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One week ago, my son boarded a plane to Honduras with 30 other Timothy students. For the past week, I’ve prayed for him, studied the photos that were posted on Timothy’s social media in hopes of spotting him, and I’ve exchanged a few short text messages with him. Late last week, he texted a photo that, at first glance, looked like a mountain of trash. 

Then he texted: “Enlarge it.” 

When I zoomed in, I saw a man lounging on a pile of tires, like it was a couch in his living room. There was a young girl walking up the mountain of garbage — going somewhere or maybe going nowhere. People stood on the top of the heap, like they were on a city sidewalk. 

“They live here,” he texted. “They are the poorest people I have ever seen.” 

And then he texted: “What do we do about it?” 

I didn’t have an answer. 

The sandwiches and bottled water the group had brought were welcomed, but not enough. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be enough and that the Renew class from Timothy Christian High School couldn’t solve a social-economic crisis in a foreign country. But I prayed that my son — who had stood at the bottom of the landfill feeling helpless — would never forget that there are people in this world who call a garbage dump home. And I prayed that this very moment would propel him into a lifetime of service. 

If you’ve been following our Facebook updates, you’ve seen countless stories of lives that have been impacted over this Renew term. Our students built a widow in Costa Rica a house! Yes, a house! She’d been living in a metal shack with a leaky roof. Imagine how much her life has changed because students from a school she’s never heard of took the time to help her. Consider how our students must have felt to realize they had the power to help an elderly woman who desperately needed it. They were indeed the hands and feet of Christ. 

And in Los Angeles, our students went to skid row and fed people, prayed for them, and told them about Jesus. 

Timothy’s mission is to develop servant leaders, who live out their purpose in life for Jesus Christ. And these Renew trips — where they see and experience things that they can’t in the classroom — help students start asking hard questions. Like so many other parents, I sent my son on a Renew trip with the prayer that he would serve others in the name and love of Christ. But I don’t want it to end after a 7-day Renew trip.

My son and his classmates saw and experienced firsthand that there are people in this world who don’t have enough to eat, who don’t have clean water, who call a dump home, and who don’t know Jesus.

And they are wondering: What do we do about it? 

Imagine if the opportunity to serve on a Renew trip gave our students a hunger to serve for a lifetime. Imagine how this generation could indeed change the world. Then they will be part of the answer — all for the glory of God. 

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