking out for them, and teaching them words in English. It was this girl that made Jesus real for me and her example challenged me to return home to “change the world” by investing in my community.
My first mission trip was a launching pad and changed the trajectory of my life. Before that trip, I was a bitter, angsty, and inwardly focused teen but that trip started a transformation in me that has led to experiencing freedom and joy because of an outwardly focused mentality. The youth leaders walked with me and encouraged me every step of the way as I pursued this new love of serving in my community. Throughout the years, this has looked like many different things depending on the articulated needs of community – a tutoring program in an affordable housing community, a middle school after school program, providing food for children on the weekends, coaching soccer for 1-2nd graders, a community garden, etc.
In this season of Thanksgiving – I’m thankful for the little girl that changed my life by showing me Jesus for the first time and for the youth leaders who journeyed with me helping me grow in my leadership, discipleship, and love of serving. My life wouldn’t be the same without these experiences or these people who insisted that young people don’t have to wait to change the world - they can use their passions, abilities, and gifts to start today!
As a way to continue show the next generation that they can be world changers right now – I’m excited about my new opportunity to lead Summer Impact. Summer Impact is a unique opportunity for those who live locally or regionally to serve for a week in Cincinnati, Ohio. Groups are invited to serve alongside ministries and non-profit organizations working to change the world by changing the community. Teams get to participate in building projects, day camps, delivering furniture, communing with those who are experiencing homelessness and sickness, and more.
The heart behind Summer Impact is transformation through serving experiences, meaningful interactions, building relationships, and individual and group reflection in order to see the work that God is already doing and how God is calling each of us to partner in that Kingdom work. The hope is that teams will return home with a renewed energy and sense of where God is leading them to serve in their local community throughout the year.
Rev. Kate Smith
Kate is an Ordained Deacon of the United Methodist Church serving as the Pastor of Young Adult & Youth Ministry at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. To find out more about what Kate is up to or to get involved visit the Summer Impact website.