As a student at University of Mobile, you have many opportunities to serve the city around you. One ministry that isn’t far from UM is Light of the Village (LOV.) Light of the Village is a front-line, hands-on Christian ministry designed to share Christ’s message of faith, hope and love to the inner city.
Many UM students find themselves here, whether serving during the week or working LOV summer camp. We also have UM alumni on full-time staff at LOV.
Here’s why I serve at LOV, and what I learned by doing so. I hope it gets you thinking about how you can serve the local city while being a college student. (If this sparks your interest, apply to serve as a LOV summer intern, like I did.)
How did I get started serving at LOV? All I knew was: I had a heart for ministry and an open summer, which was the perfect mixture for an internship at Light of the Village. I had the opportunity to experience what the raw side of ministry looked like and, from that, I learned that ministry requires being present; it requires being persistent through good and bad times; and it requires dying to yourself.
The #1 thing we could really give the students was our time. Never would I imagine the importance of just being present; whether that be listening to a student talk about something you don’t care for or playing drip-drip-slash (an off-brand water game similar to duck-duck-goose.) It makes all the difference to just show up and be present. Actively listening, actively caring, and actively playing shows the kids that you’re there for them, by simply being present.
Ministry requires for us to be persistent. I can’t count how many times during the summer I felt like, “man, I just can’t do this.” But I was reminded daily that the kids just need to be loved and, if all else fails and that is all I do, I’ve done my job successfully. Ministry, at least effective ministry, requires us to be persistent. In spite of all difficulties or exhaustion, I saw the benefit of persevering and remaining constant. The majority of the time, kids knew when they were being difficult, and it spoke measures to them when I didn’t give up on them. Through the Lord’s strength, I remained faithful to God and therefore remained faithful and dedicated to them.
Being present and remaining persistent taught me one core lesson: I have to die to myself to do ministry effectively. In every aspect of ministry, I have to die to myself and my desires. The tendency to seek glory and praise or to see things go my way had to be cut from me. Newsflash: ministry isn’t all about me. It is simply stewarding God’s people to praise and worship Him. I was taught this daily because I had to put down my personal expectations and wants. I had to remind myself that being present and loving a student through good and bad mattered more than anything. Showing them the love of Christ to glorify God was my overall goal, and it required stripping myself of the “me-centered mentality.”
When I started volunteering at LOV, I didn’t know what to expect because I was walking into a mission field I was unfamiliar with. I remember thinking, “Wow, Lord, how are you going to change the lives of these kids through this ministry?”
Looking back, what I should’ve said is, “Lord how will you sanctify and grow me through this ministry?” Serving at LOV sanctified me. It taught me that ministry requires dedication, daily humility, and sacrifice because, at the end of it all, it is the Lord’s ministry, not mine.